Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: djoseph878 on July 23, 2013, 07:05:23 AM

Title: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: djoseph878 on July 23, 2013, 07:05:23 AM
I am deciding between Northeastern School of Law and American WCL for this fall. I'm aware WCL is ranked higher than Northeastern, but I live around the Boston area and it is more cost-efficient to attend Northeastern. However, I'm hoping to transfer after my first year. So my question is, do I spend the extra money at WCL or save my money and attend Northeastern? Thanks!
Title: Re: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: legend on July 23, 2013, 06:23:19 PM
First and foremost realize that anything you read on this board or others comes from anonymous internet posters and should be taken with a grain of salt my post included. What law school you attend will be a life altering decision and not one that should be based on anonymous interent poster advice or for profit, unregulated, magazines like U.S. News rankings.

With that said I am an attorney and do think there are some factors a 0L like yourself should consider when choosing a law school, but in the end there is no right or wrong answer both schools are ABA approved and will provide you with a solid legal education. The factors I believe any law student should consider are as follows (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings About the School (4) Understanding the Reality of Legal Education and (5) U.S. News Rankings. These are explained in more detail below.

1) Location
You have to ask yourself where you want to live for a minimum of three years D.C. or Boston and remember law school does not exist in a vaccuum there are good and bad things about each City, but which one suits you best? Also would you do better in your hometown or leaving if you have supportive netowrk of family and friends in Boston and are familar with the area that is something to consider. Law school is tough and many people do not adjust well to new cities so ask yourself if you can handle a move and the rigors of 1L. Many of my 1L classmates moved across the country and got homesick and depressed 1L which impacted their law school performance.

On top of that almost everyone I went to law school with works locally very few people moved. So where do you want to live after gradutaion D.C. or Boston? Almost every 1L assumes they will be able to move anywhere after graduation, but that is not how it works and even if you could move anywhere you develop a lot of relationships over 3 years of law school and get comfortable in an environmetn making it difficult to leave. The reailty is if you attend Northeatern you will get a job in Boston if you attend American you will get a job in D.C. of course there are exceptions, but as an attorney who reviews resumes I never interview out-of-state or out-of-area candiates. I live in the Bay Area and Golden Gate, USF, Santa Clara, Hastings, Boalt, etc are right here why would I interview someone from Michigan State and be asked if I would cover their travel, moving expenses, etc all in hopes that they would actually live where they currently live? The answer is I wouldn't and I don't it doesn't make sense. There will be many Northeastern Alumni in the Boston Area and American Alumni in D.C. and again exceptions exist, but odds are you will end up in the City you attended law school at.

2. Cost
Title: Re: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: legend on July 23, 2013, 06:46:26 PM
2. Cost
42,000 per year Northeastern American is 45,000 per year not a big difference, but I would try and negotiate a little scholarship money from each school. Both Boston and D.C. are expensive areas so again not a major factor, but if you have family and friends in Boston they may be abel to help you if you stick around the area. Just somethign to consider, but this looks like a draw.

3. Personal Feelings about the School
Each law school has a culture to it some you will like others you will not. As a 0L I visited multiple schools and while in law school I participated in multiple mock trial competitions and there really is a culture to each school. One thing I noticed is that American seems to have 3x as many law students as NorthEastern so will you like a larger more anonymous school or a smaller environment? Again neither is right or wrong it is just what suits you best. I personally liked the smaller schools, but that is me.

What I would recommend is visiting both schools, talking to professors, students, looking at the campus, and listening to your gut about which one feels right. I know I visited some schools and said no way and others I loved. It is personally possibly you will like the schools I hated and hate the schools I liked nothing wrong with it, but it is 3 years of your life, 100k of your money, and your legal career so take the time to visit the campuses and see what feels right.

4. Reality of Legal Education
It is all the same, which is why you shouldn't take U.S. News Rankings to seriously whether you attend Harvard or Cooley they are all subject to ABA regulations and your first will consist of Torts, Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law/Con Law/or Crim Pro in year 1 and the others in Year 2. In these courses you will read Supreme Court Cases and believe it or not they don't write sepearte opinions for different ranked law schools. In Torts you will read Palsgraf to learn Proximate Cause whether you attend American or Northeastern, Pennoyer v. Neff to learn Notice in Civ Pro, International Shoe for personal jurisdiction, so on and so on.

