Law School Scholarships Guide

When you start searching for law school scholarships, you may get overwhelmed. There are so many—which ones do you qualify for? Should you apply for one or many? Is it better to focus on general scholarships, or those that are more specific? How do you know which are for Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs versus other degrees?

This article will help. It covers scholarships that are not state- or school-based, which means they are open to more students. In addition to general scholarships, we’ve highlighted some that are for diverse populations, women and paralegals. We also emphasized those with higher award amounts. Good luck in your legal career!

General Scholarships for Law Students

We first compiled a list of scholarships that are open to general law students.

One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship

Applicants write a 500-word essay. The 2020 One Lawyer Can Change the World scholarship winner wrote about his encounter with the legal system when accused of a crime he didn’t commit and how it changed his life, giving him his mission to help establish systematic change. The One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship is sponsored by Barbri, a company that offers law-school prep courses.

  • Qualifications: Be a first-year law student at an ABA-approved law school.
  • Awards: 10 awards in descending amounts  
  • Total Amount: One $10,000 award, one $5,000 award, eight $1,000 awards

Rizio Lipinsky Lawyer Scholarship

What inspires you to become a lawyer? How will you help others fight for justice? Those are the questions you must answer in this scholarship sponsored by the Rizio Lipinsky Law Firm. Judges are also interested in past experience you may have in advocating for others or yourself.

  • Qualifications: Students must be accepted into, enrolled in or already attending a J.D. program in a U.S. law school.  
  • Awards: One
  • Total Amount: $10,000

Judge John R. Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing

2021 will be the 28th awarding of this Judge John R. Brown Scholarship, which highlights excellence in legal writing and is sponsored by the Brown Sims law firm. Applicants submit a current legal writing and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member or other legal professional.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. law school, seeking either a J.D. or LL.B degree.
  • Awards: Five, in descending amounts
  • Total Amount: one $10,000; two $5,000; one $3,000; two $1,000 

FCBA Foundation Law School Scholarship Program

The Federal Communications Bar Association sponsors the FCBA Foundation Law School Scholarship program, which focuses on students who are interested in pursuing communications law in their careers.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be second- or third-year students in accredited U.S. law schools.
  • Awards: Five
  • Total Amount: $7,500–$10,000 

Attorney Ken Nugent Legal Scholarship

Each year, the Kenneth S. Nugent law firm in Georgia offers the Attorney Ken Nugent Legal Scholarship to those who best complete an essay about why they are entering the field of law.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be U.S. residents attending an accredited U.S. law school and have a college GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Awards: One each in spring and fall
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

Answering Legal’s Future Attorneys of America (FAAS) Scholarship

In the 500–1,000-word essay for the Answering Legal Law Scholarship, applicants may choose between three questions: how have your life experiences affected your view on the U.S. legal system, what inspires you to pursue a career in law, or how do you see yourself making a future impact in the legal community.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be currently accepted to or enrolled in an accredited law school and have a minimum 3.5 GPA.
  • Awards: One
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

Arnold & Itkin LLP Academic Scholarship

The Arnold & Itkin law firm foundation awards these scholarships to students who have a desire to assist underprivileged people and help those who’ve been injured. Applicants submit essays detailing legal goals and how they will use their education to improve the lives of others, the community or society.

  • Qualifications: An applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a current second- or third-year law student at an ABA-approved law school and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Awards: Two
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

For the People Scholarship

The Morgan & Morgan law firm sees itself as a protector of the people and wants its For the People Scholarship recipients to do the same. The essay should be a 700–800-word answer to the question, “What does ‘For the People’ mean to you, and how would you apply that in your legal career?”

