Applying to law school is a big decision, and it all starts with the application process, which usually involves test scores, interviews and essays, among other things. Throughout this process, you should keep in mind that while the law school is going to be interviewing you at some point, you should be interviewing them as well. In practical terms, this means that you should ask them questions to make sure they are a good fit for you – just like they’re trying to determine if you are a good fit for them. Therefore, we’ve compiled the below list of questions to ask law school admissions before submitting that application or putting down a deposit on the next step in your higher education journey.
Tips to Remember When Visiting a Law School
Before you narrow down your law school possibilities, you should do some research on each of them so that you know a little bit about each of the schools. In addition, keep the following tips in mind:
- Visit the school while classes are in session so you can learn what their campus life is like.
- Schedule the visit through the admissions representatives so they can personalize it.
- Try to schedule the visit a few weeks in advance if possible.
- Check out the town or city itself because that’s where you’ll be living.
- For each visit, take lots of notes so you don’t forget anything important.
Visiting the campuses in person is important, but if you can’t do that, at least do as much online research as possible. Learn what student organizations are available on campus – not just the ones for law students – and go over all of the requirements in detail so you don’t miss anything. You’ll likely be required to have a certain GPA, a certain LSAT score (Law School Admission Test), letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay. All of them are important.
In addition to all of this, it’s good to develop a set of questions to ask the faculty members and admissions officers, and maybe even current students if you can get to them. Make sure you ask the same questions for each school so you can have a reliable way to compare them and determine which particular law school is the best fit for your legal education and future career pursuits. If you’re not sure what to ask them, you’ve come to the right place. When you ask the right questions, it gives you a much better idea of what that school is like to attend, and you can start with the following 25 questions about each specific program.
- How Much Is the Cost to Apply to Law School?
It can cost more than $200 to send in your law school application, which can be steep for many prospective students. If this feels like a financial hardship for you and you believe you’re in financial need, you can ask the school if they offer fee waivers for their own personal fees because many of them do. In addition to this fee, your fee for the LSAT (or the GRE, which many law schools accept in place of the LSAT) is usually $200-220, but all applicants are also expected to subscribe to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) of LCAS, which costs $195, as well as obtain a CAS report for every school they apply to, which costs $45 per school.
- What Types of Standardized Tests Do I Need to Take?
All law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) require a standard test be taken by the applicant. While most of these schools require the LSAT, many schools – around one hundred in the nation – will accept a GRE score instead. If you’re not happy with your test score the first time you take it, feel free to take it again because most law schools will accept the very last score you received. This is good news for test-takers who don’t do that well the first time. The point is, be prepared to hear that you’ll need to take either the LSAT or the GRE, most likely the former.
- What Is the Cost of Living Like in This Town/City?
Some law schools are located in big cities, while others are situated in small towns. Ask about the cost of an apartment, transportation, and food in the area you’ll be studying. This isn’t undergraduate school and therefore, there will be no cheap dorms with meal plans for you to take advantage of, which means housing is up to you. You can even look online and see what the area charges for the apartment size you need. You can also check sites such as City-data.com to find out specifics for that city. If you end up having to choose between two schools and can’t make up your mind, the cost of living could be the determining factor for you, so it’s important you’re able to make an informed decision based on current real world costs.
- What Is Your Professor-Student Ratio?
Law school is tough, but it can be more of a challenge with large classes that intimidate you and cause you to be hesitant to ask the professor a question. While even smaller schools can have big classes, you’ll want to get some idea of what the professor-student ratio is for that particular school before you proceed. There is no “magic” ratio number you should look for, but ask the admissions committee if the professors try to get to know the students instead of just considering them a number. For most law schools, this isn’t a problem, but you’ll want to check anyway to be sure.
- What Type of Bachelor’s Degree Do You Look For?
In terms of academic ability, most law schools expect you to have a bachelor’s degree, but they usually don’t care what you majored in during those undergraduate studies. That being said, certain majors benefit prospective law students more than others, such as those that teach reading, writing, and critical reasoning skills, as well as classes in subjects such as psychology, sociology, public speaking, political science, debate, and advocacy. Also note that law schools usually don’t require any prerequisites, either, but keep in mind that as a lawyer, you’ll have to speak, write, and communicate well with others regardless of the area of law that you choose.
- What Will It Cost to Go to Law School?
Law school costs vary depending on the type of school you choose, and below are the national averages:
- Public universities (in state): $28,186
- Public universities (out of state): $41,628
- Private universities: $49,312
Keep in mind that while these costs cover the entire three-year period, it doesn’t include your housing, transportation, and food. You can easily add $15,000 or more per year for these expenses, making the average law school cost from $43,000 to $80,000. When you consider that some law schools do not allow their students to have jobs for at least the first year, paying for your schooling can be your biggest challenge when you decide to go to law school.
