Law remains one of the noble professions and has been an institution for thousands of years, hence the continually growing number of high school students that opt to study law at college or university. A basic law degree often consumes more years at university than other degrees, and if the student wishes to specialize in a niche-specific area of law, the time in the classroom is extended further. This means that obtaining a law degree can be extremely expensive, second only to a degree in medicine for most aspiring professionals. Law school grants are offered by various public and private entities, but are not so plentiful as, for example, nursing grants; this is due to the fact that there isn’t, currently, a shortage of lawyers in America like there is for medical professionals.

Law school grants are competitive. Unlike a number of other professions, law has become more open to women and minorities, even though within the last 30 years it was regarded as the bastion of white males. Because the legal profession now has more openness, there are more applicants than ever before, and while the grant base is growing, it is not proportionate to the applicants, making the process tightly competitive.

How can you get the edge on getting a law school grant? If your misfortune is to be supported within a low-income family, you may have an advantage when it comes to higher education grants, including those for law school. Other ways to stay at the front of the competitors when grant applications are being considered are to:

• work hard at being a good, well-rounded student (this means good grades and note-worthy extra-curricular activities that include volunteering, even better if that is related to the area of law you plan to study)

• ensure your fiscal records are in order and honestly prove your financial status if you are going to apply for a law school grant based on your financial needs

• keep your lifetime of scholastic records in good order and ready to present when required

• think of and then write down, for the record, your reasons for choosing law as a future profession; your commitment to law will perhaps be the point that sways a granting body’s decision-maker, all other aspects being equal

Law has become viewed as a prestige career and lifestyle that no longer discriminates against gender or ethnicity. Television abounds with series (dramatic and comedic) with roots in the legal profession, helping to popularize it as a career choice. While not as costly as a medical degree, and not demanding the ability to withstand some level of “gore” as it might be associated with, for example, surgery, lawyers and judges are generally regarded with respect and top-notch salaries. But you have to find the funds to attend law school before you can get to the law firm salary.

Where are Law School Grants Available?
One of the best places to start is directly at the law schools (and/or universities where the law schools are situated); because they are intrinsically linked with the legal profession, they are usually the first to know of or offer law school grants. They certainly obtain and store the most current information about grants, bursaries and scholarships for law school hopefuls.

For example, these universities (among many others) offer law school grants:

• The Washington College of Law offers a rare chance at a J.D. (Doctor of Laws) degree through its scholarship program.

• Columbia University Law School (one of the most admired in the country) has a granting program for full-time students suffering financial constraints.

• Cornell University and the University of Michigan have specialized grants for women and minorities to encourage their joining the legal profession.

Some law schools also offer grants that are garnered from private donations supplied by law school alumni. These grants may have very specific eligibility requirements, but they are also often quite generous, given the success of former students and their efforts to help the next generation of lawyers.

Other Public Funding for Law School Grants
The new United States of America “Stimulus Bill” contains provisions for some educational grants that were not in place beforehand. Law school grants may be part of this complex financial stimulus package, and if no direct grants for law school are stipulated, there are other avenues such as grants for veterans, Native Americans, women and ethnic minorities that could be applied to law school.

The federal government offers several granting programs for gifted students as well as ambitious students from low-income backgrounds (these commonly adhere to Pell grants). Applicants must complete the standard FASA application and specify the intended course of study as well as the institution. Whether law school grants are available through public or institutional funds, eligibility qualifications vary and must be aligned with the student making application for a law school grant.

Private and Unique Law School Grants
As is the case in most upper-echelon professions, industry associations often provide grants to ensure their professions are populated by the best and brightest in the future. Current members will retire and it is their goal to hand over the profession to worthy young lawyers who will continue on the well-honed paths of the past.

Under this framework, national organizations such as the American Bar Association have assembled a number of different law school grant opportunities for promising individuals. They are particularly focused on women and minorities; while the legal profession is no longer all white men, it still has a way to go to be seen as fully represented from all types of Americans. The American Association of University Women provides grants to women breaking into more traditionally male-dominated fields, including, to some degree, law.

Specific grants may be made available directly by law firms who specialize in such things as personal injury and accident, health care/medical law or criminal law, to name a few. These highly targeted areas of law require longer and more intricate study, and the grants are accordingly made available to students who have already studied some law and are ready to assume a specialty.

The Elaine Osborne Jacobsen Award for Women Working in Health Care Law is an annual award grant of $3,000 that is bestowed upon a law student in an undergraduate or graduate course, who is also serving her community in health care advocacy.

Grants for law schools come from a variety of sources, but with the exception of Pell grants and their kind, the focus is on deserving students who show a proclivity for the nuances and precision of law, and a commitment to it as a life-long career. Students who match such criteria will find the best options for law school grants.

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