What would you ask your (possibly) future law school?

So I got back my October LSAT scores, and, combined with my GPA, I’ve got a very good chance at Northwestern Law, Michigan-Ann Arbor, etc. Northwestern is a slight reach (I think I have a 50/50 shot), and I’m doing their basically required interview in just a week.

If you folks were (or have applied) applying to a law school, what kinds of questions would you ask during the interview?

People always say to ask questions that show you’re interested in the school and not to sound like a walking, talking viewbook, but that seems difficult for me. By the time I decided to apply to Northwestern, I already knew the answers to a lot of the questions that I had via research. Plus, I also know that I know jack about actual legal practice, so I’m reserved about asking about things that I know I don’t really need to know yet.

So what would you suggest asking? I’ve got a couple of ideas, but I’m definitely looking for more.

I didn’t have to do an interview at my university, but I suppose you could ask about the faculty’s overall ethos and teaching approach. Do the lecturers take a more jurisprudential approach? Are they strict “black letter law” types?

Perhaps you could also ask about:

  • areas of the law in which the faculty particularly specialises;
  • opportunities for getting clinical and mooting experience while studying;
  • how much scope there is to choose between coursework and research units.

Mmm! Great ideas! I’ve already learned quite a bit about their clinics and such, but for some reason you suggesting that gave me the idea to ask about the number of journals and how good opportunities are to participate.

I think I’ll use every single one of your suggestions :wink:

Ask for general figures on the employment of recent graduates from the school. How many get employed in their final year? How many are employed within the year after graduation? What percentage are employed by Law firms/ government/ in house counsel/other? Any allumni in the top 10 firms?

Ask about bar passage rates for whatever state(s) you plan to seek bar admission.

Ask about placement rates for summer internshipclerkship type positions.

These are all excellent questions. Ask them. Also, look carefully into nearby housing/dorm options, restaurants, bars, theaters, etc. You won’t be in the library or the classroom all the time. Hope you have a great law school experience!

Attrition rate, particulalry 1L.

My only half kidding response - “How much of my tuition are you guys gonna cover?”

But I doubt that’d go over well.

I think it depends on who you’re interviewing with, someone at the school or an alumnus. Know your audience.

But I’d suggest asking about clerkships (judicial clerkships, which are when you spend a year or so with a judge, typically appellate level). The top tier schools love to have their students clerk (and then go into Biglaw, making huge salaries that will of course permit them to donate buckets of money to the school out of gratitude).

I’d also ask about journals, moot court, mock trial, and whether there are opportunies for 1Ls to get involved (there generally aren’t, but you’ll sound like a go-getter). Your location says Seoul; consider asking about how many LLMs there are, and what the international student scene is like (either you’re international, in which case them’s your people, or you’re just someone with international experience, in which case them’s still your people). Consider also asking about the opportunities for joint degree programs or to take classes in other of the university’s schools. NWU, for example, has its law school and business school cheek-by-jowl and there are some joint classes.

Incidentally, while I’m not opposed to a joint degree program, I’d steer far, far away from the newly faddish 2 year JD. I can’t think of a thing that’s good about it.

By the way, congrats, NWU and Michigan are really top notch schools. If you’ve got a shot at that tier, you should be proud of your hard work and accomplishments.

When I interviewed at NU Law, my interviewer was a current 3L. Just so you’re forewarned.

Although I feel like I have a good handle on several of these numbers via research on the internet, I think you’re right and that I should have some particular questions like this ready just in case. If my interviewer is an alumni, it would be especially helpful to have something ready for their particular field. Ex. if my interviewer does inhouse. Thanks for the suggestion!

Most of these numbers are available online, too, but you’re right that it would be helpful to gauge placement rates perhaps in a more isolated geographic area. Maybe I could ask how well placement is for particular firms in the Chicago area only or that sort of thing.

Mmm, you’re definitely right about this. I’ve heard that Northwestern Law is in a fantastic part of town, but nastily expensive :frowning: I kind of hope I have an alumni interviewer.

I think that NU has a very promising attrition rate. Actually, most of the T14 do if I remember correctly.

Hehe, you’re probably right. NU may be a slight reach, so I may end up paying full price for the education. If I even choose NU.

