Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: samoagl on March 27, 2015, 04:25:39 PM

Title: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: samoagl on March 27, 2015, 04:25:39 PM
I've lurked on here for a bit and decided to post. I have been accepted to the following schools:

Depaul ($10,000 to be divided between three years. I cannot recall the conditions but I'm sure they are unreasonable.)
IIT Chicago-Kent (full sticker. Also, they stated if I manage to get in the top 10% they'll throw some money at me. How generous. /s)
John Marshall Law School Chicago ($20,000 first year I have to stay in the top half of my class.)
Whittier Law School ($21,000 first year. I cannot recall the conditions right now.)

Meanwhile, I've been waitlisted at Southwestern. I interviewed with them earlier this week. The interviewer stated she was impressed with me but I haven't heard a peep out of them since.

What would you pick? I'm leaning toward Southwestern as my top choice if they take me and Kent as my second.

Little background:

I completed my undergrad at a Chicago school. I very much enjoy the city and have friends there. Additionally, I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have family there (which I am currently living with). I have a good deal of undergrad debt (65k). Have an uncle (practically raised me since my father died) who works at a biglaw firm. He and I are very close and he even helped me out with undergrad living expenses (paid for an apartment and living expenses last two years of college). He offered to help me foot the bill for the first year and for living expenses in Chicago and OC if I go there. He also stated he could hook me up with a job (he is the head of a practice group at the firm he is at) in both cities. I do not want to assume he can get me a job. I think that is a dangerous assumption.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 27, 2015, 10:15:44 PM
It sounds like you have experience living in both L.A. and Chicago and the first question to ask yourself, which City do you prefer more?

If you attend Southwestern or Whittier you will be in L.A., which is much different than Chicago. If your friends etc are in Chicago and you love Chicago stay in Chicago.

You can negotiate better conditions and scholarship money with the school. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by asking.

Also, visit all these schools and see what you prefer. Each school has a culture to it and whether you like a particular school is a highly personal decision. Depaul has an undergrad with sports teams etc while Southwestern is a Law School with no sports teams etc. One is not better than the other, but just one of 10,000 factors to consider.

You are wise to not count on anyone guaranteeing you a job in the future. Your uncle may leave that firm by the time you graduate in four years. The economy could tank again and jobs might be unavailable and frankly a lot can happen in four years. Maybe you will meet a girl who convinces you to move to Minnesota where he doesn't have a practice group. I could go on and on with possibilities, but number one thing to consider is where you want to live after graduation.

Good luck with your decision.

This article might also be helpful in making your decision.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on March 28, 2015, 11:02:49 AM
Citylaw's advice is good. I would just add the following:

Since you're already carrying 65k in debt, you may want to make debt minimization your top priority. Accruing an additional 100k (which is ENTIRELY possible even though you've been offered scholarships) can impact your career choices as much if not more than your choice of school.

Since none of the schools you're considering are elite, you probably won't be competing for a high paying job straight out of law school. Thus, you really need to consider whether or not you will be able to service that amount of debt on a (probably) $50-70k starting salary.

Citylaw has already addressed this, but I will reiterate: if you go to school in Chicago you will likely end up working in Chicago. If you want to live in California, go to school in California. When you're talking about non-elite, local schools it really is that simple.

Other options
I understand that you are probably eager to start law school, but if I were you I would at least consider reapplying to other So Cal schools and seeing what happens. Frankly, (and don't take this as criticism) I don't think any of the schools you mentioned are worth racking up a $150k + debt.

Whittier has offered the most, but you could easily lose it and be stuck paying full freight after the first year. Whittier has also had some problems with high attrition and low bar pass rates which resulted in the ABA putting them on probation several years ago.

If you were willing to wait on more year, you could study like crazy and retake the LSAT, then reapply to schools like La Verne, California Western, Southwestern, Chapman and Western State. You employment options from any of these schools would be about the same as the schools you're currently considering. You might be able to improve your bargaining position and significantly reduce you overall debt. Something to think about.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 30, 2015, 08:44:37 AM
Good advice above, but I typically think your better off starting law school sooner than later. A lot can happen in a year and in this scenario if you decided to retake you would not be starting school for 18 months. Being in limbo for that long is tough and odds are you will enter into something that will be difficult to leave and also have one less year of life to recoup your educational investment.

