We are often asked if it is important to attend a top law school. Not surprisingly, the answer to this, like so many other questions, is, “it depends.”
More specifically, it will vary depending on your opportunity costs and career ambitions. Some applicants have high opportunity costs. In other words, they only want to consider law school if it gives you a good chance of landing a Big Law offer or federal clerkship. In those cases, it clearly does not make sense to consider law schools outside the top tier.
Conversely, other applicants feel their calling is simply to practice law. They are not interested in the high paying (and high pressure) career options. In those cases, the list of school choices should be expanded exponentially. We generally recommend all schools that meet the following two criteria. Firstly, the selected school should be ABA accredited. Secondly, the school should be not be facing any going concern issues. These could include very low enrollment rates or bar passage rates. you should be able to secure a legal education that will set you up for future success.
It’s most important to find a best fit school. This clearly varies depending upon the applicants’ specific priorities. It often includes many, many different criteria. Those criteria often include location, cost of living, cost of attendance, extracurricular activities, and/or clinics. These criteria must drive your selection process.