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What Should I Look for in a Law School?

What Should I look for in a law school? (Other than good coffee.)

In writing this particular post, I’m going to assume a few things. Firstly, I’m going to assume that you’ll be choosing your law school based largely on ranking. After all, it’s what law firms care about and it’s what you should care about too. Secondly, I’m going to assume that you’ve narrowed your choices down to the three or four highest-ranked schools to which you’ve been accepted. Thirdly, I’m going to assume that you were awed that I was able to avoiding ending that last sentence with a preposition. Yes, grammar is cool.

With all those assumptions in place, we can now discuss what you should be looking for when you visit your prospective law schools. Your first concern should be the number of coffee shops near your school and their relative proximity. If you thought you lived on coffee as an undergrad, then you don’t know what it means to live on coffee.* Given the sheer volume of reading you’ll have as a 1L, Caffeine is going to become your best friend. Yes, Caffeine is a person now, so his name gets capitalized. He’ll be riding shotgun with you on your drive to school. He’ll be your neighbor in lecture and he’ll be your study buddy. You’ll want to make sure Caffeine is nearby at all times so take note of how easy it is to find him both on and near campus.

Next, worry less about the campus itself than you do about the area around campus. If you’re anything like me, the time you spend on campus will be roughly equal to the amount of time you’re required to be in class. Plus, you’re going to need a good excuse to leave the library when it comes time to evade the body odor emanating from your study hermit classmates. Cheap and delicious eats should be at the top of anyone’s recon list, as should nice places to walk around or study outside. Lord knows you’ll have little choice but to spend plenty of time indoors, so it’s nice to be somewhere that makes you want to get outside.

You’ll also want to have some people around with whom to experience the great urban outdoors. While it shouldn’t be your first (or second, or maybe even third) consideration, you should still give some folks at your prospective schools the ol’ “elevator eyes.” In other words, look them up and down. Do they seem like a group of people you’d want to spend time with? Do you have a problem with people whose wardrobes consist almost entirely of sweatshirts and pajama bottoms? Can you spot a potential mate? Given the amount of couple I saw emerge from my 1L class, that last question may be of particular pertinence.

Lastly, go to the student store and see what kind of swag you can buy to show off how much you “love” your law school. While those of us at UCLA could depend heavily on the Adidas gear produced for the school’s athletic programs, not all students are quite so lucky. You don’t want to come home for semester break rocking a sweatshirt that looks like it could’ve come off the shelf at Ross do you? Didn’t think so. Cool sweatshirts and tees are a must since you’ll pretty much be living in them. Nice hats don’t hurt either, because styling one’s hair falls precipitously down one’s list of priorities the morning after reading and briefing 100 pages of case law in a single evening.

With these considerations at the fore I’m sure you’ll find a law school that doesn’t completely rob you of your soul you’ll truly enjoy attending. Happy hunting!

*Interesting side note: I could’ve written “lived off coffee” and it would’ve meant the same thing. Silly English.

Post by UCLA Law School graduate and Blueprint instructor Alex Davis.