Tips and Tools for Researching Law Schools

Researching law schools is a critical part of the prelaw journey. Through this process, applicants will begin to understand all the available options. With approximately 200 ABA-approved law schools in the United States, it can feel challenging to know where to start!

In this post, applicants will learn the different criteria used to explore potential law schools and learn about some of the best tools available to assist with the process.

Let’s begin!

Criteria for Exploring Law Schools

Deciding what to look for in a potential law school requires an assessment of your individual goals and priorities.  As you consider your options for law school you should include the following in your list of potential goals:

  • Geographic Location Present & Future
  • Tuition and Other Costs of Attendance
  • Your Career Goals
  • Employment Outcomes and Career Support
  • Bar Passage Rates
  • Educational and Personality Fit
  • Admission Criteria
  • Other Variables – You Decide!

Tools for Researching Law Schools

Every school has its unique strengths and characteristics.  Learning about different law schools is an excellent place to start in developing a list of goals that are important to you.

Consider the following tools to help you explore and learn about different schools.

ABA 509 Disclosure Reports

Law schools must report data to the American Bar Association (ABA) each year which is then compiled into what are known as the “509 Reports“.  This data includes information regarding career placement, bar passage, admissions, scholarship and financial aid, academics, and student body profile information.  These are some of the best resources for reaching schools.  We encourage you to look up 509 Reports on any school you are interested in. 

Please note profile data for students beginning in Fall 2024 will be reported by October 5 and published publicly in the following weeks.

Below is an example of a 509 report. Click the button below to see Employment and Bar Passage Outcomes examples.

AccessLex – Xplore JD

Access Lex provides many resources for aspiring law students, including Xplore JD! Xplore JD is a free online database that allows users to search for potential law schools based on five primary factors/goals: Location, Cost, Academic and Student Experience, Diversity, and Outcomes. XploreJD offers 24 questions on factors to consider when selecting a law school.

Your answers to the 24 questions will be assessed and matched with potential law schools that match your goals! This is an excellent tool to discover new law schools and assess how suited certain schools are to your goals and needs. Remember, this tool cannot guarantee that you will be admitted to any particular school. It is a way to customize a list based on your unique goals and perspectives.

Make sure to watch the video on the homepage to learn how to navigate this tool. Below are some examples of the questions you will be asked as you research law schools!

LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools:

The LSAC Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools is a wonderful database that allows you to search for law schools based on several criteria including location, your GPA/LSAT, and program.  Remember, this is not a guarantee that you will be admitted to the school. It is also important to put the provided “likelihood of admission” percentages into context of the school’s overall admit rate and the wholistic review that takes place for all applicants. It is a tool to help you learn about schools based on your individual criteria.

LSAC also offers a few specifically targeted resources to help students in their research:

Law School Transparency

Law School Transparency (LST) compiles publicly available data on law schools to assist applicants with researching schools. LST is available for free through LSAC. Through LST you can browse law schools, build a personal report, compare law schools, and plan your budget. Your personal report will provide suggestions on law schools and also allow you to do quick comparisons amongst your top choice institutions on data related to the cost of attendance, job placement, bar passage, and more!

Please note you must log in to your LSAC account to utilize the personal search options.

Ranking Lists

U.S. News & World Report is one of the most common annual law school ranking lists, however, you may find other entities that provide rankings on overall law programs, or specific aspects of law programs. Ranking lists can be a good way to get a broad perspective on schools or quickly find more specific details about programs. However, there is so much more to a law school than ranking alone!  Use these resources with caution and be sure to understand the basis for the conclusions that ranking lists make. With nearly 200 ABA-approved law schools in the United States, keep in mind that many schools can support your success. That’s why it is important to understand what your goals and unique needs are and use that information as you decide what schools to apply to.

Connect at a Virtual or In-Person Law Fair!

Law fairs can provide one of the best ways to begin your exploration and research into law schools.  It provides you the opportunity to gather information and insights from a large number of diverse schools, from across the country, in a short amount of time!

There are many options to attend law fairs each year in both in-person and virtual formats!  UIUC students and alumni can attend the Illinois Law Fair on October 1, 2024, at the Illini Union!

LSAC hosts both in-person and virtual forums each year at locations around the country. Check out the list of 2024-2025 dates online.

TIP:  Research a few schools you know nothing about, never heard of, or that are located in a completely different region than you think you would like to be.  Even if you may not ultimately apply to these school, challenging yourself to explore something different is an excellent way to discover different options and possibilities that law schools may offer!

June Snapshot

Welcome June!

