There are all kinds of concerns that may arise after you’ve sent off your law school applications: you might be waiting to hear any response at all from law schools, you might be waitlisted at your top choice school, or you might have the more enviable problem of deciding between different schools where you’ve been accepted. Since a lot of applicants do get at least two acceptances, they have to find a way to choose between them. And that process of choosing the right school might look a little different from undergrad, so here’s some key advice to get you started on choosing between your choices of law school.
First, you hopefully already had the good sense to ONLY APPLY to schools where you could actually see yourself attending law school. Sure, it feels nice to receive an acceptance from just about anywhere when you’ve been waiting impatiently to hear back. But if you realize that you would never actually decide to attend the school you heard back from, those schools might as well be old Tinder matches that you swiped on to boost your confidence but never had any intention of meeting.
But, there is one common scenario in which applicants get two acceptances to schools they’d be willing to attend. Let’s say you have an acceptance from one of your top choices of school, but with no scholarship money on the table, and an acceptance from a second school a little farther down your list (and probably, farther down in the law school rankings) with a scholarship offer you really wish the first school had offered. Is there anything you can do to convince your preferred school to offer up a similar scholarship? There might be if you put your future-lawyer skills into practice! You can and should try to (politely and humbly) negotiate by letting your preferred school know about your other offer. For instance, it is perfectly fair to let the preferred school know:
“I’m so grateful to have received an acceptance letter from “A” School of Law! I’m currently considering my options, including another offer to attend “B” School of Law with a $___ scholarship, and the difference in cost between these options is something I need to strongly consider. “A” School of Law is my first choice, and if you could match the scholarship offer from “B,” I would be able to accept your offer immediately.”
Obviously, the details above will vary with your situation, but two of the key points to keep in mind are that (1) some schools will be better leverage than others for helping you to get a better scholarship package from your dream school, and (2) you will pay for it if you try to lie your way into a better offer.
Schools closer in rank to each other will be more likely to feel the need to compete for you, and the same goes, to a weaker extent, for schools that are different in ranking but geographically close together. These schools generally have the strongest reason to negotiate, while HLS and Yale generally don’t feel the need to convince you. And if you decide to bluff about a more tempting offer from another school (either because you didn’t receive the same scholarship package, or because you weren’t accepted at that school at all), your school of choice could find out, and could definitely call you out on it. That’s no way to start building your reputation in the legal field.
There are many other possible scenarios that could come up as you’re choosing a law school, but the ones above begin to give you an idea of how you can take your fate into your own hands once those acceptance letters (hopefully) start rolling in.