Comparing Law Schools

About this time one year ago, I was in the process of visiting law schools and determining which one I would attend in the fall. For those of you visiting schools, make sure to check out my post on Visiting Law Schools. Another tool that I found helpful when deciding which school to attend was a comparison chart. I made one Excel Workbook and added a new sheet for every school I was accepted to. That way I had every school on one document, but could also view each school individually.

For each school, I included the following information:

School and Ranking
Location: (city the school was located in)
Type: (the type of city: metropolitan area, college town, etc.)
Size: (number of total law students)
Average Cost Per Year: (does not include living cost, just the cost of tuition)
LSAT Range:
GPA Range:
Sports Law Program: (I was interested in sports law, so I made sure to put any
classes, organizations, clinics, externships, or any other program offered by the
school that was related to sports law in this section)

Family Law Program: (I was also interested in family law, so I made sure to put any
classes, organizations, clinics, externships, or any other program offered by the
school that was related to family law in this section)

Bar Passage Rate:
State Bar Passage Rate:
% of Grads with JD Job within 1 year:
Women's Organization: (I wanted to join the women's law organization on campus, which
is why it has its own section. This can be for any organization that you are interested in.)

Most of this information can be found on the school's website and 509 Information Reports, but to learn about all the specific programs offered, it may be best to inquire with a professor or admissions rep at the school. I included the LSAT and GPA range, so I would have an idea of where my scores fit in with the current students'.

The last two sheets of my workbook were "Seat Deposit Due Dates" (a table to make sure I wouldn't forget the every school's deposit due date) and "Comparison," which was a direct comparison of the estimated cost per year of the schools I ultimately decided between. To calculate the Estimated Cost Per Year, I used the following formula:

 Estimated Cost Per Year = (Tuition + Living Costs + Fees & Books) - (Scholarships & Stipends)

Notice that I didn't include financial aid/student loans in this formula. I wanted the estimated cost to reflect the amount I would be paying out of pocket or through loans. All of this information (tuition, living costs, and fees and books) will be available on the school's Standard 509 Information Report or website. It is also an estimated cost because tuition may change, fees may change, books may not be the exact estimated price, and finally, you can either spend more or less than the average living costs.

I used this Workbook constantly and would update it whenever I received new information. It allowed me to organize ALL the information about every school I applied to (I applied to a lot-13!) in one document and made sure I wasn't missing any vital piece of info that would aid in my decision-making. With this tool, I was able to make sure that I considered all important information and that I was not only making the decision my heart wanted, but that there was reason and logic to support that decision.

(And I couldn't be happier with my decision as to where to attend law school at.)


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