Location, Location, Location: Going to Law School Out of State

September 18, 2023


When you’re choosing a law school just like when you’re buying a home or starting a business there’s a refrain you’ll hear over and over again: “Location, location, location.”

And it’s true, location matters. For law students, it can be easier to start your career near where you went to school. Through classes, clinics, and externships, law students tend to make connections with professors, students, and business owners who live and work near where they went to law school.

There’s also the bar exam. While a good legal education will prepare you to take the bar exam anywhere in the U.S., chances are that during law school, you’ll pick up details and nuances about the law that are unique to the state where you received your education.

But it’s also possible to be too short-sighted when it comes to location. Local connections are valuable in the first few years of a lawyers’ career they’ll help you get set up after graduation. After you’ve been practicing for a few years, though, you’ll have a resume that opens doors for you in any number of places. Whether it’s for work, school, or family, the average person moves over 11 times in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People are more mobile than ever, and that means you’ll probably find yourself practicing the law someplace other than where you started.

That’s why when it comes to choosing a location for law school, there are things to take into account other than just geography. Here are some tips for determining whether a law school is in the right location for you.

Do You Like the Campus?

It might seem simple, but make sure you visit campus before you decide where to go. When you’re applying to law school(s), it’s easy to think about each school as an abstraction, but the school you choose is going to determine where you spend the next three years of your life. 

That’s why you should ask yourself: do you like the weather? Is the school in a city or out in the middle of nowhere? How nice is the campus? Is it a place you’d want to spend time, or is it a cluster of gray buildings on a city block that you’d otherwise never look at twice? These questions are about more than just aesthetic preferences: they’ll play an important role in motivating you for the next three years.

Does the School Have the Programs You Want?

You might not know yet what area you want to specialize in, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what kind of law you’ll want to practice once you graduate. Focus on schools with stand-out programs in the areas that interest you. Stetson Law’s trial advocacy program is ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News and World Report, and we’re #3 for legal writing. These programs are nationally renowned and have consistently been ranked among the finest in the nation.

Does the School Have Professors You’re Excited to Work With?

In the same way law students should be more selective about programs, they should also be more selective about faculty. Research the faculty you’ll be working with in law school. Find out about them, their careers, their interests, and the areas in which they’ve published. Finding compatible faculty members who can help you along your way is critical for your success. Moreover, showing the admissions committee that you’ve done research and that you have particular faculty members you’d like to work with could help demonstrate your initiative and prove you’re a good fit for the school.

Stetson Draws Students from All Over the Country

Stetson Law attracts a diverse student body from all over the country and from countless different walks of life. Our entering J.D. class of 2022 came from 29 different states and 6 foreign countries. Twenty-nine percent were people of color, 78% of them received scholarships, and 18% were studying part-time. New students ranged in age from 20 to 59 years old.

Founded in 1900, Stetson is Florida’s oldest law school. With a distinctive Mediterranean Revival style campus located on 21 acres of tropical landscape just minutes away from the west coast of Florida, Stetson Law is a unique and beautiful place to earn a law degree. 

Working closely in courses with our dedicated faculty and with outside legal professionals through off-campus clinics and externships, our students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and practical experience they need to launch legal careers anywhere in the country. Stetson professors are experts in their fields who shape national perspectives on the law.

Check Out Real Cases, the Stetson Law podcast

In the new episode of Real Cases, we sit down with Sara Fultz from Virginia and Lamine Gueye from New York, two rising 3L students at Stetson Law who share their experiences moving to the Tampa Bay area for law school. As students who both pursued other careers after college before they decided to study the law, they share a unique perspective on what prospective students should look for as they plan their legal education. 


Topics: Real Cases