Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 11:01:19 AM

Title: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 11:01:19 AM
Hey there everyone!

I wanted to make this thread here after dealing with folks from the TLS forums.

I'm a recent UC Santa Cruz grad, with a 3.35 and 155 LSAT. I do have a feeling I could have done better (closer to 160), but the dynamics with my family and other complicated matters are essentially making me go through with law school this upcoming fall. So I wanted to get thoughts here as the tone and information seems more balanced and respectful than at TLS.

I've gotten into SCU with a 30k scholarship (haven't asked for more yet), USF with 63k or so, SLU with half tuition, and Case Western with no scholarship yet (but I'm appealing). I'm waitlisted at W&L and waiting on Hastings.

The only reason I'm not really thinking of going to SCU is because I strongly prefer focusing on healthcare law than IP. I'm from the East Bay area in California though :)

Right now I'm 90% sure on going to SLU unless W&L or Hastings accept me. And I'm aware of scholarship stipulations (SLU has the best one at maintaining just above a 2.1 I believe). My dream is to also practice around the Bay Area, but I realize if I go to SLU, with its top health law program, I may be stuck around St. Louis for a few years (especially since I'd be doing a JD/MHA rather than just a JD).

But yeah, I would love to hear people's thoughts on whether I'm making a wise decision. I'm just tired of the T14 or bust attitude on TLS; I would rather focus on my accomplishments and future potential than my shortcomings with the LSAT.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 11:20:33 AM

First of all, congratulations! Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can only make it at a T14 law school. While I agree that the T14 law schools give a person the best chance to get that BigLaw job, and are the schools that might be worth going to if you're paying full freight, there are some great schools outside of the T14 that might make better choices from a cost/benefit analysis if you know your options.

Now, your first comment is nearly nonsensical when you write about choosing between healthcare law and IP law. Do you have a STEM degree? Any idea about the patent bar? Many people talk about IP law, but the fact is that this is an incredibly hard field to break into; I did some "soft" IP work early in my career (copyright, trademark), but... well, unless there's something in your background you're not telling us, I'm not sure why IP law is even an option. Also- healthcare law? Um... no offense, but... what does that even mean? That's kind of a joke, but- I know medmal attorneys (on both sides). I know attorneys that do admin law (specifically, FDA). I know attorneys that specialize in compliance with government regulations as they relate to health care (medicare issues, PPACA, HIPAA, non-competes, etc.). But that's a pretty nebulous thing to practice (cf. "elder law"). You might want to think carefully about that.

So... what is *my* advice? It's simple- if I were you (and I'm not), and given the limited amount of knowledge that you have given me, I would go to the school that is offering the most money in the location I could practice. If you choose St. Louis, then there's a good chance you'll end up practicing there... perhaps for the rest of your life (job mobility for attorneys is less than that of other professions). Something to think about. But it's usually pretty simple- lowest cost, in a place you can see yourself practicing.

Also- don't forget the cost of living. It is likely you will have to take out loans to live on as well. Don't forget to factor that in. Finally, if you haven't already, go to other websites such as lawschooltransparency to see some statistics on jobs, expected salaries, costs of attendance and living, etc. from each of the schools your are looking at.

Again, congratulations! You seem to have a good heard on your shoulders. I think that the one misconception you have (that many have) is that you are likely to practice X law. Very few people I knew ended up practicing the type of law they thought they would as a 0L.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 11:38:57 AM
Hi Loki, thanks for your response. Let's see how much I can clarify, hahaha

About the IP vs. Health. I've shadowed both types of lawyers and from just that limited observation, and given my preference of doing "desk" work as opposed to more adversarial trial/court cases, I figure knowing myself IP and Health suit me best.

I would only do IP if I decided to go to Santa Clara, based off their strong reputation around Silicon Valley and their strong program there. But my passion is for health law. As far as STEM degree, not really. I studied Neurosci my first 2 years and switched to Psych/Legal Studies my last 2, but I helped charter the professional pre-med fraternity at UCSC, and have been heavily surrounded by healthcare subjects my whole life. I work in a pediatric dental practice (working on computers mainly) where I have made good connections with the dental partners and other dentists. I took part in setting up the AMSA conference in Davis a few years ago. I volunteered at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. And I've been the "advocate" for my family in all health matters as we are all Russian immigrants and I'm the only one who speaks English relatively well.

So in terms of assurance that I want to be a healthcare lawyer, it's pretty high up there, regardless of the specific department (M&A, malpractice, insurance, etc.) I want to fuse my passion for medicine and helping people with my natural better skills with regards to law. If I had continued with the neurosci degree I'd be applying to med school now, hahaha

SLU has the best financial options right now, I'm just trying to decide if it's objectively the best option. Especially if Hastings were to somehow accept me, at say sticker price.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 12:26:34 PM

Thank you for the clarification! Given your background, some intersection with the law and a medicine might be useful. As an aside, some schools allow you to take a very limited number of courses at affiliated (non-law) universities and transfer them in; if you aren't familiar with all the terminology, taking some 2 CR course in medical terminology, if you're going into this field, will be helpful.

It's good that you've shadowed some attorneys; it sounds like you'd like to practice in transactional work instead of litigation. I'm a litigator, so that's not really my bag. But I work with transactional lawyers, and, um, they do stuff. ;)

Here's what it comes down to- UC Hastings, despite being in-state tution for you, costs more than SLU straight up (without taking into account scholarships). Ouch. Then, there's living expenses; would you be living with your family in San Francisco, because if not, your living expense will be higher than SLU (and not covered either). SLU's job stats are also better (but Hastings is good).

So.... SLU, IMO, is a slamdunk. That said- of the people who graduate with jobs from SLU (84%), 60% work in Missouri. 11% in Illinois. And a little more than 3% work in D.C. Get the picture?

Once you move out of the T14, schools are regional. Assume you will be practicing in St. Louis- or maybe Chicago. That doesn't have to be the case; I went to a regional school, and ended up on the opposite coast in California because I wanted it and did really well. But my story is, by far, an outlier. The vast, vast, majority of grads from my school work in-state, or in the neighboring state. Period. Remember that.

But student debt is like herpes- it will follow you for life. My advice is always, always, always minimize that student debt if you're going outside of the T14.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 12:36:17 PM
I live in Walnut Creek, and have never been out of state by myself. Moving to another state is stressing me out more than law school itself (silly, I know). So I'd either live at home or find an apartment to share with my best friend and his wife (think HIMYM) if Hastings were to accept. But yeah, if they do, it'd most likely be sticker, which would make it FAR more expensive than SLU.

But they have the advantage of having a good relationship with UCSF, they're close, and they'd help me pass the Cali BAR and make connections here.

Living in St. Louis isn't something I have any desire to do right now, but I'd bite the bullet if it meant having a stable life for however long it lasts.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 01:03:22 PM

I cannot make this decision for you. And it's a tough decision! It was easier for me, because I grew up all over the place, and traveled overseas. So I didn't mind moving around. I'm not in your boat.

Only you can answer the question of whether or not you could be happy living outside of California (or the Bay Area, for that matter- I lived in SoCal). What might be helpful is to really understand the costs- look at the cost of living (getting an apartment, food, etc.), and budget that out. Then add in the cost of the tuition and everything else (minus discounts) and compare over three years. That will give you a better idea of how much you're going to be spending.

But if you can't see yourself living and practicing in the Midwest (St. Louis or Chicago)... then I wouldn't recommend SLU. While not impossible, it will be very hard to get back to California, and your degree won't mean anything there, and there will be close to 0 alum connections.

You wrote that you want to pick the "objectively best option[.]" There isn't one. The best choice (oh... I'm sounding a little like CityLaw here) is the school that works for you. That gives you a shot at being an attorney, where you want to practice, with the lowest possible debt load. This really comes down to location and cost. Personally, I think most people don't consider cost enough, because law school is a somewhat risky proposition. But if you can't see yourself outside of Cal, don't go to SLU.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 02, 2015, 01:04:31 PM
Hi Phantom,

I agree with most of what Loki has said, especially in regards to healthcare law and IP. A couple of points I want to expand on:

Subcategory Rankings
These are, IMO, practically meaningless. I wouldn't base my decision on whether a school that is otherwise non-elite ranks high in some specialized category. In my experience the only people who tout these rankings are the students and administration of these particular schools.

