In most countries and under most schemes of higher education, law school is enormously expensive. Winning a law school scholarship is an attractive way to offset some, if not all, of the costs of a legal education. Scholarships are highly competitive, and getting one usually requires a bit of work. Identifying the scholarships available at any given school is the first step. Most scholarships must be specifically applied for, and often require a host of supporting documents. Selection, timing, and preparation are the most important factors to getting a law school scholarship.
The majority of scholarships are school-specific: that is to say, they are issued by specific schools, and can only be used for tuition and other expenses at that school. The number of scholarships and requirements for award vary by school. Some schools offer scholarships to students with certain demonstrated community interests, for instance. Others have scholarships reserved specifically for students of certain minority groups, students from certain socioeconomic backgrounds, or students with certain grade-point averages and test scores.
A list of available scholarships is usually available from a law school’s admissions office. If getting a law school scholarship to offset your law education is a serious priority, it is usually wise to get the scholarship information from every school on your list as early as possible. Take a look at the scholarships offered by each institution, and figure out which scholarships you are eligible for. If the scholarships require supplemental material, like essays or letters of recommendation, be sure to line those things out well in advance.
Most school-sponsored scholarships are awarded at the time of admission, and will typically be forfeited if you choose to attend school somewhere else. Often times, the award of scholarship money helps applicants decide between schools. Law school rankings are perhaps the most important consideration prospective law students make, but money and overall cost is usually a close second.
It is also a good idea to ask a law school admissions representative whether there are any universal scholarships available. A universal law school scholarship is one that is issued by a state, government authority, or private foundation that will fund legal education irrespective of school. Often times, universal scholarships set parameters — they might require one to use the money at a law school within a particular state or province, for instance, or they may require a certain type of lawyer career commitment after graduation — but they do not specify the specific school one must attend.
Regardless of source, most scholarships come with certain strings attached. In some cases, maintaining a law school scholarship can be as difficult as getting one in the first place. Certain grade point average requirements are common conditions of scholarships. If a law school student’s grades slip, the scholarship can be stripped. Full-time student status is also usually a requirement, as is the maintenance of a rigorous lawyer training course load.