Top Scholarships for Law School Students

These private law school scholarships could reduce the amount you have to borrow for your JD.
Ryan Lane
By Ryan Lane 
Edited by Des Toups

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Most law school scholarships come from the schools themselves to attract the best candidates. But private awards are available, and taking the time to apply could reduce the amount of law school student loans you borrow — or help you land a job post-graduation.

To simplify your search, here’s a list of top law school scholarships. Even if the deadlines for these awards have passed, many scholarships are cyclical. You may want to revisit ones that interest you next year.

American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship

First-year law students are eligible for the American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship. This award is available to 10 to 20 students over their three years in law school. Students can receive $15,000 overall.

How to qualify: The American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship is for students who are racial or ethnic minorities. The selection committee also considers financial need, participation in community service and other factors.

When to apply: May 1. Learn more.

The American Association for Justice Law Student Scholarships

The American Association for Justice offers multiple scholarships to help cover the costs of law school, ranging in value from $3,000 to $5,000.

How to qualify: Qualifications vary by award. For example, the Richard D. Hailey Scholarship is available to minority students at any point during their law school career, whereas the Mike Eidson Scholarship is just for female students entering their 3L year. The Trial Advocacy Scholarship is open to all second- and third-year students.

When to apply: May 15. Learn more.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Scholarship Program

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund offers two renewable scholarships. The Herbert Lehman Scholarship is worth $2,000 annually for up to four years, while the Earl Warren Scholarship award is $10,000 per year for three years.

How to qualify: Qualifications vary by award. For both, you must be a U.S. citizen and attending an accredited four-year institution.

When to apply: April 24 (Herbert Lehman Scholarship); May 1 (Earl Warren Scholarship). Learn more.

Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholarship

The American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation provides a $10,000 annual scholarship to law students interested in intellectual property law. The scholarship is renewable for up to three years.

How to qualify: This scholarship is available to incoming and current law students. To qualify, you must display a demonstrated interest in intellectual property law, as well as financial need and high performance in school.

When to apply: April 1. Learn more.

Rizio Liberty Lipinsky Lawyer Scholarship

The Rizio Liberty Lipinsky Lawyer Scholarship is a $10,000 scholarship available to all law students in the United States.

How to qualify: The primary application material is an essay of 1,000 words or less detailing why you’re pursuing a legal career and how the scholarship will help you achieve those goals.

When to apply: May 1. Learn more.

Judge John R. Brown Award

The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation offers this award to recognize excellence in legal writing. First place receives $10,000, while four additional finalists receive prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

How to qualify: The scholarship is open to any law student enrolled in the United States seeking a JD or LLB degree. To apply, submit two copies of your writing to the foundation, as well as a letter of recommendation from a law school faculty member or legal professional.

When to apply: June 3. Learn more.

MCCA Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship

This scholarship awards $10,000 to first-year law students who are interested in working in a law firm and/or a corporate law department. Up to six awards are available for 2019.

How to qualify: You must be planning to enroll full time in an ABA-accredited law school in the United States, with a GPA of at least 3.2 from your undergraduate studies.

When to apply: July 2. Learn more.

Arent Fox Diversity Scholarship

The Arent Fox Diversity Scholarship is a summer associate scholarship program. Each of the firm’s offices offers a $20,000 scholarship and salaried position to a second-year law student. The student receives half the award over the summer and the other half after joining the firm post-graduation.

How to qualify: Interested students must apply to a specific Arent Fox firm — they have multiple locations on the East and West coasts. Applications are for the summer of 2020.

Many large law firms have similar diversity programs for 2L students. If you’re interested in a career in Big Law, look for options at firms that interest you.

When to apply: Fall 2020. Learn more.

More ways to pay

Most students can't cover the cost of law school with scholarships and grants; law students graduate owing an average of $145,550, including undergraduate debt. This makes choosing law school loans especially important.

Federal loans are usually the best bet due to their payment flexibility. Federal loans may also qualify for loan forgiveness and repayment programs that help law students manage their debt. These programs are typically for lawyers who work in the public sector or have low salaries, though.

If you go the summer associate route and end up choosing a private sector career with a strong income projection, refinancing your law school loans could save you money in the future.

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