Here's and example. Lewis & Clark and Vermont Law School have some of the highest ranked Environmental Law programs in the country. And guess what? A big firm will still give preference to a Harvard grad who has never taken single environmental class, ever.

Same goes for IP. Do some SCU grads get hired by the big Silicon Valley firms. Sure, people who graduate top of their class, are on law review, and who intern at a big firm may be able to compete with the Stanford/Berkeley/Hastings grads for those jobs.

I have no doubt that SCU is solid school with a good local reputation, just don't put too much weight on a specialty program. It matters, but its importance is perhaps somewhat limited.

Location and Money
This is really what your decision boils down to. If you want to live and practice in the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley, it makes no sense to go to law school at a non-elite out of state school. If you were considering Michigan or NYU, that would be different.

Case Western and SLU are both (like SCU) solid local schools. They have very good reputations within their respective regions. In CA, they are virtually unknown. It will be very difficult to obtain CA internships and to make networking connections from 2000 miles away. This is important because when you graduate from a non-elite school your ability to find gainful employment will be based largely on your own networking abilities.

Unless you are prepared to live in St. Louis or Ohio, I would look at CA schools.

If you can live with family and cut down on living expenses, the USF offer may be a good one to consider. I know that SCU may be considered higher ranked, but I don't think the difference is so huge that it outweighs the additional expense of attending SCU. If you live in Walnut Creek you can take BART to USF, live with your family, and limit your debt.

With a 155 LSAT Hastings is probably out, so I wouldn't worry about it.

This is nothing more than my personal take on things, knowing next to nothing about your actual situation. Don't base your decision off of what anyone here tells you, but these are some things you can consider.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 01:30:43 PM
I was going to concur with Maintain. My only added notes-

"These are, IMO, practically meaningless."
I would omit "practically[.]" Subcategory rankings are completely useless.

"Unless you are prepared to live in St. Louis or Ohio, I would look at CA schools."
He stated this more succinctly than I did. I'll emphasize it.

I would add that, IMO, Hastings > Santa Clara  > USF. But it should come down to costs. If you know you want to practice in Cal, chose from those schools. Ask for more money. Run the numbers. Check out the differences in likely salaries and job outcomes at other websites so you understand the cost/benefits of each. Don't forgot to factor in living expenses (if you can stay rent-free, for example).
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 02, 2015, 02:21:32 PM
I would add that, IMO, Hastings > Santa Clara  > USF. But it should come down to costs. If you know you want to practice in Cal, chose from those schools. Ask for more money. Run the numbers. Check out the differences in likely salaries and job outcomes at other websites so you understand the cost/benefits of each. Don't forgot to factor in living expenses (if you can stay rent-free, for example).

I agree. Hastings definitely has the strongest local rep among these three schools. Is that increase in academic profile worth the additional money? That can only be answered by the individual.

As between USF/SCU I think it's murkier. Like I said, SCU may be perceived as slightly higher on the food chain than USF, but it's not as stark as the difference between both of those schools and Hastings.

Funny enough, my wife is a Hastings grad and tells me that everyone she knew from USF, Golden Gate, etc had an inferiority complex about Hastings. Conversely, her Hastings classmates had inferiority complexes about Berkeley and Stanford. No matter where you go (unless it's Harvard) these things will come up.     
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 02:44:05 PM
Thank you for your responses guys. I'd like to share the insight of a healthcare lawyer I've been speaking to who works in BigLaw (graduated about 2 years ago I believe).

"SLU is a fantastic health law school, and I firmly believe that health law is one of the few "speciality rankings" that truly matters. Yes, you'll have to do really well, because many people choose SLU solely for the health care program and put all chips on black, so to say. But, you'll emerge from the program (at least from what I've heard), knowing your stuff. Neither law firms nor healthcare entities that hire law firms want to waste much money on training associates. Knowing the difference between Stark and anti-kickback and False Claims is expected on day one, as is knowing that Medicare and Medicaid are different and that there is more to the Affordable Care Act than the Exchanges. The examples are myriad, but illustrative. Practicing health law is already like drinking from a fire hydrant. Having a more controlled environment in which to take a few sips (like a good health law program with many classes rather than just a single overview class) puts you well on your way to digesting the copious information.

However, going to SLU will not make returning to the East Bay easy. The hive mind is not incorrect in saying you should go to school where you want to practice. Perhaps 5-10 years after you have substantive experience you can relocate back to the Bay area (and I don't blame you for wanting to try). I scattered my resume far and wide but got very few sniffs outside my local (Atlanta) area, despite having fairly lofty academic credentials.

Lest I scare you off with my first paragraph, your current exposure to health care is more than adequate. You speak the language to some extent. Anything else that needs to be taught to you, you will learn.

And, one last thing, working ungodly hours comes with the profession, and is certainly the rule rather than the exception during your first few years. It is somewhat firm/practice dependent, and healthcare is more forgiving than others because there seems to be ample work to go around so associates are scrambling to find things to stay busy. However, this is not a 9-5 job. I'm in the office from 8-7, billing most of the day. You learn to adapt quickly and still have time for family and friends and philanthropy, but do not go to law school thinking that you'll be making bank right away AND will have time to spend it. This is, ultimately, a service profession, and we operate at the whim and mercy of our clients - whether that client is an indigent pro bono immigrant petitioning for a green card, or a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical drug company seeking FDA approval for an AIDS breakthrough drug, to that individual, NOW is not soon enough. Lawyers epitomize almost all of the negative stereotypes of the American workaholic. If that's not your interest, then an MBA/MHA may be more in line with your interests. You'll also probably make more money earlier, have a more portable degree (in that you don't have to take a bar exam that only qualifies you to practice in one state), and will get to tell lawyers what to do."

But yeah, if Hastings were to say yes, I doubt it would be with any money. And frankly, I believe being a successful lawyer in a subject that I'm very passionate about is a better deal than sticking around in California and not knowing where to take my education or how to use it properly. I don't have the chops to be a doctor/surgeon like I wanted to as a kid, but I believe SLU can prepare me to be a reputable healthcare lawyer. As the above lawyer mentioned, healthcare law is such a huge subject with a current population of lawyers that still has room to expand. It's not like most other specialties, which I would wholeheartedly agree mean nothing.

But perhaps if by getting a JD/MHA from the best program offering them in the country, even if I did end up working in St Louis, I could hopefully demonstrate my qualities beyond that of a name on a piece of paper. Having said that, it's all very shaky and dependent on luck to an extent.

If Hastings or W&L were to accept me (I would consider religion if that were the case), I would then have to decide whether W&L's reputation on the east coast, or Hastings' convenience overcome the high costs. I've also emailed SLU to see if they would consider raising my half-tuition scholarship because I would be staying 4, rather than 3 years.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 03:05:54 PM

That's an interesting bit. That said, you might want to get back to that friend. For example, very few BigLaw firms that I am familiar with have their associates immediately practice in a single group (maybe litigation/transaction). Your first year is often spend floating with various partners.

Second, I went back at looked at my two BigLaw firms that I worked at; neither Health Care practice had an SLU grad. That doesn't mean they don't necessarily find a place, but almost all of them were T14. Ask your friend if his firms recruits for that practice at SLU; his answer might be illuminating one way or the other.

One thing I want to emphasize, and I think he covered in his third paragraph, is that while health care law is specialized, it's just... law. My first year, I did a lot of IP law. I never took IP law of any kind. You just pick up what you need to know. I also did a fair amount of litigation involving securities. Again- I had to pick it up.

Look, I don't want to rain on his parade; many schools are fantastic in certain subjects, but that, and five bucks, get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You want to work in BigLaw? Then at any of these schools, you're looking at the very top of your class, law review, etc.

If your passion is health care law, then, by all means, follow it to SLU. The professors there may have connections. You may be able to hook on with a mid-size or boutique firm in that area. Follow your passion. You should be aware that the actuality of law is often very different than what people believe going in. Health law is NOT about a passion for medicine and a desire to help people- it's about making sure that institutions stay compliant with relevant regulations. It's about deciding if a particular release is HIPAA compliant. And so on. Unfortunately, the practice of law can often be orthogonal to helping actual people (unless by actual people, you mean large institutional clients).
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 03:18:44 PM
Those are all very good points.

I doubt his firm would hire specifically from SLU as he went to school near Atlanta (Georgia State perhaps? I heard they have a good health law program too).

