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How to Choose the Right Law School


International students who are applying to law schools in the US will first have to determine what law school is best for them. How to choose the right law school is a big question. There are a lot of qualities to look for in a good law school. Students should be sure to do thorough research into potential law schools, and apply to the ones they feel will provide the best fit for them.


Law school rankings are becoming more and more important to incoming law students looking to find the right school. All accredited law schools in the US are ranked annually based on a number of different criteria. These criteria include quality, rankings by lawyers, selectivity, placement success, and bar passage rate. International students often look into the results to choose which law school they want to attend. Generally speaking, the higher ranked the law school, the more likely they are to put a student into a law position following graduation. Most current students would say that schools in the top 100 are the first place one should start looking. Find schools that interest you and also have the quality education that will help you once you enter the profession. The next tier of law school is the top 40 ranking, which are more selective and have even better success in placements and quality. Lastly are the top 12 schools, which are generally seen as the best law schools and most competitive. Many of the biggest firms around the country recruit directly out of these schools and look to select the top students in each class to come work for them as summer associates and eventually full time employees.

The School’s Location

One of the most important things to consider when asking how to choose the right law school is where the school is located geographically. Why is this important? In most cases, the region in which the school is located in is very likely to be where you will find work as a lawyer (that is, if you do not return back to your home country!). There are a few reasons for this.

  1. First off, law degrees are very regional, meaning that they carry much more weight in your area than in another. A student who earned a degree from a school in Florida is far more likely to find work in a nearby city than a student from Mississippi looking to work in the state. While exceptions happen, it is becoming rare to see out of area students practicing law in a far off city.
  2. Another reason is because of the local alumni base. Alumni from a college are more likely to hire a law student from their alma mater than from a different school. Most firms are opened in the region around where a person graduated.
  3. The final, and perhaps most important, reason that a law degree tends to be regional is the bar. Each state requires a lawyer who wants to practice in that state to pass a bar exam. State laws differ from state to state, and a student who studied law in Georgia may not be prepared to pass the bar in Florida. There are, of course, exceptions to all these rules. The best schools in the country extend degrees that are admired nationally. Students from these schools can find work just about anywhere and are heavily recruited by law firms.

A School with the Right Field of Study

Lastly, international students asking how to choose the right law school should look into studying at a law school that has courses in the type of law they wish to study. Some schools have better reputations in certain types of law. These reputations stem from the faculty that the schools employ and their former positions. Schools may have great programs in public service law such as working for the state or public defender’s office. Other schools may have top notch programs in sports law and have a reputation for putting out some of the best sports agents or sports related lawyers. Other types of programs may be human rights law or environmental law. Students should look into each school and see if their field of study matches the type of programs that law schools in the US offer.

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