Law School Discussion

UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?

UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« on: March 26, 2013, 08:54:37 PM »
I'm still waiting to hear from 3 other schools and also got accepted to Maryland (home state and undergrad school)

GW has a partial tuition scholarship offer and since I already live nearby I can commute.  Arizona just offered me full tuition. Texas and UCLA haven't provided scholarship info yet.  My question is, should I go to a lower ranked school in Arizona where I would come out with less debt but more limited job choices or should I go to one of the higher schools and take on the added debt?

If I pick Arizona I'd be limited to working there or possibly California which I would be ok with. But east coast is all I've known and I like DC enough to stick around.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 09:09:15 AM »
Wow.  What a crazy range of options.

I'm sorry that I can't be of much help, but the full-scholarship at Arizona has got to be pretty tempting.   

What is your goal?  Biglaw?  Government?

Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 08:28:46 PM »
First thing to realize is that anyone on this board myself included is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you. Furthermore, there is no qualification to type on this board for all you know I am the Dean of Harvard Law School or some crackhead in a public library so please take all advice you receive on this board or others with a major grain of salt. Michael Scott does a good job of explaining why this is a good idea a little humor for you . Remember the law school you choose to attend will be a life altering decision.

I have gone to law school and work as an attorney now and I think any OL should consider the following factors in this order when choosing what school to attend (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about school (4) The reality of legal education (5) Consider U.S. News Rankings last not first. I will analyze these factors below.

1. Location
Based on your post this is a MAJOR thing for you to consider you are all over the map and the area where you attend law school will have a tremendous impact on your life. It is important to realize law school does not exist in a vacuum if your in L.A. particularly Westwood where UCLA is located you will be dealing with traffic, outrageous rent, you will need a car, everyone you meet will attempting to be an actor or model (I am from L.A. so I can attest to all of that. Conversely Austin Texas and Tucson are college towns and are a completely different environment.

You also mention that you are from Maryland and attended Undergrad there. If you have friends, family, and our comfortable at Maryland then Maryland might be a good choice. If you are attending law school at UCLA, Texas, or Arizona, you will not to visit your family when you want or see your friends from back home. I know during my 1L many people came from across the country and got very homesick combine that with the stress of 1L it went poorly for some. However, other people thrived with being in a new city away from everything they knew. It is a highly personal decision if you have a lot of family and love Maryland then stay there. If you are really outgoing person that has always wanted to live in L.A. then UCLA is the place. If you love the Longhorns and want to be in Texas then UT is the place for you. However, you know yourself far better than any anonymous internet poster here and this is your life you will really need to consider what location is best for you.

I want to stress this point further. My law school was located in San Francisco people from around the Country wanted to live in S.F. for three years and many people from Florida, Texas, Washington State, Vegas, etc enrolled in my school fully expecting to return home after three years. However, it didn't happen for the majority of them. During three years of law school you will get an apartment, probably enter into a romantic relationship, and just generally get comfortable where you are. On top of that you will need to pass a state bar if your at UCLA you will probably take the California Bar, UT you will take the Texas bar, so and so forth. When your in law school everyone is certain they will find time to get licensed in another state, but trust if you take a bar exam assuming you pass the first time there will be no hurry to take another one. If you attend UCLA you will probably take the California bar and end up there the rest of your life. Are their exceptions? Absolutely, but you can see how all these factors pile up.

2) Cost
This is also important, but you need to assess the reality of the costs I can tell you the UC system in California has been jacking their tuition up year by year.

For example UCLA was 26,000 for a non-California Resident in 2009 in 2012 it is $40,000 for a non-resident this is nearly doubled in tuition. Also add on to that fact you will be paying Non-Resident Tuition at UCLA, which will be $50,000 a year and the way it is going this is going to go up. So assuming tuition increases continue at the same rate for UCLA and you do not establish residency in California you will pay $200,000 in tuition alone not to mention UCLA is in one of the most expensive part of L.A. a studio apartment runs about 2,000 a month not to mention living expenses which will add up realistically to another 100,000 over three years. I will tell you California is extremely expensive so it is something to consider.

Conversely, Maryland your home state is $25,000 a year for tuition this is half the cost of UCLA and you might be able to live with your parents or at least get more support from them if your in Maryland.

You also mention scholarships and those are great, but what are the CONDITIONS of these scholarships? Often they will require you to maintain a 3.0 or be in the top 35% of the class and I will tell you a 3.0 in law school is nothing like it is in undergrad. Schools have a curve and usually only 35% of the class can have a 3.0. I know every OL thinks there are special, but 100% of people can't be in the top 35% and in law school everyone is smart, hard-working, and motivated so there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship for years 2 & 3. This N.Y. Times article does a good job explaining this system. . So just be careful about the conditions and really look at the actual tuition costs of each school. This table shows the tuition of each school and how much it has gone up over the years check out the University of California schools i.e. Hastings, Davis, UCLA, and see how much these numbers have skyrocketed over the last three years.

Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 08:50:01 PM »
3) Personal Feelings About School
This is also important visit these schools and see what fits. You attended Undergrad at Maryland if you enjoyed your time there then staying for law school could be a good choice. However, if you hated your experience there then why stay. You will also realize that each school has a culture to it just like undergrads do and some will fit your personality others will not. 

For example I love Notre Dame University I am catholic, I love football, and I have a lot of Indiana roots. For all I know you are a fan of the opera and ballets Notre Dame would be a terrible choice for you and UCLA would have those options that also goes to location. You know far better than anyone what suits your style. Also speak to the professors, students, admins, and see if the school feels right for you. This is your life remember and I can tell you when I was visiting law schools there were some I liked and others I hated, but that was me you may very well love what I hated and hated what I loved. I cannot stress enough this is your life altering decision listen to your gut as well as your own experiences when making the decision.

4) Reality of Legal Education

I will let you in on a secret at any ABA school you learn the same thing. Whether you attend UCLA, Arizona, Maryland, etc your first year will consist of Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, Criminal Law, and Con Law. Then in year 2 and 3 you will take Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Wills & Trusts, Corporations, Remedies, and some writing courses such as Legal Writing & Research or Appellate Advocacy. You might get to take an entertainment law course or two at UCLA and maybe an agricultural class or two at UT. Perhaps some maritime courses at Maryland, but none of these electives make much of a difference in your legal career.

The reality is in Torts you will learn Proximate cause in the Palsgraff Case Justice Cardozo in 1930 didn't write a seperate opinion for all the different law schools there is one opinion and here is the citation for it     248 N.Y. 339 and no matter what school you attend you will probably use an online resource such as ecasebriefs where they will break down the case for you you go students from every ABA law school Harvard to Cooley use this site to breakdown the cases they read.

So there really is no "BETTER" education on top of that after three years of law school you will take Barbri or Kaplan to assist you in passing the bar and join students from every law school in some lecture hall. On the first day of Barbri you might see some sweatshirts from different schools, but those slowly go away as you study for the bar and freak the f*** out praying you can pass along with everyone else around you.

5) U.S. News Ranking
When I was a OL I though this was the gospel and should be the basis of any decision I made, but now I realize this is nothing more than an a for profit, unregulated magazine offering an opinion. This should not be something you base a life altering decision on you can use it as a factor, but it is literally a magazine nothing more.

To illustrate this point realize U.S. News ranks more than law schools for example New Mexico is the best place to live according to U.S. News

South Dakota is one of the best places to retire in 2032 One of the factors in making this decision is access to dental visits. Really read the formula U.S. News used to make this determination and you can realize how little research goes into their rankings.

I imagine U.S. News saying New Mexico is the best place to live is not going to inspire you to pack your bags and move there or even apply to New Mexico Law School. Furthermore, I think you would question anyone who opened a retirement account in South Dakota based on this magazine alone. Are their legitimate points made by U.S. News sure, but where you attend law school will impact the rest of your life what some magazine thinks should play a very minor role in your decision and not be the basis of it.

On top of that I can tell you when we hire interns or attorneys the name of the school really doesn't matter that much. Does that apply to every single law firm? Absoulely not and as Jack24 says what are your goals? If your goal is BigLaw then the only one that gives you a realistic shot at that is UCLA, but you probably will need to be in the to 15% of the class and there is an 85% chance that won't happen you will then incur outrageous amounts of debt and be away from your family. That is assuming you even want to work in BigLaw many people have no desire to do that. If you want to work as a government attorney in Maryland then go to law school in Maryland just really apply common sense.

As I mentioned all along take any advice from anonymous internet posters mine included with a major grain of salt. However, so many OL' s leave their common sense behind when choosing a law school I know that I did, but some real lawyers talked some sense into me before I moved to Michigan for law school and not UM by the way  based on rankings when I wanted to live in San Francisco. I can tell you my law school experience dealing with Michigan winters, away from my friends, my girlfriend now wife would have been a lot more different.

Just really remember where you live, what you like, and your opinion is what is most important for you. What a magazine or internet posters say shouldn't mean that much just really consider all the ramifications of your different choices and BTW congrats on all your acceptances. I wish you the best of luck as you pursue a legal career.


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Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 07:57:32 AM »
Hey OP, this is a pretty interesting chart (toward the bottom of the article).  It's a little out of date, but it's good.

Livinglegend...  come on man.