Education is a long-term investment and the longer it takes to finish the less time you have to benefit from it.

Also congratulations on your acceptances getting into an ABA school is an accomplishment.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 30, 2015, 09:32:18 AM
A few thoughts-

I disagree with Citylaw re: taking time off. I think it depends on the person. I saw far too many people who just went straight UG - Law School. And I think it hurt them. Because UG is not law school. Sometimes, it helps to take a little time off, work a job, get some perspective. Truly know what you want. Law school is a big commitment. In my experience (YMMV), the people who took off a year or two and worked, and who then decided that they *really wanted it* and treated law school like a job did better. I saw far too many flame out during law school because they were treating like an extension of UG.

Now, your options. To me, it's pretty simple. Where do you want to live? Do you want to live in Chicago, or California? Because none of these schools will carry you outside of the region. Make that choice first, unless you are flexible. IMO, you nailed it- SW if you want LA, Kent if you want Chicago. But you need more money from those schools.

Next, some brutal honesty. These schools are ... not good. Whittier is truly bad. I would not go there unless they offered a full ride, no strings attached, three years. Period.

The other schools- well, Kent is okay. I don't know- this is a lot of debt to consider. It's good that you have family that will help you with living expenses! Just remember that none of these schools is a likely thing to place you in a job that will repay your student loans very easily. You will need to do extremely well.

Hope this helps, and good luck.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 30, 2015, 02:06:18 PM
Loki makes a great point and I do think it is best to take some time off to work prior to law school. Many people that go straight from senior year of undergrad, which is pretty low key to the intensity of 1L would be in for a rude awakening.  However, if you have already worked or taken time off and everything is in place then I would recommend delaying.

As for Loki's comments about the schools not being good, I partially disagree. In my opinion ABA law school will provide you the tools to succeed.  Would Harvard open more doors than Whittier? Yes obviously.

However, I do think at any ABA law school you can recoup your investment. Law schools can range from $150,000-$200,000, but you will be a licensed lawyer for 20-30 years and education is a long-term investment after 5 years of being a lawyer from any school your income will go up significantly. When you first graduate from law school and have very little money to your name $100,000+ in debt and struggling to find your best job it will seem like a terrible investment, but you will find your first legal job.   Assuming, you perform somewhat competently your career will grow.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 30, 2015, 03:01:49 PM
CITYLAW!!!!!! (In the voice of KHAN!!!!!)

We continue our debate, I see. ;)

Whittier is not a good school. It is, in fact, a pretty bad one. I'll be more explicit- it's one of the worst. Whittier has one of the highest average debt loads of any law school for its graduates. Conversely, Whittier has one of the worst job placements of any law school, period.

So, to put it more simply- Whittier makes students take on a lot of money, and the vast majority of them graduate with no ability to puruse a career in the law. They are really close to what one might call a legal scam. Now, that said, you will get your JD. Maybe you hang up a shingle.

But I would rather tell people to burn their money than attend Whittier. Because not only will you have wasted that money, you will have wasted three years of your life. Or, instead of burning that money, use it to buy a house. Get started in life.

Or attend any other law school. Whittier is right there with the Cooleys of the world. Don't do it.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 30, 2015, 03:22:41 PM
Whittier is one of the least regarded of the 200 ABA schools and if you are expecting a BigLaw or Federal Clerkship job right out of law school then it will not work. However, you can definitely get a job as an attorney from Whittier or any other ABA law school assuming you pass the bar.

Again, I place very little faith in job statistics. First and foremost if you don't pass the bar your not getting a job as a licensed attorney and whether you pass the bar or not has a lot more to do with the individual than the school. Additionally, you will need to hustle to get your first job out of Whittier or any of these schools and your first job might be in a small firm, public defender, d.a., etc office. 

I think that is fundamental difference in our positions.  From what I gather you work in Biglaw and went the clerkship route and if that is the goal then honestly none of these schools are a good investment. However, many people have no desire to work in Biglaw and the majority of legal jobs are not Biglaw.

