Although it has been nearly 20 years since Charles PT Phoenix received his J.D., his time at Wayne State University Law School was an important part of his life. Charles PT Phoenix was heavily involved in school activities, serving on a number of important committees and the Student Board of Governors. One of those committees led to hiring the first female dean in a Michigan law school
Although the school you choose won’t be the deciding factor in your success as an attorney, it is an important decision. If you are currently in the process of getting your law school applications together, here are a few things to keep in mind as you search schools and ultimately apply to several of them.
Choose a Law School That Is Near Where You Might Want to Work: Unless you are applying to a bunch of Top 10 or Top 15 schools with national recognition, you will want to choose a law school that is near where you might want to practice. This will maximize your job opportunities as you’ll be able to talk with more recruiters and connect with alumni who are still in the area and may be able to help you out.
Understand the Law School Application Process: When you apply to law school, you’ll learn very quickly that applying to law school is a little different than applying to college. Be very sure to complete your applications early in January as about half of the offers are made in that month alone (like, I have to admit, I neglected to do). After that point, you compete not only with others who have yet to complete their applications, but students who applied in January, but didn’t gain admission to their preferred schools. If you don’t have complete applications until late-March, you will be at the mercy of the remaining slots once the musical chairs stop and the early-applicants have accepted enrollment at one school or another. Another issue is that you might find yourself paying $500.00 or more to accept seats at one or more of your backup schools and hoping your preferred choices become available. Then, you will plunk down more seat deposits as additional offers come in. In the end, you may have accepted 2 or 3 seats from various schools as the options become available. All of that is nonrefundable.
Don’t Neglect LSAT Prep Courses: Unlike many tests you will take in life, LSAT scores don’t disappear. Each sitting averages with all prior sittings. If you take the first test simply to “see what will happen” (yup, I made this mistake, too!), you might find that your score was damaging. While you might obtain a solid score the next time around, you might find yourself in a very difficult battle. For example, let’s say you took the LSAT cold and received a 158 (a decent score, but not great), so you took it again with a little bit of prep and received a 166 (a very solid score). When you apply, the law schools don’t see two scores, but one: a 162 (the average of 166 and 158). A 162 is a decent score and certainly strong enough for all but the top 10 or 15 law schools, but a 166 (which you proved you could do with a minimal effort) is good enough for any law school in the country if you have a strong GPA. While the difference among law schools as a whole is somewhat overstated, there is no doubt that graduating from the top 8 or so schools nationally (or the top school in your state) will open many more doors early in your career, particularly for prestigious clerkships and public service positions. Make sure to take a review course and take it seriously as the test is very difficult and emphasizes very complex puzzles under very tight time constraints – something you likely did not practice much since being a little kid.