If you’re considering pursuing a law degree and eventually a masters of law so that you can qualify to take the bar exam in your state and become an attorney, here’s what you need to know before sending out your law school applications.
1. Check Job Market Trends for Schools You’re Considering
You’ve likely heard that the job market is tight for lawyers, particularly in certain specialty areas and regions of the country. One of the best ways to choose the law school that will result in gainful employment is to view the trends posted by the American Bar Association. This professional organization collects data from law programs about where their graduates are employed. The more alumni who report having full-time jobs in the legal field, the higher the school should rank on your list.
2. Consider Feeder Schools
Certain schools tend to send a lot of graduates to jobs in specific geographic locations, though the connections aren’t always obvious. If you have a plan for your life after law school that includes the city where you wish to practice, find out which schools tend to place a lot of graduates in desirable jobs in those cities. Again, the employment trends data from the American Bar Association is a great resource here.
3. Think about Specialty
While the majority of law students haven’t chosen a specific practice area upon entry, U.S. News and World Report indicates that discussing a chosen specialty in your admissions materials can help make you a more competitive applicant. This also allows you to target schools that are strong in that specialty area, improving your eventual job prospects.
4. Target the Right LSAT Score
As law school applications rise in some cycles and fall in others, so too do average LSAT scores for admission. Read law school blogs and publications to get a feel for the trends in this area so you know what you’re up against when it’s time to take the test. For example, many insiders are predicting that admission is likely for candidates with at least a 165 LSAT, while more applications (and thus more competition) is expected in the 150-164 range.
5. Sharpen Your Pencil
This year, more law school applications include an optional essay. Never skip this step; not only do the length requirements tend to be short, but this gives you another opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates.
While law school might not be the guaranteed ticket to success it was once considered, well-prepared applicants who familiarize themselves with the machinations of the profession and have a clear path in mind are likely to prevail.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.