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be currently accepted or enrolled at an ABA- or Association of American Law Schools–approved (AALS) school.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

AAJ Paul Scoptur Trial Advocacy Scholarship

Paul Scoptur was an adjunct professor of law at Marquette University, an American Association of Justice (AAJ) teacher and mentor and a trial lawyer for 30 years who died unexpectedly in 2018; this AAJ Trial Advocacy Scholarship honors his memory. Applicants’ essays will demonstrate their commitment to AAJ, skill in trial advocacy, a desire to represent victims and financial need.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be second- or third-year law students and members of AAJ.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $3,000 at minimum

Diversity Scholarships for Law Students

We’ve collected a list of law school scholarships specifically for diverse applicants.

ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund

The American Bar Association (ABA) awards this annual Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund to first-year law students who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group. Since the program began, more than 350 students have received this scholarship.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be entering their first year of law school, they must be a member of an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group, and they must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Awards: 10–20
  • Total Amount: $15,000 over three years in law school

Arent Fox Diversity Scholarship

The law firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s goal is to support, recruit and promote attorneys that represent society’s diversity. Its Arent Fox Diversity Scholarship program is part of this commitment.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be a second-year law student at an ABA-approved law school and a member of a population historically underrepresented in law.
  • Awards: Five  
  • Total Amount: $20,000 and a salaried summer associate position in one of the firm’s five nationwide offices (Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) 

Zelle Diversity in Law Scholarships

Zelle is a national law firm whose Zelle Diversity in Law Scholarships and “pipeline program” aim to support diverse students at all levels of their law education.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be a law student with at least a 3.0 GPA who is a member of a diverse group (race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical disability or economic/educational disadvantage) or who can show a commitment over time to diversity issues.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $20,000 and a possible paid summer clerkship

LSAC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Writing Competition

Why do you believe a diverse and inclusive bar is essential for equality, justice and the rule of law? Your essay answer may earn you a scholarship awarded by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

  • Qualifications: Be a currently enrolled law student pursuing a J.D. degree.
  • Awards: Three  
  • Total Amount: $5,000 each to a first-year, a second-year, and a third/fourth-year student 

Lloyd M. Johnson Jr. Scholarship Program 

Lloyd M. Johnson was the founder and former executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which sponsors the LMJ Scholarship Program. In 15 years, it has awarded scholarships to 215 law students. Their website has a list of frequently asked questions about the LMJ Scholarship.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be accepted into an ABA-approved U.S. law school in the J.D. program, demonstrate financial need, have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2, be interested in corporate law and have an interest in diversity issues.
  • Awards: Up to six
  • Total Amount: $10,000  a year for the three years of law school 

TMCF and AIPLEF Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholar Program

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation(AIPLEF) sponsors this scholarship program, dedicated to increasing diversity in intellectual-property law. Sidney B. Williams, Jr., was the first African American attorney in leadership positions of the AIPLA.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be members of an underrepresented minority group, be U.S. citizens, be committed to intellectual property law and be accepted by or enrolled in an ABA-approved law school.
  • Awards: N/A  
  • Total Amount: $10,000, renewable each of the three years of law school 

Legal Defense and Educational Fund (NAACP) Earl Warren Scholarship

The LDF scholarships began in 1964, originating in its dedication to end segregation in education. It has supported nearly 2,000 students with more than $5.5 million in that time. The Earl Warren Scholarship honors the 14th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must U.S. citizens be dedicated to racial justice and civil rights and entering their first or second year at an ABA-approved law school.
  • Awards: N/A 
  • Total Amount: $10,000 per year for three years. 

The Point Foundation Scholarship

The Point Foundation says the Point Scholarship is the largest LGBTQ education scholarship organization nationwide, awarding and investing more than $35 million in its Point Scholars since 2002.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be “out” and identifying as LGBTQ; enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate program full time; have experience in community involvement and leadership; and be committed to improving LGBTQ issues.
  • Awards: 60 during 2019–2020 academic year
  • Total Amount: Awards vary according to financial need but average about $10,000

American Association for Justice Richard D. Hailey Scholarship

The Richard D. Hailey Scholarship is administered by the association’s Minority Caucus; Hailey was the AAJ’s first African American president.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must show an interest or skills in representing those who have been injured by others, be a member of a minority group and enrolled in or attending law school.
  • Awards: One
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Scholarships

The NAPABA Law Foundation (NLF) works to advance the interests of the Asian Pacific American community, awarding multiple NLF scholarships to law students who can be future leaders in the community.

