Research is an invaluable skill, especially when applied to decision making. When used on this decision over law schools, use a mixture of field and online research. Essentially, look for the answers to these questions:
Have I attended insight days/open evenings at the school?
Have I attended law talks at the school? Were they educational? Engaging? Biased or not?
Have I met the lecturers for my modules? Or contacted them? How did they feel?
What travel route do I take to get there? What are contingency routes if the main one fails?
What are the transport costs to get there? How long does it take to get home?
With the aim to learn:
Do I know enough about the environment I would be studying in?
Will I feel comfortable in these surroundings?
Can I afford to study here and do other things?
The aim here is to treat the research as a critical evaluation of the options available to help make an informed choice.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Onceyou have worked out the general suitability from your research, consider the education sphere. You go to law school to learn, so the process is important. Some questions to consider are:
What are the electives (choice modules)?
What are the alternatives to dissertations, and how flexible are dissertation topics?
Have I learned what class style they have (listening with no engagement, some, or depends)?
Do they teach in small or big groups (4, 6, 12, 50)? Seminars, small classrooms, or big halls?
What days are classes on? How flexible are timetables and exams dates?
What are the success rates on graduation? What assistance is available to improve? How accessible is it?
What order are the modules taught in and how are they assessed?
The reason these questions are asked is to gauge whether at the law school you can tailor your education to your interests and strengths, whilst avoiding weaknesses, so the course is easier rather than harder.
Reputation and Unique Selling Point (USP)
“Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.” – Elizabeth Arden
When deciding where to study, it is a good idea to consider the reputation of the institution as this is what a recruiter will consider when they look at where you were educated. The most important for a career in law are:
Reputation within specialised fields and opportunities
Reputation for advocacy
Reputation for research and legal writings
Reputation for focus on student wellbeing & support
Reputation for careers services and alumni network
Reputation can be discovered through the ordinary process of inquiry, websites (graduates, blogs, papers), in person and often the schools themselves will provide information on their reputations.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand
Money is one of the biggest hurdles many faces going to law school, it’s an investment in the future linked to all costs associated with the course and normal life. To strike a balance it may be worth asking:
What scholarships are available?
What competitions are available prior to and during the course?
Is emergency funding available in dire straits?
What bursaries are available?
What loan schemes are in place?
Alternative methods of funding: can you work on campus? Or intern while on the course?
There are always ways to relax and unwind at law school, so consider these questions:
How can you have a social life here?
What options are available?
What societies can you join?
What events do they run?
Once you have answered these questions and entered them into a makeshift comparison table, it is time to decide which law school. Don’t rush into a decision. It may well be obvious or unexpected.
Of course, if all else fails and you are still undecided, there’s always the coin toss – leave it to fate.
Find out more about the UK’s top law schools here: