The cost of law school tuition is expensive no matter how you look at it (even aside from the question of whether law school is worth it), but it can be reduced with scholarships. The average cost of law school is around $50,000 a year with in-state public schools being the least-expensive option. The most expensive schools run as high as $69,000 in 2021 while public schools average around $28,000 a year. That means a student graduates with a minimum of $84,000 in debt before adding the cost of their undergraduate tuition. Becoming a lawyer takes a real investment.
Students who are looking to save money on law school should take the time to seek out scholarships that apply to their individual situation. The field of law is one that is always looking to improve itself by bringing members into its ranks that may otherwise take a pass on the idea of going to law school. This has resulted in the creation of scholarships from an array of foundations, institutes, and associations to help bring more diversity to work in the law. In general, scholarships help reduce the average cost of law school and help a student graduate with less student debt. They also help level the tuition field for students who need financial help to get into law school.
For prospective law students who want to make a difference, but dread the massive debt looming in their future, Criminal Justice Degree Hub has compiled a list of scholarships for law students of all backgrounds and career paths. Scholarships are presented in order of deadline throughout the year.
1. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers four scholarships for law students each year to current college students who are interested in becoming fraud examiners. Students must major or minor in accounting, business administration, finance or criminal justice. To apply students must complete an official form, submit transcripts, and two recommendations. The application period begins Sept 15 and ends Feb. 4. Winners will be announced on April 2 and distributed on May 2. The scholarships are worth : $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000
The Ritchie Jennings Memorial Scholarship program was created to honor two employees who were killed while on business in Pakistan in 1997. The ACFE offers scholarships for law school students hoping some will become fraud examiners. This organization provides training and education about preventing fraud and white-collar crime in general. This organization provides training and education about fraud. The AFCE administers the Certified Fraud Examiner test to certified examiners, which provides credentials.
Award: $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000
Deadline: February 15
2. Pi Gamma Mu: Various Scholarships
Pi Gamma Mu offers more than 20 scholarships to current students who are a member of this honor society in social sciences. Law is considered a social science, so there would be scholarships for law students as well. After a person wins a scholarship, it may be renewed for up to four years. Students must be majoring in one of the following social sciences: sociology, anthropology, political science, history, economics, international relations, public administration, criminal justice, law, social work, cultural geography, or psychology. Students must submit a statement as to why they want to study social sciences, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts. The deadline is Feb. 15.
Pi Gamma Mu was started in Winfield, Kansas in 1924, and today lays claim to being the oldest social sciences honor society in the United States. There are 150 chapters active in this honor society. The group’s purpose is to “promote excellence in Social Science.” Membership is by invitation. To qualify for society a student must have completed a set number of hours in social sciences, have a B average in social science classes, and be in the top 35 percent of their class. Scholarships for law school students like these can add up.
Deadline: February 15
3. Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP)
The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program is starting an ambitious scholarships for law school students program that could have a huge impact on civil rights. They intend to provide 50 lawyers over the next five years to work on civil rights cases. Winners will get full tuition, room, and board, Summer internships, post-graduate fellowships, and more specialized training. Winners must then work as civil rights attorneys for eight years in the South. Students must be entering law school to be eligible. In the application, students must explain their personal engagement in civil rights to this point. Two essays and three letters of recommendation are required. The deadline is Feb. 23. Semifinalists and then finalists will be announced, and finalists will be interviewed before the winning scholars are announced in May.
The program was set up by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The scholarships for law students are named after activists Thurgood Marshall and Constance Motley. The intent is to develop the next generation of civil rights lawyers to defend the rights of black communities in the South. They want to develop lawyers and keep the expense of law school from being an obstacle.
Award: Full law school scholarship for tuition, room, board and incidentals
Deadline: February 23
4. Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Each year the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund gives out five to 15 scholarships for law school students of $2000 each to current law school students. Students must be currently enrolled in law school. There is an application required, and it must be mailed in by Feb. 26. Criteria for the scholarships will be academic and extracurricular records, financial need, and how they have demonstrated a commitment to advancing Latino civil rights.
MALDEF was created in 1968 with the goal of protecting and defending the rights of Latinos living in the United States, as well as the constitutional rights of all Americans. MALDEF is governed by a 30-member board of directors and has offices in four cities. Scholarships for Law School Students is intended to help students get their law degrees and to encourage them to work for the civil rights of Latinos upon graduation.
