You have spent your undergraduate years preparing for a career in law. Or perhaps you have only recently realized that a legal career is an appealing option. The first and one of the most important decisions you will make on the road to that legal career is choosing a law school. What steps can you take to find the perfect law school for you? Here are some ideas to consider.
One thing you will obviously want to consider is the school’s reputation. A law school with a great reputation can be the difference between a high-powered, high salaried legal position and something much less preferable. However you need to be realistic about your likelihood of getting into and successfully completing the top law programs. Find a good balance between a school with a good reputation and one you are likely to earn a law degree from.
You’ll want to consider the variety of courses offered. You may already know what branch of law you wish to practice, or you may not have the slightest idea. Choose a school which has a curriculum that matches your interests. If you’re not quite sure what those interests are yet, make sure you choose a school that will give you a wide variety of courses and disciplines to choose from.
A vital part of the law school program is the externship. This is where you will get real world legal experience. You want to make sure you are going to attend a school that will afford you the opportunity for you to get a great externship in a legal area that interests you.
Of course, you should do some research into the faculty. What are their reputations? Do they have many publications? A wide body of legal experience to draw from? Are there esteemed faculty members in your area of interest? Do these professors seem like ones you will want to learn from? A school is only as strong as its faculty, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with the faculty of the school you choose.
A good law school has a good law library. You should look into how comprehensive the law library is at the schools you are considering. A visit to the library will give you a good idea about how effectively you will be able to use it to complete your degree.
You will also have to think about physical factors such as location and cost. Are you willing to relocate to go to law school? Are you looking at law schools you can afford? When determining affordability, you also must take into account living expenses if you are going to law school away from home. Remember that even if you get student loans, you will one day be expected to pay them back with interest.
Law school is a sometimes grueling, always educational, transforming experience for most lawyers. Picking the right law school will put you in a position to have the most successful law career possible, whatever discipline of law you choose to practice.
Law school can be hard – just ask any 1L who’s had to go without sleep for two days to prepare for the exam next week.
What can make negotiating the jungle that is law school even harder is inadequate preparation, or the wrong tools in your armory. The books listed below will help you come to grips with the complexities of school, and how to balance high grades with a social life without losing your sanity:
First Steps: Admission Guides:
1. How To Get Into the Great Law Schools
One of the best books out there on mastering every aspect of a law school, from the personal statement, to the LSAT, to choosing which college might be the best for your needs and skill set.
2. Law School Confidential
A book that has been called “a must for anyone thinking of, or attending law school”, Law School Confidential is one of the best books to acquaint yourself with the school of law lifestyle. Its conversational, candid style has made it really popular with law students over the years. An essential read.
Getting In: Essential LSAT Prep and Personal Statement books:
1. The Official LSAT Prep Test 51
As the title says, this is the official LSAT Prep Test book brought out by the Law School Admission Council, making it an essential part of your library. Features actual tests from pervious years.
2. The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT Prep Tests
One of the best books to help you prepare for the LSAT, unlike other books, it features actual tests from previous years. Completing this book will make you feel like a champ when it comes to the LSAT.
3. PowerScore Logic Games Bible
A great guide to what is probably the hardest section of the LSAT: the logic games. Mastering this book will jump your score up by several notches.
4. How to Write a Winning Personal Statement
The highlight of this book is the actual essays by the admissions directors of top schools like Harvard Law, Yale Law, Univ. Of Michigan Law, etc. Other than this, it also features plenty of advice about writing the perfect personal statement.
Once You Are In: Guides to Success in the School
1. Law School Confidential
We are compelled to include this book in both this, and the above lists. The advice it delivers is useful for those thinking of applying to study law, as well as those who are already in. A must, and entertaining read.
2. Law School Insider: The Comprehensive 21st Century Guide to Success in Admissions, Classes, Law Review, Bar Exams and Job Searches.
A high quality, and thorough book that, as the title implies, deals comprehensively with admissions, classes, law review, bar exams, and job searches. A hefty book that will make school a whole lot easier.
There you have it: a comprehensive list of essential books in a law student’s library.
In the 2010 Best Law Schools, the top ten spot has a few tied positions. UC Berkeley and University of Chicago are tied for sixth, while Duke, Northwestern, and UVA are caught in a three-way tie for the tenth position. This means that the top ten list actually includes 12 different schools. Below is the finalized list of the top ten best law schools in 2010.
5) New York University
6) UC Berkeley
6) University of Chicago
8) U Penn
9) University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
10) Duke University
10) Northwestern University
10) University of Virginia
While it does not seem appropriate for a top ten list to contain 12 items, the combination of student surveys and quantitative assessment scores create equal placements on the list for many schools. While there were many changes to the list of top 100 schools, the top ten has remained mostly the same. Harvard recently eclipsed Stanford, taking the number two position, while some schools, such as Berkeley hang on to their position by a thread.
Law schools are rated by many different sources such as Kaplan, the Princeton Review and media sources such as US News. The main ratings and assessments come from the school’s Quality Score and Placement Success.
Quality score is found by combining a peer assessment score, assessment score by lawyers/judges, selectivity, their median LSAT scores, median undergrad GPA’s and their Acceptance Rate. These are quite similar to the ratings place on undergraduate institutions as well.
Placement success is based on the Bar passage rate by graduates, as well as their employment rates. This is quite different from undergraduate institutions as all graduates from Law school are headed for the same profession with the same resources. Quality score and placement success rates give you the opportunity to choose the best school for you based on what is most important to you.
The best law school in the nation by reputation is Harvard Law School. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in the country and is world renowned. But are they the best?
The US News and World Report has Yale this year as the number one school with Harvard as number two. The Gourman Report has Harvard as number one and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as number two. So which report do you believe? Are the factors these reports used to determine which is best, the same as yours?
For the most part, all of the rankings are close to being the same. The top ten from US News is Yale, Harvard, Stanford University, Columbia University NY, NY University, University of California at Berkley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Duke University.
The Gourman report has them listed in this order: Harvard, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Yale, University of Chicago, University of California at Berkley, Stanford University, Columbia University NY, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University.
Why Cornell is 10th in the Gourman report and number 13th in the US news report is just the difference in parameters that were used. The same can be said for the shift of NY University being ranked number 11 in the Gourman report and the US News have them at 5th.
What is consistent is that for the lowest student to faculty ratio, Yale is the leader at 6.8. Yale also has the highest 75th percentile score from their students on the LSAT. Yale students also have the highest 75th percentile in GPA at 3.97.
With all these factored in, the best and brightest students this past year chose Yale as the best school in the nation