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Law schools may be privately funded or publicly funded, just as primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools within the United States can be. Although each prospective student's criteria for choosing the best public law school may be slightly different, there are a number of factors that are worthy of consideration by all future law students choosing a school. Cost and location as well as reputation and curriculum should be important factors when choosing the best public law school.
Although tuition at a public law school will be lower than that of a private law school, tuition may still vary among public law schools. For the average law student, cost will be a factor when deciding on a school. As a rule, tuition at a public law school is only significantly lower for in-state students, meaning that if a law student wishes to go to school out of his or her state of residence, he or she may be paying as must as tuition at a private law school.
Along with cost, location is an important factor when choosing a public law school. Many states within the United States have more than one public law school in the state, affording students the option to choose a location. For some students, choosing a school near family or friends may be important, as well as a way to save money on rent or housing. A prospective law student may also want to choose a school in or near a metropolitan area, which will offer summer or part-time employment opportunities and/or internship possibilities while in law school.
The reputation of the law school is always an important consideration. There are a number of institutions and reputable magazines that rank law schools each year. While many of the private law schools take the top spots, a number of public law schools make the top tier each year as well. In addition, if a student plans to focus his or her practice in a certain area of the law, he or she should research which law schools have a reputation for exceptional educational opportunities in that area of the law.
Although all law schools teach basically the same curriculum for the first two years, there are opportunities for electives or advanced classes in specific practice areas in the third year. In addition, a prospective student may wish to look into what internship or clinic opportunities the law school offers for students. Law journal opportunities at each school are another curriculum area that a student should explore before deciding on a public law school.
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