Deadline: February 26
5. Alpha Phi Sigma: The National Criminal Justice Honor Society
Alpha Phi Sigma is a Criminal Justice honor society, and it offers several scholarships for its members. Scholarships for law students are available for undergraduate and graduate students who intend to pursue law or criminal justice as a career. Most of the scholarships are around $2,000. There are also various awards students may apply for if they are members. You may apply for more than one. The application must have a scholarship cover sheet provided by Alpha Phi Sigma. There is a written portion of the exam where students describe their criminal justice interests. Each scholarship may have some specific rules in addition to the basic guidelines. The deadline for applying is March 1.
Alpha Phi Sigma is the only criminal justice honor society in the United States. In 1942 Dr. Vivian Anderson Leonard, director of police science academy at Washington State, helped create the society. The goal is to promote excellence in scholarship and administer scholarships for law school students. To be a member, undergraduate students must be in the top 35 percent of their class and a criminal justice major. Graduate students must have a 3.4 GPA.
Deadline: March 1
6. Zelle Diversity In Law Scholarship
Zelle, an international law firm with offices in 10 cities, is offering $15,000 scholarships for law students. The deadline for application is March 29. The scholarship will be paid over two years, during the second and third years of law school. A 3.0 grade average is required to get the second year. Applicants must be a member of a people group underrepresented in law schools or has shown a strong record of diversity. The winner will also get a mentor and a paid summer clerk position at one of their offices.
The scholarship is part of Zelle’s outreach plan that may be involved in other scholarships. Zelle is a law firm specializing in international litigation and dispute resolution. Nine offices are in the United States and one is in London. The firm has 150 attorneys on staff. Zelle is offering scholarships for law school students to increase the number of minority groups in the legal profession.
Deadline: March 29
7. Herbert Lehman Scholarship (NAACP LDF)
The Herbert Lehman Scholarship is a scholarship for law students who are not yet in law school. The award is for high school seniors or freshmen in college and is for $2,000 renewable for four years. To qualify you must be a high school senior or freshman in college, have financial needs, good academic records, and a commitment to public service. A personal statement, recommendations, and an essay are part of the application. The deadline is April 1. There is no test score required, but judges may take that into consideration.
The Herbert Lehman Scholarship is part of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund scholarships for law school students program. The fund is named for Lehman who was a governor and U.S. Senator from New York. The scholarship is aimed at increasing the number of African Americans in the legal profession. The NAACP wants to transform the promise of equality into a political, social, and economic reality by supporting students with financial needs.
Deadline: April 1
8. The Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholar Program
The Sidney B. Williams Jr. Scholar Program provides 3-year, $10,000 per year scholarships for law students who have been accepted or anticipate being accepted into law school. Candidates must be a member of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. The applicant must also commit to pursuing work as a patent lawyer. Students must already have an undergraduate degree. Part of the application is an essay explaining your interest in patent law. The deadline is April 1.
These scholarships for law school students are awarded by the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law. Sydney B Williams was an intellectual property attorney for 30 years and was the first African American to chair a committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. He has been part of many organizations involved with Intellectual Property Law, and the foundation was created to help others do similar things.
Deadline: April 1
9. SAISD (San Antonio Independent School District) Foundation
The SAISD (San Antonio Independent school district) Foundation administers 16 scholarships and an emergency grant fund for college students with an immediate need. These scholarships are for many things including scholarships for law school students. The scholarships range from $500 to $2,500, and some are tied to individual schools in the district. The deadline for all but the emergency gap grants is April 9. Some require a certain major.
The SAISD Foundation is a non-profit public charity to help students of the school district get to college and be successful. The foundation also invests in schools of the district. These awards are not specifically scholarships for law students, but many of them can be used for whatever degree the student wants to pursue. The foundation has distributed more than $14 million over the last 10 years to students living in the school district.
Deadline: April 9
10. American Bar Association (ABA): Legal Opportunity Scholarship
The American Bar Association’s Legal Opportunity Scholarship is a scholarship for new law students entering law school. Ten to 20 students will receive a $15,000 scholarship that will be distributed over three years. Applicants must be a member of an ethnic group underrepresented in the legal profession and a U.S. citizen. Students must be entering law school, or about to enter. Students must also have an undergraduate degree completed. The deadline for application is April 17.