So to the OP can you get a paying job as a lawyer from Whittier? Yes. Your only option will not be hanging out your own shingle either, but that is of course an option. Here is a list of 244 Super Lawyers from Whittier doing quite well. .

I even know several Superior Court Judges that went to Whittier you can succeed at Whittier, but nothing will be handed to you and some doors will be closed. However, if your goal is to work at a firm like Cravath they will not hire you out of Whittier or any of the schools your interested in.

Whittier will provide you with a quality legal education as will any ABA school. After three years you will sign up for the bar exam and use BarBri or Kaplan to pass. Plenty of people from UCLA, Whittier, USC, etc do not pass the bar and whether you pass or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attend.

If you pass the bar your a licensed lawyer and you will have options, but again if your goal is to work BigLaw or go through the recruitment process Tom Cruise did in the firm do not expect that any of these schools. Instead watch the Rainmaker with Matt Damon and that is a more likely look at your first year or so coming from these schools.

Just a huge John Grisham fan and he is doing quite well for himself coming out of Mississippi Law School a non-top 100 school.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on March 30, 2015, 04:10:27 PM
I would just add a couple of points:

A school like Whittier may or may not be alright depending on the student's goals. I know several Whittier grads who are PDs, local govt attorneys, small firm practitioners. If that's your goal, then Whittier may be an alright choice. As Citylaw said, however, if your goal is Biglaw then you better look elsewhere.

As far as debt, Whittier is about the same price as most private law schools which is to say it is too expensive. I'm not sure why Whittier grads would necessarily accrue more debt than other California law students. The tuition and cost of living is high all over CA.

That said, Whittier does seem to have some unique problems that go beyond the general tight job market that all T4s deal with in CA.

One is location. This used to be an asset for Whittier, but now I'm not so sure. When Whittier moved from LA to OC in the 90s they were the only ABA school in the county. (Western State was still only Cal Bar approved at that time). Now, OC has Western State, Chapman, UC Irvine and Whittier. That makes the competition for both quality students and jobs tighter.   

Additionally, Whittier's past problems with the ABA are still pretty fresh in a lot of people's minds. That can't help when it comes to looking for a job. I applied to Whittier when I was looking at law schools, but decided early on that regardless of what they offered I would not attend. I talked to too many people who warned me away. (Also, I visited the campus and thought it was ugly. Perhaps a small issue, but still...)

Where I would disagree with Loki is on the idea of Whittier (or any other school) being a legal scam. The tuition, bar pass rates, employment rates, and anything else you want to know about any ABA school is readily available. No one is forced to go to law school. Quite to the contrary, people ask the law schools to please let them attend.

Whittier isn't lying to anyone about anything. If they were, this would be an entirely different discussion. Schools like Whittier give people a chance to become lawyers when no one else will. If the students squander their chances by not studying or not looking into the legal market first, I don't have a lot of sympathy.

At some point, aren't college educated adults responsible for their own actions?
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 31, 2015, 08:15:38 AM
"Where I would disagree with Loki is on the idea of Whittier (or any other school) being a legal scam."

Technically, what I wrote was, "They are really close to what one might call a legal scam." I wrote that, and I stand by it. they prey on low-information young adults, saddling the vast majority of them with debt they will never have a chance of paying off. Is it possible to get a degree from Whittier and a career in the law? Sure. But the odds are stacked against you. Way against you. Less than 4% of Whittier grads have a job when graudating, and longer term, almost 50% of Whittier grads are unemployed. Let that sink in- because of the 50% (or so) that are employed, 1/2 are employed in jobs that don't require their JD.

And even succeeding at Whittier is unlikely to put you in a job that will repay your debt. Remember- you will need to finish in roughly the top quarter of your class just to get that PD or City Attorney job. You are paying Harvard prices for a "You want fries with that?" outcome.

Yes, I agree that it's not, technically, a scam. AFAIK, the lawsuits against these types of schools failed (as I agree they should have- there's a sucker born every minute, and people are free to make bad choices). Numbers, such as the ones I just cited, are available if you look and don't depend on the glossies from the admissions office.

But, again, I would recommend lighting that money on fire first. At least you'd have the pleasure of watching it burn, and you'd have three years to do something else.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 31, 2015, 01:11:00 PM
"Just a huge John Grisham fan and he is doing quite well for himself coming out of Mississippi Law School a non-top 100 school."

