Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: functionial drunk on February 10, 2014, 08:18:48 PM

Post by: functionial drunk on February 10, 2014, 08:18:48 PM
Hey Guys,

So I am choosing between FIU and FSU Law. The prospects for employment out of FIU law are good but probably not as great as FSU's (because it is a low tier 1 school) but I do want to practice in the Miami area. I am interested in practicing corporate/transactional law and wanted to know what you guys would think about choosing one over the other.
Things to consider: at FIU I would be paying no living expenses as I would be at home and FIU has given me $5,000 in scholarship money whereas FSU has given me none.
Post by: Citylaw on February 10, 2014, 11:09:06 PM
First and foremost realize anyone posting on this board is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster so take everything you read with a grain of salt my post included.

With that said I think any law student should consider the following five factors when choosing a law school in this order. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; and (5) LAST AND LEAST U.S. NEWS.

The reasons for the factors being listed in this order are analyzed below.

1) Location
Remember law school does not exist in a vacuum and you will be spending minimum of three years of the prime of your life in City you attend law school. Tallahassee and Miami are very different places so you have to ask yourself where do you want to be. Do you want the College Town atmosphere or the City life in Miami? Some people would prefer the college town others City life there is no wrong answer, but you certainly know what you want.

An additional factor to consider is that if you attend law school in Tallahassee it will be difficult to get internships in Miami while you are in law school or even interview for jobs in Miami.

From your post it also appears that you have family in Miami and if this is also something to think about. If you have a support network in Miami and not Tallahasse it can make your law school experience much more pleasant. Many people travel across the Country for law school and it can be a lonely experience. I had a number of friends outside law school and it was great to get outside of the law school world once in awhile.

Just really think about where you want to spend the next three years.

2) Cost
FIU already has low tuition as does FSU, but if you have no living expenses plus a $5,000 scholarship cutting down on debt is something to consider. You indicate you want to practice corporate law, but you really have no idea what you will be interested in doing until you get out of law school. If you have minimal debt you can explore a lot more options and getting out of law school with almost no debt as you would at FIU is something to seriously consider.

3 Personal Feelings About the School
You should also visit each school and see how you personally feel about each. When I was a 0L I visited a number of schools and later competed in a number of mock trial competitions at different schools. I have probably been to 30+ campuses and can tell you each one has a culture and feel to it.

I loved a lot of schools I visited, felt indifferent about a number of others, and despised a few. However, these were my subjective opinions you very well love what I hated and hate what I loved it is your life and nobody knows better than you what suits your needs.

Therefore, you should visit each school walk around the campuses and surrounding neighborhood, talk to professors, admins, students, and alumni and see the vibe you get. At some point you will start to get a gut feeling that you really like one over the other and listen to that feeling.

4) Reality of Legal Education
Although U.S. News "ranks" law schools there really is no difference in the quality of education. No matter what ABA law school you attend you will be learning the same thing. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property and Criminal Law. In these courses you will be reading Supreme Court cases and believe it or not the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for each law school.

You will be reading Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro whether you attend FIU or FSU, Palsgraff in Torts, etc. At the end of three years you will then have to take a bar exam and whether you attend FIU or FSU you will be paying for a bar prep course most likely BarBri or Kaplan. Then after months of studying you will crammed into a room with about a 1,000 or so law students from every law school in the Country taking a very high pressure test. If you pass the exam regardless of what school you went to you are a licensed attorney and if you do not pass the exam your not. 

Once you have a license to practice law what you do with it is up to you and the name on your diploma will have little to do with your success.

5) U.S. News Ranking
Remember U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion and it should not be the basis of a life altering decision.

As an example U.S. News ranks more than law schools. According to U.S. News Albuquerque, New Mexico is the #1 place to live. Citation here . I am sure Albuquerque is a great place, but I am not going to move there simply because U.S. News said it is the best place to live, and doing that would probably seem crazy to you.

However, many incoming law students make life altering decisions regarding where to attend law school based on this magazine, but remember it is nothing more than a magazine. Do not choose to attend FIU, FSU, or any other school based on ranking. Use it as a tiebraker and maybe if you were accepted to Yale or Harvard some thought should go into the prestige, but I imagine you knew Harvard and Yale were pretty good schools without U.S. News telling you. As to FIU v FSU I have no idea, which is ranked higher and I imagine most other practicing lawyers do not care or know about the difference in rank.

There is no right answer as to what the right law school is, but you should visit each school, evaluate the costs, and consider where you want to live for the next three years. If you cannot make a decision based on that evaluation then use the rankings as a tiebreaker, but do not let it me the main source of your decision.

