The issue most often discussed by prospective law students, yet the most difficult to define, is “reputation”. A number of factors contribute to a school’s reputation, including faculty, facilities, career services, reputation of the parent university, etc. Though a number of law school rankings are available, most factors evaluated are not quantifiable, and therefore you should not perceive the rankings as accurate or definitive. Selectivity at law schools, however, is one factor which can be quantified; you can gauge a school's relative selectivity by comparing the number of applicants accepted to the overall number of applications. The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools and the Official American Bar Association Guide to Approved Law Schools contain charts and tables of recent admissions cycles at most schools, reflecting the level of selectivity.

Schools can be divided roughly into three groups:

•Schools with national reputations which tend to appear in various "top ten" lists. They draw students from a national pool and offer geographic mobility to graduates.

•Schools with good regional reputations which are attended primarily by students from the region, who may want to remain in the area following graduation, but who may also seek positions throughout the country.

•Local schools which draw students primarily from the immediate area who want to practice there following graduation.

For a more detailed discussion of law school reputation, refer to The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools.