Where to Apply: Law School
There are some 200 law schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Applying to law school is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but not nearly as costly or time-consuming as attending law school. Since you will likely leave law school with a personal debt somewhere between $80,000 to $150,000, take the time now to carefully research different law schools and find the ones that are the best fit for you.
Start by thinking about what you want from a law school. Draw up a list of law schools that meet your criteria and then revise your choices based on your chances of admission. While your GPA and LSAT do not begin to tell your whole story, unfortunately they are the primary yardstick that admissions committees use to differentiate among applicants.
Don’t underestimate your qualifications and abilities; at the same time, be realistic about your expectations in a process predicated largely (but not entirely) on LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs.
We urge you to only consider ABA-accredited schools. They are the only institutions whose degrees entitle you to sit for the bar anywhere in the United States. Non-accredited schools, which may seem attractive because of more generous policies regarding low LSAT scores or lower tuition, limit your options for future practice, and hurt you in the job market. More importantly, in many states, you cannot sit for the bar unless you attended an ABA-accredited institution.
Your first source of information about the law schools should be the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, available as a free searchable online database on the LSAC website. The guide provides an array of information about each school, with links to the schools’ official websites. It’s a great starting point, but there are also a number of other reliable sources for researching schools and obtaining factual information about their programs—the best of these are listed on our links page.
Lawyers and law students can be quite informative about their own law schools, but please remember one important caveat: with rare exceptions, any given lawyer or law student has only ever attended one law school. They have little or no basis for comparison, and can only tell you about their particular experience. Keep in mind also that any two graduates of a school can emerge with very different impressions of the experience. Make sure you ask them for the basis of their opinions, and not just their conclusions.
Be VERY wary of online forums about law school. Ask yourself if the self-reported information is audited by the website for accuracy (this is almost never the case) and whether the anonymous reporter brings any particular expertise to the information they post (usually not). It shouldn’t surprise you that there are internet trolls everywhere, including on law school forums, who seem to thrive on spreading misinformation.
And what about the rankings? These are so problematic, they merit their own page.