What to Know if You're Considering Out of State Law School

Unlike your undergraduate school, where most people tend to stay closer to home, more students go to law school out of state. How far? Well, that depends on your comfort level! Whether you want to expand your horizons by going out of state or move to the state where you’ve always dreamed of living, there are many factors you should consider before making the big decision of where to go to law school.

Factors to Consider

  • Size of School

    Some students prefer a smaller school. The smaller community and welcoming faculty can make students feel at home and more at ease in their first year of law school.

  • Ease of Establishing Residency

    If you will be attending a PUBLIC law school, you notice how much cheaper it is to pay in-state tuition. Check to see how easy (or difficult) it is for you to establish residency. Maybe it is beneficial for you to move down earlier, or start later.

  • Long Term

    Can you picture yourself living in this state AFTER you graduate? While you are not required to live in any state, there are some things that are EASIER to do when you do stay, most importantly: getting a job & taking the bar exam.
    Why is getting a job EASIER? Firms want to make sure you are staying there for the long run. Firms don’t want you to move around between jobs, states, etc. If the firm invests its time and money in you, they want you there for the long run. Further, during your time in law school, you are usually interning, externing and working in judicial clerkships in this state. In doing this, you are creating references, contacts and networking. All of these lead to better prospects in state.
    Why is taking the bar exam EASIER? Usually in law school you are learning the state laws that pertain to the state. This advice is different if you are taking a UBE (Uniform Bar Exam) where you only need to learn federal law. When taking a state bar with state specific essays or questions, learning them in law school makes it easier to apply them on the exam.

  • Getting a Job is Difficult

    If you are coming from out of state, especially farther away, it can be difficult for you to secure employment even if you are going to law school in that state. Why? This touches on the above issue – firms think you are going back home. If you have no ties to a state/area, the employer is going to wonder if you like the area or are just there for law school and how long you are staying. You have one strike against you but this does not mean that you won’t get hired!

  • Other Schools in the Area

    You need to look at the schools you will compete against for jobs when looking at any particular area. Take a look at the law school rankings – if you are in the top schools, location probably doesn’t matter as much for job prospects. However, if you are not, make sure you are working your hardest to be at the top of your class in your school.

  • Cost of Living

    This seems minor but some areas are SO MUCH more expensive than others. Coming out of law school may not mean a six-figure job for most students. You want to take out the smallest amount of loans or pay the smallest amount out of pocket for living. If you are used to living in a small town in Texas and move to Washington DC, the cost of living clearly increases. You are not going to have a lot of time to work a job and you definitely want to focus on your studies.

Choosing where to go to law school is a big decision. The decision can be even harder to make when you factor in the various pros and cons of going out of state. Overall, you should make sure you are going to the right school for you – visit the school, visit the surrounding areas, look at the law school rankings and do your research!