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What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:37 pm
by jenesaislaw
What Schools Should I Apply To?

This guide has been provided by Law School Transparency. Please take advantage of our many resources at the LST Reports in deciding whether and where to apply for law school. Among these resources is LST Pro (subscription), which automates much of this guide and then predicts scholarships and provides admissions chances.

ABA-approved schools share considerable similarities with one another when it comes to the basic model for delivering legal education. However, there are considerable differences in size, location, culture, incoming class numbers, and most notably, job outcomes and reputation at the local, regional, and national levels. ABA accreditation operates only as a floor for quality assurance, signaling that a school meets minimum standards. Prospective students must find other means to compare programs and decide where to apply and attend.

Applying to this or that school isn't a decision to take lightly. Smart decisions about where to apply require thoughtful reflection about what you want from your career and where you want to work, as well as which schools you can pit against each other to negotiate cheaper tuition.

In this guide, we recommend a series of questions that lead you from all law schools to a set of schools that make sense for you. Our goal is to help you apply only to the schools that help you achieve your career goals.

Geography: Where do I want to practice?

We organize the LST Reports around this fundamental question because law schools largely operate in local markets. Few schools actually see a sizable number of graduates leave the region. In fact, 2 in 3 graduates stay in the state in which their law school is located. Usually your best bet is to attend school near where you want a job. This will allow you to network and get a feel for the local market.

Consider where you want to work and use LST to find schools with an objective connection to those locations. This process will eliminate a substantial number of schools. That's a good thing.

Job Prospects: What kind of job do I want?

Over the last several years, the quality and availability of job statistics have greatly improved. The job statistics slice graduating class job outcomes in many ways, which helps you to get a feel for how schools live up to the assurances they provide while recruiting you. A realistic assessment of what you can expect post-graduation will not only help you decide on a school (or no school), but may even help you find a job. For example, if job source data show that those who obtained jobs typically did so through letters or networking, your job search will be quite different than if many students obtained jobs through on-campus interviews or job postings.

The available information is far from perfect. Indeed, the data only represent outcomes less than one year after graduation. While historical by nature, they nevertheless produce a worthwhile proxy because school reputations endure. The first job also carries particular import in the legal profession. More than 4 in 5 graduates borrow to attend law school, with average debt well into six figures. Loans or other pressing financial obligations exist even if your career pinnacle isn't on the horizon. Moreover, the further a graduate gets from bar results, the more difficult it will be to find work as a lawyer, in part because a new crop of fresh law graduates enter the job market each year. While the first job doesn't guarantee your career path—positive or negative—it's an important step on wherever that path takes you. A National Bureau of Economic Research study shows the impact of early-career jobs and salaries on lifetime earnings.

Analyze past performance in light of the school's relevant graduating class size, incoming class size, transfer class size, historical attrition, and recent and projected incoming class sizes. These factors may signal how easy or difficult it will be to find a job when you would graduate.

In trying to foresee your future, consider these variables for peer schools too. For example, if the school with the best regional reputation expands incoming class size, what will that mean for less reputable competitors? The local legal market's capacity for enrollment changes is also relevant. Read the local trade press, talk to local attorneys, and look at job boards. Furthermore, check out econometrics data provided by state government labor departments.

This process will eliminate schools that you don't believe can help you meet your career goals.

Admission: Where can I get in?

Law school admission is based primarily on numerical factors. One's LSAT and GPA are arguably the two most important components of a law school application, though not completely predictive. Depending on the school, under-represented minorities, people with significant work experience, and unique characteristics receive varying types and amounts of "boosts." It's common to submit a "Diversity Statement" with your application—even if the school does not request one—to help show the school how you can be a valuable addition to the class.

Historically, admission has been fairly predictable based on LSAT, GPA, and under-represented status. But with applications and enrollment plummeting around the country, incoming LSAT scores and GPAs have fallen too. Schools also seem to be more "splitter friendly." Every school profile on LST shows enrollment trends to help you get a feel for your chances. LSAT and GPA statistics can also be found all over the LST Reports.

There are a variety of online tools available to help you predict admissions outcomes, as opposed to eyeballing the admissions data quartiles. One example is LawSchoolNumbers.com. Another is our Wizard, part of LST Pro. Beware that these predictors use historical admissions outcomes to predict your outcome.