As for what you said about law just being law, I agree. And you or City may have mentioned it many times as well; you study the same nonsense in nearly every school, particularly in the first year, and then for whatever you need to take the Bar.

My DREAM (and I say that with emphasis on the dream part) is to be a federal justice. Will that happen from a transactions/litigation point of view in health law? Most likely not. But I want to be able to be the lawyer that fights for what real justice is: I want to prosecute the abusive doctor, as well as the abusive patient for that matter. I want to protect people from shady insurance practices, as well as making sure that people have adequate coverage.

Hell for all I know I may end up being a god forsaken lobbyist fighting obscene healthcare costs in DC. Who knows.

All I know is that above all else, I'll feel like I'm doing SOMETHING if it involves both healthcare/medicine and the law. I'm hoping either a fancy school or SLU will help me achieve that. BigLaw doesn't interest me anymore than speaking with a lawyer who's ego may develop its own gravitational field does. I'm trying to become one of those lawyers that changes the public perception of them and the law in general.

It's just figuring out where the hell to go to make that happen is driving me insane, hahahaha
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 02, 2015, 03:29:40 PM

I would like to key on this-

" BigLaw doesn't interest me "

No worries. Then whatever you do, minimize the cost of law school. If you're not working BigLaw, then you're not going to be making a great salary out of law school (depending on market, we're talking 30k-80k, public on the low end, private mid-size on the high end). High debt will absolutely kill you. That said, this is a career you're building, you're young (I assume), and you'll be fine if you have realistic expectations. But minimize those costs.

" I want to prosecute the abusive doctor, as well as the abusive patient for that matter. I want to protect people from shady insurance practices, as well as making sure that people have adequate coverage."

From what you're describing, it sounds very much like you have an interest in being a Plaintiff's Attorney! That's litigation, btw. Something you might want to think about when you get to law school.

 "It's just figuring out where the hell to go to make that happen is driving me insane"

One step at a time. Just figure out what school you're going to. Once that decision is made, you'll find that other things will tend to fall into place.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 03:46:09 PM
Fair points Loki.

I'm 23 (just turned so this past December). Litigation does sound like what I want to do, and yet I feel I would be more efficient and calmer behind a desk (transactions and such?)

Yeah I would honestly be very happy starting out making 60-80k. I can transition into BigLaw if I feel like I'm up to it and I have the skills to back it up. I'm in no rush with that regard.

As for costs.....SLU makes the most sense in that case. And yet I still wonder if Hastings or W&L would offer me better prospects even with far larger debt (though I hate to think about it when I haven't even yet been accepted).
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 02, 2015, 05:02:56 PM
Hi Phantom,

Your friend sounds like he has a good grasp of the healthcare law market. It's nice to have a springboard like that on which to bounce off ideas. There are a couple of important issues that I think you should research.

1) How many SLU grads actually end up working in Healthcare Law, and who are they?

If healthcare law is primarily the domain of BigLaw, then I assume that hiring is quite competitive. Even graduating from a top ranked program, will you be competing with T14 grads? Is this an area where the SLU grads who do get hired are top 10%, law review, etc?

2) If you don't get a job in healthcare law, will you be happy defending DUIs and drafting wills in St. Louis?

I'm not trying to be nasty here at all, but this is a legitimate question. If you graduate middle of the pack at SLU and don't get picked up for a healthcare job, you'll probably take whatever you can get. Trust me when I tell you that the vast majority of law students do not end up in their desired field straight out of law school.

In closing, I'm not trying to either dissuade or encourage you towards any decision. This is YOUR decision. I generally believe, however, that it is a mistake to chose a law school based on a very specific desired outcome, ie; being a healthcare lawyer/environmental lawyer/prosecutor, whatever.

The reason is this: despite what exposure you may have already had with healthcare law, the practice of law is almost always very different than what people imagine. It's hard to explain, but the work you will do as a healthcare lawyer will focus on things like contractual terms, civil procedure, federal statutes, and corporate governance. Healthcare will likely only be tangentially involved as the subject matter of the disputed contract, for example.

If you go to law school, go with the desire to be LAWYER, period. Not a healthcare lawyer, but a lawyer. There is a very good chance you will be doing something entirely different with your career, and you don't want to be stuck with a job that you hate.

Just my two cents. Good Luck with everything, and I really do hope that you find the career you're looking for!
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 02, 2015, 05:27:01 PM
Thank you Maintain, I'll certainly keep those things in mind. It's not easy for me to enjoy lawyering as a general business; many aspects of the law disgust me with how it's handled (plea bargains, for example). But wherever I go, I'll be sure to keep an open mind, just like any good med school student treats rotations.

Even if I'm behind a desk all day looking over documents (btw, is document review a reasonable entry law job?), if I'm making a difference and making a living, I'll keep pushing ahead.

I really appreciate you guys being open and reasonable in discussing this stuff. People on TLS make you feel like utter garbage for having anything below a 3.5+ with a 170+ LSAT. Literally, I'm seeing people get accepted to incredible schools with incredible awards, and everyone STILL reacts as though they're taking a cheap knockoff online law course.

So cheers for not making people feel like garbage for what otherwise can be considered great personal achievements.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 02, 2015, 10:11:00 PM
Excellent posts above and as for the comment about TLS realize that anything you read on the internet comes from anonymous internet posters so take it with a grain of salt. However, that includes my post and the ones above. Michael Scott explains it best : ) a little humor for you.

With that intro I think any law student should consider the following five factors. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about School; (4) Understanding the Reality of Legal Education and (5) Last and Least U.S. News Rankings. Here is a good article analyzing these factors

Below is a brief analysis of the five factors to your situation.

(1) Location:
You are living in the East Bay and considering a cross country move. As Maintain said would you be happy drafting wills & defending DUI's in St. Louis? That might happen more importantly even if you get you dream job out of law school would St. Louis be a place you want to spend the rest of your life? Or at the very least a minimum of three years?

I live in San Francisco and it's awesome I just got offered an awesome job in Sacramento doing the exact kind of work I wanted, but I didn't want to move to Sacramento and turned it down. On paper it sounded great to me, but in reality leaving the Bay Area is not what I wanted. Or you just thinking these schools sound good, but not really thinking about where you want to live? Being happy with the City you live in is one of the most important things to consider.

2) Cost
As Loki mentions cut costs and be wary of the scholarship conditions.  Also, look at the actual tuition of each school.

Saint Louis University for example offers in-state tuition if you get residency at $26,000 per year $36,000 per year out-of-state.

Case Western is a flat $44,000 a year.

So if you get in-state tuition at SLU even without a scholarship your paying $78,000 in tuition vs. $132,000 in tuition at Case Western. I think many students assume all schools cost the same, but they vary. In that scenario even if Case Western gave a $15,000 a year scholarship you would still pay less at SLU. So just look at the actual tuition costs. This page from LSAC provides info on every school's rates.

3) Personal Feelings about School:
When I was a 0L I visited numerous schools and when I was in law school I did numerous mock trial competitions and visited even more schools. What I realized is that each school has a culture to it some I loved others I hated, but that is just me. For some reason I loved South Texas Law School, I was pissed off when I got sent to that Mock Trial Competition instead of the Chicago one I had been to the year before, but I just loved everyone I met at the school and the pride that had in their litigation team etc.

Other schools like Hastings aren't my cup of tea. In the heart of the Tenderloin, dirty, students in a bad mood etc just doesn't do it for me. There are plenty of people that love Hastings and they are letting us use their basketball gym for the San Francisco Bar Association Lawyer League so Hastings isn't all bad, but that school and me would not be a fit. However, you might love it and the only way for you to know if a school is a fit for you is to visit, talk to students, professors, alumni, work around campus, the neighborhood etc. Typically your gut will give you a good or bad feeling about a place and your gut knows more about you than anyone else.

4) Reality of Legal Education:
At any ABA school you will read Supreme Court Cases and take Torts; Contracts; Civ Pro etc during your first year. You will read Pennoyer v. Neff to learn notice; Palsgraf to learn proximate cause; Hadley v. Baxendale to learn contract remedies and the hairy hand case of Paper Chase fame as well.

To sum it up any ABA school will teach you the law and after you graduate you will then take BarBri or Kaplan to help you pass the bar.