Congrats on your acceptance and good luck in your legal career.
Post by: functionial drunk on February 11, 2014, 06:53:25 AM
Thanks for the insight Citylaw, it really put things into perspective. I guess the best way to decide which school to go to would be to visit each school and also look into which firms hire at each school. Although you claim that rankings do not matter, I have witnessed a few instances where a large firm would only interview FIU grads just to say that they "interviewed them" and have no intention of hiring them. I was just wondering if going to FSU law would increase my chances of getting hired at one of these firms because it is slightly more prestigious.
Post by: Miami88 on February 11, 2014, 01:45:11 PM

Overall, the difference is not significant enough to blindly say one is far better than the other. If you want to live/work in Miami, FIU will offer you the advantage of networking in Miami while FSU may offset that with reputation. I'd say go to the one that is cheaper. If both costs are similar, go with your gut.
Post by: functionial drunk on February 11, 2014, 04:54:16 PM
thanks for the advice Miami 888 and the link you provided was really helpful as well. My preference is to practice in Miami at some point but I do not mind beginning my legal career somewhere else in Florida which is why I would not mind going to FSU. The cost of living would be virtually non existent if I did stay in Miami, but as an undergrad from FSU I have to say that I love Tallahassee and would not mind spending another three years there.
Post by: Miami88 on February 11, 2014, 07:56:27 PM
Ah ... well if working in the state capital is an option, I'd strongly consider FSU - again, so long as the cost difference is negligible. Like, if FIU is going to save you 100k, that is a significant difference. If the cost is similar and you don't care where you start off, then FSU is the obvious go to. Note, however, that it may be harder to move down to Miami the older you get.
Post by: Citylaw on February 11, 2014, 10:05:40 PM
Thanks for the insight Citylaw, it really put things into perspective. I guess the best way to decide which school to go to would be to visit each school and also look into which firms hire at each school. Although you claim that rankings do not matter, I have witnessed a few instances where a large firm would only interview FIU grads just to say that they "interviewed them" and have no intention of hiring them. I was just wondering if going to FSU law would increase my chances of getting hired at one of these firms because it is slightly more prestigious.

Miami has already added some great advice, but I wanted to respond to this post. It is important to realize a number of firms, agencies, etc simply interview on campus so the school can they had X amount of firms conduct OCI interviews for their brochures etc. Very few people from schools other than Harvard, Yale, etc get jobs through On Campus Interviews. This will happen at Florida State, Florida, FIU, Barry, Stetson, and every other law school in America.

The truth is some firm out there will love FIU Grads, another will like FSU, another will like Miami, maybe you played basketball in college and the interviewer also played, the possibilities are endless and the truth is none of the schools in Florida are so elite that you will be hired based solely the reputation of the degree.

Once your in the actual legal world very few people care about what law school you attend, when your in the law school bubble it appears to make a difference, but when you are dealing with real life situations nobody cares about what law school you went to or what grade you got in Contracts. To really put this into perspective I encourage you to visit a courthouse and watch lawyers in action. You will see good attorneys, bad attorneys, and mediocre ones and I can almost with 100% certainty you will not hear anything about what law school the attorneys or judge attended. However, you will see some lawyers appear utterly incompetent and others do an amazing job and when your in the real world results matter not the name of the school on your diploma.

Bottom line whatever prestige FSU has over FIU is likely to make any difference in your legal career. However, it sounds like you attended undergrad at FSU and you likely have a network of friends there and enjoyed your experience enough to apply to law school there. That is something to consider.

FIU you have free living and that is also a great option. Not having to worry about a student loan check coming in to pay rent, get groceries, etc during finals will allow you to focus.

In the end both of these schools will provide you with a quality legal education and get you a ticket to the bar exam. You have been accepted into two ABA schools, which means your are capable enough to pass a bar exam and become an attorney. Whether you succeed in the legal profession will have a lot more to do with your work ethic, attitude, and determination than the school you attend.

Again, good luck on your law school path it can be a very rewarding career.
Post by: functionial drunk on February 14, 2014, 12:15:10 PM
 Let me say that I am extremely humbled by the responsiveness and quality of the feedback by the particpants in this forum. With this useful advice I have decided to enroll in FIU law over FSU simply because I want to practice in Miami and the cost of attendance/living would be much more favorable. I did have great memories and friends in Tallahassee and I was priveleged to work in the capitol at a lobbying firm which I would surely consider doing again after I receive my JD, but I feel like I could accomplish this by discovering some Miami area lobbying firms. Bottom line is that I want to practice in the private sector in Miami after graduating law school and FSU law does not have much of a Miami area presence. Although their presence is getting stronger, FIU's will always be superior in South Florida and even schools like Florida, Nova, St. Thomas will have more lawyers in South Florida than FSU. FSU is undoubtedly a great school right now and is better than FIU but I feel like FIU just makes more financial, economical, and legal sense for me.

