You’ve completed your undergraduate degree and pre-law work, and now you are entering law school. As you move into this new phase of your education, you wonder how to pay for it. You already know the ins and outs of student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, thanks to your undergraduate experience.
You may try to avoid student loans and focus on getting scholarships to pay for your law degree. Law school scholarships help you financially support yourself and your education, and they can show your school that you are a meritorious student. Most law school scholarships are funded by the law school; however, some private scholarships can help you become a legal expert.
The Best Private Law School Scholarships in 2020
The scholarships on this list have open applications once a year, so if you missed the current deadline, you can apply within the next 12 months. In some cases, you can apply for these scholarships each year, whether you received funding or not. In other instances, you can only receive scholarship money once.
Every source of financial aid helps, so here are the best law school scholarships to support your ongoing legal education:
- American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund: Designed to promote diversity in law schools, this scholarship awards $15,000 for 10 to 20 racial and ethnic minorities over the course of three years of law school.
This award also takes into account:
- The student’s financial need.
- Personal, family, and educational background.
- Their personal statement as part of the application packet.
- Community service activities they have pursued.
- Arent Fox Annual Diversity Scholarship Program: The law firm Arent Fox offers a $20,000 scholarship to one second-year law student each year. The student then receives a salaried position, a summer associate program, and another $15,000 scholarship by working at the San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or District of Columbia (DC) branches of the firm.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, some prior work experience, and leadership skills. They must also be a member of an underrepresented group within the legal profession. Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States, not just study.
- Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Annual Diversity Scholarship: Two scholarships from this firm go to law students: one is $10,000 for a second-year student, and one is $5,000 to a first-year law student. Recipients are required to work as a law clerk in one of the eight Bradley offices for a minimum of six weeks during the summer after the scholarships are awarded.
To apply for this award, you must submit an online summer associate application to the firm, and write a supplemental personal statement discussing the importance of diversity in the legal profession. You must meet academic qualifications, demonstrate financial need, participate in community or leadership activities, and have significant personal achievements.
- Friedl Richardson Disabled Students Pursuing a Career in Law Scholarship: This scholarship is dedicated to supporting students with physical or mental disabilities who pursue a legal career, including personal injury law. The $1,000 scholarship can be applied to an accredited law school or pre-law program of your choice.
Qualifications include a 2.8 high school grade point average (GPA), proof of disability, proof of U.S. citizenship, and proof of enrollment in a law or pre-law program for the fall semester.
- Howard Brown Rickard Scholarships: An award of $2,300 is given each year to a legally blind student pursuing a career in law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or natural sciences. This includes undergraduate and graduate students earning degrees at accredited institutions.
Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, intent to pursue one of these fields in a post-secondary institution, service to the community, and financial need.
This award is managed by the National Federation for the Blind Scholarship Program.
- Insler & Hermann Disabled Law Student Scholarship: This firm specializes in Social Security disability law. As part of their mission, they have set aside $1,000 to help one disabled student attend law school. Their goal is to bring attention to students overcoming societal hurdles so they can contribute, just like everyone else.
To apply for this scholarship, students must write a short essay on their disability and how they have worked to succeed in spite of their challenges. The scholarship is awarded at the end of August every year.
- Judge John R. Brown Award: The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation provides five scholarships through an essay competition: one $10,000 prize for the first-place winner; $5,000 for second place; $3,000 for third place; and two $1,000 prizes for two semi-finalists. This contest is open to any student studying law in the United States, and it is awarded for excellence in legal writing.
You must submit two copies of your writing to the foundation, along with a letter of recommendation from a legal professional or school faculty member.
- MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program: This program offers $5,000 scholarships to 5 to 15 law students seeking to advance the civil rights of the Latinx community in the United States. The scholarship is funded by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Students who apply for this scholarship must be currently enrolled in an accredited law school program. You must submit information on:
- Academic performance.
- Extracurricular activities like community organizing or volunteer service.
- Financial need
- Personal background
- Demonstrated commitment to advancing Latinx civil rights as part of your career.
- Rizio Liberty Lipinsky Lawyer Scholarship: This $10,000 scholarship is available to any law student in the United States. To apply, you must write a short personal essay on why you are pursuing a career in law and how this scholarship can help you achieve your educational goals. The firm’s partners and senior management team will evaluate each essay and determine who will receive this funding.
- Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholarship: This $10,000 annual scholarship is awarded to law students interested in studying intellectual property law. You can renew your scholarship for up to three years, helping you complete your legal education. Money comes from the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation.
Student applicants must:
- Show high academic performance in high school, undergraduate, graduate school, or law school.
- Demonstrate financial need.
- Show leadership skills and community involvement.
- Describe personal or special accomplishments.
- Discuss personal interest in intellectual property law, specifically.
- Ward Greenberg Diversity Scholarship Program: Law students receive a $7,500 scholarship paid toward their first-year tuition, plus a position working at the Rochester, New York office for ten weeks. You can also have the opportunity to work with other branches of Ward Greenberg, plus an additional $10,000 scholarship later.
As part of your application, you must show a desire to work toward diversity and inclusion at a sophisticated law firm. Ward Greenberg strongly encourages pro bono and volunteer legal work, as a way to give to those in the community who have unmet legal needs.
Paying for Law School Includes Scholarships and Student Loans
Although law school is an expensive pursuit in 2020, there are several scholarships available through your pre-law or law school, as well as private scholarships, federal grants, and student loans. Taking out federal and private student loans can help pay for costs that are not covered by other sources of funding, including housing, transportation, and supplies for class.
If you want to focus on scholarships rather than student loans, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), so your financial information will be sent to the schools you applied to. You can also talk to the bursar’s or student aid office at the schools you are interested in, to see if they offer merit-based or need-based scholarships to law students.