The law school application process is not cheap, so we don't recommend wasting money with pointless applications. However, if you have a shadow of a chance and the school would help you meet your career goals, give it your best shot. Realize, though, that law school costs more for those who barely get in because of how law schools make scholarship/tuition discount offers.

Costs: Can I afford it?

Though education is not quite a traditional investment, practical considerations require that you analyze the price of pursuing an additional degree, as well as how you will pay. If you have cash, you will need to consider the opportunity cost of using it for law school instead of another investment. If you will finance the degree with student loans, you will need to consider how much you will owe when your first payment is due—and whether you will be able to make that payment. Costs are among the most predictable items on your career path; engage in careful financial planning.

We want to help you with the financial planning. You'll find a number of tools on LST to do so.

1. Projected Debt at Repayment. The amount a graduate will owe when borrowing the maximum amount allowed by the law school. The figure, along with the monthly payment on a ten-year plan, is on each state report, the national report, and the school comparison page. The figure is as of six months following graduation when the first loan payment is due; assumes no interest pre-payments; and accounts for tuition increases based on the school's five previous years of tuition. Interest accumulation calculations are time-sensitive—based on semester disbursement periods—and use a blended rate based on projected interest rates.

2. Hypothetical Price Discount Table. The previous figure includes no discounts that ease your debt burden, whether from a scholarship or savings or family contribution. The table includes 24 tuition and cost of living scenarios. The table is available on the cost tab on every law school's profile. It uses the same assumptions as the previous figure.

3. Financial Worksheets. You can also fill out financial worksheets for schools under consideration. From the data you input, as well as the interest rates you project, we will calculate your personal projected debt at repayment and/or expected cash expenditures. The debt figure will appear anywhere the projected debt at repayment figures appear. Your financial worksheets will appear on the cost tab.

4. LST Guides on Paying for Law School. Check out the guides that are relevant to financial planning.

Figure out with as much precision as possible the price you will pay, how you will pay that price, how much debt you will owe, and how much your monthly payment will be. The process and the results will help you see whether law school makes sense for you in light of your likely salary after graduation, and whether that salary will allow you to meet your obligations and expectations. When analyzing salary information, pay careful attention to response rates so that you can get a feel for what the numbers actually mean.

For a myriad of reasons, pursuit of a law degree sets students back a lot of money—now or later. Understanding the associated costs and attempting to make an educated guess about what life would be like in various career scenarios will help you figure out whether law school is right for you and, if it is, which school provides the best opportunity for the life and career you desire. Risk is expected in any career decision, but only you can decide how much risk you're willing to bear.

Add Some Schools Back In

At this point, you have a set of schools that make sense for you in light of your career aspirations, obligations, and financial position. Consider adding schools to your list strictly for strategic price negotiation. The more ammo you have to approach your desired schools with, the better your chances at negotiating a better price.

Do not expect that law schools will make their best offer right away. Schools are strategic with their discounts/scholarships and you should be strategic with your financial future. In particular, be prepared to negotiate for a larger discount and better terms. You can negotiate the scholarship retention stipulations (GPA or class rank) placed on you. You can also negotiate whether future tuition increases affect you by stipulating that your discount will increase with future tuition increases.

The fact is, the school wants you to attend. You would not have been admitted otherwise. Schools across the country struggle to meet enrollment needs. Tell the school you are not comfortable with its price and the debt you will encounter; then suggest that a better deal will keep the school in contention.

Schools respond well to competing offers. You can expand the number of competing offers by expanding the list of schools you apply to, even if you apply to some schools just to leverage their scholarship offers for better offers at the schools that would actually meet your needs. Remember, their budgets and jobs depend on filling an incoming class with great candidates and merit aid offers are not charity. However, it's also important to keep in mind that schools will only respond to schools that they deem worthy. The U.S. News rankings are worse than useless most of the time, but they do provide a shortcut for determining whether one school considers another school a peer.