By the way you all were way more helpful than those knuckleheads at the "Top Law School" forums. What a bunch of clowns.
Post by: Miami88 on February 14, 2014, 08:49:40 PM
I'm glad you feel you made a strong and well informed decision! I'm even more glad that we were able to help in some small way.

I never really got into Top Law School forums - it seems cluttered and filled with angry, bitter people - haha!

Congrats and good luck!
Post by: Citylaw on February 17, 2014, 01:18:13 PM
This forum is one of the best for realistic advice and I think a good piece of advice in anything is that those who know the least know it the loudest. That is exactly what happens on Top Law Schools, i.e. nobody ever gets a job, everything is horrible, blah blah.

Again, congrats on your decision and acceptances, but one final piece of advice I would encourage you to do is try to get a bit more scholarship money from FIU. Tell them your really leaning towards FSU based on the reputation etc in an effort to get a little more scholarship money. Your going to FIU one way or the other, but getting another 5k discount is worth an e-mail or two.

I did not do this when I was a 0L and it is something I regret. The reality is the law school wants you to attend, obviously don't be a male private part or anything, but just say your not sure on your decision, but some additional scholarship assistance would encourage you to attend.

Worse case scenario they say no and you attend FIU. Best case scenario they offer you another 5-10k. Congrats again on making your decision and good luck as you pursue your legal career.
Post by: functionial drunk on February 25, 2014, 12:44:05 PM
Again thanks for the additional insight Citylaw. In these tough economic times it is crucial to get as much money as you can from whatever institution you enroll in. I am definitely going to try to squeeze a few more bucks out of FIU but how do you think would be the best way to do this? Through the phone? I know you mentioned email, but I was also wondering if an in person visit to the Financial Aid center would be better? 
Post by: Miami88 on February 25, 2014, 09:20:56 PM
I'd say, it depends. It depends on your financial circumstances and, most importantly, how you handle negotiations. If you can negotiate on the spot and leverage pathos, go for it. If its not something you are used to, I'd say email. This way, you have more time to formulate exactly how you want to phrase something.

Post by: Citylaw on February 25, 2014, 10:05:36 PM
I would say a preliminary e-mail just to throw it out there. Say something along the lines of you are really trying to decide between FSU and FIU. See if they bite on that schools really want to fill their seats and if they can get you in for an extra 5k or something then great.

If they don't bite on that then schedule a school visit, which you should do no matter what and bring it up. You might also want to do a site visit at FSU as well if they offer you some additional scholarship money you can say FSU just offered me 5k extra, which has started to change your mind.

There is no "right" way to do it  or any guarantee you will get additional money. All you can really do is use your best judgment and be persistent.

Good luck.
Post by: functionial drunk on March 03, 2014, 08:54:44 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I am going to give a call to both institutions to see if I can schedule a visit for some face to face scholarship negotiations. Wish me luck!
Post by: functionial drunk on April 08, 2014, 07:20:57 AM
So guys sorry for doing a total 180 degree turn but this application process has been confusing and full of ups and downs. I visited FSU law this past weekend for admitted students day and the campus is much larger and well equpped than FIU Law's campus. The faculty also seems to be slightly more qualified, with many teachers coming from the nation's top legal institutions. Although FIU's dean comes from Harvard and has many connections, FSU's dean comes from Texas and seems to have just as many hookups within the state of Florida. The student body also was very receptive with everyone willing to answer any questions I had about the law school and its opportunities. I am aware that you all preach that rankings do not matter but it seems like FSU has a better reputation throughout the state and is more regionally recognized. FIU on the other hand is a great institution, but it is only really recognized in South Florida. Bottom line is when I graduate I feel like FSU can give me job opportunities all over the state and maybe in another southeastern state such as Georgia whereas if I go to FIU I will be forced to stay within the confines of South Florida. The decision is not final yet because I still need to weigh out the financials but for now I am leaning towards another three years in Tallahassee.
Post by: Miami88 on April 08, 2014, 01:17:14 PM
As usual, I'm only an anonymous internet poster. You should assume that I and other posters on this forum are by no means qualified to comment. You should simply take our perspectives as just that, a perspective. Factor this in to your end decision with your own judgement...

It's not that ranking doesn't matter - it's that ranking on its own is almost arbitrary. A school's US News rank is based on several factors, some of which are extremely legitimate (employment statistics) while other factors are extremely elitist and minimally impactful on a graduate's career (selectivity). US News ranking are a great place to start your research and could potentially be used as a tie breaker, but it should not be the primary basis of your decision - particularly if the difference in ranking is minimal.

If we look up the important things (employment statistics, debt load, and realistic salary expectations) we see that, although FSU certainly is a stronger university relative to FIU, it is really only nominally so. Here is a side by side comparison...

Full Time-Long Term Employment Rate: 65%
Underemployment Rate (part time, temp jobs, etc.): 18%
Unemployed and still seeking work 9 months out: 3%
Class Size: 187

Fed. Clerkship: 1%
Big Law: 6%
Public Interest/Gov.: 30%
Business: 9%

Starting Salary Range (25-50-75th Percentile): $45-55kish
Debt: Approx. $120kish


Full Time-Longer Term Employment Rate: 57%
Underemployment Rate (part time, temp jobs, etc.): 14%
Unemployed and still seeking work 9 months out: 3%
Class Size: 155

Fed. Clerkship: 1%
Big Law: 3%
Public Interest/Gov.: 16%
Business: 8%

Starting Salary Range Avg.ish: $45-55kish
Debt: $65k-ish (as you noted before, you have a $5k scholarship and will have minimal living costs)

As far as regional placement, FSU will help you out the most in Tallahassee, Florida cities on the Gulf Coast, and to some extent in some of southern states (GA, AL). FIU will help you out most (and really only) in Miami-Dade. As the employment and salary stats are extremely similar, the debt load is half, and you had mentioned you really are looking to work in Miami, FIU really seems like the go to school between the two. If you, on the other hand, really disliked FIU's environment and are looking to work in the state capital, and don't mind the extra $60k worth of debt, I would then lean more towards FSU.

Again, ranking is a good general guide, but not enough to base your decision on.

Also, did you get an extension on FIU's deadline? I think their's was on April 1. If you didn't, then your decision may be an easy one at this point. :)

Good luck!
Post by: functionial drunk on April 09, 2014, 06:14:42 PM
As always I appreciate the quality and timing of your input Miami88 the facts you are telling me are both relevant and applicable to my situation. I do however have some inquiries about the facts you cited. Firstly, you kind of oversimplify the difference between the employment statistics of FIU and FSU. For example, the Big law and public interest/gov. hiring percentages of FSU are double of what they are for FIU. This makes a difference because the size of FSU is comparable to that  of FIU whereas the University of Florida is much larger than both these institutions. I know were all pre law or current JD students but I am going to do some basic math so bear with me. If there is an average class size for FSU is 187 and 6% of their grads land a big law (big bucks) gig that would be 11.22 students from that class. Now FIU has an average class size of 155 with 3% of their grads landing a big law gig which would make it 4.65 students out of that graduating class landing jobs at a big law firm in Florida. I don't know whether to count that .65 as a roundup or a shorter FIU student (think 4" and less student) landing a big time gig. I am aware that FSU's class sizes are marginally larger but shouldn't I go with the school that offers more jobs straight up? What's the point of going to law school if your scared of the competition?

Another aspect of this discussion that I have to consider is what type of law school experience do I want? Sure I can play it safe and stay at home and have mommy and daddy do my laundry and cook all my meals while going to FIU but if I go to FSU I can be my own man and worry about my own business. Not to mention that I live with two other brothers here so it would be virtually impossible to study at home in Miami, I would practically be relegated to exclusively study at FIU law's campus. If I went to FSU I would have my own 1 x 1 apartment where I can control all the variables and live far away from the undergraduate part of campus where all the crazy Saturday football shenanigans would be going down. On top of that there is virtually no commuting in Tallahassee, everything is within a 15 minute drive. I know I previously said that FSU is not giving me financial aid but the actual truth is that I find out mid April whether they are going to give me some moolah or not. Although I would prefer to practice in Miami it is not the be all end all of why I want to go to law school. This city is great but there is a mind numbing amount of traffic to get around anywhere, its expensive, overcrowded, and a lot of people here are straight up rude and always in a rush. There are plenty of gorgeous cities in Florida such as Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville that I probably would not mind exploring after graduation. I work 7 days a week to save up for law school where I aim to have 10k straight cash for wherever I decide to attend. So yeah FSU would put me in the hole significantly more than FIU but if I land a sweet gig and almost certainly have a better law school experience wouldn't that count for something that you cannot put a price on?