Also wanted to note this- no, Ole Miss is not Harvard. But the undergrad is pretty good (for the South). And it is a Top 100 law school (albeit barely). It's also the top law school in Mississippi, it's the top state school in Mississippi (sorry, state), and it's an incredible value if you're paying in-state tuition.

If you're going to practice in Mississippi, it is definitely the school to go to. Period. In fact, it's one of the reasons that ranking (outside of the T14) are of limited value. The top state school for a state, in many areas, is often one of the best schools to choose if you're going to practice in that state, and is a bona-fide requirement if you're going into politics or, heck, just need the networking.

So, Ole Miss and Whittier are not really comparable.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 31, 2015, 01:37:45 PM
Heck, let's do the comparison of Whittier v. Ole Miss.

Ole Miss (assuming in state tuition)-
Tuition and fees: $14.6k a year
Cost of living: $19.1k a year
28.5% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
More than 63% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
More than 80% of grads were employed in full-time jobs.

Tuition and fees: $42.4k
Cost of living: $28.8k
3.8% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
26.7% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
42.9% of grads were employed in full time jobs (some had part time- nearly 1/2 of grads were unemployed in the long run).

So, comparing the two, and without taking into account inflation:
Ole Miss will cost you ~$101,100 to graduate all told. That's new debt. In exchange, you'll probably work in Mississippi (bad), but you stand a very good shot of being employed in the legal field, and a pretty decent shot at having a good job by graduation. Heck, even though it's Mississippi, you can make pretty good money.

Whittier will cost $213,600 to graduate all told. In exchange, you have a darn good shot at being unemployed. And if you get a job (which may be hard) you'll be making less money, with more debt, than a grad from Ole Miss. Admittedly, the Mississippi factor is huge.

But this illustration is why state schools can be such a bargain if you know you want to practice in that state. By the way- many of the politicians, judges, and other power players in Mississippi will have Ole Miss connections. You can repeat this exercise with many states. This is an example of why ranking aren't everything. Sure, if I wanted to practice BigLaw in NYC, I wouldn't want to to law school at Ole Miss... that would be a difficult jump (although easier than Whittier). But if I knew I would be happy practicing in Mississippi, that would be an attractive option.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 31, 2015, 02:21:11 PM
Again I think we agree in principal, but I think you are greatly exaggerating how bad other schools are. 

You keep using the statistics, but they are not a good guide. You literally cannot be employed as an attorney at graduation from law school. (The exception being Wisconsin or Marquette, because the State of Wisconsin offers these two schools the degree privilege.)

However, whether you attend Stanford or Whittier and graduate in May of 2010 neither of these graduates can be employed as a lawyer until Mid-November when the California Bar Results are released. 

The reality is whether you attend Whittier or any of these schools the real challenge will be passing the bar. If you pass the bar from these schools you will have options, but many of the lower level schools have low bar passage rate and very few if any employers will offer you a job until you pass the bar.

Nobody is saying Whittier is some great academic institution, but you can certainly become a licensed and employed lawyer. However, you need to have realistic expectations.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 31, 2015, 02:49:36 PM

Statistics are a great guide, and they are much better than anecdotes or glossies from an admissions office. Heck, they are better than any testimonials, so long as you understand how to use them. But quickly-

The jobs on graduation statistics refers to graduates who have a job when they graduate. It was extremely common (now, less so) for a firm or other organization to hire law graduates, and pay them while they were preparing to take the bar. That's what happened with me, and with many other grads. You get acclimated to the firm and the work. There's a lot you can do before you have to start signing your own pleadings. So I'm not sure what your point is- many attorneys, including me, were employed in their jobs the second they graduated, and worked at their firms while they 1) took the bar, and 2) waited for the results. It's a lot better (and more lucrative) than sitting on your butt.

As for passing the bar? FWIW, Whittier had the lowest passage rate of any California school, for the California bar. So the one thing they should do, they can't. 42%, baby!

