MumofCad wrote:As far as sitting in on classes, I wouldn't use that to make a decision. Visits can be very productive if you are looking to work with particular faculty as I was. You get a chance to meet with the professors in the field you want to work in and a much better picture of whether the offerings at the school and the resources devoted to it will fit with your agenda. Of course, if you don't have an agenda, that would not be particularly helpful. It all just depends on what you are personally looking to get out of law school when you are essentially choosing between really great schools. Just like the industry surveys they do where different people will have different opinions or in H being ranked in those over Y, but below Y in the USNews rankings. Depending on how you make your determinations about what is most important to consider you will get different results. It can be surprising.
Taking a break from work to say that I would caution against going to law school X specifically because you want to work with faculty member Y whose expertise is in field Z. It's not quite the same as with a Ph.D., and I've done work in both, so I'm familiar with the way you build faculty relationships in academic departments vs. legal faculties.
In Ph.D. world, you want faculty who know a ton about the topic you want to work on, because they have tons of cache with that field and not much outside it, and they'll give you fantastic training in Z field. This is the opposite in law school world, where most jobs/fellowships/clerkships you're applying to out of law school require little very detailed legal knowledge and law faculty have expertise and connections across many topics and industries. If you have three fantastic recommendations from top faculty who work in areas totally unrelated to yours, you will be far better off than the same recs from people who are substantially less well connected or reputed but who work in your field(s).** It's somewhat sad and speaks to the relatively unsubstantial nature of law schools relative to Ph.D. programs, but that's the way it is.
Considering that faculty go on leave, move institutions, have weird issues that make them not-good-recommendors, don't click with you for whatever random reason, etc., I really think picking a school on the basis of one or two faculty members is perilous relative to choosing based on the other criteria on your list.
I'm just one data point, but that's my two cents from experience in both worlds. Happy to talk more about this.
**There are occasional exceptions to this in very specialized fields like tax law, but even there, one fantastic rec from a tax person is sufficient.