5) Rankings:
Remember that U.S. News Rankings is nothing more than a for profit magazine offering an opinion.  They are doing nothing wrong by offering an opinion, but it should not be the basis of a life altering decision.

U.S. News Ranks Alberqueue New Mexico as the #1 place to live. I am sure New Mexico is great, but I imagine you are not going to apply to University of New Mexico, because U.S. News said it is the best place to live. It would be crazy to move to a City because a magazine said it was #1 right? Yes it would be.

It is also crazy to make a 3 year, $100,000+, career changing decision on where to attend law school based on a magazine as well. Use it as a tiebreaker perhaps and for entrainment, but don't let the rankings play a big factor in your decision.

From my understanding of your post you want to be in the Bay Area. If you want to be in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area and see what if anything you can do to reduce costs. If you move to St. Louis for law school it will be hard to get back to the Bay after. Not impossible, but difficult.

Good luck with everything and congrats on your acceptances.

Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Miami88 on April 02, 2015, 10:51:37 PM
I was going to concur with Maintain. My only added notes-

Watch out... Scalia in the house!!!
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 09:44:44 AM
Thank you for your response City. I would like to clarify something for you guys regarding the location nuance I'm dealing with.

I would LOVE to be comfortable going to school in the Bay Area. Which is why I've sent Santa Clara an email asking for more scholarship aid (they only offered 10k/yr with a 3.0 (or B- average in their school) stipulation). I'm waiting to hear back. I'm also waiting to hear from Hastings, and I have a phone interview with W&L on the 16th.

SLU, while not in the Bay for sure, offered me half tuition for 3 years, with a 2.1 GPA stipulation, and they're considering possibly raising it after I emailed them as well. If I go to SLU I would be staying 4 years for a MHA most likely, so any additional aid I get for the first 3 definitely helps.

So basically, while SLU isn't the place I'd want to work initially, they appear to offer me a better education (from the options I have so far) at least regarding what I want to focus on my 2L and 3L years. They're also cheaper.

If Santa Clara manages to near match the scholarship for SLU, I'll most likely go there, because I DO appreciate the importance of location. Otherwise, can you guys honestly recommend Santa Clara over SLU?
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 03, 2015, 10:03:12 AM

FYI, my reading of the policy at SCU is that their curve policy is that ~50% of their students will fall beneath the curve you list. Maybe more, maybe less (it depends on how they do it per class), but that's a good guideline.

Be careful. Let me repeat- ~50% of the class in a given first year subject will be getting below a B-.

"Otherwise, can you guys honestly recommend Santa Clara over SLU?"

No. But location isn't as important to me as cost. While I think you should pursue your dream, I also think you should focus (as has been mentioned) on the real possibility that you will change your mind or focus, or just not be able to practice in the niche you desire. Would you be as happy being a prosecutor in Missouri or Illinois as you would be staying in California? Writing out wills? Or whatever you end up practicing in? I think of it as an adventure- but location matters. Do not go to SLU thinking you will be going back to Cal soon... or, necessarily, at all. You might, and you can set that as a goal, but as CityLaw, Maintain, and I have explained- unless you finish at the very top of your class (which can happen, but is unlikely), AND you reach out and make the connections yourself (which you have a shot at doing since you can say you are from there), you will not be returning to Cal. It's good to have that goal and work toward it (just like Health Law), but make sure you understand the reality.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 10:14:58 AM
Understanding that reality is precisely why I haven't been able to make a decision, hahaha

SLU has my initial deposit (it was due on the 1st). But I really hope SCU comes through (or better yet Hastings).

And yes, I have been juggling the possibility of not returning here for a long ass time (or ever). But then again I visited Canada a while back and would have gladly stayed there too, hahaha XD

But at some point, figuring heavy cost and what school I believe will make me a better kind of lawyer I want to be comes into the equation.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 03, 2015, 10:26:58 AM
"But at some point, figuring heavy cost and what school I believe will make me a better kind of lawyer I want to be comes into the equation."

On this, I hate to say it, but it is the student that makes the school, not the other way around. Look- I went to RandomStateU. But I treated school like a job. I did all of my assigned reading before the lectures so I could follow along. I made sure I paid attention to what the professors said (some professors want you to know the black letter, others to argue against it; some professors assume you will use supplements, others hate it and will have questions designed to weed out students who rely on supplements instead of course materials, and so on). I made sure I was involved (I was the President of a noted student group, which allowed me to network, I did pro bono and community service, which allowed me to gain experience, I clerked my first summer, I got on law review (and got involved in that... not just one of those people who showed up for bagels)... make sure you try out for LR, moot court, trial team, or other journals. I got to know my professors during office hours, and I'm still friends with many of them. I read law blogs and Supreme Court cases for fun. I worked as a research assistant to a professor. And so on.

By the time I worked for a BigLaw(tm) firm, I was the equal of any Harvard grad that I worked with. The school you go to does not make you. You make the most of your experience. No matter what school you choose.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 10:36:45 AM
I suppose I worded that poorly. SLU just offers me more resources and opportunities with regards to Health Law. They have an established alumni network, and they work alongside a lot of medical centers around there (so I'd have decent networking options). SCU I recently learned HAS health law courses, but I can't say they have nearly as many resources and opportunities to absorb and tune that education to one's benefit as one could at SLU.

So yes, I agree with you; I just figured SLU has more options and ways for one to "control the flow" of healthcare law from that "fire hydrant", as my friend mentioned previously.

That being said, COA for SCU is about 73k this upcoming year. For SLU it's about 60k or so.

At SCU, I have 10k (so far, we'll see if they can raise it) to offset that cost, at a higher stip. At SLU, I have twice that so offset a lower total cost, with a smaller stip (2.1? That's simple unless I'm missing something about law school)

This is really where cost/location are at odds. I kinda wanna roll into a ball and forget this is ever happening >___< heh
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 03, 2015, 11:58:28 AM
"So yes, I agree with you; I just figured SLU has more options and ways for one to "control the flow" of healthcare law from that "fire hydrant", as my friend mentioned previously."

I don't want to disagree with your friend too strenuously, but 95% of what they teach you in law school in interchangeable. You learn the basics- how to read cases. The lingo. How to "think like a lawyer." A lot of the "specialized" stuff doesn't matter. Yes, it is really helpful, if you are going to be a prosecutor or PD, to take criminal procedure. But here's the thing- almost every thing is going to be different in practice than in theory. Does taking "employment law" or "labor law" help make the first few days of boning up on a Title VII case easier- sure. But what really makes it easier are- doing well in law school (so you know the basics) and working with people who know what they're doing. And you pick up the rest.

To be honest, I don't think you have a great idea of what health law *is*. Does advising institutions on how to comply with HIPAA sound like fun? Maybe. What about compliance with the Stark Law (you can wikipedia that for a quick primer). A lot of it is, well, very specialized admin. law. Unless you want to help people (in which case it's more of a plaintiff's attorney practice) or go after insurance companies (which is more PA/insurance practice). Again, though, it might be just up your alley. IOW, I would think of it as a (very) minor plus, not as a reason for going. If it works out- great! But if you find out that what you really want to do is real estate transactions, or trusts and estates, that might happen too.

The costs (and scholarship conditions) on the other hand, is a very real issue.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 12:24:46 PM
Fair point Loki. To be fair, I'm aware of what health law is to the extent that I've shadowed those lawyers, and had to learn about what they do/think to a MINOR extent when dealing with legal issues for my family. That being said, you point is still very fair.

In this case, can I get your guys' help on sorting through the cost issues?

Given the current cost scenario, would going to SCU and working here in the long term be better for me than going away and having less debt?

I will have roughly 200k debt coming out of SCU. I will

Now that I think about it, if my last 4th year at SLU isn't covered by scholarship, and I end up taking another 40-60k in loans, that's still 200k as well. Only difference would be having a Masters (JD/MHA) vs just a JD. Dunno how that may affect my prosperity as a lawyer here vs over there.

Your thoughts on this are, as always, very appreciated.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 03, 2015, 01:10:05 PM
Okay. Assume this is an investment. Let's use the numbers from the most recent grads on file (2013), and ignore the four year option and scholarships (numbers from lawschooltransparency)-

42.2% employment score (this is the number of people who successfully start a career in the law by working at a job that requires a JD, but does exclude contract jobs, school-funded jobs, and solo practitioners (which are very few in number nowadays).
22.7% are unemployed (defined as unemployed in any job, even after bar results).
Tuition is $47,040 per year, increasing at an average of approximately 4.56% a year over the last five years.

