When you are choosing a law school, yes, you should figure out the big stuff. The most important thing to research what kind of job prospects the school gives it’s graduates. After you’ve decided you are happy with your chances of finding gainful employment, the rest is more or less all down to taste. You are likely going to be at this place for three years, so you better like it! Here’s some stuff you’ll want to find out about your law school. None of this stuff alone should be a deal breaker, but when you add little stuff up it might alter where you decide to go, so remember to consider the little things!
- How is the food around campus/in the surrounding area? If you are going to a law school out in the country, make sure they serve something edible around campus. My girlfriend is a huge foodie. I don’t think she would have been happier anywhere than were we went, UChicago, located in one of the greatest food cities in the world. Sure Hyde Park (the school’s neighborhood) is a little barren food wise, but not terrible: Z&H makes some of the best fancy sandwiches on the planet, and Salonica is the best diner ever for value. If food is something you care about, that might counsel going to an urban school. 4 years now I’ve lived in Chicago and I haven’t even come close to running out of incredible places I want to eat. Also, going to a new coffee and sandwich shop to study with a friend turns the whole thing into a fun foray rather than another boring study session.
- Is the Wifi turned on in the classroom? If you are like me and have a horrible attention span, this can make a big difference. If I had wifi in the class, I think I would have heard about 10% of what the professors were saying. It was bad enough that I learned you can load flash games before class and they will still work with the wifi turned off (nevermind Iphone games). On the other hand, maybe you are good at focusing but want the wifi there for days where you just can’t do it. Or, if you are truly Machiavellian, maybe you want the Wifi so that others will be distracted while you, the great student, turn it off and take great notes 🙂
- Are there good places to sleep in the library? I literally owned the couch in the media room (the place where we had a big screen tv to watch games and stuff). My friend typically napped on the couch on the other side of the room. When my couch wasn’t available, there was a wonderful soft bench down by the courtroom. A lot of people liked sleeping on the womb chairs as well (pictured at right) Without some sleeping options, habitual nappers are going to suffer. Make sure you’ve got some places to snooze between classes.
- How is the view from the library? You are going to be looking at this view a lot. UChicago’s was good: we had the famous reflecting pool out front and the main campus beyond. However I think Northwestern was beating us. They had a view out over Lake Michigan. If your an aesthete, this might be something to really consider. Bigger schools also often have other libraries where you can study as well, so check them out.
- What is there to do on campus when you aren’t studying? Probably some of my fondest memories of law school are playing Foosball in the student lounge. Nearby there was a university pub with every other kind of game you could want. You can’t be studying all the time. Make sure your law school has an active and well-attended bar review (that’s a night where everybody goes to the same bar). Humans are a social animal. Make sure you like the options for social activity where you are headed.