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How to Choose a Law School: Calculating Value

Published November 28, 2017

You’re a smart cookie. You’re already thinking about location, programs, field of study, and campus culture. Now you need to consider the long-term value of different law schools.

What’s value? Think about it like a math problem: money over time. The initial investment is one consideration; the return on investment is the second.

When you invest in higher education, ROI comes from two things:

  • Developing & practicing skills that will make you successful
  • The length of time those skills remain relevant to your success

So, how do you choose a law school that provides the best value for you?

1. Financial Aid AND Cost of Living

What are your personal financial aid options?

ALWAYS speak directly with a few different financial aid professionals before choosing a law school. Financial aid information can be difficult to sift through online, and some financial aid pros are more experienced than others.

What’s the total cost of living?

Whether you’re living in a dorm or an off-campus apartment, living alone or sharing with roommates, the local economy will certainly impact your total costs. Restaurants, groceries, gas, entertainment - they all vary immensely (even between areas in the same 30 mile radius).

2. Networking Opportunities & Connections

“It’s not what you know - it’s who you know.”

For better or worse, this is absolutely true. Making connections is one of those skills you should practice every chance you get.

All accredited law schools will provide networking opportunities. They also provide lists of alumni, faculty, and professional relations. Think about is who you want to connect with, and choose a law school that offers those connections.

3. Career Experience & Competition

It’s all about developing the skills to succeed. Like their professional networks, law schools provide information on their experiential learning programs. These opportunities will naturally vary by location, network, field, and semester.

You’ll also have varying levels of competition to actually get this experience. The number of opportunities, number of students, and peer ambition all impact which opportunities will be available.

4. Study Abroad

Studying abroad is fantastic. However, it’s not valuable enough for all students to justify the cost.

If studying abroad means great ROI for you, here’s what to consider. In terms of return on your investment, it should enhance the knowledge and/or skills that will make you most successful. The right law school doesn’t have to offer a huge variety of locations - just the one(s) you need!

Make sure to repeat step #1 for international study.

5. Post-Graduation Support

Remember, the true indicator of value is money over time. Choose a law school that provides value during AND after your studies.

  • Resources - archives, experts, continuing ed
  • Networking - events, online & offline groups
  • Opportunities - career, education, promotion
  • Recognition - sharing your accomplishments, accolades, and story

The best way to assess a law school’s post-grad support is to check out their news and press releases, alumni association, and get in touch with some graduates if possible.

ROI equals investment over time! Consider what law school value means to you, and how a school will help you achieve your long-term goals. Good luck!

A photo of our Viewbook with text that reads “Learn more about the University at Buffalo School of Law. Download the Viewbook.”.
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Guest blogger Ashley Wilson-Rew is Content Strategist & SEM at protocol 80, Inc.


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