Either way thanks for the help guys as you can tell I been stressing over this for the last half of 2013 and all of 2014 but I think of it as training for law school haha!  ::)
Post by: functionial drunk on April 09, 2014, 06:19:01 PM
PS I paid my $200 deposit for both schools so its all gravy when it comes down to deciding time. I am aware that as soon as I decide where to go I should inform the other school so that a waitlisted student could get his preferred school.
Post by: Citylaw on April 09, 2014, 09:54:39 PM
Functional Drunk do not put so much emphasis on statistics they mean very little in the real world. At least in my anonymous internet poster opinion.

I really encourage you to go into a courtroom and watch how law in the real world works. Very few law students see it first hand and you will realize how serious the situations are. If you are prosecuting a murder suspect and the family of the murdered individual is in the background they could give two sh**ts about what law school you went to. You are either going to put the murderer or away or let him go loose.

Conversely if your defending a murder suspect the person is either going to be spending life in prison or have their freedom. It is on you in those situations as the lawyer to get the result and the name of the school you attend will mean nothing.

In the Civil arena the same is true you are either going to get the client their result or you won't. I lost in court today, and I made mistakes, which have nothing to do with my school I put to much faith in a witness who in the end was a liar. I didn't catch it no law school could have prepared me to deal with that it is a lesson I will remember moving forward.

Federal Clerkships 3%; Big Law Jobs 6%; it doesn't mean anything whether you get a BigLaw job or not will depend on you filing out all the paperwork; networking; drafting a kick ass cover letter; nailing the interview etc; etc. In the legal profession your success depends on you not the same of your school.

99% of students might pass the bar at X school, but they all busted their ass to pass. If you sit on your ass and do not study you will fail the bar and that 99% will not matter.

The second portion of your response regarding whether you want to live in Miami or Tallahassee is what you should consider. The family dynamic being present or not is a huge decision your parents and brothers will be in your life every day. That could be a good or bad thing I have no idea what the dynamic with your family is or how close you are to them.

You also seem to hate traffic I was born and raised in L.A., which is the same as Miami I never want to go back to living in that it is awful. I believe you also attended FSU for undergrad and if you enjoyed your time maybe you want to live it up in the College Town.


(1) I really encourage you to watch a movie called "lawyer walks into a bar" it documents several law students from UCLA, Loyola Marymount Law School, Western State Law School, and an unaccredited ABA School as they study for the bar exam. You see how little the name of the schools matter during that insanely stressful period in any law student's life. The real world of being a lawyer is 10x more intense than that.

(2) Do not even look at Stats anymore really consider the realities of where you want to live for the next three years. The small college town where you went to undergrad away from your family or the big City of Miami with your family nearby. Neither choice is right or wrong, but those are real things to consider. Whether 6% or 7% of the class got a federal clerkship is b.s. and has no applicability to you.  7% of people got a clerkship maybe 6 of those people were related to Federal Judges and they could have attended Timbuktu State and obtained the job. At the end of the day each individual has their own path and whatever other students did at X school has nothing to do with your life.

I can't emphasize it just don't use numbers and rankings etc in your decision. As a 0L I know I did this, but having been a lawyer for awhile now I have seen enough "experts" testify to anything. The reality is you can make statistics say whatever you want them to say or find plenty of people to tell you FSU is awesome and plenty of others that will tell you FSU is awful. Same with FIU and any other law school or academic institution in the world.

Case in point 44 Yelp Reviews for Florida International University plenty of 5 stars; plenty of 1 stars; all for various reasons. 

You only have 6 Yelp Reviews for Florida State and there are 4 five stars; 1 one star; and 1 two star. 4 people loved it and two hated it. They all have various reasons one guy claims the Chilli's is full all the time and he doesn't like it. That is his reasoning another poster hated the exercise department. At the end of the day everyone will have their reason for liking or disliking something.

What matters in this three year; $100,000; career altering changing is "YOU" what do you want. It is a question only you can answer by evaluating the realities of Miami v. Tallahassee. There is no right or wrong answer, but you will regret choosing one school over the other based on a statistic that means nothing.

That is my two cents as an anonymous internet poster so do with it what you will. Good luck in making this difficult decision.