As with the rest of the application process, preparation is paramount. Use cost projections that you create to explain why you believe you need a better deal. You'll be thankful both when your first payment is due and in 10 or 20 years.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:43 pm
by jenesaislaw
[saved for later...just in case]

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 3:10 am
by otowngrl77
I am in the process of applying to law schools, but I'm unsure of where to apply. I am a mature student (39), and I have a 3.98 undergraduate GPA (I also went to grad school) and a score of 174 on the lsat. I had worked as a grant writer and fundraiser, and I would like to get a law degree to augment my prior experience. Since I am not considering Big Law when I graduate, I'm not sure where to apply. I am interested in NYU, UPenn, Columbia, and Cornell, but I'm wary of the potential debt. I'm also interested in GW, given their ED/merit scholarship program, but I'm not sure if that's a good fit either. I would like to attend a good law school with a national reputation, but I fear going $100k+ in debt given my age and possible career choices. Any advice on law schools that best fit my needs?

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:28 am
by jk148706
.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:50 pm
by heythatslife
jk148706 wrote:
otowngrl77 wrote:I am in the process of applying to law schools, but I'm unsure of where to apply. I am a mature student (39), and I have a 3.98 undergraduate GPA (I also went to grad school) and a score of 174 on the lsat. I had worked as a grant writer and fundraiser, and I would like to get a law degree to augment my prior experience. Since I am not considering Big Law when I graduate, I'm not sure where to apply. I am interested in NYU, UPenn, Columbia, and Cornell, but I'm wary of the potential debt. I'm also interested in GW, given their ED/merit scholarship program, but I'm not sure if that's a good fit either. I would like to attend a good law school with a national reputation, but I fear going $100k+ in debt given my age and possible career choices. Any advice on law schools that best fit my needs?



3.98 174

Blanket the entire t14
Don't ed GW
ED Northwestern is $150,000 and u would prob get that
With your numbers, you will get big money

I would echo blanketing T14. Not so much ED NW - you're pretty much a lock, but I think you may get full rides from higher ranked schools, including Columbia/NYU/Chicago.
HYS offer need-based aid but require you to take 100k-140k in debt. Not recommended given your situation/debt aversion.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:47 pm
by anychanceatpenn
3.79 164

Any chance at Penn/any other t14's or do I need a better LSAT to have any hope?

Post removed.

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:51 pm
by schmelling
Post removed.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:21 am
by scooter123
Hello,

Applying to Law Schools now. I know absolutely no one in the legal field so I have had no positive input thus far. Hoping you can be of some help. I have a 4.1 GPA and 159 LSAT. I was a double major in History and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama. I was accepted into the University of Alabama School of Law and was given a decent grant. I want to practice in the southern United States. Do you think it would be beneficial to look into some other schools, maybe some reachers or should I just take the money and relatively cheap instate tuition at Alabama. Any insight would be great.

Thank you.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:55 am
by Mullens
scooter123 wrote:Hello,

Applying to Law Schools now. I know absolutely no one in the legal field so I have had no positive input thus far. Hoping you can be of some help. I have a 4.1 GPA and 159 LSAT. I was a double major in History and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama. I was accepted into the University of Alabama School of Law and was given a decent grant. I want to practice in the southern United States. Do you think it would be beneficial to look into some other schools, maybe some reachers or should I just take the money and relatively cheap instate tuition at Alabama. Any insight would be great.

Thank you.



You NEED to retake the LSAT. Your GPA gives you access to every school in the country and it would be an utter shame and travesty if you were to waste it on a 25% scholarship at Alabama. If you retake to 170+, you have a chance to get a full-ride scholarship to T14s or admission to HYS. Please please please don't waste your GPA on such a mediocre LSAT score. Your entire legal career and financial future rests on this decision and that is not an exaggeration.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:01 am
by rebcca
fewer people are applying to law school. They worry there will be no job waiting for them on the other side. And, indeed, some recent graduates are having a terrible time of it. Often, though, you see an increase in applications during economic slumps as students wait out the bad job market. Something, perhaps the beating law schools have been taking in the court of public opinion of late, is scaring folks off.

Post Removed.

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:42 pm
by jewkidontheblock
Post Removed.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:07 pm
by crishtia
mod edit: SPAM

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:35 pm
by lawschool22222222
I've applied, but what are my prospects at 169/4.05? I have two years of full time work experience through TFA.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:34 am
by BillsFan9907
lawschool22222222 wrote:I've applied, but what are my prospects at 169/4.05? I have two years of full time work experience through TFA.


