1. What Courses Does the School Offer?
Admittedly, first-year law students generally enroll in the same doctrinal courses and maybe a few electives. The meaningful difference is in the elective courses offered to second- and third-year students. When choosing a law school, incoming students should research what courses the school offers that are relevant to their legal area of interest. For example, if you are interested in practicing technology law, consider whether the school offers courses in areas such as cybersecurity or data breach law. You may also consider how frequently the school offers those courses (yearly or every other year) and the class size, because some schools use a bidding system allowing upperclassmen to earn bidding points to enroll in a course.
2. What Collaboration Opportunities Does the School Offer?
This is a corollary to the point above since many of the opportunities for collaboration come as electives. Students should research what opportunities a school offers to work with professors on individual or group research projects. For example, does the school offer independent research courses or positions in a professor’s research group? These positions are valuable ways to gain in-depth knowledge about important legal issues likely to steer future legal discussions. Relatedly, students should research the opportunities for clinical work the school offers and how many students are typically selected. Enrolling in a clinic in your field of interest is one of the most valuable experiences you can get as a law student because it provides substantial and transferable real-world experience of lawyer work.
3. What Extracurricular Opportunities Does the School Offer?
Be it a school journal or an interest group—say, the Animal Legal Defense Fund—extracurricular activities are essential to the law school experience, particularly because they allow students to be involved in legal work that interests them. In my case, it was the Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property Law (JTIP) and the Latinx Law Students Association (LLSA). Specialized journals, like JTIP, and student groups, like LLSA, are excellent ways for students to learn about new developments in their area of interest and to meet other students with shared interests. I met many of my close friends through JTIP and LLSA. When choosing schools, it is crucial to research the school’s extracurricular opportunities and which of these you could potentially join.
4. How Involved Are the School’s Alumni?
In a way, alumni serve as a litmus test for the educational experience received overall, compared with others in a similar situation. Furthermore, alumni are leading the industry path and may help open paths for you.
At least one Supreme Court justice has joined the discussion concerning the value and meaningfulness of law school rankings and agreed that rankings need revision. While scholars have discussed revising law school rankings, the emphasis has not sufficiently addressed how to revise them.