  • Qualifications: For the Han C. Choi Scholarship, applicants must be first- or second-year law students who have shown leadership and academic achievement; for the Sharon and Ivan Leadership Scholarship, applicants must be second-year students who have shown the same attributes.
  • Awards: One for each scholarship
  • Total Amount: $5,000

George H. Nofer Scholarship for Law and Public Policy

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing sponsors this scholarship for law school students with hearing loss who are attending a full-time accredited mainstream law school or are studying public policy or public administration.

  • Qualifications: Hearing loss is bilateral and was pre-lingual (diagnosed before age 4), you communicate by listening and using spoken language, and you have been accepted to or enrolled in an accredited law school or master’s/doctoral program in policy or public administration.
  • Awards: Up to three
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Dedicated to furthering the education of students of Hispanic heritage, the HSF Scholarship makes awards to high school seniors, undergraduate students and graduate students.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage; have a 2.5 or higher GPA in their undergraduate studies; be planning to enroll in an accredited university or school full time; and be a U.S. citizen, a permanent legal resident, a DACA student or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Awards: N/A
  • Total Amount: $500 to $5,000

Islamic Scholarship Fund

The ISF’s mission is to increase representation of American Muslims in the professions that make public policy and influence public opinion; their programs include ISF scholarships, film grants and congressional internships.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be Muslim or active in the Muslim community; be enrolled as a junior or senior undergraduate or a graduate student; have a 3.0 GPA; and be a U.S. citizen, permanent U.S. resident or DACA student.
  • Awards: Varies  
  • Total Amount: $3,000–$10,000

Native American Bar Association Bar Review Scholarship

The NNABA Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by the National Native American Bar Association. The NABA scholarships are awarded on a nationwide basis to law students to assist them in their bar exam preparation.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be Native American, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian; an active member of NNABA, a regional American Indian Bar Association or NNALSA; be a current third-year law student attending an ABA-accredited law school in the United States; and be registered to take a State Bar Examination in July 2020 or February 2020/2021.
  • Awards: N/A
  • Total Amount: N/A

Law School Scholarships for Women

We’ve also collected a list of law school scholarships for women applications.

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship

This AAUW fellowship was established in 1970 and provides for a year of study in programs where women have been traditionally underrepresented, including law.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be a woman of color and a full-time third-year law student. Women who do not already have another master’s or professional degree are given priority.
  • Awards: N/A 
  • Total Amount: $5,000–$18,000 

Horizons Women in Defense Scholarship

The National Defense Industrial Association and Women in Defense fund this Horizons scholarship, which was founded in 1990 to encourage women to pursue national security careers. A 500-word essay includes a description of interest in pursuing that career and one’s long-term goals in that pursuit.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be female, U.S. citizens, have a minimum 3.25 GPA and be enrolled as at least a junior-level undergraduate or as a graduate student in an accredited university.
  • Awards: 12
  • Total Amount: Average of $10,000  

Mike Eidson Scholarship American Association for Justice

The AAJ Women for Justice in Education Fund established the Mike Eidson Scholarship in 2008, honoring past president Mike Eidson. It is awarded to applicants who plan to be criminal defense lawyers/trial lawyers.  