At the end of your three years you will then have to take a State Bar Exam and you will sign up for BarBri or Kaplan and be in classroom with law students from around the County after months of intense studying you will go into a room with Thousands of people and take the exam. If you pass your a lawyer if you don't your not and the bar graders don't know or care what law school you went to. Once you have a license to practice law it is then up to you what you do with it.

(5) U.S. News Rankings
You mentioned this in your post and I can't tell you how many 0L's myself included when I was your in shoes take this magazine way to seriously. Remember it is just a magazine and the methodology used to make the rankings makes little to no sense. There are some schools that have true prestige Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, etc, but nobody cares about the difference between American and NorthEastern I don't know what they are, but I am guessing these schools are somewhere between 50-150 and I can't remember the last time I cared about the 50th best anything.

Also remember U.S. News ranks a lot more than law schools Alberque is the best place to live according to U.S. News  cite provided . Our Balloon Festivals, Clear Skies, etc good things sure, but I don't think your going to pack your bags to move based on what U.S. News thinks. The same logic applies to law school don't make a life altering decision based on a magazine. I imagine you would think it was crazy if someone moved to New Mexico based on that ranking the same is true of law schools, but for whatever reason 0L's get enamored  by a magazine, but that is all it is a magainze. You should use it as a tiebreaker not a primary source of your decision.

Additoinally the rankings change year to year based on god knows what as you can see from this chart American has been as low as 56 and as high as 45 additionally there are an exorbiant number of ties 2 years ago there was a 13 way tie for 84th, which was pretty good. Northeastern has been as high as the 70's and as low as the 90's it is very possible by the time you graduate NorthEastern could surpass American it is all based on people filling out scantrons. So again don't make a life altering decision based on the rankings particularly with schools of this caliber. If you were debating Georgetown over Northeastern then rankings might play a factor, but nobody cares about the ranking difference between these two schools.

There is no right or wrong answer it is up to you to analyze your unique situation. I have never set foot on either campus, but you will receive a solid education at any ABA school.

Also one other point of caution you mention transfering, but this is not something to bank on. The reality is you need to finish in the top 10-20% to transfer and everyone at an ABA law school is smart, hard-working, and motivated meaning there is 80-90% chance you will not finish in the top 10-20%. Nothing against you just the way it works you will see on the first day of class when everyone is convicned they will be in the top 10% and nobody could possibly imagine finishing in the bottom half of the class, but it happens. Bottom line don't attend a law school you won't be graduating from transfering is extremly rare so don't move to D.C. certain you will be able to transfer back for 2L to Harvard or something it is highly unlikely to happen.

Good luck and congrats on your acceptances.
Title: Re: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: djoseph878 on July 24, 2013, 07:48:41 AM
Thank you so much for the info!
Title: Re: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: shoreman2 on July 25, 2013, 06:39:34 AM

If you wanna live in Boston, do not go to WCL. Forget the rankings, they are pointless when you go past the top 20 schools or so. Nobody from Boston will be more impressed with a JD from WCL than a JD from Northeastern. Northeastern will allow you to intern in Boston, network in Boston, and most importantly live in Boston. I'd tell you to take Suffolk over WCL if you wanted to work in Boston.

Also, if you want to go to a higher ranked school, forget the transfer nonsense. Retake the LSAT if that's what you want. I heard an analogy the other day with the transfer idea and I thought it was clever. Hoping to transfer to a better school is like going on a less fun roller coaster and hoping to jump onto the more fun roller coaster when it passes by; there's a slight chance it will work. Retaking the LSAT is like getting out of line for the less fun coaster and waiting in line for the more fun coaster.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
Title: Re: Northeastern vs. American WCL
Post by: livinglegend on July 25, 2013, 07:48:30 AM
Well said Shoreman!