The American Bar Association is the largest association of lawyers in the world and works to be the spokesman of the profession. It promotes justice, professional excellence, and respecting the law. Since 1952 the National Education Association has recognized the ABA as the national agency responsible for giving accreditation to law schools. Their scholarships for law students are aimed at getting more minorities into the legal profession.
Deadline: April 17
11. American Association for Justice: Mike Eidson Law Student Scholarship
The Mike Eidson Law Student scholarship is a $5,000 award to a female student who is in her final year of law school, It is administered by the American Association of Justice. Scholarships for law school students like this can help a student finish in good shape. The applicant must be a woman and a member of the American Association for Justice and enrolled at an ABA-approved law school. The deadline is May 1. The winner must attend the national convention to receive the award.
This scholarship for law students was started by the AAJ’s Women Trial Lawyers Caucus in 1998. The organization started in 1946. This is an association of trial lawyers that promotes justice and fairness for injured people, protects victims’ rights to a trial by jury. The group also helps its member attorneys with professional assistance The scholarship is named for Mike Eidson, a former president of the organization.
Deadline: May 1
12. Ball State University – Various Scholarships
Ball State University offers a lot of scholarships for law students, and for many other academic endeavors. The school has five scholarships for students in the criminal justice system, which is an undergraduate degree lawyer often gets. There are various rules and varying amounts of money awarded. In general, students must be incoming freshmen, plan to study criminal justice, and preference is given to local residents. The Deadline is March 1.
According to Ball State officials, 80 percent of students are eligible for financial aid, and the school administers a lot of them, including scholarships for law school students. Ball State is in Muncie Indiana and has 22,000 students. The admissions department administers scholarships, as well as loans and other means of financial assistance to students. There are different scholarships for college graduates, law school, and library school graduates. Some are for combinations, such as a law school student seeking a library degree.
Deadline: March 1
13. American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)
The American Association of Law Libraries administers several scholarship programs, including scholarships for law students. There are scholarships for law school grads, library school graduates from and law school graduates. Separate programs are for combinations such as a library school graduate seeling a law degree. There are different criteria for all scholarships and some require you to be a member of AALL. There is also a scholarship for minorities to attend library school. The deadline for all applications is May 1.
The American Association of Law Libraries is an organization that exists to support the careers of law librarians. Their stated goal is to keep law librarians and other legal information professionals informed about issues related to information technology and storage. The organization also provides continuing education programs and scholarships for its members. Scholarships for law school students can be for people seeking law degrees or library degrees.
Deadline: May 1
14. Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT)
The Police Officer Assistance Trust has a total of 10 scholarships and some are scholarships for law students. Seven are named for people and three are more general scholarships. Some are to honor police who have been killed or injured on duty. Most of them are for $2,000. Requirements vary, but applications must be related to police officers and have some interest in criminal justice. There are awards for science and art students. Applications are due May 1.
The police officers’ assistance trust was established in 1989 under the direction of the Dade County Association of Police Chiefs. The association helps policemen and families of police officers when they are in need. The organization was started after two officers in Miami were killed in 1988. They have fundraisers during the year with law enforcement and the public supporting scholarships for law students.
Deadline: May 1
15. Brian Terry Foundation
The Brian Terry Foundation offers a scholarship for tuition, books, and living expenses for students who intend to study criminal justice or a related field. This includes scholarships for law students. Only 100 applications are accepted each year, and only a few receive these merit-based academic awards. Applicants must have a 3.0 grade, a U.S. Citizen, graduating from high school, or already attending college. The deadline is May 31.
Brian Terry was killed while on duty as a border patrol agent. He was due to start a vacation the next day. The foundation was set up to honor the memory of Terry. It also raises awareness on border issues ad the safety of border patrol agents. The foundation also helps families of injured or killed border patrol agents. Scholarships for law school students would fit this description as the law is related to criminal justice.
Award: Annual funding for academic expenses, including tuition, books and living expenses.
Deadline: May 31
16. Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship
The Sheryl A. Horak law enforcement memorial scholarship is open to all Police Explorers who are in the 12th grade. Scholarships for law students include people in criminal justice. The scholarship is a one-time gift of $1,000, and a different number of them are given out each year. Academic record, leadership potential, extracurricular involvement, and a personal statement will be how winners are chosen. Applicants must also be in the explorer’s program, which is for young people to explore police work. The deadline is May 31.
