Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Applying to Law School

I decided relatively recently that I wanted to pursue a career in law. It wasn't a lifelong dream or anything. In fact the thought of myself as a lawyer was a little strange to me. I always wanted to help people, and I guess I didn't realize that you could do that as a lawyer. Since it has taken me a while to decide that I wanted to be a lawyer I will not be a traditional law school student. By the time I start I will be ten years out of college, in addition, I am married and I have a baby. Going back to school will not be a strange experience for me though: with the exception of the two years immediately following the completion of my undergraduate degree I have been going to school in one form or another pretty much continuously since I was three. I enjoy it.

So anyway, I have begun my applications for Fall 2007. I am applying to two schools that will definitely accept me and two that I should have a 75% or better chance of being accepted. All in New York, because that's where we live and where my husband's job is. You can check the progress of my applications here.

I am planning on working in public interest law after I graduate, so I do not expect a big paycheck. With that in mind, I am wondering whether I would be better off going to a lower ranked school with a large scholarship or a higher ranked school and having lots of debt. Both situations are hypothetical since I haven't been accepted anywhere, or received any scholarship offers yet, and it is always possible that one of the higher ranked schools will off me a big scholarship, but assuming that were my choice, which would be a better option? So far I am leaning toward a higher ranked school and lots of debt based on the advice of a friend of mine who went to Harvard (and may be biased, since that was the choice he made). He said that if I go to a higher ranked school it won't matter too much what grades I get because having gone to the school will be enough to get me good job prospects. But if I go to a lower ranked school I will need to work harder to prove myself to potential employers. Also if I were interested in clerking or pursuing an academic career (and I might be) then I need to go to a higher ranked school. If anyone has any opinions on this I would love to hear them.

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