It couldn't be easier to choose an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school in Montana. The state hosts just one accredited law school, the University of Montana School of Law.
However, before deciding to study law there, you'll want some basic information about the school to compare to options in neighboring states or elsewhere. The following article examines the advantages and drawbacks of studying law in Montana.
University of Montana, Alexander Blewett III School of Law
The University of Montana School of Law is relatively low-ranked by the U.S. News and World Report's annual law school rankings. However, if you intend to focus on practice within the state of Montana this rating is likely meaningless. After all, the university is clearly the top-ranked law school in the state.
Those interested in practicing in another state or in a more nationally-focused practice area might consider attending a school with a higher profile.
On the other hand, National Jurist has ranked the school as one of the best legal education values in the nation, and the school has an excellent bar pass rate. The school also offers a wide range of specialty programs in areas such as environmental law, natural resources, Indian law, and conflict resolution.
The Montana bar permits any applicant with a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-accredited law school to sit for the Montana bar. This means that if you intend to practice in the state of Montana, you don't necessarily need to go to law school in the state.
However, if you intend to practice law in Montana, there are good reasons for attending the state's only law school. Law schools in other states are unlikely to spend any time on the details of Montana law. This may impact your ability to pass the bar exam, as well as your comfort with state legal matters compared to Montana law school graduates.
Attending a state law school will also make it easier to seek experiences and contacts within the Montana legal community prior to graduation. Internships, networking events, and other connections to the Montana legal market will be much harder to come by if you are studying elsewhere.
Potential employers or clients will be more familiar with the local law school. They may be hesitant to deal with someone who studied in another jurisdiction unless the school you attend has such a strong reputation. Montana's small population and limited legal market mean less competition. But that also means that your competitors have closely tailored their experience and study to the specific local needs and concerns.
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Preparing for a career in the law involves answering a number of puzzling new questions for yourself. How can you best study for classes and exams, how do you find the best internship opportunities, and which extracurricular activities will prepare you for the area of law that interests you? You'll find articles and links to helpful materials throughout the FindLaw for Law Students section that can help answer these and other questions so you can plan your legal education and career with confidence.