Law School Discussion

Hofstra v. University of Maine v. Gonzaga $ v. Univ Arkansas-Little Rock $$

I am interested in Public Health Law and Public Interest Law. I don't care about making loads of money at all. I also acknowledge that either way, I will have debt. Location wise, I prefer NY and Maine. I am waitlisted at Cardozo, UCI, SUNY, Michigan State, Villanova, and Catholic. I'm currently working on LOCI's for these schools.

Where would you go if you had these choices (listed in the title)?

First thing to realize is that whatever you read on this forum or others from anonymous internet posters regarding a life altering decision should be taken with a grain of salt.

One thing you really need to consider is location above all else your schools are all over the place NY, Maine, Washington State, and Arkansas. These are wildly different areas and realize that law school does not exist in a vaccuum if your in NY it will be an entirely different than years than being in Arkansas. Furthermore, wherever you attend school is where you will make friends, get an apartment, work internships, etc and is likley where you will end up for the rest of your life. People do move away from their law schools, but when I graduated I ended up staying in the City of my school as did most of my classmates. So really consider where you want to live above all else.

Also consider the costs and scholarship conditions that are attached.  It appears that all the schools are roughly the same price except for Arkansas Little Rock, which is only 11,000 for residents not bad at all. As for the schoalrship offers you recieve one thing many 0L's don't pay attention to is the conditions attached to them. Often times you will need a 3.0 to maintain your scholarship as someone admitted to an ABA law school you likely got a 3.0 with minimal effort and assume the same will happen in law school. This is rarely the case as law school is graded on a steep curve and generally only 35% of the class can have a 3.0. 100% of the students your first day will truly belive they will be in the top 35%, but if 100% of people think they are going to be in the top 35% you can see what happens then you lose the scholarship for years 2 and 3. I just can't stress enough paying attention to the overall cost and any scholarship conditions.

Another thing to consider is your personal feelings about these schools. Each school has a culture and feel to it I have personally visited Gonzaga & Hofstra for mock trial competitions I didn't like Hofstra much, but liked Gonzaga. However, that is my personal feeling I liked the small town feel of Gonzaga, but that is me big cities get on my nerves, but you may be a big city person so it is just highly personal and you need to visit these schools to determine what is best for you.

Another thing to understand is that the education at any ABA school is basically the same. Your first year will consist of torts, contracts, con law, criminal law, property, and civil procedure. Year 2 you will probably take Evidence, Corporations, and some other bar related classes. No matter what school you attend you will read Pennoyer v. Neff in Civil Procedure, Hadley v. Baxendale in contracts, etc. These are all Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different schools the law is the same no matter where you learn it.

As for Public Health Law if you really are into that see if they have any course offerings, but even if they do really consider where public health is and what exactly that means to you. I personally don't know what you mean by public health or public interest. If you want to be a City Attorney or something the odds of getting hired in the New York City Law Department are low if you attend Gonzaga, but if you want to work for a City Attorney in Arkansas going to Little Rock would probably be your best bet.  The smaller the town the less the competition same goes for Gonzaga I am sure most prosecutors, public defenders, and city attorneys in Spokane went to Gonzaga, which is why location is so important to consider in your choice. There are 0 other schools in Spokane so if that is where you want to live competition will be minimal in that area.

Rankings do not take these to seriosuly especially with schools of this caliber. To many 0L's make life altering decisions based on what this magazine thinks and although you can use it as a guide remember it is a for profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion nothing more. Do not move to Arkansas because U.S. News says it is the 65th best school when you want to live in Spokane, but somehow think it being the 86th best school will give you a leg up anywhere. If you had Harvard on your list then consider the rankings, but all the schools you mentioned are fine, but employer will really care much about the rankings of any of these schools.

Good luck to you.

None of those schools are any good, so if you decide to go you should plan on keeping your debt as low as possible.  Check out - none of your options gives you more than a 50% chance of working as a lawyer.  Even if you do manage to get a job, expect to be making $40-60k MAX.  Consequently, I wouldn't go to any of them unless it was for free, and even then I would have to think about it. 