Post by: functionial drunk on April 10, 2014, 07:09:06 AM
Again thank  you for the prompt response CityLaw. Well you are right, I do have very little experience working in a courtroom legal setting per se but I already have had an internship for two legislative sessions in the Capitol in Tallahassee at a lobbying firm, and I currently work at a maritime law firm in Miami. As you can imagine I do not plan on being that 1% that does not do *&^% to pass the bar exam let alone try at law school. I am going to have to try because I am not a trust fund baby and I am not going to an elite level school. That being said, it is hard for me to comprehend that rankings do not matter. In my narrow minded 0L head all I can see is FSU #1 in Florida, FIU #4 in Florida by a significant margin. I have a few buddies going to St. Thomas law school (unranked) in Miami and a plethora of other friends trying to be attorneys that did not get into FSU but got into FIU. Essentially I feel like if I pass up on FSU I would be settling and although my performance at FIU would dictate what type of job I would land, in the back of my head I will always know that I could have had a magical experience in Tallahassee but I bypassed that because I was scared of a little debt.

City Law, I am glad that you can commiserate with me  when it comes to the big city traffic. I have visited LA once and let me tell you that your traffic is significantly worse than ours, I guess I am just being whiny. I just feel like Tallahassee has a much more laid back mentality that would dissipate my stress levels whereas in Miami I would have to worry about a million other things besides school. On a random note I find it intriguing that FIU has 44 yelp reviews whereas FSU only has 4 Yelp reviews. Is FIU disseminating propaganda? or is FSU suppressing information? I guess I am just too cynical for these review websites.
Post by: functionial drunk on April 10, 2014, 07:15:29 AM
On the flip side I was also recently notified that I made the University of Michigan wait list. Woo hoo! (I guess) If accepted, I have to decide if I want to go further in debt in order to attend a school with a national reputation. I do love my two regional powerhouses in FIU and FSU but all of the old guard lawyers tell me to attend Michigan if I get in. Realistically the only place I would want to live in besides Florida/Southeast is NYC so I don't know if that would be worth it.
Post by: Miami88 on April 10, 2014, 12:26:49 PM
Several notes...

1) Although I have read far too many admissions books (credible admissions books!) than I would like to own up to and have met with several hiring attorneys in Miami (from big law firms to businesses), I am in the same exact throws of 0L life as you - applying to law school. So, I would place faarrr more weight on posters who have more experience (i.e. CityLaw, Maintain, etc.)

2) That is fantastic news regarding UMich.! In general, I would pick UMich over FIU/FSU. They also have a nice tuition repayment program. (fyi - we may be classmates come August.) :)

3) I am born and raised in Miami and lived in LA for several months. LA traffic is by no means comparable to Miami. I mean, if you live really close to work/school in LA, you are okay for the most part. But if not, you are completely screwed. Miami is only miserable for about 1-2 hours out of the day on weekdays. LA is only tolerable for 1-2 hours out of the day on weekends... :/

4) I half agree with CityLaw regarding employment stats. I think the way you use employment stats, like rankings, is what is important. Like CityLaw mentioned, obsessing over which school has 2 or 3% more point in ____ is ridiculous. The point I was trying to make was that, for being 60+ points apart in US News Rankings, the end result (a jobs) is staggeringly similar. In fact, basically all schools outside of the top 20 have basically similar employment stats (for the most part, once you get to the real bottom end it gets fugly). Yes, some schools have more pull in specific regions or sectors than other schools, and that is what you want to focus more on: what region you want to work in and in what legal sector. Can you make an argument that FSU is better for xyz employment stat reason, sure, but only nominally so. The exception, as you mentioned F.D., is with government work. If your goal, as I've mentioned before, is to work for the government in the state capital, FSU is by far the go to school. However, if you just want a private sector law job in Miami, FSU's large government presence 10 hours away is not going to help you in the same way as FIU will. Just the ability to network in Miami for 3 years will help you tremendously...

5) Employment stats to me, then, are not seen in absolute terms (x school has y % in z sector), but rather in relative terms (x school is basically the same as the other 100 schools - or x school is FAARRRRR stronger in every category as y school). This is why posters like CityLaw say ranking isn't as big of a factor as you may think (nor employment stats). For the vast majority of schools, the employment prospects are just about the same. The only real difference is the regional pull and networking ability of a school. The general consensus is if you want to work in a specific city, you go to the school with the most pull in that city. These tend to be schools that are nearby/in the city OR top elite schools (T14 - and even then there are regional biases).

6) All that said, it sounds like your mental state entering FIU, given your other offers, would be a negative one (if not, then at least a not so positive one). This is absolutely the last thing you want. This will lead to self doubt, lack of drive, poor grades, etc. If you feel a strong connection and pull with FSU and a negative one towards FIU, I would go with FSU. This is the enviromental, emotional, psychological part of your decision - and perhaps one of the more imporant ones.