I will repeat this- there's a difference between realistic expectations, and stupid ones. Realistic is saying, "I would like to be an attorney in Maine. Maybe UMaine law school, despite the rankings, is a good bet if I can establish in-state tuition!" Stupid expectations are, "Going to Whittier is likely to be a positive experience, as opposed to an exercise in three years of drudgery, followed by a mountain of student debt and no career in the law."
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 31, 2015, 02:57:21 PM
Again, Whittier does not have great bar pass rates, but my point is you attend law school and pass the bar you will have opportunities.

Whittier has a 42% bar pass rate and you are saying 50% of Whittier Grads 9months out of graduation have jobs. So again my point is if you graduate from an ABA law school and pass the bar odds are you will get a job as an attorney.

If you are attending Whittier the odds of you passing the bar are less, but 100's of Whittier Law School Grads pass each year. The honest truth is no law school outside of Wisconsin guarantees bar passage and no law school guarantees a job.

If the OP attends any of these schools and passes the bar they will have opportunities. If they attend law school and fail out they will not get a job. If they attend law school and half ass it finishing in the bottom 25% of the class and half assing it their first time around and the bar and failing. Not many job opportunities will be available.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on March 31, 2015, 03:33:48 PM
"Whittier has a 42% bar pass rate and you are saying 50% of Whittier Grads 9months out of graduation have jobs. So again my point is if you graduate from an ABA law school and pass the bar odds are you will get a job as an attorney. "

I agree that statistics are useless if you do not use them properly. In the longer term (9 months), approximately 50% of Whittier grads had any type of employment- full time or part time.

The relevant statistic you wanted was the approximately 1/4 of Whittier grads that find employment in jobs that require a JD. The better translation is that 1/4 of all Whittier grads become attorneys of some kind. So, again, you're paying Harvard money to have a less than 50% chance of passing the bar, and a 25% chance of becoming an attorney. This is before getting into other factors (wasted years, the fact that having a JD can make people undesirable for non-attorney jobs). And the jobs you get out of Whittier, largely, do not let you pay back the student loans you took out EVEN IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW THAT GET A JOB AS AN ATTORNEY.

This isn't about half-assing it. Or finishing in the bottom of your class. You have to finish at the top of your class, at Whittier, to be considered for a public defender's position. I'm not a snob- I will defend the Ole Misses and UMaines of the word against rankings zealots. But schools like Whittier are the problem- not the solution.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on March 31, 2015, 04:21:21 PM
Again, I disagree if you pass the bar from an ABA school you are a licensed attorney and if work at you will find a job.

You can be the number #1 student at Whittier if you don't pass the bar your not working as a lawyer. However, even if you graduate #1 at Whittier and pass the bar you will still have to apply for jobs and nothing will be handed to you. However, it is and can be done.

I think most of your points are valid and I am in no way saying Whittier is a fantastic school and anyone enrolling should go in with realistic expectations, but I think you are making it sound way worse than it actually is. The truth is to get into an ABA school you need to obtain a bachelors degree and typically have obtained at least a 3.0. Then you need at least a 150 on the LSAT. The majority of the population is not capable of doing either of those things and getting into an ABA school is an accomplishment.

I will draw an analogy to basketball with March Madness going on. If you are 6'6 you are in the top of population in height and probably have a chance to play college basketball. However,  there are thousands of other 6'6 guys out there and you will have to succeed. Being 6'6 is like going to Whittier or some low school you are smart, but it is not that impressive.

If you are 7'2 you are in the elite of height and have an extremely strong chance at playing college basketball and drawing NBA scouts. Being 7'2 is like going to Harvard the doors will be more open.

However, there are plenty of 7'2 guys that don't make the NBA and plenty of 6'6 ones that do.

However, I feel like you are making it sound like Whittier is like being 5'1 and there being almost no chance of success and that is where I disagree, but again there is no argument that Whittier is not a top school, but if you go in with the right expectations it can be a good choice.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on April 01, 2015, 06:18:27 AM

Here's where I disagree with you. Your advice, re: Whittier, is similar to telling random high school basketball players that they will play in the NBA if they just want it bad enough. If anything in the last ten years should have taught us a lesson, it is this- going to law school can be a terrible choice for many people. It needs to be viewed critically. Telling people that just getting into law school is an accomplishment is doing them a disservice, because for too many people, they believe that.