I will have to rebut Anit's statement and remember law school transparency is not exactly gospel. Furthermore, it only reports attorney salaries right after graduation and although it is true most lawyers start out making 40-60k,  after a few years of experience this number jumps significantly.

As for the 50% chance of working as a lawyer there are number of reasons for these numbers. One being not everyone reports all their info to their school when I graduated, passed the bar, and was working I simply never filled out the survey. I should have filled it out and meant to do it, but I didn't. There is no penalty for not submitting your paperwork it is completely voluntary and I think I like many people I didn't feel like spending my free time filing out an employment survey. 

On top of that there are a number of people who do not pass the bar, which often has a lot more to do with the individual than anything related to the school. If you don't pass the bar you can't work as a lawyer and even schools like Harvard do not have 100% bar passage rates. Even further still there a number of people who won't get hired because of their personality or other issues. For example I knew a guy in law school who got hired as a D.A, but he failed his drug test. The guy had a cocaine problem, which not the school's fault he. The guy graduated, passed the bar, but had a substance abuse problem. He couldn't get a job because of his personal cocaine problem and it was noting related to the school. Further still there are number of people who go to law school and simply don't want to be lawyers. Some people are extremely wealth and just want the intellectual challenge or want to go into business etc.

Bottom line is these employment numbers should be considered, but  you have realize there are far from full-proof. I went to a mediocre school and was offered a job right the day after getting bar results. This was not that long ago and I know plenty of people that also got jobs. However, I can tell you I was stressed out for 3 years about finding a job during law school and  in California you wait 4 months for bar results so after graduation I went 3 months of studying for the bar and another 4 months of waiting for results before I could work. Not to mention you get your results the week of Thanksgiving and realistically most employers do not hire around the Holiday season and the majority of my classmates did not get jobs until January. This was more than 9 months after graduation, but you can see why this 9 month number is flawed, because almost jobs depend on bar results, which you don't have until 7-8 months after graduation. Once you receive those results it will generally take a month or two to find a job.

I could go on and on, but the reality is many people do find legal jobs, but like any profession finding a job is difficult & stressful. If you really want to be a lawyer then go to law school, but realize it is not a guarantee of success, but the numbers you see from a lot of these places have a major agenda and are very skewed. I would highly recommend going to these different schools and contacting recent alumni. Many alumni are happy to talk about their experiences and you can gauge the credibility of the individuals yourself.

Good luck on your legal career should you choose that path.

I will have to rebut Anit's statement and remember law school transparency is not exactly gospel. Furthermore, it only reports attorney salaries right after graduation and although it is true most lawyers start out making 40-60k,  after a few years of experience this number jumps significantly.

Law School Transparency is statistics.  It's the closest thing we have to an accurate picture of the legal market.  Statistics don't lie, and the statistics say that going to any of the schools OP is considering is not a good idea.  UArk isn't actually that awful (if OP is cool with AK and can go there on the cheap) but UM only places half their class into legal jobs, and Hofstra only places 40%.  Think about that - sticker cost at Hofstra is over $250,000, and it is more likely than not that OP will never work as a lawyer after graduation.  That's inexcusable.

Statistics are not people so you are right they cannot lie, but they can be highly inaccurate. However, 50% of the time statistics are right every time :) . Lets take law school statistics for these schools and see how two different reports on the same school for the same year show entirely different results. 

Hofstra's LSAC reports indicates their 2012 class had  a 94% employment rate that is a statistic

Law School Transparency says 75% are employed

Which one is right? Both of these sites have agendas and it is not surprising the numbers slide in their favor. If you actually become a lawyer and litigate a case you will see two "experts" say the exact opposite thing using statistics.

With that said I am a fan of law school transparency and shedding some reality, but as I stated above their report is not Gospel. Furthermore, finding a job is very personal to the individual I can tell you there were some people that were complete morons at my school who I would not trust to feed my cat and certainly would never want to be my lawyer.  One guy just didn't show up for interviews he would get and if he did show up he wouldn't bring in a resume or dress for the job. If you went to Harvard and conducted yourself in that manner your not getting hired.

I could continue discussing it, but the bottom line is if you go to law school, graduate, and pass the bar you are a lawyer. What you do with your license to practice law and how successful you are depends a lot more on yourself than any school name printed on your diploma