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Choosing the Right Law School

By David Helfand

Q: I am a prospective law student who has been accepted by two very different law schools. One is the University of Minnesota, the other is Lewis & Clark. My primary reason for applying to Lewis & Clark is their environmental law program. My primary reason for applying to Minnesota is their strong reputation. I have an enthusiastic interest in practicing environmental law. I worry that while Lewis & Clark has one of the top environmental programs, it is primarily a West Coast school and lacks the strong overall reputation that Minnesota has. Is it better to go to a school with a well-known specialty program, or a law school with a strong national reputation?

A: For me the key words in your question are I have an enthusiastic interest in practicing environmental law. As a career counselor, spending most of my time helping clients identify meaningful options, I look to see what passion(s) a client possesses and then encourage them in that direction.

Once you develop an expertise in environmental law and combine that with your energy and interest, I believe youre self-marketing can overcome what you see as a reputation problem of Lewis & Clark. You can help educate prospective employers as to the value of your education there, if theyre not already aware. I would urge you to follow you interest and passion. Going to the University of Minnesota will not serve you well if youre not being trained as best as possible in the area of law that you prefer.

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