Alright, hopefully you’ve all at least started submitting your applications. If not, get on it! You REALLY need to get them in prior to the New Year. Mid-December is typically the scholarship deadline for several schools too. So if you want any chance at some merit-based aid, hurry up. To those of you who have already sent yours in, good job, I’m proud.
As the applications go in and decisions start coming back (I’ve already gotten three decisions back!) you’re stuck with deciding on which school you think you’re going to get into. I had quite an ordeal with this during undergrad, no doubt due to the fact that I applied to about ten undergrad schools. I’ve applied to a similar number of law schools, and with three decisions back I’m already dreading that April deadline to notify my intent. It’s going to be rough to say the least. I’ve already started trying to figure out a way to back a more objective way to decide between schools, it’s going to be a massive spreadsheet of doom that I’ll post here to help others. Of course, that’s not the only factor in determining a law school.
Visiting a school is definitely the other half of the coin. At the end of the day, regardless of how the numbers stake up, if you just can’t stand the school/town/students/faculty, it’s probably not a good idea to spend three years of your life and potentially a mortgage worth of money going there. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a handful of the schools that I’ve applied to, and you can gain the advantage of my experience with my reviews. However, I’ve still got a lot of schools I’ve got to go visit. Let’s just say it’ll be a busy spring for me!
The other factor, and subsequent other half of my post, is the mighty employment numbers of schools. Unfortunately, US News and World Report has less than statistically perfect methods for schools to report numbers and it’s difficult to get a real reflection about how people are doing from each school. There’s plenty of literature and blogs trashing the legal industry as something you shouldn’t even think twice about. I don’t believe it’s that bleak. Keep in mind, these people, many are lawyers, also have a vested interest in having fewer people to compete with. At the end of the day, I think you have to take reported median salary data and job prospects with a grain of salt. It’s certainly something to keep in mind, and should certainly factor into your decision, but I wouldn’t base a decision solely on these criteria. There are people from Harvard Law who can’t get jobs. At the end of the day a job in the legal industry will probably boil down to your work ethic, writing ability, ability to network, and initiative. It’s a lesson I learned first hand from undergrad. Your life is what you make it. No school instantly makes you have a successful career in anything. If you want it, you can get it, it’s just going to take time.
Good luck with the applications and decisions are they roll in. I’m hoping to have a working forumla for my uber spreadsheet of doom sometime after finals over the winter holidays.