I’ve heard that the JD/MBA programs, while prestigious, aren’t generally worth the investment. NWU is connected at the hip to its b-school, though, so it might be a very good idea to ask about the nature of that relationship in more detail. Thank you for the congratulations and the great ideas, also!

Did you interview on campus or off campus? I think I’d rather have an alumni, but a 3L might be easier to relate to. A 3L still ought to be able to answer the limited number of questions I’m able to ask in the fraction of the 30-minute interview I’ll be given to ask, I hope!

Bar passage and employment stats for grads (in your preferred geographic/subject matter area of your choice if you have any preference). That, cost, ease of courses, and the ratio of attractive members of your chosen gender is pretty much all that matters from any law school.

You don’t learn anything of value - it is merely a ticket into the game.

On campus. Two years ago. I would hope for an alumnus too: I think students are more critical of their potential peers. My interview was pretty unpleasant. The interviewer didn’t crack a smile the entire time, spoke like a robot, and seemed to be working extra hard to make me feel uncomfortable.

However, I think I probably just got unlucky. I have friends at NU law who are perfectly nice people.

In addition to all of the above, you may want to ask about the courses that are required to graduate. Of course, pretty much all of your 1L will be required courses (contracts, criminal law, torts, etc.), but in the upper years, how many courses are required and how many are electives?

My law school had (or maybe it just seemed that way) more required upper year courses than any other law school in Canada–seven in all, if memory serves. Somewhere along the line, either among the required courses or the electives, had to be a “paper course,” where course credit was based on a research paper getting at least a certain grade.

Why care about what’s required? Well, for example, we were one of two schools in the whole country where Conflicts of Law was a required course. That’s not an easy subject at all, and many of my classmates struggled and were ultimately disappointed in their Conflicts grades. Among their worries was that having their GPA pulled down by their required Conflicts grade would prevent them from being considered by the firms they planned to apply to after graduation; especially since the majority of other students across the country who would be applying to the same firms did not have to take Conflicts, and thus could have an advantage, grade-wise. (Me, I admit my Conflicts grade could have been better, but I was happy just to get through it.)

The other thing is that the more upper year required courses there are, the less you can explore topics that interest you. I took a course in Legal History, for example, and while I would have loved to have taken more courses in that field, a required course always presented a scheduling conflict of some sort. Needless to say, the required course had to take precedence. Fewer required courses might have allowed things to fit more easily.

There will always be some required upper year courses, but you may want to ask how many each school has and what they are. Good luck!

I’m curious why folks think there are any significant differences between law schools of similar rankings? Do you really think you get a better education at one top 10 school than another? Other than cost, is there any difference other than the way a particular school is perceived within a specific hiring community?

Just strikes me as a little silly to think an incoming law student would be able to suss any significant differences between a Northwestern or a Michigan, other than aesthetics. And even sillier to think that how a school presents itself in an interview situation would even resemble what a student experiences. If you have any question and cost is no object, go with the higher ranked school.

No, I really don’t think it makes much difference. You’d get an excellent education from any of them. Ten years after you graduate, most people - even most judges and lawyers, let alone laypeople - won’t really care where you went, because you’ll have already shown them what a good (or bad) lawyer you are, regardless of the institution’s name on your diploma.

IME, even 10 years down the line folks make hiring decisions based on the candidates’ law schools. Not sure there would be much difference between NU and Mich, but you’d often do better being a mediocre student at either, than law review at Devry Institute of Truck Driving and Law.

Of course. But the question was, “between law schools of similar rankings.”

Top firms in Chicago will look at Michigan as a regional school and give preference to UofC and NU, but not vice versa in Detroit. I do agree that if cost is no object, go with the higher ranked school. If cost is a concern, it’s way better to go with a similarly ranked school if costs way less.

JD/MBA programs are great if it’s free, otherwise, have your employer pay for the MBA part. I’ve heard that employers are more reluctant to pay for the JD part.

Not everyone in any school can be top 10%, so, I like any question that has to do with student extra curricular activities, like moot court, law reviews and various journals. You should also have idea, pretty quickly, what type of law you want to practice. I find that helps in the job market.

Something I would look into is what courses are offered. If you are interested in Admiralty law, I would go to Tulane rather than William and Mary. Another thing to consider is where are you intending to practice law? If you want to practice in California a good east coast school may not be the best place for you.