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California Western / Re: Cal Western or Thomas J
« on: April 19, 2009, 03:31:27 PM »
I had never seen this site before, but I signed up just to throw in my two cents. It seems like you had a genuine question that got lost in some kind of feud, I would like to return to that topic.

I am a 3L at Tommy J and am less than a month from graduating. I also have a lot of friends who go to CalWestern. If you pose the question of which is better to students at either school, they will pledge fidelity to their own respective school. As I am about to graduate and can reflect on the choices I have made, I hope I can offer some insight.

I graduated from UCSC with a double major and good grades. However, multiple choice has always been my downfall, so the LSAT did not go well for me. I got in to TJ and was waitlisted at UCLA and USF. In the end I did not get in to either and decided to take a leap of faith with TJ. After speaking with the administration, I dug their philosophy and felt it would be a good fit. I thought about waiting and trying to get into one of my wait list schools, but decided to go for it instead because I wanted to go to law school more than anything else in the world. Do I regret it? Not for one second!

I think you have to look at your reasons for going to law school. If you are looking to pull down some serious funds and go in to corporate law or something of that nature, neither of these schools are for you. Most likely, you should wait another year, really study for the LSAT, and try again. If, however, you are going to law school because you love the law and you want to go into public interest/public service, then these schools are your new home.

Law school, as someone pointed out earlier, will always be what the student makes of it. Of course tiers and prestige are important when choosing a law school, but I have found that they are secondary to many other things. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at TJ. I loved my professors, the contacts I made, the student organizations I belonged to, and the study abroad trips I went on. CalWestern is also a great school and all my friends loved their experiences as well. Do not listen to what some will tell you about how detrimental these schools will be to your career; they are simply trying to make you feel less-than. Will it be as easy for you as it will be for Boalt grads? Of course not. You will have to work harder, give more, and strive for excellence always, but you will be the better attorney for it.

The bias: Thomas Jefferson is on the rise whereas CalWestern and USD have leveled. We will be moving into our new campus soon which is sure to help with the tiers. Our bar pass rate is improving each and every time, primarily due to the genius of Dennis Sacuzzo and Nancy Johnson's Bar Secrets program. The faculty and staff are there for your success and strive to do all that they can for you because your success in turn will be theirs. Also, I have heard from every employer I have had that they prefer to hire TJ students because they are better workers. They have more to prove and are hungrier. Most (emphasis on "not all") other students ride on the coat tails of their school's name and feel that everything should be handed to them. TJ students know they must compete with these students so they prepare more. They network, practice their skills, take every class possible to help them in their respective interests, and seize their goals. I think we have a passion that is seldom seen elsewhere and employers know and respect it.

The hate: No one outside of San Diego has ever heard of TJ. It is still a T4 school at this point. The entire school is focused on the move and some other things are left by the wayside. Some top level employers will throw your resume away without looking at you after just reading the name of the school. Also, our campus right now is crap - straight up.

The ultimate decision is yours and no one else can sway you one way or another. It ultimately falls to what your end goal is. If you want prestige, keep looking. If you want specialized education, faculty that is approachable and helpful, and a school that is just about to burst into greatness come to TJ.

Sorry for the over-lengthy post. Good luck to you!

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