Horak was an explorer and was killed at age 15 in 1987 while taking part in police activity. This happened in Iowa, and the foundation was started in Utah, to honor her and provide opportunities for explorers. Students are not required to be criminal justice majors, but must at least be interested in the possibility. Many lawyers start out in criminal justice studies, making this a scholarship for law school students possibility.
Deadline: May 31
17. Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA): Lloyd M. Johnson Jr. Scholarship Program
The Lloyd M. Johnson Jr scholarship program gives a $10,000 scholarship to first-year law school students who are women or part of a minority group. Scholarships for law students like this get students off to a great start. Applicants must have been accepted to an ABA-approved law school, an undergraduate GPA of 3.2, an interest in corporate law as well as a track record in diversity, equality, and inclusion. Students should also have demonstrated leadership qualities. The deadline is June 15.
The Lloyd M. Johnson Jr. Scholarship program is under the wings of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Johnson is the founder of the MCCA, and he has been a key fundraiser for scholarships for law school students. He has been a corporate lawyer for many years, and he was deputy district attorney in San Francisco. Since 2006 the organization has given $3.5 million to 215 students.
Deadline: June 1
18. The Snell & Wilmer Fellowship for Advancement and Resources (FAR)
The Law Firm of Snell & Wilmer has scholarships for law students in its Fellowship for Advancement and Resources pipeline program. It is designed to remove obstacles from minority groups becoming lawyers. Applicants must be accepted to a law school and a member of a minority group. The winner will get $10,000 and a lot of support from the law firm, including a mentor from the company. The total amount of the award will vary. The deadline is June 1.
Snell and Wilmer is a law firm with offices in Los Angeles and Phoenix. They set up this program in 2009 to help minority group members get admitted to, and then succeed in law school. This program offers much more than money. The winner will be helped with the law school entrance exam, get a lot of mentoring, and other help from the company.
Deadline: June 1
19. National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA): Sharon and Ivan Leadership (SAIL) Scholarship
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association works to promote the wellbeing of Asian Pacific American attorneys. The organization administers several scholarships for law students in the first year of law school. Applicants do not have to be of Pacific Asian descent but must have been accepted to law school. Applicants will be judged on academics, financial need, leadership, and interest in the Pacific Asian community. There are several scholarships with varying payments.
Scholarships for law school students are a big part of this organization, but it works mostly for the benefit of Asian Pacific people. In 1994 the organization started a charitable organization to provide scholarships for law students. The deadline for application is Sept. 7, and winners will be announced in November.
Deadline: June 30
20. Out to Protect: LGBTQ Scholarship
Out To Protect is a support group for law enforcement personnel that have come out as gay, trans, lesbian, and other identities. The organization awards two $1000 scholarships each year, with the deadlines being June and December. To qualify one just identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender. The person must be enrolled in a basic law enforcement training program. Applicants may submit letters of recommendation with their application if desired. Financial need is not a consideration.
Scholarships for law school students can include law enforcement-type scholarships. The organization wants to support people who have come out while being in law enforcement and this is one of their programs. In addition to scholarships for law students, the group wants to raise awareness of LGBT issues and eliminate the phobias people have.
21. My Alarm Center
My Alarm Center is offering $1,000 scholarships for law students, as well as law enforcement and criminal justice. Five were awarded last year and there is not a set number. Applicants must write a 500-1000 word essay and the best ones will win the scholarship for law school students. Applicants must be a high school senior or a first-year college student, and the essay. The deadline is June 1.
My Alarm Center is a company that provides home security solutions. My Alarm Center was founded by Glen Barhamm in 1995 in Atlanta. There are now corporate offices in several cities across the country. The company is offering these scholarships as an outreach to support people working in security. Family members of employees are not eligible.
Deadline: July 1
22. Crimcheck: The Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship
Crimcheck is offering $500 scholarships for criminal justice students, which would also consider scholarships for law school students since it is related. Students must submit an essay explaining their desire to be in law enforcement and this will be the major criteria for selection. Students must be senior in high school, have a grade average of 3.0. The deadline is August 1, and winners will be announced on August 15. Two were given last year.
This scholarship was created to honor Melissa Linville for her charity, good works, and selflessness. In addition to honoring Linville, the scholarship is intended to support education in the criminal justice field. Crimcheck provides background checks on employees and applicants for companies. Crimcheck is based in Ohio and has clients in other areas. Scholarships for law students add up if you get a few.
