Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

6 Things You're Overlooking in Your Law School Search

 

Six things you're overlooking in your law school search.jpgMake sure the law school you pick is the right fit for you.

Download a free guide to help compare scholarships - see below.

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? BTW: Did 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.
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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?

 

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

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

June 07