In sum, you will be fine no matter which one you pick. Just have realistic expectations both while in school and after it.

Good luck and congrats!
Post by: functionial drunk on April 10, 2014, 06:25:32 PM
As a preface let me say again that both Miami88 and CityLaw have been great in giving me the feedback that I need during this arduous process. I know I was just splitting hairs when it came to the difference in employment stats between FIU and FSU, I just really want to convince myself that one school is better than the other so that I can make a clear headed and easy decision. Fact of the matter is that I still cannot but I am slightly leaning towards FSU for a variety of reasons. 1. The peace and calm demeanor of Tallahassee should allow me to focus on my studies better 2. The cost of living leads to less money spent on gas, groceries, etc. (although I would be saving more by staying at home) 3. This consequently leads to cheaper happy hours for when I need to blow off some steam 4. I firmly believe Tallahassee is the best college town in Florida. Now FIU is a great institution and I was perfectly happy going there until I realized that I could go back to my alma mater that I am a proud graduate of.

To not give you guys too much of an easy time I have come up with some counter points: although FIU would offer the obvious "networking" advantage being located in Miami don't you think that some employers would be intrigued by an FSU grad after seeing a thousand resumes with FIU, UM, St. Thomas, Nova, etc. on them? Wouldn't some attorneys recognize that I am loyal and willing to contribute to the firm in the long term because of my willingness to receive my Bachelors and JD from the same institution? Also wouldn't I have a broader alumni network to tap into if I attended FSU because it was founded in 1966, whereas I would have to essentially "blaze my own trail" if I graduated from FIU because it was founded in 2002?

On another note yes Miami88 if I got accepted to Michigan I would probably go because it would be an opportunity that I would regret to pass up on. Michigan has an outstanding entrepreneurship/law program which I am highly interested in. Only problem is that I got "waitlisted" so they literally told me that I have from now until August to play blindfolded pin the tail on the donkey until I find out. Kind of makes me regret not applying to more top schools because I didn't think that my 157 LSAT score and 3.45 GPA were up to their standards. I do however have an outstanding resume, solid writing samples, and represent a "minority". At the end of the day  I don't need a fancy ivy league/top 20 degree to boost my self esteem or to make jobs appear out of thin air, I'm just going to do what I always have done which is use my own determination and resilience to separate myself from the competition.  I am perfectly fine and happy practicing in Florida or somewhere else in the Southeast with a relatively low burden of debt as a graduate of either FIU or FSU.

Another note for Michigan is that I have never experienced "Michigan" type cold weather. From what I hear about other residents of the Midwest is that Michigan is cold for even Ohio/Minnesota standards. Being a Florida native for the last 20 years I am not sure how I would deal with that and how it might impact my psychological well being. The coldest weather I have been in is about -10 degrees Celcius because I was in Europe at the time.

Citylaw I will make a note to check out that movie because like Miami88 I have been devouring admissions/first year/intro to law books in my quest to find the right school for me, yet I still have not found an answer. Oh yeah Miami88 if we both do make it to Michigan we will have to swap info to see if we can find suitable living arrangements.
Post by: lrt8000 on April 10, 2014, 09:44:19 PM
Miami and City Law: You are giving out terrible advice. Employment stats do matter. Law schools have radically different employment outcomes. The ABA just released the class of 2014 employment report. Golden Gate University had a 22.4% employment in FULL-TIME/LONG-TERM IN BAR-PASSAGE-REQUIRED JOBS (EXCL. LAW-SCHOOL-FUNDED JOBS) in comparison to South Texas which had a 67.0% rate. Are you seriously going to tell me its just as good to go to GGU as ST.  If GGU was the only school I got into I wouldn't go because of its employment rate. FIU had a 59.6% while Florida State had a 69.6%. That looks like a big difference to me. Check the employment stats on LST before you choose a law school.
Post by: Citylaw on April 10, 2014, 11:09:07 PM
Functional it is good you are working in a firm.

I really think you should go into courtrooms and see how it works in practice. The name of a law school will not come up once, and I strongly encourage any incoming law student to attend court hearings.

Also watch lawyer walks into a bar it profiles several graduates as they study for the bar. You can see the various personalities and you look up where each of them ended up. Some succeeded others did not and I am sure while watching the movie you will like some of the individuals and dislike others, and you will not care what school they attended.  t From my observation that is how it works in the real world at the end of the day you get along with certain people or you don't. 