You are posting your same old form letter for this guy?   It's pretty patronizing all the time, but it makes a little more sense for someone who is deciding between T4s and scored a 145 on the LSAT.

Really?  He should consider location and cost?  He's going to take the same courses no matter what school he picks?  You are divulging some serious secrets. 

Why don't you take your considerable interest in the subject and actually form an opinion about what legal markets are growing the most.  Find out which states have the largest surpluses of lawyers and which regions have the best median salary/cost of living ratio.

OP likely scored in the high 160's and has some tremendous options.   GW, Texas, and UCLA all have a huge advantage in their markets.  Arizona is good too, but the AZ markets are still pretty beat up.  Cost of living is wonderful in some places down there, though, and the state only has two law schools.

Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 02:51:39 PM »
Thanks to all for the replies.  I used to think I wanted to end up working in criminal law but now I think I want to do something in government, and come back home to DC after I graduate.  UCLA and GW offer that chance as does Texas, but I don't think Arizona would travel that well. But according to reports 2.5% of their grads work in DC so I guess it's possible.

I haven't heard back from UVA which was a slight reach, but also my top choice and would allow me to work in the MD/VA/DC area.

My decision would be a bit easier if UCLA and Texas had their scholarship offers on the table already.

I'm considering paying GW's first seat deposit on Monday, April 1, and waiting to see what else gets offered.  Arizona would give me the least debt, but probably the lowest salaried job upon graduation, so I guess that's the tradeoff. I checked out that article that was posted and it seems about in line with what I'd been reading about jobs options and salaries.

For legend, the Arizona scholarship will get renewed each year as long as I am not in the bottom 10% of my class.  The GW partial scholarship simply states "good academic standing" but I have yet to receive clarification on what exactly that entails.

Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 07:01:03 PM »
Thanks to all for the replies.  I used to think I wanted to end up working in criminal law but now I think I want to do something in government, and come back home to DC after I graduate.  UCLA and GW offer that chance as does Texas, but I don't think Arizona would travel that well. But according to reports 2.5% of their grads work in DC so I guess it's possible.

If your goal is to live on the East Coast I think it is unwise to move the West Coast for law school. I am a government attorney involved in hiring and I am in California if I see a resume from someone on the East Coast I don't take it seriously and in case you haven't heard the government is low on funding and is not going to pay to fly you out for interviews.

On top of that UCLA is extremly expensive and you will be paying out-of-state tuition, which is a lot of money. UCLA is great if you want to work in L.A. there is probably no better school, but if your goal is to be in D.C. then UCLA is probably not a good choice.

Furthermore, in response to Jack people with 165+ LSAT scores have lives and the location they attend law school will impact their lives.

Lionsman I know nothing about you or your personal situation likes, dislikes etc. I have lived in L.A., San Francisco, Boston, and New York these are very different cities  different places and I personally hated New York and am not a huge fan of L.A. While I love San Francisco and really enjoy Boston.  You might love New York plenty of people do, but that is your call. I have turned job offers in L.A. simply because I don't want to live there, but that is my own personal choice plenty of people love L.A.

On top of that if your moving across the country it is going to impact any relationships with family, friends, and any romantic interest you currently have. If your really close with your family and you move to L.A. it might be hard on you. Or if your engaged to someone or in a serious relationship the long-distance relationship is not going to work out. Or if you have a ton of friends that a support structure for you if you move they will not be easily accessible. Maybe you grandpa who you are really close to is nearing death and if your in L.A. you won't be able to be there. The possibilities of your life are endless and you know what they are so that is why I urge anyone to really consider their own personal situation because neither myself or Jack knows anything about you.

Jack's Advice
I think his point is valid if there are states without lawyers employment will be easier to find and that is important. Jack and I have had conversations no this board and he seems very interested in money & finance and that is fine I am much more concerned with being happy with other things that don't involve money. Really nothing wrong with either route, but it just shows the differences in individuals. I imagine you are nothing like Jack or myself and have your own outlook on stuff, but just really consider yourself.

Tucson Arizona is a lot different than Westwood California and neither of those schools will give you an advantage getting a job in D.C. if that is your goal then stay on the East Coast.


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Re: UCLA, Texas, GW or Arizona?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 08:09:35 PM »
Living Legend:
My comments about location and cost and quality of life and thoughts about the school were sarcastic.  I'm saying that anyone who has good options like this likely already knows those are significant factors to consider.  Do you think people choosing between UCLA, GW, Arizona, and Texas just pick the highest rank blindly?   No.  Of course they will consider Debt load as well as the LA vs. DC vs. Phoenix vs. Dallas question.

It just seems like you give your advice like you are making some big revelation.