I went through classifieds, realtors, and law school notices they distribute via e-mail to setup a weekend of visits. The realtors do not charge you for any help they give in searching for an apartment. You may need to pay 20 dollars for a credit check or something of the sort to establish how much deposit money you will owe, etc. The classifieds work very well, and is actually how I got my apartment. I like having direct contact with the landlord as we've worked out some specific arrangements for my specific circumstances that a property manager or realtor may not be willing or able to do. If you go through Emily Reel with James William Moore Realty, I can virtually gaurantee a good property. I saw all of her 1 bedrooms, and they were all clean, livable, comfortable, etc. Colonna and Associates was also great to work with and had good properties. Lexington Company's properties were much older and very hit or miss, so I'd suggest the first two options (James William Moore Real Estate and Colonna & Associates).
For classifieds, just check out any that appeal to you. If they want your money, they'll provide pictures and answer questions. Most folks are very friendly and pleasant.
If you have any questions or identify a property and would be interested in having someone check it out on your behalf, I'm sure some of us more local folks could help out (my hometown is only a 2-hour drive from Lexington and I'll be there virtually every weekend between now and orientation). On-campus housing may be of interest to you, as you can be relativel sure you won't be getting a run down, dirty, musty, or otherwise undesirable place.