As you think about law school (and maybe you’re even waiting to hear from the admissions committee on your pending application), you may be trying to decide whether to go to a regional law school, or opt instead for a big name or national school. Given skyrocketing law school tuition, students are focusing on the value of school and many have to weigh scholarship money at local, regional or semi-national schools against the full price at a national or higher ranked school.
That’s the topic for our upcoming podcast and we interviewed several deans of admission and career services at a range of law schools around the country to get some perspective for you. Our guests also include Brian Dalton, the Director of Research and Consulting at Vault.com, to help us understand how recruiters see graduates from different schools. He suggests that, if you’re thinking of a regional law school, it helps to put the end at the beginning and give some thought to what you want to do with your law degree. He says, for example, there are benefits of going regional depending on where students want to practice. ”From many angles, it’s to one’s advantage to go to a school where one wants to practice – sometimes even more so than going to a higher ranked school. If somebody was choosing , between say, Fordham and University of Alabama, even though Fordham might be higher on the US News ranking scale, if they want to practice in Alabama, the choice is obvious.”
Guest Andy Cornblatt is the Dean of Admissions at Georgetown Law School, a large, national law school. He says students at regional schools may be more limited when it comes to getting jobs and course selection, than at schools like Georgetown. “I do think there’s some general consensus that the national law schools will give you more flexibility, job-wise, more academic flexibiltiy in terms or courses, they tend to be bigger. ” Cornblatt adds, “I work at one of those places, so obviously, I think that’s the way to go.”
Cornblatt notes, however, that there are advantages of going to regional law schools, including the financial component. “Many regional schools are state law schools…they tend to have students who are more like each other. If that is something that appeals to the students, and it does to many students, that’s a real plus. Another real plus, is many of these regional law schools are state law schools and there’s a financial component to this that one should not ignore. These state law schools, if you’re from that state, are less expensive, and sometimes considerably less expnsive, than the private, bigger, more national schools are. They also tend to also want to compte for the more local folks, so in terms of scholarship opportunities, merit scholarships, etc, some of the students may be better off getting a terrific financial aid package from a local law school and realize that they will have a good career opportunity in the general vicinity of that law school and that may be a better way to go.”
Students should look at the benefits of regional schools in regard to recruitment and job placements, says Sari Zimmerman, Assistant Dean, Career & Professional Development, UC Hastings College of Law. “Certainly at Hastings, we have a very strong mock interview program. We offer it twice a year. The nice thing about having so many alumni in the area is that a school like Hastings can really draw on them and we like to bring our alumni back to interview our students so they get a very real-world experience. As I said, that’s the benefit of going to a school with a large alumni population in the area, is there are so many resources mentor programs. We have one of the largest in the country of 800 alumns all over the world actually in our program but also in career panels and brown bags. There are always people in practice in a diver’s range of areas that the school can call on to bring them on campus and then the students can actually see people who have been precisely where they were, doing exactly what they want to do.”
We take a close look at the advantages of different types of law schools and get advice from our deans to help applicants navigate this important decision.
Other guests include:
- Fran V. Bouchoux, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services, Rutgers School of Law, Newark
- Susan L. Krinsky, Associate Dean, Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid & Career Development, Tulane University Law School
Stay tuned for the full show!