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5 Benefits of Attending a State Law School

Published December 16, 2022

So, you want to go to law school, but are unsure where to attend? When it comes to such a commitment, it makes sense to take time to reflect on the benefits each school offers. Thankfully, chances are you have a state school close by with a host of benefits to consider! Here are just a few to ponder:

1. Cost of Attendance – Minimize your Debt

According to Peterson’s, “most public universities and colleges within the United States were founded by state governments, some as early as the 1800s, with the intent of giving residents the opportunity to receive public education beyond secondary school.” This holds true today as state schools continue to offer affordable tuition as their operating costs are subsidized by state governments. 

The difference in these operating costs is particularly noticeable in a tuition comparison. 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. Even out-of-state students reap the benefits of lower tuition: saving approximately an average of $10,000 in tuition alone.

2. Build Your Reputation

State universities offer the same academic value as other schools, and depending on where you live, your state law school might rank higher than private law schools in the area. Regardless of ranking, state law schools are often well known within their respective states and communities, providing students with a host of networking opportunities with state and local government, along with local firms.

With that in mind, it may be a good idea to go to a law school where you plan to practice, or where there is a “pipeline” to practice areas of interest to you. Most law schools also have alumni chapters in various cities, so be sure to research which ones may provide you with beneficial connections both to your practices area(s) of and location(s) of interest. If you choose a school with this in mind, your school will likely be well recognized by fellow graduates during the job search process. 

3. Location Plays a Big Role

A recent Bloomberg Law survey reported location as the strongest factor among students choosing law schools. When individual state governments founded public universities, location was of great consideration. Today we see the impact of this in the diversification of the locations of state schools. These public colleges and universities are found not only in urban cities, but in small town suburban villages, and in the rural country. Because of this, oftentimes a state school will not only be close to where you are or wish to be located, it may also be one of the most highly recognized schools in that area.

4 Public Service Opportunities

When it comes to the public interest, or simply getting involved in public service, abundant opportunities are likely available at your local state law school. State law schools often place a strong emphasis on public service, allowing students a multitude of ways to get involved in pro bono work, or other public interest initiatives. Not only is this a valuable way for students to give back to their communities, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to gain experience and meet community leaders, advocates, and more!

5. It’s bigger than the law school

Perhaps the greatest benefit of attending a state law school are the offerings of the greater college or university. Within these large, busy campuses, are a plethora of opportunities.

When it comes to academics, state law schools offer a variety of learning opportunities through partnerships with other university departments and schools. These include externships, internships, interdisciplinary research centers, dual degree programs, study abroad opportunities and diversified programming.

Outside of academics, students at state law schools can take advantage of all that their state colleges or university offers. From concerts to artist exhibitions, to well-known speakers, and fun, often free, events, state schools have the resources to offer diverse academic and extracurricular experiences both within the law school, and throughout the greater campus.

For those in New York State, consider learning about your own state law school, the University at Buffalo School of Law by visiting the campus, or exploring our virtual visit options

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Photo of Benjamin Rogers.

Benjamin Rogers is the Admissions Coordinator at the University at Buffalo School of Law.

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