Wrong forum. Post this in "What are my chances" for far better results. Not many people read this thread. Here are your prospects however:

http://mylsn.info/vbfyt0/

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:52 am
by jk148706
.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:57 pm
by jaspreet76693
You NEED to retake the LSAT. Your GPA gives you access to every school in the country

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:05 pm
by Ron Howard
scooter123 wrote:Hello,

Applying to Law Schools now. I know absolutely no one in the legal field so I have had no positive input thus far. Hoping you can be of some help. I have a 4.1 GPA and 159 LSAT. I was a double major in History and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama. I was accepted into the University of Alabama School of Law and was given a decent grant. I want to practice in the southern United States. Do you think it would be beneficial to look into some other schools, maybe some reachers or should I just take the money and relatively cheap instate tuition at Alabama. Any insight would be great.

Thank you.


I think that you definitely need to retake the LSAT and get your score up. It would be most unwise to waste that GPA--and obvious talent--with your current score. With enough improvement your options will be virtually unlimited, and you will surely be able to get full-rides from a number of T14 schools. So please retake, you have done so well already, but now you need to finish what you started. Browse TLS for LSAT advice and ask questions as needed. I believe in you, and know you can do better. Now please believe in yourself.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:18 am
by Ella-Bella
mod edit: SPAM

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:53 pm
by Dlee954
I am studying for the LSAT now. People are asking for the schools but lsac provides the likelihood of being accepted to whatever school now. Choosing where to go at best value is something else.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:13 am
by T14wannabe2016
I have a 3.96 GPA and a great resume. I took the LSAT twice, first time I got a 158 and I haven't gotten the second score back yet (but my practice tests were in the 162-165 range. Do I have a prayer at any T14 school?

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:50 pm
by Student of Law
T14wannabe2016 wrote:I have a 3.96 GPA and a great resume. I took the LSAT twice, first time I got a 158 and I haven't gotten the second score back yet (but my practice tests were in the 162-165 range. Do I have a prayer at any T14 school?


That would, of course, depend on what you get on your next test. If it is line with the practice tests, esspecialy on the higher end, then yes––you will probably get into a few. NU, Berkeley, Penn, UVA, and MI are all possibilities. But to increase your chances of getting accepted into those schools as well as the number of schools you can get accepted to and (importantly) the scholarship consideration you will receive, you might want to try for a third time.

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Tue May 24, 2016 6:33 am
by FlatOli
mod edit: SPAM

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:34 pm
by bgt1995
Hello, everyone!

Long time lurker but first time poster! I really need some guidance as to where to apply. I have a 171, 3.96 from Cornell (but I expect this to drop to a 3.8 when other grades are factored in). I am also a URM.

Any advice?

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:37 pm
by Nachoo2019
bgt1995 wrote:Hello, everyone!

Long time lurker but first time poster! I really need some guidance as to where to apply. I have a 171, 3.96 from Cornell (but I expect this to drop to a 3.8 when other grades are factored in). I am also a URM.

Any advice?


3.8/171 with URM status should have you in at SHCCN and everything below for sure. Y is never a for sure thing, but I would say you have better than a coinflips chance there as well.

Basically, you will get in to every school in the country other than Yale forsure and you have a very good chance at Yale.

Make sure your app is polished and you apply as close to the first day apps open up as possible.


Edit: do you have any work experience or are you K-JD? Some work experience will help with HYS as well

Re: What Schools Should I Apply To?

Posted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:50 pm
by bgt1995
Nachoo2019 wrote:
bgt1995 wrote:Hello, everyone!

Long time lurker but first time poster! I really need some guidance as to where to apply. I have a 171, 3.96 from Cornell (but I expect this to drop to a 3.8 when other grades are factored in). I am also a URM.

Any advice?


3.8/171 with URM status should have you in at SHCCN and everything below for sure. Y is never a for sure thing, but I would say you have better than a coinflips chance there as well.

Basically, you will get in to every school in the country other than Yale forsure and you have a very good chance at Yale.

Make sure your app is polished and you apply as close to the first day apps open up as possible.


Edit: do you have any work experience or are you K-JD? Some work experience will help with HYS as well


Thanks so much for responding! I am working on applications this summer so I can submit them literally the day they open lol

I have a good deal of work experience. I've done some undergrad poli sci research, and I've worked at two death penalty clinics in the past two years. I have also done a fair amount of my own research on the politics of the USSC, and I will be doing a thesis on this next year. I do want to go K-JD (I've known I wanted to go to law school for five years) but I feel like I could bite the bullet and wait if need be.