The Predictably Irrational Way of Choosing Law Schools

price-is-rightSomething that I’ve learned over the last 12 years is that prelaw students are predictably irrational when it comes to choosing law schools.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve heard over the years.

I’m applying to Duke Law because I like their basketball team.

I’m applying to Pepperdine Law because I want to live by the beach.

I’ll never apply to USC Law because I’m a UCLA football fan.


Why don’t they look at the employment stats for the school?

Why don’t they compare the bar passage rates?

Why don’t they evaluate the ROI (Return on Investment) of attending that school?

Why? Why? Why? I could keep asking rational questions until I run out of breath.

But you know what?

I’m going to stop. That’s right.

I’m no longer trying to get prelaw students to be rational and logical. Doesn’t matter that they are entering a profession where it really helps to be rational and logical. Sometimes, you have to just let people spin their proverbial wheel of fortune and let it land where it may.

Speaking of being rational, I like to think I need to be the “voice of reason” for my students. Thus, when I started this blog, I fully intended to review all the law schools that I’d visited over the years.

Month after month, I kept telling myself, review a law school. Just do it. You have a lot to say about each one. But, I resisted. I avoided it. I procrastinated.

After two years of writing this blog, I’ve only reviewed three schools: Georgetown, Penn, and Temple. Fact is, I don’t like them any more than other schools. Somehow, these three lucked out and received my attention very soon after I visited them. It puzzled me why I could not get myself to write more reviews.

So, I finally figured it out.


I point the finger at my students for being predictably irrational when really…I am too.

The more I like the people at a law school, the more I like the school.

Doesn’t matter if the school is uglier than a World War II bunker, or has a U.S. News ranking that exceeds the average weight of a prelaw student, or God forbid, has rock-bottom employment stats, if I meet the admissions officers and/or students at a school and I really like them, then I really like the school.


Because I’m ruled by relationships. I’m also ruled by aesthetics, but really, relationships take top priority for me. So much so that when I heard one of my favorite admissions deans was leaving a Bay Area law school for a school in the Midwest, that California school automatically dropped like a rock in my mind, despite having visited it before and having really liked it.

I didn’t want to write those reviews because I knew I’d be overselling some law schools that probably didn’t deserve my vote of confidence (but the people that work there are so cool), and I’d be underselling some schools that treated me badly (hell hath no wrath like a prelaw adviser scorned) on a visit.

You could argue that doing this would be okay, but the ethical side of me says, no, it isn’t. My subconscious knew all along why I was procrastinating on writing those reviews, it just took my consciousness a while to catch up.

Yep. I’m just as predictably irrational as my students.

So, what’s the solution?

First, know that it’s okay to be predictably irrational. In fact, we all are to some degree.

Second, admit that you are. Acknowledge it. Take ownership of it.

Third, use your predictably irrational preferences to choose schools that most fit your preferences.

BE YOU. Don’t try to be someone else.

Pick the schools that are right for you, no matter how irrational or illogical other people (like your prelaw adviser) think you are. Do what’s right for you.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my lifetime it is this: your happiness is intrinsically tied to you being YOU.

At least that’s what this predictably irrational prelaw adviser thinks.

Photo by CBS.

2 thoughts on “The Predictably Irrational Way of Choosing Law Schools

  1. I’m trying to get into law school, but I cannot pay for it. The only way I think that I can get a full ride to a really good school is if I get an amazing score on the LSAT. I am taking the LSAT in a couple days, but I want to withdraw registration because I know my score won’t be amazing. When I took the test in December I cancelled my score because I knew it wouldn’t be good enough. I feel like law schools are going to look at my cancelation and withdrawal as a very bad sign, also, I would be postponing applying for awhile. Do you recommend withdrawing?

    • Cara, you CAN absolutely get a full ride tuition scholarship to a good law school if you keep prepping as well as you can and take the LSAT only when you’re absolutely ready. It’s okay to have one cancellation and one withdrawal. If you believe that you aren’t going to do very well on the February LSAT, I would withdraw.

      Then register for the June test and make sure you prep well for it and TAKE IT. Good luck. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

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