Choosing a Law School

Application Material

Applying to Law School

Law schools typically require the following admissions application materials:

  • LSAT Score
  • Grades/Undergraduate transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation

Law School Info Sessions

The Counseling Center and Career Planning Office arranges info sessions for our students with about a dozen law schools that visit Holy Cross annually. Both the center and the Prelaw advisor maintain files and other resources (literature, catalogs, etc.) and information of general interest to prelaw students. A credential file is available that allows for the gathering of letters of recommendation for either immediate or later (post-graduation) use in applying to law school.

Law School Rankings

More so than in other professions, the reputation of the law school you attend will have a material effect on your employment opportunities when you graduate. That is a fact.

There is great demand, in fact remarkable demand, for graduates at the most highly regarded law schools. That demand tapers off, in terms of median starting salaries and number of offers received by graduates, as a school's rank declines. Top law schools tend to offer outstanding physical facilities, extensive library resources, gifted classmates and professors, and employment contacts with recruiters who have strong and often long-standing contacts with the school. Without question, professional employment opportunities and career paths are the broadest at the better schools.

That said, some students misuse rankings. While rankings are useful in getting a feel for the school's reputation or academic climate, students have explained that they are going to a school ranked 12th instead of one ranked 14th because the 12th ranked school “is better.” That is nonsense.

By the time law school graduation rolls around, U.S. News & World Report will likely have shifted a variable in an attempt to make the rankings more accurate or less controversial, and schools may very well switch positions for no reason other than a reweighting of a measuring variable. Note that it is in the self-interest of U.S. News & World Report to have schools move up and down — the academic ranking issue of the magazine is a best seller for them. A ranking that changes little is not of great interest when it is released.

Recognize that all of the rankings are imperfect. Formulas and weights are tinkered with periodically by the ranking organization, which may cause changes in the rankings even though the school itself has not changed.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings seem to carry the most weight and have certainly caused the biggest controversy. Use the rankings as a guide in how schools are perceived by judges, lawyers, and the deans of other law schools. Also recognize that the rankings are not necessarily an indicator of the quality of the legal education you will receive. It is important to recognize that you can get a solid legal education at most ABA accredited law schools.

U.S. News & World Report

Overall scores calculated by weighing academic reputation (40%), admission selectivity (25%), employment rates after graduation (20%), and faculty resources (15%).

View U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings

Brennan's Law School Rankings

This remarkable site, part of the Internet Legal Resource Guide, provides rankings in dozens of categories including starting salaries, placement rates, cost-benefit analysis comparing tuition costs with employment earnings, student services and a composite ranking of all the rankings.

View Brennan’s law school rankings

Princeton Review Law School Rankings

Princeton Review ranks the schools based on information they gather from students and other sources.

View Princeton Review’s law school rankings

Jesuit Law Schools

In addition to preparing lawyers to serve their clients with a high degree of professional competence, here are some facts you might consider about applying to the Jesuit law schools:

  • One out of every 10 American law students is enrolled in a Jesuit law school. In the U.S. alone, there are 27 Jesuit colleges and universities located from coast to coast. Of these, 14 have a law school.
  • Located primarily in large cities, Jesuit law schools were among the first to provide access to women and people of color, and to offer both day and evening programs of study.
  • Programs of study share a distinct Jesuit heritage, one which values the pursuit of academic excellence, acquisition of knowledge for the betterment of society, care and concern of the individual, and preparation for public service.

Jesuit Law Schools in the U.S.

Financing Your Legal Education

It is not necessary to attend law school immediately after graduating from Holy Cross. As higher-education costs continue to increase, more and more students apply to law school within one to three years of graduating from their undergraduate college. Students defer for many reasons (they want to work for a while, they are not sure law school is right for them yet, financing a graduate degree is a problem, they have a commitment to ROTC, volunteer work, etc.).

Students pursuing a degree in law quickly discover that most aid at the professional school level (physicians, lawyers, etc.) comes in the form of loans. You will have to search for scholarships.

As part of your search, be sure to directly contact the law schools you’re applying to regarding available grants and scholarships that each particular school is offering. As competition for law students has increased, many law schools have programs designed to increase the quality of their incoming students by offering financial incentives. Do not be bashful about inquiring about aid once you have applied.

There are a range of ways to finance your legal education, but most students will find Federal Stafford Loans an efficient and reliable way to obtain funding. The sites identified below should be helpful in efficiently locating financing options. If you are just starting your search, consider starting with the Law Access, Inc., a part of the Access Group. Law Access is part of a non-profit organizational service dedicated solely to educational lending. Their site provides updated summaries of interest charges, government subsidies, and payback options available.

Web Resources

Access Group
This non-profit organization coordinates the majority of loans used to pay for a legal education. They offer competitive rates, low or no guarantee fees on government Stafford Loans, Bar Exam loans, consolidation loans, and private loans.

College Board Online
Comprehensive list of financing sources, including access to a database that has 2,200 scholarships that total nearly $6 billion.

eStudent Loan
When law school grants and government loans are not going to cover your costs, this site has a “Loan Finder” that will compare loan programs from a range of private lenders.

Free internet search service advertising the ability to match 1.5 million available scholarships to students meeting a wide range of criteria.

Includes comprehensive and updated sources of various forms of financial aid, “special interest” aid and scholarships. Students may also find the education cost projectors and student loan calculators useful features.

Petersons Education Center
Comprehensive list of financing sources, including access to a database that has over $10 billion available in scholarship awards.

U.S. Department of Education
With nearly 70% of student aid supplied by the federal government, this is a valuable site to search for low interest loans, work-study and grant programs. You can also complete the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA) online.