School & Program Selection
It is wonderful to have lifelong dreams of attending a certain school, and you should work towards those dreams whole-heartedly. Admission to law school, however, is very competitive, and you need to be realistic to ensure your success. Take the time to investigate law schools! www.lsac.org is an excellent place to begin. There are several publications that give a review of schools. These are available from the Pre-Law advisor, the University library and career counseling services, through LSAC, or through commercial outlets. Read catalogues from several law schools. If at all possible, VISIT or (SIT IN on a class) at the schools you are considering. The University of Georgia School of Law offers prospective students the ability to watch sample videos of law classes here. Law school is a challenging three years. Attending a law school that is not a “good fit” for you can turn “challenging” into “miserable”!
Factors to consider:
- Class / School size and makeup. Some law schools are geared more towards “traditional” students, i.e., ones who have recently graduated from college and will attend law school full-time. Others are made up primarily of “non-traditional” students, i.e., those who have been out of college longer, who want to attend law school part-time, etc.
- Faculty. Accessibility and expertise are the factors to consider. Are they full-time and available to students after class, or are they simply teaching on a lunch break from their private practice? Are they known experts in the field in which they are teaching?
- Programs / Clinics. Does the law school offer a program or practical clinic experience in the fields and areas in which you believe you are interested?
- Employment placement assistance. How many staff are dedicated to helping law school students locate employment? How many employers come on campus to interview? What externship opportunities are available while you are in school?
- Dual degree programs. JD/MBA; JD/MPA; JD/PhD; JD/MD
These are just some of the factors you will want to consider in selecting a school. Spend the same time researching and selecting a school as you do preparing for the LSAT. Remember, getting in is only the first part of the battle—you have to survive the next three years that follow!
- LSAC Law School Forum—over 150 ABA law schools attend to provide information and answer questions of prospective law school students. A Southeastern Forum is held in the fall in Atlanta.
- UGA Law School Fair provides an opportunity for UGA Pre-Law students to speak with admissions officers from a number of law schools across the region and country. The Fair is held annually each fall. · www.lsac.org
- Law school catalogues
- Law school alumni—they can tell you what the school is really like.
- Materials available from the Pre-Law advisor, the Career Center, bookstores, and the library.
In 1971, the American Bar Association approved standards for law schools. Law schools which meet its standards are called "ABA-Approved." (You may access the list of ABA-Approved Law Schools through the American Bar Association Web Site.) Most states will allow graduates of any ABA-approved law school to take the state bar examination and thereby become licensed to practice law in that state. A law degree from an unapproved law school may limit your ability to take the bar exam. Before enrolling in a law school not approved by the ABA, you should carefully check the state bar regulations where you plan to practice law.
You should consider the cost of attending the law schools that interest you. There is a great deal of financial aid, both public and private, available to law students, and most students require financial assistance. You will receive financial aid information, concerning scholarships, grants, and loans, from the schools where you are accepted. You will want to think carefully about how much debt you are willing to incur in order to earn your degree, because that may have an important impact on the type of employment opportunities that you can explore after graduation.
Resources are available to assist you in your selection of a law school. USE these resources to make sure you follow the adage to not only choose early but to also CHOOSE WISELY!
Financing law school
Financing law school is a serious matter that you should fully consider before deciding to attend law school. Although financial aid for law school is limited, you should prepare a FAFSA as you/your parents did at the undergraduate level. Merit aid is generally awarded simultaneously with acceptance, but some law schools announce merit aid awards at a specified date after admittance. There is generally not a separate application process for such awards, but you will need to thoroughly research each law school’s policy. Federal loans are often a primary source for financing law school, and the Pre-Law advisor will provide resources about the mechanics of federal loan financing.