When picking the right law school, a lot of focus is put on rankings and prestige. People often forget that they will need the support of their professors and faculty to help them be successful. The following four questions should always be kept in mind when selecting a school.
1. Are professors willing to meet outside of class and grade practice exams?
Your professors should hold office hours outside of class for meeting with students and also be reachable by e-mail. It was not until my second year that I started to meet with my professors after each exam I took to see how I could better improve. I was surprised at how much my professors were willing to help me. By taking this simple step, I was able to develop a relationship and significantly improve my grades on tests.
2. What will career services do while I am in school and beyond to help me get a job?
In today’s legal industry there is a lot of competition to get a first year associate’s position. Each position receives hundreds if not thousands of applicants. It is likely that you will need to start planning early in order to secure a job. The career services department should:
- Help you come up with a list of law firms you would likely have success applying to
- Help you reach out to law school alumni
- Understand what alternative legal careers are available
- Know what government programs are available
- Review your resume
- Prepare you for upcoming interviews
By working closely with them ahead of time, you can come up with a list of firms to apply to that is tailored to your interests. Furthermore, you will be able to work with them to conduct mock interviews, so you will have the greatest success in getting that job fresh out of school.
3. What type of bar preparation do they offer?
Bar preparation will be the single most important class you take during your law school career, so making sure that you have one available that meets your specific needs is extremely important. Schools typically use either an in-house bar preparation course, or are contracted with one available through a third party. When speaking with a faculty member, make sure to find out:
- What their pass rate is?
- What sort of retaking policy do they have?
- How many exams will they grade?
Each exam preparation course comes with a variety of modules at different price points. You will need to match up these offerings to your exact study habits to have the best chances for passing the bar.
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4. What is the message from the school? – Do they focus on your success?
Lastly, and most important is what feeling do you get from the school after visiting the campus and listening to their faculty? You will be spending the next three years of your life at this institution. For me, it was knowing that the school truly wanted to work with me to succeed that sold me. They were willing to work closely with students to help them pass their classes and succeed in a career in law.
In conclusion, each person's criteria for a choosing the right law school will be unique. It is a significant decision and focusing on price, rankings and job placement statistics does not account for the support and training you will need to be successful.