Pre Law - Law Schools

Going to law school is a serious commitment and an equally serious investment. Any law school applicant needs to accomplish a considerable amount of research about prospective law schools; fortunately, various Web sites make that research easier all the time. What matters to each applicant will vary, so it is critical that you define what you want in a law school and a legal education. As you investigate law schools with your interests in mind, you will begin to discern what law schools have in common and what might set them apart.

Legal Education: The Basics

Because all law schools train students to successfully become an attorney by passing one or more Bar exams, there are basic commonalities among them. LSAC has prepared an explanation of these factors:

  • The First Year
  • The Case Method Approach
  • The Ability to Think
  • The Curriculum
  • Opportunities to Practice What is Learned
  • Extracurricular Activities

Areas of Legal Practice

Law schools prepare their graduates to work in highly diverse settings: private practice, government, private industries, legal aid/public defense, and legal education. Areas of specialization are not entirely separate, but include:

  • Civil Rights Law
  • Corporate and Securities Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Education Law
  • Employment and Labor Law
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law
  • Family and Juvenile Law
  • Health Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Sports and Entertainment Law
  • Tax Law

If you really want to investigate different legal specialties, you might benefit from carefully reviewing this guide provided by NALP, the association for legal career professionals.

Choosing a Law School

From the LSAC site, you can access the 2014 Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools where you are able to search law schools by different criteria; once you are prepared to investigate where you might apply, a particularly usefulĀ  way to search is to enter your grade point average and LSAT score to see what your chances of admission might be by looking at how you compare to the law schools’ reported 25th to 75th percentiles for both factors. There are also links to each law school Web site.

You might also find it useful to review the 2013 NAPLA_SAPLA Book of Law School Lists; it catalogs law schools by academic programs, student organizations, clinics and much more.

Once you have gathered preliminary information and questions have begun to arise, you are prepared to meet and interact with law school admissions representatives at any of the LSAC Law School Recruitment Forums held in major U. S. cities. Representatives from virtually all of the U.S. law schools attend these forums.

The LSAC site has good, basic advice to get you oriented to assessing yourself realistically and evaluatingĀ  law schools. The more you have reviewed this information and combine it with your specific circumstances and goals, the better position you will be in to make your best decisions.

The Association of Legal Career Placement (NALP) created a new pre-law portal in 2011. It might be helpful in learning the questions to ask when evaluating law school career placement achievements.

The American Bar Association asks all approved law schools each year for employment statistics. The ABA provides this data by law school and collectively by year. Here is the link.

A newer Web site created as a result of recent downturns in legal employment and has been providing relevant data in ways easy to access: Law School Transparency

The Web can only provide you with a virtual experience. Whenever feasible, visiting law schools is highly recommended. You will spend the next three years at law school, wouldn’t it be useful to have an opportunity to speak with current students, staff, and experience the facilities? Dean Karen Clemence can let you know if there are Lafayette alumni in a law school of interest to you; many alumni are more than willing to be in contact via email, by phone, or in person during your visit.