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How to Choose the Right Law School: Here Are Five Things to Consider

Home Law School News How to Choose the Right Law School: Here Are Five Things to Consider

Let’s say you’re set on law school or maybe just exploring the possibility. With this interest comes a slew of questions that can leave you scratching your head. Where do you start? Since choosing the right law school isn’t an easy decision – and in fact, it can be overwhelming – we decided to ask the advice of an expert.

We reached out to Alicia Cramer, the Assistant Dean of Admissions at South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston). Cramer has worked in law school admissions for three decades and has mentored thousands of prospective law school students navigating the complex questions that arise when deciding to pursue a J.D. degree.

Many law school graduates credit Cramer as one of their best resources during their law school selection process. In fact, it’s common for her to receive thank you letters from applicants who don’t even go to South Texas. This is the result of her guiding every applicant in a personal, non-biased way that puts the individual before the school itself.

We asked Cramer the top five things to consider when choosing the perfect law school for you. Here is her list.

South Texas College of Law Houston is located in the heart of downtown Houston, at 1303 San Jacinto Street.

#1:   Location, location, location

Does the location of the law school help or hamper your opportunities to gain professional experience?

“South Texas is located in such a perfect place, with all the perks of a big city,” states Cramer. “Students appreciate the law school’s location in the heart of downtown Houston. The law school is within walking distance of the city’s courts, law firms, and Fortune 500 corporations.”

STCL Houston’s location offers students easy access to internships and externships with judges, law firms, and nonprofit organizations, in addition to the law school’s on-site legal clinics. “Our law school’s downtown location amplifies the value of the already exceptional legal education we provide students,” said Cramer.

Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, is incredibly affordable compared to other major U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, L.A., Boston, and San Francisco. And opportunities after graduation abound in the thriving Houston metropolitan area.

Location matters, but resources are also critical. Students and alumni at STCL Houstonhave access to seven institutes of academic excellence, and one of the most outstanding law libraries in the state of Texas. The Fred Parks Law Library provides more than 72,000 sq. ft. of beautiful, well-lit space for studying, preparing for class, and performing research. Students have access to an ever-growing list of resources including more than 600,000 books, 50 study rooms, and two computer labs. The stunning sixth floor of the library features an outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view of downtown Houston.

Outdoor terrace on the 6th floor of the library at South Texas College of Law Houston.

#2:   Opportunities for practical training

Cramer suggests asking, “Will your law school offer opportunities to practice law in your desired practice area before you graduate?” With so many different branches of law available to explore — from family law to international economic law — you want a law school that offers opportunities for you to gain real-world experience and graduate “practice-ready.”

“In addition to the focused curriculum, we very strongly encourage that students take advantage of experiential opportunities outside the classroom,” Cramer said. This includes internships, externships, and pro bono volunteering with local nonprofits.

In addition to off-campus opportunities, students can develop their skills in the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics on the law school’s 10th floor. The legal clinic serves as a functioning law firm, with staff and students representing actual clients in 23 different areas of legal practice. With supervision from seasoned attorneys, students get hands-on experience and a chance to try out different practice areas. Last year students provided $1.8 million in legal services to Houston’s underserved populations.

“It allows our students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom and be a benefit to the community at the same time,” Cramer summarizes.


#3:   Acquire professional connections as a student — and as an alumnus

South Texas College of Law Houston’s strong sense of community, collaboration, and respect has been a hallmark of the institution for nearly 100 years — creating a welcoming environment for students who want to succeed. After graduation, this sense of community extends into an extensive alumni network of more than 15,000 alumni who live and work across the U.S. and the globe. The supportive community of alumni connects new graduates with employment opportunities, mentoring, and guidance throughout their careers.

“Students who graduate from South Texas go on to do big things, and they are great about lifting up those who come behind them,” Cramer says of the alumni. “That helps perpetuate the strength and reputation of the school.”

South Texas alumni return to campus to hire interns and graduates because they know firsthand that STCL Houston produces attorneys who have a strong work ethic, who are prepared to practice law, and who produce immediate results.


#4:   Is the law school faculty truly accessible?

Cramer notes the South Texas faculty holds a reputation for providing a strong support system for students. “Our professors are remarkably accessible, incredibly inspiring, and top-notch in their fields of expertise. Their level of investment in each student’s success is a unique attribute you don’t find in many graduate programs,” she said.

“I’ll have twenty professors show up to a student event on a Saturday because they truly care,” Cramer says, noting how uncommon this is. “It is important for students to have that kind of access to their professors.”

Without question, your list of must-haves as an aspiring law student should include the ability to engage, be heard, and make connections outside the classroom. A conversation with a professor can often open all sorts of doors, including help landing that first job.

“It’s hard to put a price on the value of having a fully committed faculty,” Cramer says. “I just don’t think that’s standard among law schools.”


#5:   In the end, passing the bar exam is a top priority

If you want to be a practicing lawyer, you must pass the bar exam in the state(s) where you plan to work. A law school’s ability to prepare you for this important test should be critical to your enrollment decision.

“A prospective student really needs to be thinking about what the school is doing to make you ready for the Bar,” Cramer says. “STCL Houston’s bar prep program is practical, accessible, and student-centered.”

The South Texas bar prep program begins when a student first enters the building. “At South Texas, bar preparation begins the first year of law school and continues throughout each semester. An early introduction to analytical skills and problem-solving strategies helps improve students’ law school grades while preparing them for the bar exam.” This continual preparation process enables students to enter the bar exam with confidence.

The law school has a team of coaches — including attorneys and recent graduates who’ve passed the bar — who work one-on-one with students during the preparation process. The law school offers skills-based workshops and practice exams with near-daily study sessions in the weeks leading up to the bar exam.

These benefits are just a few ways that South Texas remains distinctly student-focused and ensures that each student is prepared to confidently tackle the bar exam.


The Choice Is Now Yours

Above all, choosing a law school is a personal decision. Hopefully, these expert recommendations will help you select wisely and receive the education you deserve — one that will lead to a long and prosperous career practicing law, whether in Houston or elsewhere.



Established in 1923 and located in the heart of downtown, South Texas College of Law is Houston’s oldest law school. The recipient of more national championships than any other law school in the country, PreLaw magazine ranks South Texas College of Law Houston as #1 best of the decade for moot court. With scholarships and financial aid available, join the next class of Houston’s finest by applying today at www.stcl.edu.

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