- Can I Work During My Three-Year Schooling?
The best way to keep up with your law school studies is to attend school and not work at all, at least in your first year. In fact, many law schools prohibit you from having a job in the first year, and with good reason. You’ll not only be taking very tough classes in all areas of the law, but you’ll be getting used to a whole new way to learn and live. Law students who do not have jobs will find this transition much easier and likely do better academically as well. Whether or not you are able to work can make a difference in what school to choose in the end.
- What Is the Retention Rate for Students After the First Year?
In practical terms, this is the same thing as asking them how many students drop out after the first year. Much like medical school, it is not that uncommon for law school students to drop out after Year 1, but you’ll want to make sure that number isn’t too high. As a general rule, the lower the median LSAT score is at a school, the higher the first-year dropout rate. Dropouts after the first year of law school can be as low as 4% and as high as 38%. The thing is, you’ll want to ask this question before you decide to attend that school.
- What Is the Parking Situation on Campus Like?
Parking problems exist at many colleges, but law schools are often physically separated from the rest of the campus, which means they may not have the same problems as the rest of the students do. That being said, you’ll still want to ask about this because if it’s a consistent problem, you’ll have to consider that when making your final decision about which school to choose. The Career Services office, as well as the faculty members and staff, should easily be able to answer this question for you.
- Can I Apply to Law School If I Have a Criminal Record?
The simple answer to this question is “yes,” you can, but for many law schools, this depends on what the crime is and how long ago it was committed. During the law school interview, you’ll be asked a lot of questions by the law school admissions council, but they’ll also take into consideration your test scores, personal essay, recommendation letters, and of course, the interview itself. In other words, all these things together are considered when they consider who gets into law school and who doesn’t. They look at everything and usually won’t eliminate students just because they score low in one area.
- What Happens If My LSAT/GRE Score Is Low?
Naturally, you’ll want to score as high as possible on the required standardized test, but if you’ve taken it several times and you still don’t have the score you want, all is not lost. If you have an extenuating circumstance that you feel prevented you from making a high score, you can include an addendum to your results to let the law school admissions officer or the committee know about it. Remember, the school will look at the entire package you submit, including your academic achievements and everything else, and the standardized test is just one part of that package.
- How Much Exposure Will I Get to Local Lawyers?
Finding a faculty member to be your mentor is great, but finding a working lawyer at one of the local law firms is even better. After all, there’s no such thing as starting to network too soon. The sooner you start, the faster you can gain access to internships and other programs that will benefit you greatly. It also helps you when you graduate because you’ll be more likely to be one of the first students to find a job. If you already know what area of the law you’d like to practice, try to find lawyers in that field, but you have to start by asking the committee how active local lawyers are in helping the students.
- What Do Law Students Do for Fun?
College campuses are usually surrounded by lots of places to eat, drink, and be merry. After all, you can’t think about school 24 hours a day. It’s important to choose a college that gives you various opportunities to relax and unwind at the end of the day, even if it’s just on the weekend. It also gives you chances to connect with the other law students who you may or may not spend much time with during the week. Most of all, though, it helps you be more well-rounded and better able to focus on your studies since you’ll be able to enjoy some downtime on a regular basis.
- Do You Offer Tutors When Needed?
Law school is hard, and even if you’ve never used a tutor before, you may need one here. Check with the school to see if there are any tutors that might be able to help you when you’re stuck and feel like you need extra help in one or more of your classes. Some law schools offer them and others don’t, but you can always look for tutors not working directly for the school but advertising in different publications. It doesn’t have to be an “approved” tutor, but finding one is very simple.
- Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Applying or Attending Law School Here?
Law school representatives are good about being thorough when sharing information with you because they want you to be completely prepared for what happens next. They want you to have no surprises, in other words, but that doesn’t mean they don’t unintentionally forget to tell you things every now and then. Ask about the entire law school admissions process from beginning to end, how prepared you’ll be to take the bar exam after you graduate, and what you can expect from them when it comes to helping you find the perfect job.
- Can I Take Summer Internships and Camps?
You should ask this question, but just know that most law schools not only allow summer programs but actually encourage them. They are a great way to network and see how your education can be used once you graduate. They give you practical, hands-on experience and allow you to expand your life experiences, both professionally and personally. In some ways, you’ll end up learning more about the legal profession in a summer program than you do in your classes. That being said, the two of them work together extremely well.
- Do You Offer Scholarships or Financial Aid?
Many law schools offer different types of financial aid, including need-based scholarships, merit-based scholarships, loans, and grants, the latter of which do not have to be paid back. During the application process, you might get asked if you need any type of financial assistance for your schooling, and it’s always best to be honest when answering this question. You never know what’s available to you until you ask, but you should also do some research on your own either before or after your interview. The more you learn about financial help, the more likely you’ll end up getting some before you start school. This is especially beneficial if you aren’t allowed to work during your first year of law school.