Below please see a list of important dates, upcoming events, and reminders for June 2024!

June 1: Seat Deposit Deadlines!  Starting law school in the fall?  Have you paid your 2nd Deposit? Many schools have second deposits due in the first few weeks of June – be sure you have completed this step by the deadline!

June 1: Save the Date! The 2024 Law School Fair will take place on Tuesday, October 1! The Law Fair will be held at the Illini Union (1401 W Green St, Urbana, IL) from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. For additional information about this opportunity, click here.

June 3: Duke Law School’s D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy (in July). Registration Open Now.

June 3 – June 7: SLU – Accessing the Legal Profession Mini-Camp | Registration is FREE. Learn more online!

June 5-8: June 2024 LSAT Administration. Good luck to all of the UIUC test-takers!

June 6: PLAS Workshop Application Roadmap | 12:00 pm. To learn more and register, click here. Can’t make it? Check-out the PLAS Calendar for additional upcoming dates!

June 10 – June 14: PLAS Office Services Limited – the PLAS Office will be generally unavailable during the week of June 10th for advising appointments as we attend the Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC) 2024 Quadrennial Conference. Online resources such as the Pre-Law Handbook and Pre-Law Canvas page are available any time for quick questions. We will have limited access to email during this time and look forward to connecting with you upon our return!

June 15 – June 16: CLEO 1L Prep – Attitude Is Essential (AIE) Seminar for Fall ’24 first-year law students.  Click here to register. Can’t make the June dates? AIE will also be offered on July 13 & 14 and August 3 & 4.

June 19: Juneteenth Holiday | University closed.

June 21-23: Annual Break Into Law Conference (virtual). Registration is free! To learn more click here.

June 26: The Harvard Junior Deferral Program Application Deadline is July 1! To learn more and apply, click here.

June 27: LSAT Registration Deadline! Last day to register for the August 2024 LSAT. Visit LSAC to register. Prices have increased! The LSAT registration fee is now $238.

June 29: Legal Specialties Series on Canvas: Have you looked at the Legal Specialties series on the PLAS Canvas page? Explore 20+ legal specialties, including related Alumni Attorney Talks by clicking here.

Summer 2024: Read, Watch, Listen

Summer can be a great time to check out a new book, series, or podcast. Whether you are relaxing by the beach, reading for pleasure, or want to binge a new show, we’ve got you covered!

Every spring we survey our students and alumni on suggested picks. Check out some old favorites and new suggestions below!

Pre-Law Summer Book Club

We invite you to join us in reading The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein this summer. Then, you are welcome to join us in early fall for a casual conversation on the book. Stay tuned for additional details!

Continue reading Summer 2024: Read, Watch, Listen

2023 – 2024 Year In Review

The 2023 – 2024 academic year was busy and filled with many successes! To our UIUC pre-law students and alumni, congratulations on a successful academic year and application cycle!

We thank our UIUC pre-law student & alumni leaders, law expert volunteers, and all those who helped support our over 1500 prelaw Illini this academic year!

Read below for some highlights from this year!

Continue reading 2023 – 2024 Year In Review

May Snapshot

Welcome May!

The end of the school year is finally here! As you wrap up your end-of-semester obligations and begin looking to the summer, check the blog regularly for updates and new information – including summer programs, updates, and tips!  

We hope you have a successful end to the semester and a wonderful start to your summer!  Be sure to stay in touch with any questions you may have!

Continue reading May Snapshot

What is the American Bar Association?

In April, the American Bar Association (ABA) President, Mary Smith, will visit campus. This is an exciting and unique opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to connect with a national leader in the legal profession. In honor of Ms. Smith’s visit let’s take some time to learn more about the American Bar Association and why it is important to the U.S. legal system and the legal profession!

To learn more about unique opportunities for pre-law students to engage with Ms. Smith during her visit, click here!

Continue reading What is the American Bar Association?

Summer & Fall 2024 Course Recommendations

It’s time to get excited for Summer and Fall courses! Each semester we receive many questions from pre-law students regarding courses helpful in preparation for law school in advance of course registration.  Pre-Law Advising has made a helpful chart with suggested classes pre-law students might find useful and interesting in planning and exploring a legal education to assist in this process.

In general, students interested in going to law school should take classes that focus on analytical and critical thinking, communication, research and writing, and when possible – legal topics of interest. The recommended course list includes classes from many different disciplines that might serve one, or more, of these goals. Take a look at the chart to find courses that are both interesting to you and will help build the necessary skills for law school.

Continue reading Summer & Fall 2024 Course Recommendations