50.5% employment score.
15.9% are unemployed.
Tuition is $38,435 per year, increasing at 2.2% over the last five years.

So, assuming you are completely average, and ignoring inflation and debt servicing, then one way you could calculate an expected return is as follows:
SCU: 47040*3 =  141120 / .422 = 334407.58
SLU: 38435*3 = 115305 /  .505 = 228326.73

(This would be the cost of tuition per annum, times the number of years. Then divide it by the expected likelihood of finding a job. This gives you a raw score; lower is better.... in other words, a schools with a total cost of 100k and a 50% chance of ending up with a job has a true cost, or score, of $200k by this method).

Now, you can tweak the numbers by adding in cost of living. By putting in scholarships. If you feel adventurous, you can add in expected tuition increases, and also add in the added cost of the debt load based on current stafford, etc. rates. But this should give you a decent place to start to compare. It's cost + job opportunities. Also, before anyone says that yada yada the job score penalizes SCU unfairly, note that it also tracks the unemployment rates of the schools, and, in addition, SCU has non-reporters (not a good sign, so I'd add that 2.2% to the unemployment).

Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 01:33:02 PM
Based on those calculations, wouldn't that mean that even though I want to practice in California and may have more connections here, there's nothing besides that which counts as a benefit for me?
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 01:38:34 PM
Also the employment statistics for SCU seem to be far different on their site (ABA approved?) than the source you used (LST?) (

Sooo.....what do? hahahaha
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 03, 2015, 02:03:56 PM
In this case, can I get your guys' help on sorting through the cost issues?

Given the current cost scenario, would going to SCU and working here in the long term be better for me than going away and having less debt?

I will have roughly 200k debt coming out of SCU. I will

Let's keep this simple and not get lost in the weeds. IMO, this is a VERY simple issue:

If I were contemplating attending a non-elite law school with mediocre employment stats, I would go for

A) The cheapest degree,

B) In an area where I actually wanted to live and practice.

For me personally, a $200k debt from either SCU or SLU would be a non-starter. That kind of debt can adversely affect your future FAR more than where you went to law school. For the record, I'm not a rankings snob. I went to a law school in So Cal with a good local reputation, and that's about it. I went there because they offered me a very large scholarship. Three years after graduation I have a job that I love, and I am not convinced that I would be any better off with a more prestigious degree and bigger loan payments.

Two potential options that haven't really been discussed:

1) USF with a $63k scholarship. If you could live with family in Walnut Creek and commute to USF, you could graduate with far less debt. The employment outlook may not be as good as SCU, but the lack of debt might make up for it.

2) Wait a year, retake the LSAT, and re-apply. Maybe add a few new schools to the list too, like Golden Gate and McGeorge.

These are the options I would be looking at, but they may or may not be right for you.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 03, 2015, 02:08:05 PM
To go back a few there are several other Bay Area Schools to consider University of San Francisco, Golden Gate and in all honesty Davis and McGeorge are close enough that you could get internships in the Bay Area particularly North Bay i.e. Napa or Solano County.

Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 03, 2015, 04:08:12 PM
Those two things are where the division lies. I very deeply wish to remain in California and work here, but the cost is clearly cheaper in SLU.

I could have gotten into GG and probably McGeorge fairly easily with decent awards. I did base my applying there in part on their course offerings, and in part based on how others seem to have perceived them.....which wasn't exactly in a shining light.

The more I'm looking at the class of 2013's employment stats, the more I'm realizing that 60-70% employment in JD required/preferred positions, with about average/above average Bar passage for California.....Santa Clara isn't too bad, right? The debt is shoddy for sure, but if I have most of my friends and contacts in California, and I know the State and area far better (I went to UCSC)....doesn't it make sense to go through with USC?

If you guys can't tell, my emotions and fighting with my logic a great deal. You two are like the little spirits on my shoulder right now, hahahaha
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 03, 2015, 06:06:34 PM
I was in a similar situation to you years ago. I was living in the Bay Area and wanted to stay in the Bay area, but I was accepted to "better" schools in areas I didn't want to live in.  At the time University of Nebraska was ranked something like 60th I have come to realize how much it changes now and I was pretty set on attending University of Nebraska, because U.S. News said it was better and statistics etc said it was the better choice.

However, I spoke with several bay area attorneys my friends directed me to as I was really struggling with moving to Nebraska and they gave me this very simple advice.  The best way to get a legal job in the Bay Area is to attend school in the Bay Area.

I did that and it was the best decision of my life. If you want to be in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area. As a practicing attorney I know numerous attorneys from Berkeley, USF, Santa Clara, Hastings, Golden Gate, Davis and McGeorge all working at the same firm and even playing on the Bar Association of San Francisco Basketball League I mentioned.

Come down to Hastings Basketball Gym on Tuesday night and you will see a bunch of lawyers from every different school playing basketball together and the last thing that is ever discussed is our law school rank, employment prospects, etc.

I know many 0L's myself included years ago understandably over think and over analyze the school they attend. If your ultimate goal is to end up in the Bay Area don't attend law school in St. Louis.  St. Louis and Case Western have very little influence in the Bay Area nobody ever thinks about those schools here not that they are bad, but why would an employer here want to play someone out from St. Louis or Case Western and talk to professors out there when there are numerous law schools in the Bay Area.

I also don't know if this is true of other cities, but the professors at Golden Gate, Hastings and USF are pretty much the same.

Jon Sylvester teaches Contracts at each school

Peter Keane teaches Con Law at each school

I could honestly make a long list of professors that teach at each of these schools. Hastings, GGU and USF are in a 2 mile radius of eachother and Jon Sylvester is a genius he knows every rule of contracts and is taught to pay at each school. Promissory estoppel is the same at Hastings as it is at USF so why not get paid three times the amount for repeating yourself.

I honestly encourage you to talk to some of these professors that teach at each school. Most are very upfront and honest at happy to talk to a OL. Each school in the Bay Area has it's pros and cons, but any of them can open doors. The one thing I would highly advise against is attending school in St. Louis or Cleveland if your ultimate goal is to end up in the Bay Area.

Good luck whatever you decide.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 04, 2015, 07:03:45 AM
"Also the employment statistics for SCU seem to be far different on their site (ABA approved?) than the source you used (LST?)"

The stats are the same (NALP-reported); LST just does a more thorough job with them. What many people learned, to their horror, in the last ten years, is that law schools were artificially goosing the numbers to look good to prospective students and to US News. Common examples include, but are not limited to:
1. Reporting students hired part-time by the school itself as hired in JD positions (this was somewhat common, and some schools would do this for 5-15% of the class..... SCU employed 4.3% of its graduating class in 2013);
2. Reporting students working intermittently (even students who worked one research job in nine months and then gave up) as hired in JD positions;
3. Reporting students hired in non-JD positions as part of their employment;
4. Reporting students who were unemployed as sole practitioners;
5. Counting yanked offers as employed;
6. Not trying very hard to get salary information- since this is self-reported, only the successful students would self-report, and you'd get curves that would show a decent likelihood of that $160k job (sure, if you realize that 20% of the students reported their salary, and those were the successful ones);
7. and so on. Heck, sometimes they just, um, fudged the self-reported numbers.

In essence, this allowed all the schools from Yale/Harvard down to Cooley/Whittier to appear to have roughly the same employment profiles- not the same, but in the ballpark. This appearance, which was never true, completely unraveled to the public in 2008. So places like LST try to parse these numbers a little better. I find that, with a few exceptions, the employment score listed there is a good, ballpark figure for the actual employment figures. However, you can also look at the full numbers on that website. But, to put it more bluntly, SLU, on average, has better outcomes than does SCU.

Turning to CityLaw's post, I both agree and disagree with him (as I have, often). On the one hand, I continue to think that his thinking betrays far too much pre-2008 thinking. Let's take Golden Gate, for example. You mentioned you wanted to be a federal judge. Now, that's pretty unlikely. But not a single GG U graduate received a federal clerkship in the 2013 class. Not one. Over 40% of their graduates were long-term unemployed. That's nearly unconscionable. Their average admittance for LSAT was below 150. They have an 8% school-funded rate, and even that doesn't help their job numbers that much. Now, does that mean you can' succeed out of GG? No. Some do. But the odds are very much stacked against you. I wouldn't go there unless they gave me a free ride, and I lived in the area. And I'd still hope to have better options. But that's me.

