Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

6 Things You're Overlooking in Your Law School Search

HiRes.jpg

 

How can you be sure that the law school you pick is the right fit for you? Here are six things to consider before making the decision.

1:  Not all law school curricula are the same.  After the first year, course offerings, curriculum requirements, and field experiences can vary significantly.

  • Identify your top five or six law schools, get on their websites and find their curriculum offering.  Line up each curriculum against the other and rank order.
  • Does the school offer a solid foundation of required courses?
  • Does the required curriculum align with the bar exam where you intend to practice? BTWDid you know that the bar exam is not the same in every state?
  • Does the school offer law specialties that are of interest to you?
  • Is the clinical or internship opportunity required or only suggested?
  • Many schools say they will make you "practice ready," does their curriculum offering support that claim? 

2:  Compare the faculty at each institution. Not all faculty are the same.

  • Do full-time faculty teach required curriculum?
  • What is the experience of the faculty member prior to entering the classroom?  
  • Does it matter to you if a law professor has ever practiced law?
  • How accessible is the full-time faculty?  Ask current students.  Don't rely solely on websites and brochures.
  • Do faculty members provide extra assistance outside the confines of the specific class times? Again, ask current students.
  • Do faculty members regularly participate with students in pro-bono and community service activities?

3:  Determine the full cost of attendance.

  • Tuition, living expenses, books, and travel costs reflect the true expenditures. Factor in any scholarship or tuition discount, along with the length of attendance.
  • For each location, review the cost of living. Housing costs in each community can vary greatly.
  • How long will it take for you to finish your degree (typically 2-5 years)?
  • Is there a distinction between in-state and out-of-state tuition?
  • Review financial aid budgets to make sure they are reasonable for the area you will live in.  
  • Pay special attention to what the budget period represents - one semester, two semesters.  Is there a summer session?

4:  What strings are attached to your scholarship offer?

  • Make sure you FULLY understand the conditions tied to that scholarship.
  • Does the school review the scholarship after a period of time (typically after the first year) to determine if it will be continued?
  • Is the scholarship contingent on grade-point average or class rank? Be realistic about your expected academic performance. 
  • Try to discern what the total dollar amount will be for the scholarship.
  • Download our Scholarship Research Checklist

5:  What about location and lifestyle? Do you want to live in the heart of a city, or in a more suburban area?

  • Are you open to living in a new or unfamiliar location?
  • Do you want to be close to local, regional, and federal courts or other government entities?
  • Visit each campus if you can.  Meet people and see where you will attend classes.
  • How important is diversity? Does it matter that you are in a classroom that reflects the diversity of our society?
  • Will the weather play a role in your school choice?

6: Will you attend full-time or part-time? How soon can you start attending law school?

  • "Traditional" models start in September, attending two semesters, and then taking the summer off.  
  • There are other options at some schools - nights, part-time, weekends.
  • What are the specific schedule options at each school?  What days and times are classes offered?
  • What works for you?

View the WMU-Cooley Law School Viewbook

Contact us if you have any questions. We're happy to help.

WMU-Cooley Law School
(517) 371-5140, ext. 2244
admissions@cooley.edu

December 04