From your posts it really seems like your leaning towards FSU and your gut is telling you that is the school, which is great. I really encourage you to listen to your and not cloud your head with stats, whether employers will think you are loyal by staying at one institution, etc, etc. You can get yourself way off course by over thinking and one of the main things to remember when you start law school is not to over think. Keep things simple it is much easier said than done, but it is how you succeed.

Again, take any advice here with a grain of salt, but it really seems like FSU is what you want so why fight it?

Remember however, that neither FSU, FIU or any law school guarantees you a job and it is up to you whether you succeed.  Go visit the FSU law school campus right now and talk to 3L's I am sure a month before graduation most of them have nothing lined up and are freaking out this is the way law school has worked for years, but in a year from now most of them will have passed their respective state bars and starting their careers, but it takes time.

In the end I  I am sure you will do fine at any school, but it seems like FSU is your choice.  I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of a J.D.

Post by: Miami88 on April 11, 2014, 09:15:45 AM
What CityLaw said. It sounds like your heart is with FSU. Follow it!

As for the UMich waitlist - make sure to visit the school asap if you havent already. Make your presence known and be in regular (once every few weeks or so) contact with them. If UMich is your top pick, let them know in explicit, concise, non-hyperbolic language.

Good luck my friend!
Post by: functionial drunk on July 15, 2014, 11:59:13 AM
Again many thanks to all the people on this forum your advice has been invaluable. To bring a little closure to this thread I am going to share with you all some information. I have ultimately decided to matriculate at FSU law. After much bickering and squabbling they finally caved into my demands and gave me $7k to go towards my tuition. This does help the burden of my student loans tremendously and makes me not feel so bad for turning down FIUs $10k. I do still have to pay for all of my living expenses in Tallahassee but that is insignificant when compared to any decently large city in the US. This will be manageable because I have saved a couple thousand during this off year working. After visiting FSUs campus I felt like it was a very collaborative atmosphere compared to that of FIUs. Note I am not putting down FIU it is a great school in its own regards I just felt more in tune with the spirit of FSU law. As for all the haters from UF saying that FSU doesn't have any big law connects well just looking at the short list of big law firms in the capital: Greenburg Traurig, Akerman Senterfitt, Gray Robinson, etc. I think there can be valuable connections made in Tallahassee in both the private sector and the public sector. Now I don't even plan to work in one of these sprawling mega firms anymore after learning about the quality of life for your average junior associate. What I plan to do is spend the rest of my adult life working within the legal system and at some point hopefully I can retain enough clients to open up my own firm and finally be able to call myself boss.

I am still on the UMich waitlist but I have never been one to torture myself over something that might not materialize. If they do accept me within the coming weeks I would have some reconsidering to do. School starts on august 25 and if they reach out to me after then I hope they have a good replacement lined up. Looks like it's Tallahassee for me in August!

PS sorry for the crappy grammar writing these rants on an iPhone is not proofreading friendly
Post by: barprephero on July 15, 2014, 01:47:30 PM
I used to be on the other camp on this, but you know what, debt sucks.
If you can get into any Michigan school other than cooley odds are you have a 160 lsat. That is a free ride at cooley. Take the zero debt.
Employers may laugh at the degree, but you will have a spotless creditscore.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on July 15, 2014, 01:59:17 PM
Congratulations, FSU has a good regional reputation and the debt won't be too bad (comparatively).

I used to be on the other camp on this, but you know what, debt sucks.
If you can get into any Michigan school other than cooley odds are you have a 160 lsat. That is a free ride at cooley. Take the zero debt.
Employers may laugh at the degree, but you will have a spotless creditscore.

Seriously. I really don't think the average 0L has any idea what it means to be $150,000 in debt, or how low the chances are of scoring a high paying Biglaw job as a new graduate.

The fact is, the vast majority of even T1 law grads will not be making all that much more than their T3-T4 counterparts to start. I know tons of T1 grads who work at small firms and govt offices and are saddled with huge debt. Several of them have told me that they wish they had just taken a full ride another school. 
Post by: barprephero on July 15, 2014, 04:16:59 PM

"A little to late to do the right thing now"
Post by: Citylaw on July 15, 2014, 04:49:32 PM
Good to hear you visited both campuses and one gave you the right gut feeling that is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a school.

I would probably just forget about Michigan at this time and focus on getting ready for FSU and as for whoever is telling you FSU or FU is better for Biglaw they are full of it, the reality is whether you make it into Biglaw has a lot more to do with your connections, personality, etc.

Congrats on your decision and good luck in your pursuit of a J.D.
Post by: surri560 on September 01, 2014, 08:37:34 PM
FSU has best in respect of other one and the debt won't be too bad