- Is There a Way I Can Better Prepare for Law School?
Law school prepares you for a career in the law, but it does much more than that. And because it provides you with so much, it also expects a lot out of you. To be better prepared and do better in law school, you’ll need to do as well as possible academically, study hard for your LSAT or GRE, get involved in pre-law organizations while you’re an undergraduate, keep up with important Supreme Court and other cases, know what’s going on nationally and globally when it comes to the law, and get comfortable reading texts that are dense and filled with legal information and terminology.
- What Are Some Things I Can Do With a Law Degree?
You may have some idea of what you’d like to do when you get your law degree, but you might not realize that there are many other opportunities as well. In order to decide on the right area of law, you have to be aware of them all. This is especially important for international students because the work might be different in their country than it is here. In any case, you’ll need to know all of your options in order to choose the one that’s right for you, which is why this question is so important to ask.
- What Is the Socratic Method?
Famously associated with law schools all across the country, the Socratic Method involves choosing a student at random and asking them questions in order to learn how their mind works and exactly what shapes their opinions and views on things. It may be intimidating to some students, especially if they are “chosen” regularly, but it gives professors a good idea of what a student’s critical thinking skills are like. While many law schools use this method, many others do not, and while it may not matter to you one way or another, it’s still a good thing to know.
- What Are Your School’s Strengths and Opportunities?
There are tons of things that law students can do to explore various legal issues and help better the community, and the more of them the schools offer, the more you’ll be able to learn while you’re there. Some schools offer a group interview where they explain those opportunities to everyone in attendance. Ask about things that match your particular interests, any clinics and mock trials they offer, and any campus activities and programs they offer. Ask what area they specialize in, but be prepared for their answer. Also, you might want to explore these things on their website first so you can impress them with your knowledge.
- When Should I Plan to Move to the Area?
If you’re from out of town, you’ll need to know how soon you need to move to the area. Orientations are commonplace in law school, and there might even be mixers and get-togethers to help you get to know the faculty, staff, and other students, before school begins. In other words, you’ll want to take advantage of all of the opportunities provided by the school, and it all starts with finding out what those things are so you can decide when to move into your new home to begin your law school career.
- How Technologically Advanced Is the University?
Technology is crucial in law school, and the ABA requires that students be given constant access to Lexisnexis and Westlaw, as well as to a complete law library that provides them with all of the information they need to pass and excel in all of their classes. In other words, you’ll need the proper resources in order to learn what you need to learn for the three years you’ll be taking classes. Don’t be shy about asking this question because the answer they give you can help make your decision about which law school to attend a lot easier.
- What Is the Percentage of Students Who Pass the Bar?
This is also an important question because that percentage number essentially reflects on the quality of the school itself and the education received by the students. If the number is low, this is usually a red flag. Yes, the bar exam is difficult, but most people who just got out of law school should be able to pass it, especially since the information learned is still fresh in their minds. If you ask this question and you’re given a number that is very low, you might want to keep interviewing law schools until you find one that has a number that is more realistic and reasonable.
- What Are My Deadlines and What Can I Expect to Happen Next?
When contemplating the law school application timeline, you’ll want to learn every single detail along the way, not only so that you don’t miss anything important but also so you can determine if you have the opportunity to retake one of your standardized tests, if this is something that interests you. Keep in mind that the deadlines are etched in stone, so never miss one and think you have another day or so to turn something in; that’s not how it works. If you can send in documents or take exams online, this can help because it makes the process much faster.
What You Need to Know Before Your Interview
The interview is a very important part of getting into law school, but there’s an easy way to ace it. Below are three things to keep in mind for one of these interviews.
- Dress in business casual. This means no jeans, dress slacks only, and a nice well-ironed shirt or blouse. A blazer always looks professional and will give them a good impression, and don’t wear sneakers or tennis shoes, either. If there’s any doubt, always dress on the conservative side because it makes a better impression.
- Be personable. You want to stick to being professional during the interview, but be personal as well. If you’re friendly and pleasant, you’ll have a better chance of being accepted into the school. Always have a friendly, very positive attitude.
- Show off what you’re passionate about. If you already lean towards a specific area of the law, let them know this. Law school committees want students who are passionate about being a lawyer; not just someone who wants to be a lawyer one day simply because that’s what their parent did.
The types of questions mentioned here are a great place to start, but you can think of countless other questions to ask law school admissions officers, as well. If you’re nervous about a certain part of the interview or a specific admission criteria, concentrate on that a little more. Let’s say you’re nervous about writing your essay. You’ll have to work on improving your writing skills because while some law schools have optional essays, for many of them this is an important and required part of the process. For any section that you feel you’re lacking in, you’re better off improving in that area so that you can go above and beyond in every part in the end.