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Don’t Expect Law School Scholarships to Fall in Your Lap

Last week, we were reminded of the Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship, rewarded to a Berkeley Law student working in the Orange County public defender’s office, and named after the eponymous character from The O.C. Really. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but given that the number of law school applicants has been plummeting, we wouldn’t be surprised to see even more of these. Law school tuition is bad enough, having nearly doubled in the last eleven years, leaving little money for room and board. So how about the Ally McBeal Nutritional Supplement Fund to help students stay fed? Or what about all the poor sorority girls who thought Legally Blonde was a documentary? The Elle Woods Expectations Management Grant will help to lessen the blow.

But in all seriousness, now more than ever you prospective law students should be on the lookout for scholarships. Some aspects of the seemingly apocalyptic law school field will work to your advantage; with fewer law school applicants, there’s less competition, and people may find that they get into law schools that they wouldn’t have had a chance with before. And theoretically, with fewer law school applicants, it would seem that there would be less competition for scholarships. But while the number of law school applicants has shrunk dramatically, class size hasn’t witnessed as large a downward shift, so don’t expect them to just fall into your lap. Also, law schools are becoming less profitable, and while this could translate to offering more scholarships to pull in students, it could also cause the powers at be to cut scholarships in order to decrease expenditures.

Another reason to make law school as inexpensive as possible revolves around the job prospects after graduation. While the situation certainly isn’t as dire as some have made it out to be, and getting a legal degree can still be the first step in a lucrative and rewarding career, one would have to be insane to think that the market is as attractive as it was a decade ago. You want to make sure you’re doing well, whether or not you get that six-figure job right out of law school, and scholarships can help with that. The less debt you have upon graduation, the sooner you can really maximize your earnings and finally buy that yacht (or maybe jet-ski).