About to enter his second year at St. Louis’ Washington University School of Law, Michael Torney is a Dean’s List student who serves on the New Jersey Parents’ Caucus and the New Jersey Association for Justice. Torney earned his Bachelor’s degree in Government from Franklin & Marshall College. Below, he offers some advice on how to select a law school.
1. When just beginning your search, create a list with three different categories: core schools, dream schools, and safety schools. For core schools, identify those institutions where you meet the applicant credentials. Dream schools represent the schools you want to attend but do not necessarily meet the credentials for, or those that are highly competitive. Add the institutions you are considering and stand a solid chance of acceptance to your safety category. Be sure to consider cost or geographic limitations in your search, as well as academic requirements such as GPA and LSAT scores (but remember that for some schools, these are not the only factors used to evaluate applicants).
2. Examine the law school’s bar exam passage rate for its graduates. You can safely assume that schools with high passage rates prepare their students to take the bar very well. However, this is not the only credential to consider: some schools with high passage rates are not that great, while others with lower passage rates are exceptional.
3. Consider the curriculum and activities. You may want to focus your studies on a specific area of law or participate in several different law journals; however, you will need to make sure the schools you are applying to offer those options. Examine such characteristics as the diversity of courses provided by law schools to their second- and third-year students and what they offer for moot court, law review, clinics, and other programs.
4. Look into the school’s career services program and job placement percentages for graduates. Examine which career areas graduates typically enter into and how that compares to your own long-term employment goals.