I believe that every single person who goes to Whittier believes, in their heart, that they will finish #1, or at least at the top 5% of the class. Chances are, based on pure math, they won't. The reality is that it is 75% likely that even if you make it through Whittier (which is far from guaranteed due to attrition, loss of scholarship, etc.), you will never get a job as an attorney. And you will still have that debt. That's the reality.

Put another way- if your *best* option is Whittier, it is likely that you will never work as an attorney. Because there will be people that attend Whittier who have what it takes, and who were attracted there for other reasons. Those individuals should seriously consider another option instead of going into massive debt and coming out the other side with no job prospects in the law.

I will say this again- I am not a ratings whore. There are many fine schools outside of the T14. Cost is a major factor, and if you go to those schools with realistic expectations (and, especially, a scholarship that doesn't have major conditions and/or in-state tuition), you can get a job as an attorney with a low debt load. But there are some schools, among them Whittier, that any reasonable person should be exceptionally leery of. There's a reason that Whittier is almost always dead last in CalBar passage rates, despite teaching to the CalBar. There's a reason they had issues with their ABA accreditation. There's a reason that their grads have trouble getting jobs. For you to keep repeating, "Have realistic expectations" without really informing people what's going on is doing them a disservice. You need to be really explicit- if you go to Whittier, it is exceptionally likely that you will not work as an attorney, and you will have a ton of debt that you will struggle for the rest of your life to work off. Because student debt is like herpes- it stays with you forever.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on April 01, 2015, 09:51:00 PM
I think the difference between us is I give people more credit than you do.

I agree if someone thinks they are going to attend Whittier and be in the top 5% because they are special and expect to Transfer to UCLA and get a BigLaw job then there is a 99% chance that student will be disappointed.

I think the issue that you are addressing and is legitimate is that to many students have unrealistic expectations. However, Whittier or any other ABA law school can be a great fit for a student that goes in with the right expectations. I will also strongly disagree with your statement that if you attend Whittier you will likely not be an attorney. By definition if you graduate from law school and pass the bar your attorney and there will always be firms at the very least looking for appearance attorneys. If your expecting to be arguing in front of the Supreme Court from Whittier then the odds are low, but there is plenty of legal work out there. Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, Foreclosure Defense, Litigation, etc our typical things a Whittier Grad might do. If a Whittier Grad is expecting to be doing tax reform legislation right out of law school it is unlikely.

Again, to draw a basketball analogy going to Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. Let's use Robert Morris University as an example.  Robert Morris was a 16 seed in this year's NBA tournament, which is awesome for those players. However, I would be substantial sums of money that nobody on Robert Morris will be playing in the NBA. Many of these Robert Morris players however, can make a living playing basketball. If they really wanted to pursue basketball as a career they could play in Europe or become high school or junior college coaches. Maybe one might even make his way to becoming a Division 1 basketball coach somewhere, but the odds of that happening are low. So you can make a living off basketball, but the odds of making a living through the NBA are highly unlikely. The players at Robert Morris are aware of this, but love the game of basketball enough to pursue it despite knowing they will not be going to the NBA. They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome.

Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. You can make a living as a lawyer, but it is highly unlikely biglaw will be an option. However, as I mentioned above there are plenty of legal opportunities, but these are not the glamorous positions, but if you really want to be a lawyer it can be a great opportunity.

So basically go to law school with realistic expectations. Do anything in life with realistic expectations that is really where the issue is with law school and all education really. Many law students enroll thinking they will be millionaires and that society owes them something, because they went to law school. That is not the case you have to work your ass off to succeed in the legal profession and if your going to a school like Whittier you are going to have to work even harder, but it can be done.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 05:57:33 AM
"They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome."

And this is where we get to our fundamental disagreement. Yes, I went to law school because I loved the law. Luckily, it worked out for me. Here's the thing, though- people, generally, go to law school because it's an investment in their future. Because they expect, at the end, that they will have bettered themselves, and that all that time and money will have been worth it. They did not go to law school simply because they "love the game" and hope that they can participate in a moot court at the Y with some friends in the future while flipping burgers. I might even add that the vast majority of people that go into law school have little to no idea what working as an actual attorney is like, and therefore have no conception as to whether they will "love the game," moreover, they won't even know when the finish law school (since law school is not the same as practice... it also works the other way; I had a friend who hated law school, did okay, and loved working as a PD and transitioned to work in private practice / criminal defense).