Deadline: August 1
23. Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)
The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences offers several scholarships for law school students, that are also for people in the criminal justice field. There are 16 scholarships, including those scholarships for law students, and there is an essay contest. Each one has its own rules and is for varying levels of education. Some are for people at the undergraduate level, and some for the graduate level and beyond. The deadline is Oct. 15.
The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences exists to pursue and encourage professional and scholarly activities in the criminal justice field. It seeks to create a forum for discussing ideas related to policy and practice in criminal justice and criminology. The organization was started in 1963. The organization also provides certification for academic programs at all levels, from junior colleges to law schools.
Deadline: Oct 15
24. American Association of University Women (AAUW): Career Development Grant
The American Association of University Women offers career development grants that could easily be scholarships for law students. The awards are for women who hold bachelor’s degrees and want to pursue an advanced degree to change careers or reenter the work world. Awards are from $2,000 to $12,000. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, not hold a master’s degree, and have received their bachelor’s before June 2013. The deadline is Nov. 15.
This organization was started in 1881 with the purpose of advocating for women. They have come a long way since winning the right to vote, and scholarships for law school students help some go even further. Today their issues are things like the gender pay gap and sexual harassment.
Deadline: November 15
25. National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives offers three scholarships to high school seniors in a nationwide program.. The scholarship is for African American students who have a grade point average of 2.5 or better and pursue a degree in social sciences. Students must also already be accepted by a college. Students will have to write an essay that will play a major role in the awards. These scholarships for law school students range from $1500 to $2500.
This organization was founded in 1976 and is made up of primarily black leaders in Law Enforcement. They hope to promote black students, creating programs that could be used as scholarships for law students. The organization is intended to support CEO’s and to be the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action.
How Do I Find Scholarships for Law School?
Performing a web search for law school scholarships is one of the easiest ways to find law school scholarships, but that’s only scratching the surface on finding scholarships for law students. Scholarships for first year law students can be found through law schools themselves, the American Bar Association, legal foundations, and even law firms. Millions of dollars are set aside every year for applicants to take advantage of and save money on their tuition, and there’s nothing stopping a prospective student from applying to multiple scholarships for law students.
It’s worth noting that a majority of scholarships for law students are aimed at first-year law students, but there are scholarships for law school students that pay for a portion of each school year. Scholarships for law students tend to be generous, and can reduce the cost of tuition by a substantial amount. Students who have a disability, disadvantage, or come from a population that suffers from discrimination can frequently find scholarships from foundations and organizations that focus on helping these populations gain access to a quality legal education.
Is Law School Expensive?
Yes, law school is expensive. The main reason why the average cost of law school is so high literally comes down to prestige. Students who graduate from the top-rated schools in the country are looking at an average starting salary of $190,000 a year. That pay reflects the fact that the student got the best possible legal education and is poised to join the ranks of lawyers working at the top law firms in the country. This is no different from other industries that hire the best candidates available to them simply because they can. Students who want to aim for the top of the legal profession in terms of schooling and employment have to work hard to get there and accept that the average cost of law school is going to be expensive. A prospective law school student should consider the debt to earnings ratio before they start applying to law schools.
However, not every student has the opportunity to attend the prestigious schools due to limited space. One alternative is going to a private law school that has lesser name recognition, yet is well-regarded and has connections to respected law firms. State and public schools are also an option as they tend to be the least-expensive, but only if you attend an in-state school. Attending law school at an out-of-state school can be as expensive as attending a private school. There is no getting around the fact that law school is costly, but it’s also a fact that law school scholarships and other funding instruments can help reduce the cost of school no matter which school a student decides to attend.
What Other Kinds of Law Scholarships are There?
Scholarships for incoming law students that have qualifying LSAT scores and acceptance to a law school are the most common type of scholarship. However, there are also law school scholarships for women, for older students, those who identify as diverse, have an alternative sexual orientation, come from a particular racial background, and students who are economically disadvantaged. Scholarships for pre-law students are also available, but don’t require the student to continue on to law school as part of their qualifications. There are also scholarships for law students who are looking to enter into a specific area of law upon graduation. For example: a student wants to go into bankruptcy law, and is in need of a scholarship. Many bankruptcy law foundations and bankruptcy law firms offer scholarships for students who want to work in this area of law for their career.