Law School Discussion


Best school to attend for someone who wants to practice in Sacramento suburbs (not government)

University of San Francisco

McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??

I want to practice in the Sacramento suburbs, not in Government, so I am wondering if going to a higher ranked school outside of the region I want to practice is better than going to a lower ranked school in the region I want to practice?

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2012, 11:06:28 AM »
If your goal is to practice in the Sacramento area, I'd take the 1/2 scholarship at McGeorge in a heartbeat. Pepperdine may be higher ranked, but (this is not meant as criticism) neither school is especially prestigious. McGeorge will probably offer you better internship opportunities and alumni connections in Sacramento, plus the reduced debt will allow greater flexibility when you graduate.

Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2012, 11:33:12 AM »
Once you start looking at schools outside of the T-14 schools does ranking no longer play a role then? Pepperdine is Tier 1 where McGeorge is Tier 3. If my job prospects and potential salary will be comparable at either place then I would definitely take the school that offered me a scholarship.

Thank you for your advice.


  • ****
  • 200
    • View Profile
Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 12:30:04 PM »
Both of these schools are mediocre and whatever ranking Pepperdine has it is not worth moving away from an area and paying more money if you want to live in Sacaramento. The rankings are a factor to consider, but they should be one of the lowest priorities in your decision especially when dealing with schools of this caliber. If we were talking Stanford, UCLA, USC, then the ranking could play a difference, but here it is of little significance.

You also specifically mentioned you want to be in Sacramento and if that is your goal then you should go to law school in Sacramento. You are going to be there for a minimum of 3 years, and that is a long time especially in law school years. You will get internships in Sacramento if you go to school in Sacramento, McGeorge will have speakers, connections, etc in Sacramento location is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a law school. If you move to L.A. your roots will get dug in there for 3 years, and you will make friends in L.A., get an apartment in L.A, probably get a BF/GF in L.A. if you don't have one already and it will be hard to leave. If you know you want to be in Sacarmento you might as well make friends, get an apartment, relationship all that stuff in Sacramento if that is where you want to end up.

The scholarship is also something consider, but be careful of whatever the scholarship conditions are. This is a good article that explains how law schools manipulate their scholarships with harsh conditions. . It usually works like this you can keep your scholarship if you maintain a 3.0. Incoming law student got a 3.0 in undergrad without even trying so the same will be true in law school, but that is wrong. Law school grading is very strict and you usually need to be in the top 35% of the class to get a 3.0 first year, and that means there is a 65% chance you wont' be in the top 35%. Nothing against you personally, but almost everyone at an ABA school is smart and hard-working and sincerely believes they will be in the top 10% of the class. Not the way it works though and then you lose the scholarship for year 2 and 3. So pay attention to the conditions if there any.

Also it is worth visiting both schools. This is a 3 year 100,000+ investment and each school has their own culture and you might like it there more. I have been to the Pepperdine campus before and it is beautiful in Malibu right on the beach, and I don't think you could have a better setup for an aesthically pleasing law school experience than Pepperdine.  If you visit and truly love Pepperdine the students, culture, etc and don't think much of McGeorge then maybe Pepperdine is the better answer. However, with the situation you described it sounds like McGeorge is the better option, but you are going to make a huge commitment and it is certainly worth looking at both schools.

Also remember me and anyone else giving advice on this board or other boards does not know you, your situation, or what is best for you. Everything I say could be 100% wrong and I have no reprucssions I am just writing on here with stream of conscious during breaks to kill time. Most posters are doing the same thing, and remember this is a decision you are going to live with for 3 years so take it seriously and think of what is best for YOU. There is also no right answer to the question you will never know what the right choice is. No matter what you decide part of you will wonder what would have happened if you went to the other school that is just the way it will be and no amount of research will ever make you 100% sure.

Well good luck to you.

Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 12:58:15 PM »
The last paragraph of legend's post is spot on. This is your decision, and only you can truly weigh the myriad factors. Personally, I opted for a huge scholarship at a lower ranked school vs. sticker price at higher ranked schools. It was the right decision for me, it may or may not be the right decision for you.

And yes, pay careful attention to the requirements necessary in order to maintain the scholarship. Mine required that I be ranked in the top 15% to maintain the full grant, not an easy thing to pull off at any law school.

Lastly, (and this is just my opinion) I sometimes get the impression that the minute, specific details in rankings matter more to law school applicants than they do to most lawyers. For example, many biglaw firms probably won't consider a graduate from either Pepperdine or McGeorge unless they're top 10%, law review, etc. anyway. Neither school really has a national reputation, so outside of CA I don't think it will matter.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that rankings don't matter outside of the T14, but I would try to be realistic about how much it matters. I also have no doubt that you'll receive a solid legal education at either school. They both have good bar pass rates and good local reputations.

Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 01:16:13 PM »
Thank you so much for your advice. I understand that no one that responds knows me, however I am hoping to hear from people that are knowledgable in the field or area that can give me their thoughtful opinions. Having different opinions well help me see things that I may not have considered before.
This has been a difficult decision as everything that I know and love is in the Sacramento region, and thus, is why I plan to return here. However, I have heard two recurring themes from all of the people I have spoken to. People either say: A) Go to school where you want to practice or B) Go to the higher ranking school. Unfortunately for myself, these are conflicting aspirations.
I attended Pepperdine's admitted student open house, and though the scenery was breath taking, what captured me the most was the sense of comrodory. The students were approachable and encouraged each other to succeed, despite the forced curve. In addition, Pepperdine is rated #1 for Professor accessibility and that rang true as I met each of the faculty members present and even received a personal message from one of them to follow up with me that night. I am also interested in dispute resolution. The Straus institute, at Pepperdine, has been ranked 1st in the nation for the past 8 years. The cons, are clearly financial, emotional, and contacts/alumni.
McGeorge is located near my current location, so I would not need to relocate. I do have to stay in the top 1/3 of the class, however at least for the first year I could go in knowing my course texts and half of my tuition would be paid for. I realize that this is not a guarantee, and not typically likely, to keep this for the following year. I have not visited the campus, however, I am going to their legal scholar day tomorrow, unfortunately it is located in an area that is slightly unsafe.

As I mentioned, there is much to consider which is why I greatly appreciate the advice of others, especially those that are in the field and know what potential employers are looking for.

Thank you again Legend for all of your wonderful advice.


  • ****
  • 200
    • View Profile
Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 05:16:45 PM »
Well I think your making a common 0L mistake that I myself made and your focusing way to much on rankings. The rankings matter for top schools, but schools of the caliber considering change drastically year by year. The school I went was 70th when I started it has been in the 100's and last year was in an 11 way tie for 84th place. It really doesn't matter when it ends up. I graduated five years ago and nobody cares if my school is 70th or in the low 100's that is where it will always be. It will never be Harvard, Yale, or anything like that it was a fine school, but pretty much the same as all the other ABA schools around the country.

Your focusing on these rankings to like #1 professor accessibility these are pretty much bogus rankings. Remember U.S. News and the Princeton review are just magazine offering an opinion they don't mean anything. As an example to make you and other law students who may read this look outside the law school box realize U.S. News ranks everything. Here is a list of top 10 cities to live. . New Mexico, Alabama, etc nothing against these places, but I don't think you would move to these cities because U.S. News said Albuquerque was great. However, for some reason law students including myself when I was a 0L think it is different when it comes to law school, but it really isn't. Use your common sense of course there are some schools that are truly impressive, but you know what those schools are. Pepperdine, McGeorge, or USF are all fine schools, but they aren't impressive. They will get the job done and you can have a successful legal career or you might not it is going to depend a lot on you.

Then another mistake you may be making I don't know, but it is something I certainly did is focusing on these specialty rankings. The school I went to had a highly ranked IP program and so I said I had an interest in IP. Turns out I absolutely hated it, and never used it. Maybe you truly have an interest in dispute resolution that is a personal thing that only you know, but many 0L's will see something like that and decide I have an interest in it, and the reality is most law students and most lawyers don't really know what they are interested in specifically. I ended up doing a lot of trial stuff and liking it, but I would never have seen myself doing it when I started law school.

It does sound like you really enjoyed the morale, culture, campus that Pepperdine offers and that is something to consider. Law school particularly first year should be counted in dog years. Years 2 and 3 pretty much fly by, but 1L you can't explain until you do it, but it seems like a very very long time and you want to be somewhere your comfortable. If it happens to be Pepperdine that is great if it happens to be UOP that's fine to you will know better than anyone else where you will be comfortable. As I said remember this your decision don't let a magazine or anonymous internet poster make it for you. Listen to your gut feeling, because that usually knows what is best for you and it is going to be three years of your life and 100,000 of your money that goes into this make it the best experience for you possible.

Hopefully your visit tomorrow will shed some light on your decision if you hate the school, professors, etc then location and cost might not be the most important factors. You can move it will be an obstacle from L.A to Sac or maybe you will love L.A, but just really pay attention to how you feel about the particular school I think that is really more important than anything. If you love a place during a visit it will probably be a good three years if you can't stand if for a day it will be a rough 3 years. Again good luck to you.

Re: McGeorge (half scholoarship) or Pepperdine (no scholarship)??
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2012, 04:25:35 PM »
You indicated that you intend to practice in the Sacramento suburbs. That is a very specific locale, and I assume that you mean solo/small firms. Pepperdine is currently tied for 49 according to USNWR, and McGeorge comes in at 101. I'd be surprised if the benefits which would accrue based on attending a school ranked 49 vs. 101 would outweigh the benefits of cheaper tuition, internship possibilities, and alumni connections.

If you do choose Pepperdine try to obtain internships and summer associate positions in Sacramento. Look for Pepperdine alumni practicing in Sacramento and contact them as early as possible, even during your first year. I'm graduating in May and I can tell you from personal experience that connections mean everything when it comes to finding a job. In my experience, meaningful personal connections will trump class rank or law school rankings.

Good luck and congratulations on getting accepted to two fine schools!