So that's what we get to- if you view law school as an investment, which you should, the question is whether or not it pays off at the end. Because you're not just paying the tuition. You're not just paying the fees. You're not just paying the living costs. You're not just paying the interest on that student debt. You're also paying the opportunity cost of three years where you could have been doing something else (and sometimes more if you received a JD and then spend a year or two or three trying, and failing, to get a job in the law). Therefore, for you to tell people to have "realistic expectations" without being a bit more explicit about the endgame does them a disservice. We have now had almost a decade of experience with this issue- too many schools, graduating too many attorneys, with not enough work. The statistics are out there. Simply put, unless you're getting a free ride to a school like Whittier (with a scholarship without strings, other than good standing), you shouldn't go. And I would probably look elsewhere even if I received that scholarship. The data is out there. Some schools just aren't very good.

Finally, you are far too encouraging about "other options." I am plugged into my alum group, and try to help grads from my law school (which, while not T14, secures more than 1/3 of it students jobs before graduation and 70% of its students jobs in legal fields). It's still hard out there. I agree that the things you list (foreclosure defense, criminal defense) are the types of things a Whittier grad might do, especially considering that their salary numbers are so low, but you posit that as a fallback option. No. These are some of the best case scenarios. When your school has such terrible bar passage rates, and 1/4 of their grads go into law jobs, those are the jobs they are getting.

And that's the issue. If you attend one of a number of non-T14 schools (such as a state school, or another private school), you have a decent shot at a law job, and if you do really well, you might (just might) get a really good job in the law. If you do really well at Whittier, you might pass the bar. And you will pay through the nose for it. Not warning students about this does them a disservice.

All that said, 0Ls can make their own choices. Whittier accepts students who cannot get in elsewhere. The 50th percentile of their LSAT/GPA is 146 and 2.9.  I'll let you think about that for a while. So, yes, if a person was terrible in undergrad, can't do the LSAT, and still believes they have what it takes to be an attorney, then the choice is theirs. But that choice has proven disastrous for the vast majority of individuals that have taken it.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on April 02, 2015, 09:01:22 PM
Good response and I think we agree on a lot of issues. However,  we have gotten completely off topic from OP's question.  Although I find the debate is interesting and enjoyable it proves my overall point that making life altering decisions such as where to attend law school based on internet boards is not a good idea.

You and I are discussing our thoughts about law school in general, which is clearly something we both have thought about. However, it does little to address OP's question.

With that I would like to continue our off topic debate with two responses to your last post.

1) Law School as an Investment:

First and foremost if your attending to law school to get rich, don't. If money is your number one priority there are better options out there.

On to the next point, education in general is a long term investment and in the short term law school is not a good investment. However, if you graduate law school at 27 and pass the bar you can have 40-50 years to work as an attorney and that can easily translate into $100,000-$200,000 additional income. However, in the short term that $100,000-$200,000 when your first job is paying between $40,000-$60,000 does not look good. However, after a few years of practice your salary increases and increases. Most lawyers typically pay off their loans in their mid 30's maybe even early 40's. However, after that is done and multiple years of experience have accrued you can bill $300-$400 an hour. However, getting to that point takes years.

There is no statistic out there that will show law school being a good investment 5 years after graduation. Even if you make $160-$180 k right out of law school. You will likely be unable to pay your loans off in five years. However, after 5 years the loans are gone and if you continue practicing you can make a pretty solid living.

This is not unlike the debate of whether to attend undergrad or not. When I graduated high school several of my friends got jobs as loan officers at banks making $40,000 a year with no educational debt and it seemed like they were rich off their asses. While my other friends and I were accruing debt and working part-time broke as hell. Even a few years after graduation from undergrad those friends were still making more, but 10 years as a loan officer is not exactly exciting and without a B.A. they could not advance.