But he is right that if you want to practice in California generally, and the Bay Area specifically, you shouldn't go to SLU. You should go to a Cali or Bay Area school. Period. 100%. I am with Maintain in this- I've seen far too many people screwed, and (personally) I am flexible in locations, so I think debt is a bigger issue than location, but I know for some people it's like the real estate mantra (location, location, location). In which case, minimize your costs as much as possible and be realistic. Good luck.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 04, 2015, 07:23:46 AM
To give you a quick idea on how to compare outcomes with employment scores of schools mentioned:
GG: 22.4%(incl. school funded)
USF: 34% (incl. school funded)
McGeorge: 36.2% (incl. school-funded)
Hastings: 41.6% (incl. school-funded)
SCU: 42.4%
SLU: 50.5%
Case Western: 58.6%
Stanford: 87.6% (incl. school-funded)

As you can see, schools tend to separate into bands (IMO). I'd be extremely wary of schools in the 20-30% range. For me, that's a no go, no matter what. I would probably be very wary of the schools in the 30-40 band. One interesting thing to note, for you, is that SCU has a better outcome profile (barely) than Hastings, with the exception of federal clerkships.

But I will again, reiterate, that it is how you do at the school. If you're going to be a superstar at law school, it is likely you will be a superstar at any law school. To me, the concern is for the people that believe in themselves, but don't realize that they won't finish in the top 5% of their class. If you're not going to do really well, in the current legal environment, taking on *any debt* to go to a school like GG, USF, or McGeorge is exceptionally risky.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 04, 2015, 02:36:22 PM
Just curious, what would you guys consider a more favorable option:

$50k debt from someplace like GGU, or $200k debt from someplace like SCU?

Considering that it's highly unlikely that you'll be working in Biglaw or a federal clerkship from either school, I'd probably take the money. If someone graduates in the bottom half of their class from someplace like SCU, are their post-grad options really that much better? Enough to justify the cost?
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 04, 2015, 03:11:23 PM
"$50k debt from someplace like GGU, or $200k debt from someplace like SCU?"

Neither? If you're talking 50k in tuition debt alone (not to mention Cost of living, eating, etc).

In the current environment, the employment stats of a GGU are pretty bad. But I also couldn't recommend ever going into 200k debt to go to SCU. So....

I guess if a person has their heart set on being an attorney, was aware of the possibilities, thought about their options (not just the debt, but the three years of their life), took it super seriously (in other words, treated it like a job, worked their behind off to network and take advantage of everything the school offered etc.), understood the opportunity cost (you could spend the three years doing something else, or getting a different degree, without the debt), then, sure. Why not? You might not get a BigLaw job straight out of GG, but if you do well, you can get a JD and start your career path. If those were the two options (as opposed to waiting & retaking the LSAT, maybe considering other options) then I would go with GGU. But you'd have to really want to be an attorney.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 04, 2015, 03:17:38 PM
(To give you an idea, GGU's stats are comparable, but technically worse, than Cooley's. These are schools where, if you're taking any amount of debt... plus the time (three years of your life)... then you're really taking a chance. Yes, I know they give opportunities to people who both didn't do well in undergrad AND didn't do well on the LSAT, but the sad fact is that most people who have major issues on both those counts are not going to be great in law school or as a practicing attorney. There are exceptions, of course, but... if those are the schools you are thinking of attending, it might pay to make absolutely sure you know what you're getting into.)
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 04, 2015, 04:00:03 PM
Yeah, I more or less agree.

I was just thinking about how many people I know who have been in his conundrum. Most people aren't really trying to decide between say, UCLA and GGU. But lots of people who didn't have the numbers to get into Berkeley or UCLA are trying to decide between schools like Loyola and Santa Clara at full cost, vs. GGU, Southwestern, etc at a huge discount.

For someone in that position, who has decent grades and a decent LSAT score, it's seems like the discounted JD should at least be seriously considered. That person might very well possess the skills to succeed, and won't be hampered by the crippling debt.   
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 05, 2015, 09:16:03 AM

I'm in agreement with you. I think, though, that we *both* emphasize the conditions on scholarships. A lot of these "free rides" may not be so free after all. Yes, they work for some people, but I've also known far too many people who have gotten suckered into them, finished just below the cutoff, and had to decide what to do (after already spending a year and taking out loans for their living expenses).

But I agree with you in one key aspect; absent special circumstances (for example, parents paying the tuition or going to one of the state schools were the full freight is actually *really* discounted for in-state, and you're getting in-state), I would never, ever recommend going full freight once you move past the t14 considering current tuition costs. Assuming reasonable scholarship conditions, full tuition scholarships at even a GG, SW > nothing at other schools, provided the 0L understands what they will need to do to succeed and their likely options at graduation.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 06, 2015, 10:24:26 AM
I want to counteract the statistics argument by Loki and point out why I think they are not a great factor to use in the life altering decision of where to attend law school. As Loki accurately points out the difference between NALP/ABA statistics and Law School Transparency Statistics differ greatly. That is because statistics can be manipulated.

Are the NALP/ABA stats 100% accurate? No,  the schools have an incentive to "Juke the Stats" gotta love the Wire. Conversely, Law School Transparency an organization that essentially seek funding to point out how wrong the NALP/ABA stats are have incentive to Juke the Stats to prove their point. It is almost like Watching Fox News and MSNBC they will report the story, but in one story Obama is a hero in the other he is a Muslim Terrorist.  For the most part you can apply common sense to get the real scoop on  politics and the same is true when choosing a law school.

Golden Gate is a fine school as are all ABA schools, but it is certainly not Stanford or Harvard as I assume you already knew. If you finish in the bottom 25% of the class at Golden Gate, which there is a 25% chance will happen you may really struggle with the bar and finding employment. Again, as Loki points out law school is a risk.

There are hundreds of satisfied students from every law school each year and hundreds of dissatisfied ones. The reality is you finish in the bottom half of the class odds are you will struggle to start your legal career and there is a 50% chance you will be in the bottom 50%. If you finish in the top 10% at any school you odds are you will have a good chance at starting your legal career, but there is only a 10% chance you will be in the top 10%. Additionally, there is no way to know how you will do and going to law school may be the best decision of your life or the worst.

If we knew how things would turn out life would be pretty easy.

One way as everyone points out to minimize risk is reducing debt. However, without question be wary of scholarship conditions this New York Times Article does an outstanding job explaining the system.

A 3.0 in law school is very difficult to get 1L all incoming law studnets particularly ones with numbers good enough to get law school scholarships assume a 3.0 will be a walk in the park, but it isn't. However, ask admissions officers the tough questions how many students keep the scholarships, what are the curves, etc. They will not lie if you ask them directly, but if you just assume everything will be ok and you don't ask they won't tell you either.

Again, if you ultimate goal is to in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area. I would honestly talk to some of the professors that teach at multiple ABA schools in the Bay Area. They will give you the pros and cons of each school and there are pros and cons to each.

Good luck with your decision.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 06, 2015, 02:00:14 PM
Alrighty guys, here's an update on my situation (and I'll read up on everything that's been said for the past few posts afterwards and respond as need).

So after emailing SCU, they responded with the following:

"Your letter has actually come at a good time. Let me begin by saying that our merit scholarships are awarded such that similarly qualified applicants receive the same amount. Thus it is not our policy to increase the scholarship of one person unless we can increase the award to the entire group. It is also not our policy to match or exceed the scholarship offers made by other schools. Having said that, we recently decided to increase the scholarship within your group to $15,000. Amended scholarship letters reflecting this increase will be going out in the mail next week. The terms and conditions of your scholarship will remain the same.

We understand that scholarship awards are among the many important factors to consider when selecting a law school. Our centers, clinics, and programs, along with our robust externship opportunities that take advantage of our Silicon Valley location provide our students with unique opportunities that are difficult to match. Though we cannot match your other scholarship offers, we do offer additional endowed scholarship opportunities for continuing students.

We look forward to welcoming you to Santa Clara Law in the fall."

