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Want to Be a Shark? 5 Qualities to Look for in a Law School

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

If you have your sights set on being the next great lawyer shark, what law school should you go to? Sure everyone's heard of Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, but are they great at everything? Sometimes, it turns out they're not, though they're definitely good for getting a BigLaw job.

Perhaps you want to be a shark in a particular field, like trial work or public interest law. As it turns out, when you want to specialize, or if you're looking to sharpen a particular skill, the T14 may not always be the best.

For all you wannabe sharks, here are five qualities to consider in a law school:

1. Trial Advocacy.

Did you think "Stetson University"? If you're looking to corner the market in trial practice, maybe you should have. This year marks the 16th time U.S. News & World Report has named Stetson Law No. 1 for trial advocacy. It also has an entire "advocacy center" offering certificates, internships, and clinics. Notably, the closest any of the T14 come to trial advocacy is Georgetown Law Center at No. 4.

2. Public Interest.

Maybe you'd like to become a public interest shark, fighting for the rights of the downtrodden. Last year, The National Law Journal compiled a list of the best law schools for public interest. As Above the Law reported, among the Top 10 were no-brainers like the College of William and Mary, George Washington, and Georgetown, as well as City University of New York, George Mason University, and the University of Washington.

3. Clinics.

You could spend your time in school learning theory and debating political philosophy. Or you could spend it learning how to practice and deciding whether you like a particular field. If you're interested in that, U.S. News' list of the best clinical programs includes Georgetown again, along with Yale and NYU, but also City University of New York, American University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

4. Super-Competitive Students.

As a shark, of course you're competitive. You're into tearing out throats, ripping pages out of the books in the library, and spotting issues that weren't even on the test. According to The Princeton Review, you should be at Baylor University Law School. If you want to take things a little lighter, there's also Case Western Reserve, Brigham Young, and UC Hastings.

5. Part-Time Law Programs.

Many schools offer part-time programs for people who might not want to quit their jobs to shell out $30,000 a year for law school. There are plenty of reasons to go to law school part-time -- not only for financial reasons but also because you're not interested in full-time school. U.S. News also ranked the best part-time law programs. Guess what? Georgetown! Also George Washington, Fordham, SMU, George Mason, and Lewis & Clark.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

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