Law school scholarships are more important than ever given how much law school is. The cost of one year at law school now tops out at a little over $100,000 a year (including tuition and living expenses) at elite T14 law schools, such as Columbia Law School and Cornell Law School. But even the easiest law schools to get into can still charge over $80,000 per year. Knowing what kind of law school scholarships are out there can help you defray the costs of a legal education, and help you avoid a heavy debt burden after you graduate. This article will list some of the most lucrative, and interesting law school scholarships, their award amounts, eligibility requirements, and share tips for how to get a law school scholarship. 

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Law School Scholarships: Private Law School Scholarships Law School Scholarships: Public Law School Scholarships How to Get Law School Scholarships FAQs

Law School Scholarships: Private Law School Scholarships

1. American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship

  • Award Amount: Up to $15,000 over three years ($5,000 per year)
  • Application Requirements: Online application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, community service work
  • Applicant Criteria: Must be a racial minority; first-year law students; US citizens (international students not eligible)

The American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship aims to support racially and ethnically diverse law students with demonstrated financial need. However, you must also meet the 2.3 GPA minimum to be considered. This scholarship will help you pay for law school only at an ABA-accredited law school. You must also be entering your first year and identify as a racial minority. The American Bar Association has an online application where you can submit a law school personal statement, at least two law school letters of recommendation, and a financial information form.

2. William H. Gates Sr. Public Service Law Scholarship

  • Award Amount: Full tuition and fees for three years
  • Application Requirements: Application form, cover letter, resume, essay and letters of recommendation
  • Applicant Criteria: First-year law students; applicants to the University of Washington School of Law JD program

Named after the father of Bill Gates, an alumnus of UWashington, the Gates Public Service Law Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship program designed for first-year law students entering the JD program at the University of Washington School of Law (the scholarship is not available for any other school). This is an essay-based scholarship, as you do not have to supply transcripts or have a minimum GPA. Instead, you have to supply a law school cover letter explaining why you want to apply to the scholarship, and a law school resume outlining your work in the field of public interest law, social justice or community service work. This scholarship covers full tuition and fees for three years, enabling you to pursue your legal education without financial constraints. But the scholarship comes with responsibilities. If you are awarded the scholarship, you will be required to attend an annual summer retreat, attend workshops specifically for Gates scholars’ and participate in two internships within the realm of public interest.

3. NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholarship

  • Award Amount: $15,000/year
  • Application Requirements: Letters of recommendation; accepted into an accredited program; letters of recommendation; transcripts; essays; FAFSA application; LSAT scores
  • Applicant Criteria: First- or second-year law students; US citizens; interest in public service and civil rights

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholarship recognizes the achievements and potential of law students who are members of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups and are committed to public interest law. This scholarship awards $15,000 every year to selected recipients, so long as you maintain a good academic record, which makes it one of the most lucrative law school scholarships. You must submit your transcripts, acceptance letter to an accredited law school in the US, and write essays and a personal statement. You must also submit your latest LSAT scores, but you can also submit GRE scores. The scholarship is also based on financial need, which you show by submitting a completed FAFSA application for federal student loans.

4. Skadden Fellowship Program

  • Award Amount: Full salary and benefits for a two-year public interest project
  • Application Requirements: Letters of recommendation; personal statement; essays; transcripts; letter of intent
  • Applicant Criteria: Law school graduates; international students and US citizens accepted; pursuing a career in public interest

The Skadden Fellowship Program offers a unique opportunity for aspiring lawyers committed to public interest law. This fellowship is strictly for law school graduates, so you cannot apply as a law student, but it is something to keep in mind if you are interested in pursuing public interest law after law school.

The way the Fellowship works is that you choose a non-profit organization for which you want to pursue research or work experience in public interest law. You then submit an application consisting of various application materials, such as a law school letter of intent from your host organization; two letters of recommendation; your transcripts and any law school addendums that highlight your work in public or community service.

5. Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Law School Scholarship Program

  • Award Amount: $2,000 to $10,000
  • Application Requirements: Resume; letters of recommendation; career plans statement; personal statement; transcripts
  • Applicant Criteria: First-year law students; US citizens; involvement in advancing civil rights for Latinos; financial need

The MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program supports law students of all races who are dedicated to advancing the civil rights of the Latino community. You do not have to have Latino heritage to apply, but students with Latino backgrounds are preferred. Your service work for the Latino community matters more than you race, so you should apply only if you have an extensive record of law school extracurriculars dealing with promoting legal rights for Latinos. You must also submit a short career plans statement explaining how you plan to use your legal education to advance civil rights for Latinos.

6. Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest

  • Award Amount: $5,000
  • Application Requirements: 2,000-to-6,000-word essay
  • Applicant Criteria: Current students or law school graduates

The Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest is an opportunity for law students with various law degree types from the JD to graduate-level LL.M degrees. This scholarship lets you showcase your legal writing skills while addressing important issues related to access to justice. By submitting an essay on a specific law school essay prompt you have the chance to win a $5,000 scholarship. You can submit a paper written by yourself or co-authored with another law student.

7. Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Apple HBCU Scholars Program

  • Award Amount: Up to $25,000
  • Application Requirements: Completed application form; financial statement; essays; letters of recommendation
  • Applicant Criteria: Three years to graduate; must attend an HBCU

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Apple HBCU Scholars Program supports students attending Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs). While the scholarship is sponsored by Apple, you do not have to be a STEM student to be considered, although STEM students are preferred. The scholarship is open to anyone (undergraduate or graduate) who is scheduled to graduate within a certain time period, so you can apply if you’re a law student at any of the six HBCU law schools in the US (freshmen are ineligible to apply). This scholarship provides financial assistance of up to $25,000 to help students achieve their educational and career goals. You’ll also be expected to participate in seminars at Apple headquarters in California and remain in good academic standing throughout your academic career.

8. LGBT Public Interest Scholarship Program

  • Award Amount: $5,000
  • Application Requirements: Law school transcript; personal statement; resume; letters of recommendation
  • Applicant Criteria: Junior or senior law students; recent law school graduates; LGBTQ+ members or anyone who works towards LGBTQ+ rights

The LGBTQ+ Public Interest Scholarship Program recognizes law students or recent graduates who are dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ rights. The scholarship is open to both LGBTQ+ applicants or those who work closely with organizations who support and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. This scholarship awards $5,000 to selected recipients, who can either be junior or senior law school students, or recent law school graduates who are still studying for the bar exam. Another requirement is being enrolled into a summer internship program with a legal organization dedicated to advancing the legal rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

9. The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program

  • Award Amount: Full tuition and fees for three years
  • Application Requirements: Law school transcripts; essays; letters of recommendation; LSAT/GRE scores; personal statement; recorded video responses to essay prompts
  • Applicant Criteria: First-year, full-time, three-year JD program students (no part-time or joint-degree applicants); interested in civil rights law; US citizens only

The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program is a prestigious scholarship opportunity that provides full tuition and fees for three years of law school. But there are responsibilities attached to the program, and you must be willing to practice law as a civil rights lawyer for at least eight years after you graduate. This program is designed for students who have shown a strong dedication to civil rights, social justice, and community engagement. You must submit personal statements and essays, as well as record video responses to essay prompts such as “how you are currently living the life of a Marshall-Motley Scholar?” and “why are you willing to enter civil rights law rather than a more lucrative career as a Big Law lawyer?” If you are awarded the scholarship, you will also be enrolled in a two-year post-graduate fellowship and participate in various summer internship with civil rights organizations.

10. The 7Sage 7K Law School Scholarship

Award Amount: $7,000

Application Requirements: Completed application form, LSAT score, personal statement, and academic transcripts.

Applicant Criteria: Students who have achieved a high LSAT score and demonstrate a strong commitment to pursuing a legal education.

The 7Sage 7K LSAT Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship opportunity offered by the popular law school admissions consulting company, 7Sage. This scholarship awards both financial assistance and free LSAT prep materials, such as a free LSAT prep course and personalized law school application help for the first-place winner. There are also runner-up prizes. Second and third runners up can also win financial assistance ($1,000 for second place) or free LSAT prep resources for third, fourth and fifth runners up.

Law School Scholarships: Public Law School Scholarships

1. The American Prairie Scholarship

Award Amount: Full tuition

Application Requirements: Application form; letters of recommendation; project proposal; optional essays

Applicant Criteria: Academic focus on land management, wildlife conservation, preservation studies; participation in The Law of People and Place course at the University of Montana

The American Prairie Scholarship is a scholarship program designed for students who are passionate about environmental conservation, wildlife preservation, or sustainable land management. You must also be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Montana programs such as a public administration, social work, journalism, or law. You have to submit a creative project proposal that must “enhance and expand public awareness of natural resource conservation” in Montana and the surrounding regions. You must submit a proposal along with law school optional essays and a law school diversity statement describing how your diverse background will contribute to the scholarship’s project. Indigenous students are preferred but anyone can apply.

