Pre-Law Advising

Choosing Law Schools

As you decide where to apply, remember you are looking for a school that provides a professional education that will prepare you for a career in law.

Many schools will provide this education for you. The most selective schools create more options, but they are not the only ones to consider. There are many schools that will prepare you for the career of your choice in the place you want to live and work and at a price point that makes sense. The objective is to find the school that is the best fit for you. 

Characteristics to Consider

We recommend that you think about some of these fundamental characteristics in considering where to apply:

Where do you want to go to school? Is there a part of the country you prefer? Do you want a school in the city, in the countryside, or one that’s in between? Large city, small city? Where might you like to make your career? Employers tend to draw from law schools in their geographic region so if you know where you would like to work in the future, this is an important consideration. It’s true that the best students at the most elite schools may have greater geographic freedom in their job searches, but companies, firms and agencies frequently hire from a variety of law schools in their area.

Are you interested in a particular area of law, clinical opportunity or interdisciplinary program? Look at law school websites and see what academic, research or specialty programs and certificates they feature. See if there are faculty working on things that interest you.

How much will it cost to attend particular schools? More selective schools cost more; they also tend to have more generous aid and public interest loan reduction programs. Most schools offer “merit” aid – the amount they offer depends in part on how badly they want a particular student to attend. Many schools have specific scholarships for which you must submit a separate application. Be pragmatic. If you don’t need the credential of a highly selective school for the career you are planning, you may find that a less selective school will prepare you well for the jobs you want and leave you with less debt.

The “vibe” of a school can be difficult to judge. Schools have reputations for their environments but these can be misleading and how you will feel at a school will depend on many factors. Some things you can assess: how big is the school, how big are the first year classes, how does the school attempt to foster community; does it have a traditional curriculum and grading approach or something less traditional; consider (with caution) what you can find on social media, and try to talk to current students. Visit the school if you can. 

Learning About Individual Schools

Pre-Law Advising organizes a number of programs, admission dean panels, and information sessions that expose you to information about legal education and particular law schools. We encourage all students and alumni to attend so that they can interact with admission officials in person. Many of these events are available to alumni far from campus live through Zoom. In addition to the resources provided by Pre-Law advising at Brown, the ABA/LSAC Official Guide offers an online, searchable database of law schools which you can search by geography, average LSAT, and other criteria.


Law school admissions are very competitive and even students with high percentile grades and test scores cannot be assured of getting in everywhere they apply. It’s best to be realistic about both your statistical position and about the serendipity of admissions and apply to a range of schools with varying levels of selectivity.

Some students and alumni apply to only two or three schools, especially if they are certain of the geographical area where they want to be, while others apply to 12 or more. We recommend that students apply to half a dozen to a dozen schools across a range of selectivity, size and location, including schools that may be a statistical reach and others that are a safer bet based on your record. However, we encourage you to be ambitious.

You should aim to get into highly selective schools and even if your grades and scores are not at the highest levels your essays, recommendations and experience matter as well; remember, if your scores or grades put you at the 50th percentile for a school, you’re in good company – half the students are at that point or below. 

The most selective schools can be great choices. In general, they create the most job options and students from highly selective schools will be recruited for jobs across the country. They tend to have the most resources to support students, the most clinical opportunities, placement support, strong alumni networks and more financial assistance. However, the most important factor in choosing a law school is finding the best fit for you and your career goals.