• Emily Kelly

Does size matter? Big v Small Law Schools


There are more than 50 universities in Australia, the majority of which offer law degrees. With the inherently competitive beast that is a law degree, comes a natural desire to be at the best law school. To many, being ‘the best’ is often associated with being the biggest. But does the size of your law school really matter? Is your degree still worth the same if you go to a smaller law school? Here are the pros and cons of both big and small law schools…

Notoriety

The greatest advantage of going to a large law school is that it’s usually well known in the industry. Some law schools have been around for a long time and have built up a reputation within the profession, which could potentially set you apart from other candidates when applying for positions.

However, this ‘advantage’ is, unfortunately, somewhat of an illusion. Not only will there be a number of other people from the same law school applying for many of the same job opportunities, but at the end of the day, jobs are awarded on merit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been at a well known law school; if you do not make a good impression or if your grades aren’t as good as or better than everyone else’s, the law school you attend is not going to get you very far.

Connections

Many prominent lawyers and judges are graduates of the bigger law schools. The fact that large law schools have such successful alumni means the experiences they can offer to their current students by way of guest speakers and lecturers is second to none. Going to a large, well-known school gives you easier access to people in the legal industry, and such experiences can help you to launch your own career. That said, some regional universities also have very close ties with local law firms, allowing for an easier transition into the legal industry.

Resources

One of the biggest arguments in favour of larger law schools is that they have the means to provide a better ‘quality’ of education for students by way of high profile lecturers and world-class facilities. While larger law schools may have access to more funding, smaller unis still arm students with the same theoretical and practical knowledge needed to enter the workforce.

Support

One of the inevitable challenges of attending a large law school is that it can be difficult for individual students to find support. While many schools have fantastic student representative bodies and student services to help those who are struggling, it is much more difficult to receive individual help from lecturers or staff when you are one of 400 hundred students in a course. In contrast, small law schools with a significantly fewer students allow for a greater degree of face-to-face contact and assistance throughout your degree.

What works for you?

We can sit here and argue the pros and cons of big and small law schools all day, but ultimately you are going to be most successful at a law school that you enjoy attending. Feeling comfortable, supported and interested are fundamental when undertaking any field of study. So while large law schools might have better facilities, or small law schools might have better support networks, what really matters is what works for you.

What do you think? Are big law schools the way to go, or are smaller faculties a better option for students?

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