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be women who are third-year law students.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $5,000

Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys Scholarship

LIWOCA offers scholarships to support its mission of increasing the number of attorneys who are women of color and helping those who are already lawyers develop the skills needed to become partners and leaders.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be women of color who have finished at least their first year of law school, U.S. citizens, active in their law school and community, and have at least a 2.8 GPA.
  • Awards: Five  
  • Total Amount: $3,000

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC Annual Single Mother Scholarship

RIL sponsors these Single Mother Scholarships as a commitment to helping single mothers complete their education, acknowledging the difficulty of supporting and caring for a child or children while pursuing a degree.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be a mother who is attending school, either in an undergraduate program or a law program, with a GPA of 3.0.
  • Awards: Two
  • Total Amount: $1,000 

Scholarships for Paralegal Students

Besides scholarships for law students, if you are wondering how to become a paralegal and looking for scholarships, here’s a list of scholarships for paralegal students.

Ehline Law Paralegal Student Scholarship

This paralegal student scholarship is for those who are attending an accredited or state-recognized paralegal program or who currently work in a law office. The application essay should be 400–700 words and communicate how you hope to positively influence the public’s perception of legal professionals.

  • Qualifications: If enrolled in a paralegal program, you must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, show proof of enrollment in said program and be a U.S. citizen.
  • Awards: One
  • Total Amount: $750

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Paralegal Scholarship Program

The Buckfire Law Firm sponsors this paralegal scholarship, desiring to encourage students who want to be paralegals but need financial help. A 500–750-word essay describing your education, career, goals and any adversity you’ve experienced is required.

  • Qualifications: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen who is enrolled in and completed at least one semester of a paralegal education program.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $1,000

NFPA Thomson Reuters Scholarship

The NFPA Thomson Reuters Scholarship is awarded by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) in partnership with the multinational media company Thomson Reuters.

  • Qualifications: High school graduates who are enrolled in or have been accepted by a paralegal education program. A 3.0 or higher GPA is required.
  • Awards: One $3,000 award and one $2,000 award
  • Total Amount: $5,000 

Lex Scholarship Competition – American Association for Paralegal Education

The annual LEX (short for Lambda Epsilon Chi, the national honor society founded by the American Association for Paralegal Education) Scholarship Competition will announce its essay question by Dec. 1, 2020; applicants will write 500–750 words.

  • Qualifications: Applicants must be registered as a part-time or full-time student in a paralegal school with a LEX chapter (there are 130 LEX chapters).
  • Awards: Two, one for $1,500 and one for $500
  • Total Amount: $2,000

Education Accessibility Scholarship

This Education Accessibility Scholarship from Connecticut Trial Firm is awarded to a student who is the first in their family to go to college and enrolled in a two-year or four-year paralegal or graduate program. A 750-word essay on how America’s education system could be improved to give more students the opportunity for higher education is required.

  • Qualifications: In addition to being the first college attendee in the family, students must be enrolled at an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Awards: One
  • Total Amount: $1,000

Console & Associates Legal Scholarship

The legal scholarship sponsored by the Console & Associates law firm is open to any college-accepted high school senior or currently enrolled college student who plans to pursue pre-law, paralegal studies or a J.D.

  • Qualifications: An applicant must be a U.S. citizen and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Awards: One  
  • Total Amount: $1,000

Scholarships vs. Grants vs. Loans

If you’re confused about the distinction between scholarships, loans and grants, here are the general definitions of these terms and how they interact with one another.

What is a Scholarship?

A scholarship is a financial award for students pursuing higher education. Instead of a student loan, which has interest attached, or need-dependent financial aid from the university, scholarships don’t need to be paid back.

Scholarships may be awarded by philanthropists, employers, associations or other organizations, in the interest of furthering the education in a student. The financial award has terms like an investment. Some scholarships have some requirements like grade-point average thresholds or fields of study designated for the major. Other scholarships have action-based requirements like mentorship or community service.

Some common types of scholarships may include:

Academic Scholarships: These scholarships may be largely dependent on academic ranking factors and academic achievements. These scholarships consider GPA, ACT, LSAT and/or SAT scores.

