Choosing a law school

When choosing a law school, consult the Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.  In this guide you will find detailed information about law schools' character, history, specialties, and tuition and fees.  It also includes placement data that will help you estimate your chances of being admitted to a law school based on your GPA and LSAT score.

Don't worry too much about attending the "best" law school, or the ranking of your favorite school in the latest survey or report.  The top-ranked program might not be the best school for you.  When applying to law schools, there are several more important things to keep in mind:

  • What are your interests?  Find law schools that have strong programs in fields that interest you (i.e., environmental law or health law).
  • Do you want a "national" or "regional" law school?  Most law schools train students for and place students in jobs all over the country.  Some schools - especially top-ranked law schools - are better launching places for a career in the federal legal system or in the most prestigious national firms.  On the other hand, many smaller regional schools often provide better training for students who plan to work in a more local law practice within a particular state.
  • Where do you want to live?  If you know what part of the country you plan to practice law in, it's advisable to attend law school in the same area.  Even the top-ranked law schools place a large percentage of their students in jobs within their own part of the country.
  • What law schools can you get in to?  Use the ABA Guide to learn about prospective schools' admissions standards.  Generally, students apply to anywhere from five to ten law schools.  While an application or two to "reach" schools is encouraged, be certain to apply to at least one law school where you're a lock to be accepted.
  • What law schools can you afford?  You probably will have to cover tuition and living expenses yourself.  Cost of living expenses will vary widely across the country.  Also, tuition will be much less if you attend a publicly financed law school in your own state such as Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis or Northern Illinois University College of Law.  Check out our Financing page for more info.
  • What kind of law schools suits your personality?  Do you like to live in the city or in a more rural setting?  Do you want a large school with a highly diverse student body or a smaller school that allows more personal contact with faculty?  Are you looking for a hands-on "clinical" education or a more traditional classroom-based approach?  Use the ABA Guide, information supplied by the law schools, and visits to campus to make these kinds of decisions.