Financing Law School

The Foundation provides career-preparation and career-readiness support for law students interested in exploring a career in patent law through its Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholar Program.  The Program is open to individuals with an interest in the advancement of racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the patent law profession in the United States.  Selected Scholars are eligible to be considered for $30,000 tuition grant awards, with these scholarship awards being payable over the Scholar’s 1L-3L years to aid in financing law school. For more information on applying to the Scholar Program, go here.

How much does it cost to attend law school?

Law school tuition can be expensive.  The cost of living during a three-year law school education can also be a very significant expense.

Data available on the Internet indicates that the average total cost of law school runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The total cost of attendance (including living expenses) can easily exceed $200,000, with the bill for tuition and fees alone at the most expensive law schools approaching $250,000.

For a prospective law school applicant, it is important to put the cost of law school in perspective.  First-year associates at large, national law firms, including law firms with a significant patent law practice, can earn in well in excess of $150,000 during the first year with the law firm.  Top salaries for a first-year associate can exceed $200,000, before taking account of bonuses and other compensation.  The 2021 Economic Survey of the American Intellectual Property Law Association indicates that the mean income for IP associates in law firm with 1-5 years of experience is approximately $150,000.

What are the best online resources to consult on law school financing?

The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) has excellent online resources for all types of questions relating to the process of applying to law school.  It has an online guide available that covers a host of important topics relating to financing a law school education.  Please consult this guide as part of your efforts to get a complete picture of law school financing issues.

Does borrowing money for law school make sense?

For almost all law students, the answer is yes—borrowing money to invest in a law school education can make good financial sense.  Indeed, most law students borrow money to attend law school, with an average law school debt upon graduation exceeding $100,000.

For most law students, loans will fill the gap between what other financial resources might be available to a student and the total cost of attendance (CoA) of law school.  With available loans, the good news for almost all students who have significant financial need is that the cost of a legal education need not be an insuperable obstacle to attending law school thanks to the availability of loans.

Eligible students can typically borrow whatever money is needed to start and complete a legal education.  For example, under the U.S. government’s Direct PLUS Loan Program, loans are available up to the entire cost of attendance at your law school education.  The application process for these loans can be completed online

How much scholarship assistance can I expect from my law school?

Many law schools use tuition grant aid assistance as a means to compete for qualified students.  As a result, merit-based financial aid is available for most students at most law schools.  Please contact the website of the law schools where you have applied for information on scholarship assistance available directly from the institution.

The website of one law school describes its student financial assistance programs as follows:  “The law school works with students on an individual basis to ensure that each receives the most generous aid package available. All admitted applicants will be considered for merit-based scholarships.  These awards, which vary in amount, are based on the strength of applications; no separate scholarship applications are required.  Grants are also awarded to admitted and continuing students based on financial need and availability of resources.  Approximately 80 percent of students receive some aid, including merit scholarships, need-based grants, and loans.”

How can I be considered for Foundation scholarship assistance?

The Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law, through its Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholar Program, provides selected Scholars with scholarship awards of $30,000, payable over the three years of the Scholar’s law school education at $10,000 per year.  These awards can reduce the debt that the Scholar might otherwise incur.

Each applicant for the Scholar Program who is selected as a Scholar is automatically considered for these tuition grant awards.  Individuals selected to receive these awards will be notified as soon as possible after March 1, and no later than June 1, of the year in which their legal education commences.