First, let us say congratulations! Getting into law school is a major accomplishment and it isn’t easy.
Once you have been accepted to law school there are a few things you have to do:
Hopefully, you did all your due diligence when applying and only applied to schools that you really want to go to, but maybe you didn’t and just applied to a ton of schools because LSAC and CAS make it easy (though not cheap). Another possibility is that you were hoping to get scholarships to certain schools and didn’t.
So at this point it is important to confirm that you will be happy to go to each school that you got into so that you can start the process of selecting one. While there are a lot of things to consider, some big ones are: total cost of attendance, opportunities after graduation, location (because you will live there for 3 years, and it is very likely that you will stay in the state where you attend school).
If you only got into one school or got into your dream school this might be easy, but for a lot of people this will be a hard decision. While there are a lot of things to consider, some big ones are: total cost of attendance, opportunities after graduation, location (because you will live there for 3 years, and it is very likely that you will stay in the state where you attend school). Schools have ‘admitted students weekends’ prior to the deadline when you need to put down a deposit. If you can go, you should because it is a really good way to get a feel of a school if you’ve never been. A lot of schools will offer a stipend to help you pay to get there and lodging with current students for the weekend to make it more affordable than it may seem. If your schools don’t advertise this perk, then you should definitely ask.
This is also the point at which you can start ‘negotiating’ with schools for money, and get a sense of how much financial aid you will receive so that you can have a better sense of what each school will cost. Similar to a job negotiation it is always good to ask for more than the school initially offers. They might say “No,” but as long as you do it professionally, it won’t hurt to ask.
If you have other offers, and especially if you have large scholarships at similarly ranked schools then you should definitely leverage that in your ask for more money. If you are telling yourself: “I don’t think I should ask for more money because this advice is not for me, but for others” then you are selling yourself short. You might not get anything from asking but you definitely won’t get anything if you don’t.
If you are on the waitlist for a school you really want to go to, then “Congrats!” but also “Condolences.” Being on a waitlist is extremely stressful and can be expensive. You will most likely put a tuition deposit down on a different school which you will lose. We have friends who were literally driving to their number two choice school in August when they got off the waitlist at their number one school and had to decide on the spot what they wanted to do. Talk about admissions induced stress until the true last minute.
If you do decide to stay on the waitlist then you should stay in touch with the admissions office at the school where you want to go. We recommend writing a letter of continued interest (LOCI) and updating the school with any new relevant information e.g. a new LSAT score (if you took one after getting waitlisted which would be rare and impressive), final semester of grades (if you are applying as a student), etc.
Tuition at most schools is a BIG number, but it doesn’t actually cover everything. Instead look at the school’s total cost of attendance which is a better representation of how much 1 year of school will actually cost. This is also when you should confirm how much you will get in scholarships and/or financial aid you will receive from the school. There are a lot of third party scholarships to which you can also apply, and your school’s financial aid website probably has a list.
Some things to keep in mind when borrowing for law school:
Check out a more thorough explanation of paying for school here.
Some schools will offer optional courses for the summer before your first year of law school, AKA “pre-law courses” or “0L courses”. The purpose of these courses is to introduce you to the content that you will see during your first year of law school and to get you start thinking like a law school student to make 1L a little easier.
There are also third-party 0L courses that you can pay for. These courses offer classes, and can also offer community and mentorship by the course administrators and instructors which often lasts during your whole time in law school. If you can afford these courses they can be great opportunities, especially for students who are going to law school with limited law relevant social resources.
Find a place to live: For many of you, the move to law school will be the first time that you transplant to an entirely new city, potentially with little to no network. This can be exciting and is also a little scary. Regardless of who you are going to live with, or if you are going to live on or off campus, we recommend figuring out what the housing situation is like in your new city as soon as possible.
For example, leases in Boston are mostly available to start in June or September. Finding an apartment in NYC will probably cost you 4-months’ rent up front (first and last, broker fee, security deposit). If you have lived in northeast US or California cities these types of things might be normal, but for everyone else these might be shocks. Better to be shocked and surprised in May or June than in September when you are supposed to be starting classes.
I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.
Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.