13 July 2005

Considerations in Selecting a Law School

NOTE: The following item was originally posted at lawschooldiscussion.org, but I felt it was worth retaining here.

As many can attest, there is not a "one size fits all" approach that can be taken in choosing a law school. For most students, an American Bar Association ("ABA")-certified school is arguably the preferred route. Nonetheless, I would submit there are limited instances where the selection of a non-ABA (but state-certified) law school would be appropriate. The key is to make the decision--whatever it is--as objectively as possible and in full understanding of the consequences.Factors weighing into the decision would include (but is not limited to) the following--
  • Whether someone is entering law school directly from an undergraduate or bachelor's degree, or if there has been an intervening number of years of work experience;
  • Whether that person can afford to proceed to law school without outside employment (even after considering the availability of student loans and scholarships);
  • The availability of law schools within a reasonable driving distance of home and employment;
  • Whether the student would be willing to relocate solely for the purposes of entering into a law school;
  • Whether the law school's schedule will be compatible with outside employment; or in the alternative, whether a night school is available;
  • Whether the school is ABA accredited; or in the alternative, whether one would be able to accept the implications of going to a school that only has state accreditation (including certain jurisdictional limitations on where one can practice);
  • Family considerations (i.e., spouse, dependants, significant others, etc.);
  • The quality of the school(s) being considered, independent of the certification issue, including the track record of students that have have previously graduated from the school;
  • The student's prior accomplishments and legal aptitude (i.e., GPA and LSAT), including whether the student will be able to receive one or more scholarships at the desired school;
  • The cost of tuition for the schools being considered (or alternatively, the estimated amount of debt one will face after completion of studies); and,
  • One's reasons for going to law school in the first place, and to what extent these reasons are career-oriented.

Arguably, perhaps the last factor may be among the most important. If one's motive is specifically to join the top 5% of law firms anywhere in the country, or to work in a high profile position in federal or state government, the school one goes to becomes highly relevant. At the other extreme, there are those who study the law purely from the standpoint of personal interest or to supplement knowledge in one's current career. In such instances, the school becomes somewhat less relevant. Between these extremes are combinations of personal interest and career in various amounts, and these have to be balanced out carefully against the remaining factors as outlined above. --Sandy

Hello and Welcome

On this date, Witzlaw's Commentary is open for business. If you are just joining us, you haven't missed very much. :-)

What I think I would want to do at some point is to publish a statement of some guiding principles, which in turn will hopefully place my subsequent remarks into context. But for right now, let me say at the very outset the following:
  • I will probably be more conservative than liberal, but beyond that, I'm not sure I would fit into a specific portion of the political spectrum. I'll consider myself independent for the time being, but this may be subject to change.
  • I will not seek to offend, but there will undoubtedly be some topics and some viewpoints that I will feel very passionate about. As to such items, I will seek to approach the subject matter tactfully and diplomatically, but at the same time zealously and perhaps even forcefully. That's not an easy balance, but it will be what I shall strive for. Obviously it will not be possible to be in agreement with everyone...such is life, especially in the world of everyday discourse. But even if one is in disagreement with a particular viewpoint, I believe that it is possible to handle differences in a way that respect is maintained and even cultivated.
  • Of course, all of the above sounds very idealistic. If it is so, it is because I am an idealist. I would like to talk more about how things ought to be, rather than how things actually are.
  • Finally, I will also note that my religious beliefs and my testimony are very important to me. It is the key building block on my life and is the foundation behind my growing family. Which is not to say that I intend to impose my religious beliefs upon others...in fact, I feel very strongly against such behavior. In a world of extremely divergent viewpoints, especially in matters of religion, it is important to recognize that our spiritual journey is a deeply personal one. In that context, the two most important things we can do are 1) Follow the spiritual compass that God has given to each of us, and 2) Stand firmly behind the things you know to be true, no matter what.
And that will do it for my first point. Stay tuned for some initial remarks about law school. And thank you for your time in looking through Witzlaw. I think it's going to be a very interesting journey indeed.

Sander J. "Sandy" Rabinowitz