Choosing a Law School Trying to choose the best law school for your future career? A legal career expert weighs in.

Not all law schools dedicate the same amount of time and resources to your career, so when you are choosing a school, the level of career guidance you will receive-from career offices to professors and alumni-should be a factor on your pro and con lists.              

But how do you assess a law school's ability to get you where you want to go?  

Cliff Jarrett, who is an alum of W&L Law and the Assistant Dean for Career Strategy, shares his three tips for evaluating a law school's commitment to student careers.  

  1. Study the bar passage rates and employment outcomes of the law school(s) you are considering.

    This information should be readily available; all law schools are required to report this information on their websites.            

    You might ask:
    - How many graduates were employed within 10 months after graduation?
    - Where did students take the bar exam, and what were their pass rates?  

    Looking at jobs held by recent graduates-studying both the area of practice and the physical location-can give you a sense of the opportunities that will be available to you upon graduation.    

  2. Find out if the school's career office and interview programs are readily accessible.     

    Many prospective students don't realize that career offices are critical to professional success, especially for students who don't yet know what type of law they'd like to enter.  

    You might ask:
    - Are the number of appointments you can make with a career counselor capped? Do you get to choose your career counselor?
    - How responsive is the office to questions? Do careers counselors have office hours only on certain days and times?     
    - Are there limits on the number of employers you can apply to? Is there a lottery system for students who want to interview on campus?    

  3. Assess the strength of the alumni network.   

    Building your network is key to finding summer and post-graduate jobs.  

    You might ask:
    - Where does the school rank in % of alumni that donate their money or time?
    - Can you speak to a current student about their experience with alumni?
    - Are alumni willing to talk with you before you make your decision?    

Law students at W&L value the Office of Career Strategy. Since W&L law has a smaller student body and a dedicated staff, it is easy to develop relationships with career advisors.  

Maria L., a 3L, describes her experience with the office:
"When I was weighing offers for my 2L summer position, I was in and out of Dean Jarrett's office constantly. Having someone like Dean Jarrett, who knows me as a person and a student, was so helpful in weighing my options and figuring out what was important to me."   

Courtney M., a 3L, writes:
"When applying for summer jobs, the Office of Career Strategy was there for me every step of the way, giving great advice about how to cast a wide net based on my interests. OCS was also able to connect me with alumni in several markets and various areas of the legal profession."     

More information about W&L Law's Office of Career Strategy can be found online.