2. Harness IP’s Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship

Award Amount: $30,000 for graduate study

Application Requirements: Resume; transcripts; personal statement; letters of reference; legal writing sample

Applicant Criteria: Racial minority; women; people with disabilities; veterans

The Harness IP’s Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship is a prestigious fellowship program that supports law students who are dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion within the field of intellectual property law. You can apply for this scholarship only if you meet very specific eligibility requirements. You must be enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school, but you must have an undergraduate degree in either engineering, life sciences, chemistry, or computer science. If you don’t have a degree in these subjects, you can also apply if you have significant work experience in copyright or trademark law. This fellowship provides financial support of $10,000 to selected recipients. You must also either identify as a racial minority, LGBTQ+ member, woman, person with a disability or a veteran to qualify. You must also have an interest in copyright law and be willing to take a junior position with the Harness IP law firm after graduation.

3. Scrofano Law PC Aspiring Public Defender Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,500

Application Requirements: Resume; transcripts; must be enrolled in a summer internship with a Public Defender office

Applicant Criteria: First- or second-year law student; US citizen

The Scrofano Law PC Aspiring Public Defender Scholarship recognizes law students who are dedicated to pursuing a career as a public defender and advancing the cause of indigent defense. This scholarship awards $1,500 to selected recipients, providing financial support as they pursue their legal education and prepare to advocate for the rights of the underrepresented. You have to submit directly to the Scrofano Law PC law firm and write a maximum 500-word essay responding to the following prompt: “As a public defender or private criminal defense lawyer, you will often be asked the question: how can you defend people you know are guilty?”

4. Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation

Award Amount: $5,000

Application Requirements: Resume; transcripts; two letters of reference; essay; FAFSA application

Applicant Criteria: Black woman; soon-to-be law school graduate; offer of employment from a District Attorney’s office

The Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation sponsors a specific law school scholarships for Black woman will soon graduate law school or who have already graduated law school and are currently studying for the bar exam. You can win a $5,000 scholarship to help you prepare for the bar exam, but you can also receive a $5,000 award if you secure a position with a District Attorney’s office in the US and complete a year of full-time work; the $5,000 will be paid out only if you complete one year at the DA’s office. You must be a Black woman to apply, and submit a resume, essay, and two letters of recommendation.

5. Mike Eidson Law Student Scholarship

Award Amount: $5,000

Application Requirements: Completed application form; resume; letter in response to specific prompt

Applicant Criteria: American Association for Justice (AAJ) member; enrolled in an ABA-certified law school; female law student in second or third year

The Women Trial Lawyers Caucus of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) recognizes the achievements and potential of female law students who are dedicated to advancing the “concept of a fair trial” and have an interest in pursuing a career as a trial attorney. You must write a letter outlining why you want to pursue a career as a trial attorney and how you have upheld the legal principles of the US Constitution.

6. Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Foundation Diversity Scholarship

Award Amount: $5,000

Application Requirements: Transcripts; LSAT scores; resume; essay

Applicant Criteria: Must be enrolled in a Houston-area law school; be a racial or ethnic minority; first- or second-year law student

The ACC Foundation Diversity Scholarship recognizes law students from diverse backgrounds who have a demonstrated interest in corporate law and who are currently enrolled in any of the three law schools in Houston - South Texas College of Law Houston, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and the University of Houston Law Center. This scholarship awards 12 different $5,000 awards to selected recipients who are committed to diversity in the legal profession. You must write an essay outlining the contributions you would like to make to the legal profession and to diversity, or those you have already made.

7. National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Law Foundation Scholarships

Award Amount: $7,500

Application Requirements: Essay; transcripts; letters of recommendation; completed application form

Applicant Criteria: Second-year law students (you can apply as a first-year student); academic achievement (high GPA); volunteering and leadership experiences

There are many NAPABA Law Foundation Scholarships available to laws students who demonstrate a commitment to the Asian Pacific American community. One of these law school scholarships is the SAIL Scholarship (Sharon and Ivan Leadership Scholarship), which provides financial assistance to selected recipients based on their academic achievements, and their contributions to Asian American/Pacific Islander communities. You have to complete an online application by writing a 500-word essay on what experiences have formed your commitment to serve the AAPI community or how you plan to serve the AAPI community as a lawyer.

How to Get Law School Scholarships

1. Know the Eligibility and Application Requirements

Almost all of the law school scholarships listed here have very specific requirements (Black woman; attend Houston-area schools; have an interest in civil rights law), so you need to research each scholarship’s requirements carefully. You have to be clear on what the law school scholarship foundation requires, which also extends to the type of application materials you need to submit.

