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Choosing a Law School

Your Applicant Profile: GPA and LSAT Score

Law-school admissions committees rely heavily on undergraduate GPA and the LSAT. Looking at a law school’s entering class profile for average and mean for GPAs and LSAT scores and can be a good way to compare your own applicant profile to a school’s targeted median (25th to 75th percentile range) and gauge your chance for admission to prospective schools. You can compare your profile to each school’s admission statistics via the LSAC's Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools. Applicants should use this information when determining where to apply in an effort to cover a range of options:

  • Safety Schools: schools for which an applicant’s LSAT and GPA score are above the institution’s median
  • Target Schools: schools for which an applicant’s LSAT and GPA are both close to the institution’s median
  • Reach Schools: schools for which an applicant’s LSAT and/or GPA is below the institution’s median

*While GPA and LSAT scores are important, numbers alone are not the sole factors considered by law-school admissions and should therefore not rule out consideration of applying to “reach schools.”

Program Offerings and Specializations

While most law schools do not assign formal concentrations or “majors,” some schools are known for their specialized programs or certificate programs in specific areas of the law. These programs essentially combine upper-level coursework and clinical experiences to help students develop marketable expertise in a focused area of the law. When considering law schools, carefully consider the curriculum.

Academic Programs

Regardless of the law school you choose to attend, you will find that the basic curriculum focusses on specific skills required of all lawyers. However, the breadth of course offerings will vary by school. When considering law schools, examine their subject-specific course offerings for range and depth of material.

 

Clinical and Externship Opportunities

Clinical programs provide hands-on, practical training for law students by allowing them to interview, counsel, and represent clients in court, draft legislative policy, and participate in transactional practice under the supervision of experienced faculty. Similarly, externships offer the opportunity to receive academic credit for field work with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. These types of experimental opportunities provide immersive practical experience students are unable to get in a classroom setting, along with exposure to specializations in legal practice. (e.g., Michigan Law offers numerous clinics, including an Entrepreneurship Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, and Juvenile Justice Clinic, among others.)

Joint Degree Programs

Applicants wishing to apply to joint degree programs are typically required to apply to each degree program separately. This means applicants should research institutions that present compelling programs in both fields of study.

 

Geographic Location

Geography is extremely important when applying to law schools. Where your school is located can affect summer internship and employment opportunities available to you, cost of living, and ultimately your ability to practice elsewhere. Think long term about where you would be happiest living and practicing after you have graduated. Examine whether your prospective school has a stronger regional reputation or national reputation. (Schools with national reputations typically require higher GPAs and LSAT scores.)

“Fit”: Supportive Faculty and Administration

Other important factors to consider when assessing which law schools to apply to:

  • Campus culture
  • Diversity of student body and faculty
  • Evening programs and flexibility to work, if necessary

Cost of Attendance

Factors to consider:

  • Availability of financial aid
  • Ability to establish residency for reduced tuition costs

Law School Transfer

The law-school transfer process is academically stringent and far rarer than the ability to transfer undergraduate institutions. Therefore, where you choose to attend law school matters, as where you choose to enroll will more than likely be the institution at which you complete your studies.

Resources

Equal Justice Works - Law school side-by-side of public interest programs