Scholarships Based on Applicants’ Identities: Some scholarships are related to the demographic information of the student. A student’s ethnicity, religion, gender or other information may determine a student’s eligibility for scholastic reward.

Community Service Scholarships: Colleges cultivate a sense of community while nurturing an individual’s professional goals. Students with community service experience are apt to receive scholarships based on their involvement in the community, from park cleanups to mentor programs.

Profession-Based Scholarships: Area-of-study scholarships are rising in popularity, as modern careers  grow more specialized. Students with a focused career path can apply for relevant scholarships in their future professions.

What is a Grant?

There tends to be confusion between grants and scholarships. Scholarships are generally based on merit, or a specific set of qualifications, with conditions of the award clearly set.

In contrast, grants are based on need. A grant may be awarded based on the finances of your family, medical costs or other forms of hardship. Grants can be awarded by the government, a university or a private organization.

Like scholarships, grants can be awarded for minorities, women, international students or other specializations.

What is a Loan?

Student loans are designed to aid with the cost of college but with interest rates attached. Unlike grants and scholarships, students are expected to pay off their student loans after graduation. Compared to other loans, student loans generally have lower interest rates and a more lenient repayment schedule.

FAQs on Law School Scholarships

How many types of scholarships are there for law students?

Many. Scholarships for law students are often funded and awarded by law associations, legal education foundations and law schools themselves. Other sources include law firms (sometimes in honor of a former member of that firm), alumni groups, diversity organizations or companies, disability support organizations, states, legal defense funds, private companies and nonprofit organizations.

What are the law school scholarships for women?

While any student can apply for nearly any scholarship, there are many scholarships specifically for women. Those listed above include the American Association of University Women, the American Bar Association, the Horizons Women in Defense Scholarship and the Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys.

Are there scholarships available to LL.M. students?

Yes. There are fewer than those for J.D. students, but students in online LL.M. programs can indeed find scholarships. In addition to checking with your school, search by specialization, residence, school location and gender eligibility for scholarships in the United States and globally.

Are there scholarships available for part-time law students?

While there are fewer scholarships available for part-time law students, they do exist. Many are awarded by law schools themselves. Some are targeted toward women or minority students, who often are balancing work and/or family while pursuing a law degree. Some scholarships specify that the student can be enrolled in a three-year day program or four-year night program, for instance.

Am I eligible to apply for scholarships if I am enrolled in an online degree program?

It depends on the school and the scholarship, but generally yes. What is usually specified in scholarship application requirements is that a student must be enrolled in a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and many accredited law schools have online programs.

Can I apply for multiple scholarships at the same time?

Yes. In fact, some law schools—in addition to offering scholarships themselves—have portals on their own websites where outside scholarships can be listed (and linked) for their students to browse and apply for. A limiting factor might be how many scholarship applications, copies of your transcripts and personal essays you can keep up with.

When should I start preparing for law school scholarships?

In general, as early as possible. Law school scholarships are generally offered on an annual basis (though some are awarded in spring and fall), and application deadlines occur at various times of year. Because applications require you to fill out forms, order transcripts and write personal essays, it’s not out of the question to begin planning a year in advance.

When can I expect feedback after having submitted law school scholarships?

There’s no one answer. Some scholarship websites give you a general idea of when the announcement will be made; others don’t. It depends on the awarding organization, the number of applicants and the judging process. Some schools suggest waiting until a couple weeks after the deadline for entries closes and then emailing or calling the scholarship administer.

Law degrees can be expensive, and many students may need a combination of grants, loans and scholarships to afford their education. Scholarships help ease that financial burden and may enable students to pursue a law degree despite economic limitations.

Check out our list of J.D. degree programs to compare and find the right program for you. If you love the law but don’t want to be a lawyer, check more about what you can do with a law degree. Additionally, there are more than 30 online Master of Legal Studies programs available for prospective students who want to expand their legal knowledge but don’t want to practice law. 

Information on this page was last retrieved in May 2021.