So, they essentially raised it from a 30k to a 45k scholarship. And granted, it's a 3.0 stip (but then again at SCU that's a B-, not a B). I don't know how hard that will be to maintain, but every lawyer and doctor friend I know who'd aware of my schoolwork/work ethic believes it won't be terribly difficult. Challenging, but manageable. The only thing that worries me are grade curves in law school. Unlike many med schools which operate on a P/NP system, the whole "you can have no more and no fewer than ___ amount of A/B/C, etc."

That being said, I think I'm fairly set on attending SCU. If Hastings were to reply and offer me some sort of aid, I would go there. Otherwise SCU seems like the best balance of traits I'm looking for, and I'm not against delving into High Tech to see how it fits with me. The Biotech department is of particular interest, and SCU's rep is truly underrated based on just how much its rep around Silicon Valley carries apparently (based on recent and former grads from there).

NOW THEN! Onto reading what you guys have been quibbling about :P Hahahahaha
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 06, 2015, 02:38:57 PM
I think attending SCU is the right choice and awesome they gave you more scholarship money, but the only thing to be concerned about is that you think it will be easy to maintain a 3.0. That is what every law student thinks.

Ask SCU what the curve is and how many people can maintain a 3.0 after 1L. It is a very easy question they will answer if you ask, but if you assume you will just a 3.0, because your friends etc say it will be easy that is where issues arise. Again, it is possible you will lose the scholarship, but you do everything you can to keep it.

However, I definitely think SCU or any Bay Area School is the right choice for your situation.

Good luck.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 06, 2015, 03:30:27 PM
Oh I never meant to suggest that it'll be EASY to get that 3.0, just possible/manageable for someone with my past experience of speaking with law student friends/current lawyers.

One of the former mayors of Santa Cruz, who was one of my law professors during my undergrad, definitely held no punches when discussing law school with his students. He actively tried to persuade us NOT to pursue law actually, emphasizing the challenges and hardships the accompany it. Kind of how Rabbis actively dissuade any gentiles trying to convert to Judaism, hahahaha

Anyways, I'm constantly wary and careful about my grades and performance in law school. I hold no assumptions about how easily I'll be able to achieve success there. But I still maintain confidence in my skills and abilities all the same.

Oh, and here's the breakdown at SCU, City, just in case you were curious. So about 50% lose their scholarships (45-50) (
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 06, 2015, 03:40:03 PM
Good to see you researched the issue and there is a 50% chance you will lose the scholarship and a 50% chance you will finish in the bottom half of the class. There is also a 50% chance you will finish in the top half of the class etc.

I think if you go into law school with realistic expectations it can work out, but it could also be a disaster, but anything worth doing in life comes with a risk. If being a lawyer is what you want go to law school , work your ass off and hope it works out.  You may succeed you may fail, but when I started law school my friend gave me the below quote from Teddy Roosevelt, which I think is very inspiring and true. I take it to mean that anything worth doing is a risk.

The Man in the Arena Quote
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 06, 2015, 03:49:34 PM
Brilliant quote City, I'll definitely have to save it. And I appreciate your help and advice with everything, particularly you looking at both sides (the good and bad).

Who knows, maybe next time I'm in SF (I go there every so often since I'm so close) we'll end up crossing paths one way or another :)

Also my name is Boris, for any future messages. Figure I owe the decency of introducing myself with my actual name after you guys have helped me juggle so many things, haha
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 07, 2015, 08:14:28 AM

Congratulations, and it's good to see that SCU extended more money. I hope that the prior information I provided was helpful. It's a fine school, especially if you are going to practice in the area.

As I noted before, and you have seen, please be careful regarding the scholarship conditions. Try this on for size- how does your LSAT/GPA compare with the entering class at SCU? Based on trends, expect a 158 and a 3.5 to be the 50th percentile. IME, if you are overperforming those numbers, and have a good work ethic, you have a better shot at finishing in the top half of your class. While not dispositive, it has also been my experience that LSAT scores are very predictive for grokking law school, moreso than uGPA (provided you have a work ethic). Hope this helps!
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 07, 2015, 09:49:24 AM
Yes, thank you Loki, your advice and suggestions were indeed very helpful. :)

In terms of the grading and scholarship terms, yeah I have been looking into those, and I think I should have a moderate challenge when I'm there. I'm the kind of guy who performs best when putting myself under "crunch time"; the adrenaline helps me focus and write some of my best essays, but I'm working on balancing that out with typical smart study habits, as procrastination and waiting to be told my a professor "YOU NEED THIS IN TOMORROW" aren't exactly nice feelings, hahahaha

But my 3.35 uGPA is primarily due to 2 grades: I failed calculus twice. Which is funny, because I keep placing into calculus on all math exams, and I passed Chemistry and all with not too many issues.

My transcript literally had all A's, A-'s, and a range of B's (my GPA would have been about a 3.6 if not higher) but those two classes dropped it hard. I never wrote an addendum since I figured it was self-explanatory and was told schools may look at it as though I'm making excuses for myself.

Anyhoo, that's all passed. My point is, when I care about something, I'm fairly confident in my abilities to succeed. Law school will be full of topics I *don't* care about, so those will be my biggest challenge. But I'm fairly sure I won't be gasping for air there, hahahaha

Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all of your time and help!
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 07, 2015, 10:13:44 AM

A few quick notes-

1. Procrastination is the killer in law school. Here's why LSAT + uGPA (before grade inflation) were such a good predictor for success. The LSAT was decent at seeing if you had the aptitude for law school; in short, could you read, analyze, and do the logic (whether abstract, like applying rules to facts in torts, or more concrete, like 1L property). uGPA was a good proxy for follow through and work ethic. You do not have graded home work or quizzes. You will have final exam (most likely) that is 100% of your grade. You may have absolutely no feedback until the next semester, grade wise, how you are doing. You absolutely must stay current with everything- all the reading assignment, all the classes, all the time. Form a study group (if possible) with other students so you're talking about the classes. And so on. Find out what works best for you- I learn by writing, so I took extensive notes for each reading assignment (that's how I learn best). The only person who will keep you on task is you, and many people try and catch up at the end- it's too late. If you go to a lecture, and you haven't done the reading, and you're on facebook because you don't understand... then you're in trouble.

2. You will have to work twice as hard in the subjects you don't care about. Some subjects (whatever they might be) will be taught well, will make sense, and you'll love. You'll want to learn more. Some subjects will have a crappy professor, will be dry as hell, will be at 8am, and those are the ones you have to watch out for.

I only pass this along because I always get concerned when I hear people say that they never have trouble working when it's something they like. Well, of course. But that's why it's called work, and not happy fun time. :)
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 07, 2015, 10:21:02 AM
Good call there. And yeah, complacency is one hell of a beast to deal with.

But then again I'm going into law school treating it as a job as is. Only difference is there will be far more tears and alcohol involved I'm guessing.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 07, 2015, 10:23:05 AM
Solid post Loki and Boris. I honestly, think the best thing to do in law school is go in thinking you know nothing. Many people come into law school thinking they know X, Y and Z and are special because of X reason. Just come in with a clean slate, listen to the professors and don't make it complicated.

Your first year will be extremely stressful and you will waste inordinate amounts of time on simple issues as every 0L does. I have kept my 1L property book, which is covered in pointless highlighter marks to remind to keep it simple, but that is really the hard part.

Go to class everyday, read the material assigned, and most importantly do practice questions. Everyone will remember the facts of the cases you read, but learning to write in IRAC and figuring out the Multiple Choice question tricks can only be done through practice. My first semester finals I knew every case backward and forward, which is good, but it is all about applying the law to the test.

I also highly recommend CALI Lessons, which are provided by every ABA school. I did those every night and listen to your professors don't get to wrapped up in various outside sources unless the professor loves the outside source. The professor writes the exam so pay attention to what they have to say.

Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 07, 2015, 10:32:24 AM
" I have kept my 1L property book, which is covered in pointless highlighter marks to remind to keep it simple,"

Heh. I never marked by books at all, since I took all my notes by writing (in actual handwriting!). Took 3 times as long, but it was worth it for me, and had amazing re-sale value!

But I will never forget one of my friends' tort books. The entire thing was highlighted. I asked her if the parts she didn't highlight were the important passages.

She didn't think that was funny.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 07, 2015, 01:31:43 PM

Well.......that was amusing. Heh, guess I'm dumping everything I know out of my mind when I go into my first day :)
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 22, 2015, 04:50:46 PM
Phantom, if you're still here I noticed something today that you may find interesting.

