Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
Post Reply

Posts: 4
Joined: Sun May 03, 2020 2:36 am

Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

Post by joeytortellini » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:41 pm

Hi folks. I am applying to law schools to start during Fall 2021. I am non-URM and have been out of college for 5 years now. My goal is to work in environmental law, and specifically for either 1)Advocacy groups of any size, from Sierra to region-specific ones(any salary above 60k is fine with me unless I have astronomically high debt) 2)government regulatory/enforcement agencies.

I've heard the spiel that most environmental law graduates end up working for corporations, but I've also heard that especially with environmental law, t-14 graduates are usually the ones with the most flexibility and opportunities out of the gate to jump into my preferred fields. However, I think for t-14 chances, my current numbers: 3.59 undergraduate GPA and 170 LSAT are not exceptional. I retook recently and I expect to hit the mid-170s, but I am not considering that for now. I would of course like to maximize financial aid. I also have a 1-year MSL degree in environmental policy and got mostly honours grades if that helps me at all

So I am wondering whether this sort of career-flexibility for environmental law graduates is limited to these top schools or whether 14-30ish ranked schools can offer anything comparable(schools like Vanderbilt, GWU, BU)? If so, are there any specific schools in this range that are particularly well positioned for those going into environmental law? I wonder because I feel like my numbers would be more likely to net me decent scholarships at those schools. I don't care too much about the regional/national gap as I would be thrilled to work for a regional environmental organization or state government, but I certainly do want to at least be well-positioned to at least be in the running for those at the very least.


Posts: 185
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:02 pm

Re: Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

Post by crazywafflez » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:39 pm

You've got a 3.59 GPA and a 170 LSAT? I think you'll get into the T14- Especially Gtown, but probs most of the lower T14. I'd actually apply to most of the T20 (WashU, UT, vandy etc) and see where the chips fall. I think you'd get a really nice scholarship to WashU and probs a full ride to places like Emory, GW, or BU etc. or darn close. I wouldn't focus on which school places better in envl law unless you are looking at similarly ranked schools with similar scholarship packages. Say WashU is better than Vandy at Environmental law and they are equal in price- go with Vandy. Rank matters a lot less after the T20 though- i.e. BU is better for Boston whereas GW is better for DC. Hope this helps some. Best of luck


Posts: 323
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:14 am

Re: Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

Post by Sackboy » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:08 pm

I'd apply to every school below Penn in the rankings to the T20. Those schools will best set you up to enter into the environmental law non-profit/government space. At that point, you can consider LRAPs to combine with PSLF. Don't need to worry about 300k in gov't loans if Uncle Sam will wipe them out for you. The other option is to apply to law schools that will give you 100% scholarship to make up for the much greater chance of failing to get a good environmental gig, but I'd only do that if it was a state flagship in a state you want to end up and has otherwise good statistics (i.e. maybe it only sends 10% into biglaw but 85% of its graduates beocme lawyers). Don't go to some place that throws a 100% scholarship at you but then 30% of graduates become lawyers 9 months after graduation.

User avatar

Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:03 pm

Re: Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

Post by hookem7 » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:18 pm

First and foremost, I would apply broadly down to the T30 or so and try to strike the best balance of price/quality of school/region you want to practice in regardless of your current goals. While it is clear you have an interest in environmental law, goals change and you might find that a completely as of now unknown area of the law is of particular interest to you. Or you may decide it sounds nice to make $180k a year should big law be in the cards. In either case, you want to have gone to a school with the most opportunities for the best price vs. what will set you up best for your 0L goals. T-14 schools have more flexibility in environmental jobs because they have more flexibility period. Environmental is also a fairly small niche.

I began my career as an environmental litigator at a state/regional organization and did not go to a t-14 (except for that one time in 2017). I can't speak to more national orgs/federal jobs but in my experience, state/regional agencies and advocacy groups care less about the school you went to than your demonstrated interest in government/non-profit work. In that regard, I do think your MSL is helpful in terms of getting a job although LS admissions likely won't care all that much. I wouldn't worry about specialty programs at certain schools or base my decision on these at all. There is no school that has some special advantage in the environmental practice area, and most state/local governments and regional orgs are going to hire from the top schools in their region.

Hope that is helpful in some way. I realize my advice kind of tells you the best way to achieve achieve your backup goals.


Posts: 10772
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Non t-14 schools for environmental law job flexibility

Post by CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:12 pm

Do not trust any government--state or federal--to wipe out your law school student loan debt. Way too risky.

With a 3.59 GPA and a 170 LSAT, you should receive many full tuition & fees scholarship offers among Tier One (top 50) law schools.

Based on your career goals, it is best to attend law school on a full tuition & fees scholarship so that you have the financial freedom to accept a low paying position in your field of interest.

Nevertheless, it would be wise to apply to to all schools that are of interest to you from the lower half of the top 14 down.

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!

Post Reply

Return to “Choosing a Law School”