It couldn't be easier to choose an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school in Montana. The state hosts just a single accredited law school, the University of Montana School of Law.
However, before deciding to study law there you'll want some basic information about the school to compare to options in neighboring states, or elsewhere. The following article looks at the advantages and drawbacks to studying law in Montana.
The University of Montana School of Law is relatively low-ranked by the U.S. News and World Report's annual law school rankings, though if you intend to focus on practice within the state of Montana this rating is likely meaningless. Put another way, the university is clearly the top-ranked law school in the state. As such it is likely to present the most comprehensive education and opportunities relating to Montana legal practice. Those interested in practicing elsewhere, or in areas of law that are less Montana-specific, might consider attending a school with a higher profile nationally.
On the other hand, National Jurist has ranked the school as one of the best legal education values in the nation and the school has an excellent bar pass rate. The school also offers a wide range of specialty programs in areas such as environmental law, natural resources, Indian law, and conflict resolution.
Out of State Study
The Montana bar permits any applicant with a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school to sit for the Montana bar. This means that if you intend to practice in the state of Montana you don't necessarily need to go to law school in the state.
However, if you intend to practice law in Montana there are very good reasons for attending the state's only law school. Law schools in other states are unlikely to spend any time on the details of Montana law. This may impact your ability to pass the bar exam, as well as your comfort with state legal matters compared to Montana law school graduates well into the future. Attending a state law school will make it easier to seek experiences and contacts within the Montana legal community prior to graduation. Internships, networking events, and other connections to the Montana legal market will be much harder to come by if you are studying elsewhere.
Potential employers or clients will be more familiar with the local law school and may be hesitant to deal with someone who studied in another jurisdiction unless the school you attend has such a strong reputation that it is recognized in Montana. Montana's small population and limited legal market mean less competition, but they also mean that your competitors have closely tailored their experience and study to the specific local needs and concerns.
Get More Law School Guidance
Preparing for a career in the law involves answering a number of puzzling new questions for yourself. How can you best study for classes and exams, how do you find the best internship opportunities, and which extracurricular activities will prepare you for the area of law that interests you? You'll find articles and links to helpful materials throughout the FindLaw for Law Students section that can help answer these and other questions so you can plan your legal education and career with confidence.