But don’t be put off by what you assume to be scholarship only for specific communities. For example, the American Bar Association’s LGBT Public Interest Scholarship is not only for LGBTQ+ students, but any student who has an interest in practicing public interest law that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. Similarly, the Marshall-Motley Scholarship is available to non-Black law students, so long as they have a dedicated interest in civil rights law and meet other eligibility criteria, such as being enrolled full-time in a JD program or being a US citizen.

2. Spend a Lot of Time Writing Your Essays

Almost all of these law school scholarships require personal essays centered around the scholarship’s mission, sponsor or specific focus. You might have noticed that very few are merit-based or based on academic achievement alone (only one has a minimum GPA requirement, although your academic achievement is important as well). As such, your personal statement or essay – or video essay for the Marshall-Motley Scholarship – should be your prime focus as you prepare your application. If the law school scholarship asks for a response to a specific prompt, you should focus solely on your thoughts, opinions, research into that prompt and not focus on personal details, unless they relate to the topic.

If you don’t have to respond to a specific prompt or questions, talk about your interest in the law, why do you want to study law, and the experiences and knowledges you’ve gained that will make you an ideal law student and law school scholarship recipient. After you’ve written a few drafts, give them to others to read to make sure that your arguments can be understood.

3. Apply as Early as Possible

Applying for a law school scholarship is a lot like applying to law school, in that you need to be aware of application deadlines as you prepare you materials. But making things even more urgent is that you will have to wait another year to apply again to a scholarship, which could affect your eligibility for that scholarship, especially if they are only for first-year students. You should start looking for scholarships even before you apply to law school, just so you have an idea of what scholarships are available and when you should apply.

Some of these law school scholarships will require you submit an acceptance letter or prove you are enrolled in a full-time program, but you can still apply even if you haven’t been accepted yet. However, if you are not admitted to a law school JD program, your eligibility for law school scholarships can change.

4. Have an Extensive and Sustained List of Community Service Work

Many of these law school scholarships make volunteer and leadership experience an important part of the selection criteria, but these experiences need to be long-term having preferably started during your undergraduate career. Having a long list of law school extracurriculars is an essential part of how to get into law school, but they are also important for getting a law school scholarship, especially if that is part of the requirements.

Of course, not everyone will have a background in engineering or life sciences, as is required by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Apple law school scholarship or have extensive experience with civil rights organizations. But you should apply to the law school scholarships that do align with your background and experiences. But even before that you should engage with organizations or causes that are important to you. However, keep in mind that something like “public interest law” covers a lot of areas, so as long as your background is in helping underrepresented or marginalized peoples, you can argue in your law school scholarship essays that these experiences have prepared you for law school and being a lawyer in public interest law.


1. What are law school scholarships?

Law school scholarships are financial awards offered by public and private organizations that can help you pay for law school, or, in some cases, cover all your law school costs, such as tuition, living expenses and academic materials. 

2. How many law school scholarships are there?

There are thousands of different law school scholarships available to all eligible law students. Many scholarships are divided by eligibility criteria and available only to specific groups so you should review law school scholarships application criteria and requirements carefully. 

3. How can I get a law school scholarship?

You can get a law school scholarship by applying on time, applying to a scholarship that applies to you and your background, writing excellent essays and personal statement, getting great recommendation letters, and having the right volunteering and leadership experiences. 

4. How can I apply for a law school scholarship?

Every law school scholarship has its own application process; some of these scholarships are available through private law firms and public, non-profit organizations, which control and organize the scholarships, so you have to apply directly to them. Institutional law school scholarships have different application process based on the law school that offers them. 

5. Do I need a minimum GPA or LSAT score to get a law school scholarship?

There are some law school scholarships, such as the Legal Opportunity Scholarship from the ABA that do require you have a minimum GPA, but in general, there are no minimum GPA requirements. However, academic achievement is crucial whether the law school scholarship requires it or not, as you will be asked to submit both your undergraduate and law school transcripts, if you are either a current law student or about to graduate. 

6. How much are law school scholarships worth?

The award amounts for law school scholarships vary. You can get a small award worth only a few thousand dollars to receiving a full-tuition scholarship for the entirety of your law school career. 

7. Are there any spending restrictions on law school scholarships?

Yes, some law school scholarships will only let you apply the award money to your law school studies; if you use it for any other purpose, the law school scholarship then becomes taxable income, which you have to report on your income taxes. Others will credit the amount directly to your law school so you never have access to the money. 

8. Is it hard to get law school scholarships?

Yes, it can be very hard to get a law school scholarship. Everyone wants to get a scholarship, as law school has become very expensive, but they are very competitive, especially the most lucrative ones. For example, the Marshall-Motley scholarship has a success rate of only 14%, so your application has to be exceptional to ensure you have a chance to get the scholarship. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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