Rasmussen’s School of Justice Studies has searched high and low for the top 15 blogs paralegal students will love. I am honored to be among the top 15! Checkout the listing here!
I hope everyone has a wonderful and enjoyable Thanksgiving. While this means I have to put up with some of my most annoying family members today, I am still grateful to have them in my life. (Even if they roll their eyes when I talk about my passion for law and motivation for law school). Anyway, I have so much to be thankful for this year. Like for one, the fact I’m not a turkey on Thanksgiving!
Seriously though, I am so grateful that I have been admitted to three really terrific law schools and that I have the opportunity to attend one of them tuition-free. I am truly blessed.
Aside from U.S. News and World Report, what other ranking systems or methodologies exist to compare law schools? This post will contain a listing of nontraditional ranking systems, hyperlinks for quick access, and a brief review.
The National Jurist’s Law School Rankings. The National Jurist is a law school and law student related quarterly journal which periodically publishes its own specialty rankings, such as Best Value Law Schools, Best Libraries, Most Clinical Opportunities, and so on. Rather than scrolling through each individual list, the National Jurist has simplified your search by allowing you to search all lists and then refining your search by name. I found this be very user-friendly and visually appeasing.
Equal Justice Works’ “The Guide”. Recognizing that not all law schools are geared toward public interest or equal justice, not to mention that not all law students are seeking the same qualities ranked in USN&WR (read: prestige), Equal Justice Works has created a grading system for those with more wholesome goals in mind. After selecting several schools of interest, the schools are compared in such categories as: % of grads working in public service, tuition costs, grad debt, public interest scholarships, public interest field placements, etc. By clicking on the additional tabs at the top of the snapshot, one can view additional school-specific details. For example, the tab “student engagement” provides details on journal involvement and extracurricular opportunities.
Princeton Review Law School Rankings. To view the rankings, I first had to register with Princeton Review. I really hated that, just give me the rankings, geesh. However, I did like the ability to view rankings on really qualitative factors like classroom experience or best career prospects. Each category only ranks the top 10; top 25 would be more ideal, especially for applicants desiring to stay in a specific region and have limited options.
Brian Leiter’s Law School Rankings. Brian Leiter provides various specialty rankings and also ranks his own top 40 based on student’s perception of desirability. However, you may notice that many of these schools are also T1 per the USN&WR. This makes the Leiter student desirability top 40 less helpful for applicants who are not necessarily looking for top 40 law schools or simply do not have the LSAT score or GPA to make a T1 school within reach.
Law School Rankings Game. Yes, I said “game.” This provides an alternative for applicants looking to design their own ranking system. Java must be updated in order to play. The game is geared toward avoiding the ranking mania. Though, sadly, it has not been updated since 2008.
So if you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve gotten myself into a particularly good dilemma. I have 3 full ride scholarships to 3 schools I would love to attend. These schools are: Big City School of Law, Capitol City School of Law, and Small Town School of Law. All are right around the same area rankings-wise, employment after graduation, bar passage, and post graduation salary. They each have their positives and all have very few negatives. I’m feeling like picking a law school is a lot like picking the perfect husband. My girlfriends and I used to joke that if only there was a way to take the good things we liked about a particular guy, and replace the bad with good parts from another guy, we could essentially form the most ideal mate ever. Boy, I really wish I could do that with law schools.
I sought the help of some of the attorneys at my firm. Each drilled me with questions in hopes of helping me realize which school I really would prefer to attend. I thought, “Is this what the Socratic Method is like? Drilling me until I find the truest answer possible?” Each attorney commonly asked the same questions:
- What do you want to do with your law degree?
- Where do you want to use your law degree?
- Which city do you most want to live in for 3 years, and possibly for the rest of your career? (YIKES!)
And my responses:
- I want to help people, and/or animals. I want to be their advocate and particularly I want to help people in ways they cannot help themselves. (Ie. I want to do all the things one can do with a law degree – so this response was no help).
- Um, anywhere.
- I like all three cities. *Sigh*
Clarity? Not so much.
One thing I do know is, it freaks me out that where I choose to go to law school will likely determine how I use my law degree, where I use my law degree, and where I will live. This is a major decision. A crystal ball would be pretty helpful right about now.
My biggest fear is picking the wrong school. I hate regret. I certainly do not want to arrive at Small Town School of Law and regret not attending Big City School of Law. I’ve visited all three schools, and I plan to attend the admitted students day for each school in hopes to either eliminate and/or feel a little more passionate about attending one over the other three. Fortunately, I have until April 1 to make a final decision. Yet, I keep dwelling over my fate as though I have to make a decision now. Please, don’t get me wrong; I’m VERY happy to be in this position. I’m not complaining, I promise. But, I am very confused and want to make absolutely certain I make the best possible choice.
I have been contemplating for a while now when to toss/donate/sell my LSAT prep materials. I thought it would come after my first offer from Big City School of Law, but never got around to it. Now, after receiving my second offer from Capitol City School of Law, I felt comfortable expelling the materials from my library. It was bittersweet. I found it surprisingly difficult to rid myself of the materials I slaved over for hours, weeks, and months. Despite their uselessness to me now, I somehow felt attached. I tossed old scribbled practice tests which donned the words “I hate this,” “Why answer choice B!?,” “WTF!?” among other expletives. Boy am I glad all that is behind me! Used prep books will be donated to my undergrad’s library (naughty words and all), some unused materials were listed on amazon, and the balance went into a big pile which will be incorporated into a ceremonial bonfire!
So now that I know I’m going somewhere (based on my one acceptance thus far) I’ve moved on from thinking about what it will be like to be accepted, to what it will be like to actually be in law school. Similarly, my reading list has moved from tips on the application process, to tips on succeeding in law school. I recently came across this free mini book sponsored by the UMKC School of Law which has been very informative and helpful – so I thought I would pass along the find.
I also watched “All About Law School” which is a fun (though sometimes cheesy) compilation of law student interviews on their experiences with everything from preparedness, snarkism, and the socratic method. At times, the advice and opinions conflict, so the DVD editors noted the “majority” and “minority” opinions on the issue.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I want others to perceive me. Do I want my classmates to recognize my hard work ethic and dedication to my studies? I question this because while I want to earn the respect of my colleagues, I do not want to be taken advantage of – a problem I struggle with daily in undergrad. If I chose to go to the law school where I was offered the full ride, I think I’d like this to be kept a secret. I also want to try to lose the “freshman 15″ I gained a few years back. If I’m in the top 1/3 of my class do I want this to be known? Will this make me a “target” of gunners? Its a lot to think about. I’d love to hear from some of you current law students on your insights or perhaps a reading recommendation.