Eventually, all my friends and me the one guy went to law school made far more than $40,000 while the other guys were still in their spot. Granted over the past 10 years they collectively have made more money as the 7 years I spent in school I was not making $40,000 and in fact accruing debt. So let's say the gained $500,000 on me, but I have far more doors open for the next 40 years of my life than they do.

So that is the debate with education whether it be law school or any other form. In the short term education does not pay off in the long-term it does.

2) Finding Jobs Out of Law School More on the Person than the School:

One of my firmest beliefs is that no matter what school you attend whether you succeed or fail has far more to do with you than the school you attend. I am sure at your school as at mine there were some classmates that you would not trust to feed your cat let alone represent you in court. Then there were others that you knew would succeed.

You can have all the stats in the world, but I am sure at your law school there were some people that would show up late, have excuses for everything, not turn things in on time, not study and blame everyone except themselves for their problems. Those kinds of people exist at every school and cannot find jobs, which has far more to do with them than the school they attended.

Contrary to that every single ABA school has produced numerous successful lawyers, but again that has a lot more to do with the individual than the school.

Law school and education is an investment and like any investment it can fail miserably, succeed greatly, or do just fine.

Law school is not a guarantee of anything and all any ABA school will provide you is the opportunity to take the bar exam and become a licensed lawyer. If you obtain a license to practice law what you do with it well have far more to do with you than the name of the school on your diploma.

Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: loki13 on April 03, 2015, 08:09:50 AM
I'm rather enjoying this thread.

Anyway, what I think you discount is that if people view it as an investment, then they need to appropriately balance the risks. For you to keep saying,  " If you obtain a license to practice law what you do with it well have far more to do with you than the name of the school on your diploma," is incredibly dangerous to people. There's a middle ground between your (IMO, truly bad) advice and the also (IMO, truly bad) advice offered on elitist forums where it's all "If you don't score a 175 on the LSAT and go to HYS, you're TTTrash."

You're sort of like the uncle who says, "Look, love is what it is. Sure, some people say you should build a relationship with a girl, and consider whether or not this has a future. On the other hand, some people meet a hooker in Vegas, and it works out just fine. So, you know, follow your heart!" But the thing is- you are more likely to have a stable, long term marriage with a girl you've known for a while than with a hooker you marry after a day in Vegas. Just the way it is. It's not impossible, mind you, but it's the odds.

Same here. Yes, there are people that succeed at every level of law school. There are even grads that have done well out of Cooley. But here's the thing- the number of grads who have done well out of Cooley is far, far, far exceeded by the number of people that went there, went into massive debt, and either a) never graduated; b) graduated but didn't pass the bar; or  c) passed the bar, but were unable to get a job in the law. Telling people to just follow their heart to certain schools is a lot like telling them to follow their heart and marry that Vegas hooker. It is *possible* that it will work out, but it is more than likely that they will be one of the statistics.

Because, in the long run, full freight law school beyond the t14 *is not a good investment* for  many people. Beyond getting to issues of the lifestyle of attorneys, the risk/reward ration is way, way, way out of whack. The knowledge level of people going in (as to what to expect) is not sufficient to know what they're getting into. Again, there are great schools that provide wonderful opportunities outside of the t14, provided the student has managed their risk/reward ratio correctly, but most people haven't. They are paying t14 prices and don't understand what the legal market really looks like. It's that simple.
Title: Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
Post by: Citylaw on April 03, 2015, 01:18:54 PM
Again, I think we are in agreement, but I give people more credit than you, whether that is right or wrong it doesn't really matter.

I will agree paying full sticker at Whittier or a number of schools may not be the best idea. However, there are a number of schools in the U.S. that offer cheap in-state tuition many in Florida and the South. Then I know CUNY is also about $12,000 per year. Additionally, many of these schools will offer substantial scholarship money, but as we have both pointed out those are fickle based on conditions and any incoming student should look at the conditions closely and get out as cheaply as possible.

I am not advocating go into Whittier paying full sticker and just thinking it will work out. In fact I strongly encourage anyone attending a non-elite school to work a year or two in the legal industry to see if it is something they enjoy. A J.D. from Harvard will open a ton of doors and a J.D. from Whittier will open a few and if you really enjoy the legal profession and not just what you see on T.V. it might be a great investment for you.