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How to Choose the Best Law School (for YOU) – Practical Tips to Get You the Right Fit

Published March 27, 2023

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve made the choice to go to law school—and maybe you’ve even been accepted to a few! In either case, it’s probably time to roll up your sleeves and dig deep in research to find the best law school to attend. While a lot of the factors can be objective, there are definitely subjective factors when choosing a law school that might apply more to you than your fellow legal peers. Take a look at our handy list of tips and suggestions for how to choose the best law school for you

1. Visiting Law Schools

This really could be #0 (or the prequel suggestion), but there is no substitute for a good and thorough visit to campus. Law school websites and admissions pages can be very helpful and hold a wealth of information, but visiting a campus allows you to get the true feel for it! Attending a campus in-person allows you to:

a. Meet with admissions
You get to put a face to your name—the same name that is going to show up on your application and the emails with all your questions—but most importantly you get to ask your questions in person, have candid discussions and take notes during your meeting.

b. Get a tour
A solid overview tour of the law school can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes, but it gives you a feel for where you could be one day studying, testing and living! Many law schools have guided and self-guided options to let you explore.

c. Attend a class
To really take it a step further, get the immersive experience of visiting a doctrinal (1L) course to witness the teaching styles of law school professors and the expectations they’ll have for you as a first-year student. It is equal parts daunting and exciting!

2. Law School Programs

Equally as important as visiting the campus and meeting with admissions teams, is understanding what the law school can offer you academically. If they don’t have the program(s) you’re interested in, then of course you’ll need to look elsewhere!

a. Discover the concentrations
Many law schools offer optional concentration programs to help you deepen your understanding of the legal world and will prepare you for complex legal problems. UB Law as an example offers concentrations like Advocacy, Family Law, Intellectual Property Law and Sports Law, among others. 

b. Investigate experiential learning opportunities
Academic learning is a holistic experience nowadays, where learning outside the classroom is just as important as being in a lecture hall! Finding out what types of experiential learning programs your prospective law schools offer is a huge factor in the well-rounded education you can hope to receive. UB Law’s own list of experiential learning opportunities is expansive, including clinics, externships, trial teams, moot courts, law review, and more!

c. Learn about special programs
As an addendum to the experiential learning opportunities, what special programs does the law school offer? Just one example from UB Law is the option to dig deeper into the local law community, with the Pro Bono & Access to Justice program to help low- and middle-class individuals navigate their legal issues. 

3. Community & Culture

Joining a law school means you’re joining a community. The classes you can attend and programs you can study are obviously a huge part, but everything outside of the classroom can be just as important! Finding likeminded peers, getting support for your future career and developing as a person—not just a student—are all crucial to having an amazing law school experience.

a. Speak with current law students about their experience
Law school culture and the makings of a specific school’s day-to-day life can help make or break your decision, and speaking to current students can help you make a more informed choice!

b. Engage in student life groups
Law school is where you’ll grow as a prospective lawyer and legal professional, but it doesn’t mean your personal life should be put on hold! Finding and joining student organizations can play a huge role in building your peer group, network and helping with your overall mental health during your studies. So, make sure to check out the student organizations available at each law school. 

c. Alumni support & Career services
We know how important it is for alumni to play a part in connecting with current and prospective law students. The Law Alumni Association at UB offers a plethora of great resources for you, like the GOLD Group (Graduates of the Last Decade), the Alumni mentoring program and the Oral History project!

Additionally, law schools have career services departments that can help you start building your future, right from day 1 of your law school studies! Whether you know exactly what you want to do or are keen to explore the myriad options, they’ll be your rock and provide guidance throughout your law school tenure and beyond.

4. Keep your costs down and maximize your return on Investment

Last but not least: the dreaded cost. Law school is not cheap and that’s something you can’t control. What you can control is how you might reduce that cost to you personally. Choosing a public vs. private school and understanding scholarships can help lessen the financial burden of law school.

a. Choosing public vs. private
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average tuition and fees for private ABA-Approved Law Schools for the 2021-2022 year was $53,034. In comparison, public ABA-Approved Law Schools averaged out at a tuition of $29,610 for in-state students and $42,754 for out-of-state students. So, choosing a school like UB Law—the only law school in the SUNY system!—you could do wonders for minimizing your debt right from the get-go!

b. Scholarships, grants & more
Scholarships and grants are tried-and-true ways to help a student get through school without the fear of crippling debt dangling over their head. Many law schools offer merit scholarships and grants, which are gratis funds that do not need to be repaid.

It sounds like a lot to take in, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because choosing the right law school is a lot! But with careful planning and research, you’ll definitely have a better understanding of what law schools can offer just beyond a name on an application.

If you have any questions—no matter how general or specific—the admissions team at UB Law is always ready to chat!

Additional Resources

Photo of Lindsay Gladney.

Lindsay Gladney is the Vice Dean for Admissions at the University at Buffalo                           School of Law.


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