Just out of curiosity, I went on Calbar to look up my alma mater's performance on last July's bar exam. I noticed that Santa Clara only had a 60% first time pass rate.

Although that is not super low in the absolute sense, it does seem quite low for a long established school with relatively decent admissions numbers. I mean, other schools were lower but they were places like Whittier and Thomas Jefferson which have had problems with bar passage rates for years. Other schools like McGeorge were also lower, but so are their admissions numbers so it isn't too surprising.

I seem t remember that when I was in law school a couple of years ago SCU had very respectable pass rates. If the rate has fallen, I'd wonder why? It doesn't necessarily mean anything bad, might just e luck of the draw. One year of low pass rates is not a trend.

BUT, if I were a consumer (and yes, law students are consumers) considering writing a very large check to ANY law school and I noticed this issue, I would ask:

1) what happened?
2) what are you doing about it?

Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 22, 2015, 05:01:02 PM
July 2014    60%

July 2013    73%

July 2012    73%

July 2011    76%

July 2010    70%

That's a significant drop in one year. I'd ask why.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on April 22, 2015, 07:41:17 PM
Bar passage rates are down at every school and the reason is that during 2008-2011 you had record numbers of applicants and a very high quality  pool of people to choose from law school bar passage was up at almost every school. Then everyone was saying how crowded law school was and from 2011-to present application numbers are dwindling the quality of the pool has gone down and bar passage rates are going down.

Santa Clara is for all intents and purposes the same. Same professors, same location, etc and it is a perfectly fine school. Also, most importantly of all whether a student passes or fails the bar has far more to do with themselves than the school they attend.

In general students that finish in the top half of any ABA school will pass the bar.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 22, 2015, 09:48:59 PM
I more or less agree with you, Citylaw.

I don't doubt that SCU is as good as any other ABA school. The 13 point drop in one year, however, struck me as unusual. I know that bar pass rates do fluctuate, but that's a big drop.

Like I said, one year's drop in the rate is NOT necessarily indicative of a problem. But, if I were considering spending 100k+ on a law degree I'd want to know why the drop occurred, and whether they were taking measures to remedy the issue.

I guess part of my concern comes from personal experience. When I was in law school (my second year of a four year part time program) my school experienced a significant drop in the pass rate. The administration pretty much brushed off the issue, "Oh, don't worry we'll be back again next year." The next year, the rate was again pretty low. Suddenly, the admin was freaking out because the low pass rate was hurting the school's ability to attract students (money).

They established a whole new bar prep program, hired great instructors, and slowly pushed the numbers up. Now, they're fine but it took a while and hurt their reputation in the meantime.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 23, 2015, 09:02:38 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about it. IMO, bar passage rates largely reflect the quality of the student body, which reflects the quality of the institution. In all honesty, I don't think law schools should teach for the bar. Barbri-type prep materials (whether through the course, or done independently) are more than sufficient to pass any state bar, provided the person in question takes it with a modicum of seriousness, paid a bit of attention their first year, and doesn't panic. In fact, it's usually a sign of a bad law school when they teach to the bar. I would even go so far as to recommend against taking specific subjects just because they appear on the bar if you have absolutely no interest in them (other than your base 1L classes), since they'll be covered in bar prep anyway. It's worked for me on two bars- one in California.

Rates fluctuate from time to time. My alma occasionally has hiccups. It happens. And when it does, everyone overreacts. If it's a long term trend, though, that usually means that admission standards are getting worse, or there is a structural problem (they aren't doing a good job the first year). But, again IMO, I don't think the solution is to teach to the bar.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: PhantomBMAN on April 29, 2015, 05:41:15 PM
Hey guys, sorry I've been away from the board (busy with work and planning logistics for attending Santa Clara).

I noticed the Bar pass rates, and while at the admitted students day this past weekend, they mentioned how they're revamping/starting a new bar-prep program this upcoming year. Also I've heard a LOT of people tell students (particularly 2L's) to take bar-prep classes to be ready for the Cali Bar exam.

If what you say is true Loki, it's a relief. I'd much rather spend my investment learning about the law topics I enjoy (and thus perform better in class I think) than bash my head against a wall doing Bar prep for units on a time crunch. Reminds me of taking chem/calculus during my neurosci requirements in undergrad before I switched to Psych/Law.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: loki13 on April 30, 2015, 07:46:10 AM
What I say is always true, Phantom! :)

Seriously, I always try to give aspiring students is the following-
1. When you go to choose courses (after your 1L year, when they are selected for you), do it based on the following criteria, and in this order-
a. Professor
b. Subject Matter

Why? Because a good professor will make any course awesome. On the other hand, a bad professor, no matter how cool the subject or how "important" the subject matter is to your future, will never help you. Here's a dirty little secret of law school- the vast majority of what they teach you doesn't matter. The basics- civpro, conlaw, tort, contracts, real property? Yes. How to read cases and think like a lawyer? Yes. The lingo? Yep. But I have have practiced, now, for some time in areas of law that I never, ever, ever took any courses for in law school. And this is common. Take courses with professors that will challenge you, engage you, and get you to think like an attorney- and they may be in subjects that you will never practice in- and you will come out a better attorney for it. (Ex. I took an advanced and specialized admin law course with a professor because he was amazing. I will never, ever, practice in that area. I am so glad I took that course, because I still use some of the things he taught, which had nothing to do with the subject matter.)

2. After your first year, do not take any classes just because they are "Bar Classes."

Huh? But my school says I should take (BizOrgs/Estates&Trusts/FamilyLaw/CrimPro/whatevs). Don't do it. Go back to (1). If one of these courses is being taught by a good professor, then take it! If not, then don't. There is only one class I regret taking in law school- Estates & Trusts. It was taught by the worst professor. I took it because it was on the bar my first semester, second year. I hated it, and to this day, I still know nothing about the subject. I learned more from BarBri review than I did from that class. If you are paying attention in law school, if you are "living the law," then you'll pick up enough in general.

3. General classes are better than specific classes.

As a general rule, foundation classes are better than hyper-specialized classes, assuming a good professor. Look, classes like "CivPro II" and "Conflict of Laws" and "Federal Courts" and "Corporations" and "Estates and Trusts" don't sound as interesting as "Corporate Responsibility in the Amazon Basin" but they will provide you with more general tools for practice.

4. Talk to other people to understand.

Some classes might sound strange, and you might not understand their use. As an example, I would highly recommend Administrative Law, and some schools are considering putting it into their core curriculum. It's really hard to practice now without running into it on the state or federal level, and you probably want some exposure in school. If you're a litigator, Remedies is kind of important- the first question you ask (either prosecuting or defending a suit) is what can a person get? Sales (as it is often called) just sounds bizarre, but this is sort of an advanced level UCC/contracts. If you don't understand these things, you might not know that these are some classes worth taking (if that floats your boat).

5. But it's really about the professor.

I can't emphasize this enough. Every school will have amazing professors, and every school will have deadwood. After your first year, you will have the choice. Make sure you don't get the deadwood.
Title: Re: SLU vs. Case Western (and other schools)
Post by: Citylaw on May 04, 2015, 03:31:54 PM
Great post Loki and I agree with the majority of it.  A professor more or less breaks a course, but if there is something generally you want to do certain classes are important.

I.E. if you want to be a litigator take trial advocacy and try to as many mock trial competitions as possible even if the professor is terrible if you get the chance to compete in a mock trial it is as close to the real thing as you will get. I would also recommend remedies, which is typically a recommended bar class,  but I think having a basic understanding of legal remedies is key as that is what any client wants.

The client will always want a remedy to their situation and understanding the various remedies out there TRO, injunction, receivership, settlement, whatever it may be is a good use of 3 units and it is usually on bar exams, which doesn't hurt.

I also know some schools require these courses, but others recommend them and I would encourage any law student to take these courses Wills & Trusts, Business Associations and Evidence.  Any lawyer needs to have a basic understanding of these three subject areas as they come all the time in the practice of law no matter what field you are in. Additionally, they are on the bar as well so it doesn't hurt.

If you attend Santa Clara a bar recommended course in California is Community Property since California is a community property state. However, you can learn community property in a few hours. If you are married anything you earn through work is split 50/50 except for gifts or inheritance. 

Anything before marriage or after separation is separate property. 

There are nuances of course, but that is the gist and I took the class in law school, which was a complete waste of 2 units.