Self-assessment is an important first step in the law school search process.Take a long, hard look at what your priorities are in regards to academics, what your desires are regarding employment post-graduation, what makes you happy as regards living conditions, and what is important to you as a person. Answer the following questions:
- When you think about your future legal career, what do you see?
- What are your interests? Is being able to continue your involvement with these interests important to you? It is important that you be able to continue them through law school?
- What are your skills? What do you do well?
- How do you learn best? Do you prefer a laid-back environment, or do you thrive on competition and pressure? Are you somewhere in between? What’s been your most productive academic environment?
- Which specialty do you want to follow?
- Do you care about rankings? Is the “pedigree” of your school and your degree important to you?
- How important is the social aspect of a school to you? Is it important that you attend a school with a close-knit student body that is bonded together through multiple social avenues? Do you prefer a larger school where you can focus on your studies and not worry about the social aspect of things? Is this something that is even important to you?
- Where do you want to live for the next three years? Can you abide icy cold winters? Do you hate humid climates? Do you prefer big cities, or smaller suburban or rural areas?
- Is working in a particular city both during school and after graduation part of your plan? Do you care if you are limited to certain geographic areas by the school you attend?
- Do you want to work for a particular firm either during or after graduation?
- Do you want to work for a “Big Law” firm, or would you like to work for smaller, “boutique” firm? Or something else entirely?
- What are your career goals? What do you hope to accomplish with your degree and your career?
- What are your values? Is it important that your school be fully in line with the values you hold?
- Will you work while you attend school? Are you planning on attending a parttime program?
- Do you have a family? Are you okay with relocating them, or do you need to stay close to home?
- Do you value time with your family more than spending many hours a week studying or working, or are you willing to sacrifice family time for the duration of your law education?
- How comfortable are you with being in debt?
By answering these questions, you can get a good idea of where you want your law career to take you, and what is important to you in a law school.