« on: June 04, 2006, 09:03:00 PM »
Good job getting into Southwestern considering your two LSAT scores, which are well below their 25th percentile. I would jump at the opportunity of attending Southwestern if I were you. Sorry to sound pessimistic, but with your combined scores Southwestern is, by far, your best bet. I was accepted to Loyola w/ no money and Pepperdine w/ very little money and decided on Southwestern with a full scholarship (this may change if I am called from USC or Vanderbilt's waitlist). I don't believe there is a huge drop-off from Pepperdine to Southwestern. Actually, I consider them almost equal (placement & salary statistics are very comparable). Loyola, on the other hand, is significantly better than the two others (check out their OCI, wow!). There are a few reasons, besides the scholarship, that I feel comfortable with my decision to attend Southwestern:
1. New Dean (1st year) - Bryant Garth (BA, Yale & JD, Stanford) has stepped in and made some huge changes immediately. The philosophy of the administration has changed as a result of this. His goal, according the admissions and career services staff is to drop from 12-13% attrition rate to 0% attrition in one year. Sounds impossible, but it is a step forward. He is obviously trying to emulate the strategy of higher ranked schools. In the short time that he was the dean of Indiana-Bloomington School of Law, they jumped from the 60's to the 30's in US News Rankings and have remained there since. There is a brand new assistance program and first year "law basics" style course in order to decrease attrition.
2. Curve - Southwestern's curve has gone up from 2.6 to 3.0 (also as a result of the new dean.) This is huge! My scholarship is based on maintaining a 2.6 (the old curve) which makes my chances of retaining the money much higher. This also makes for much nicer transcripts.
3. Alumni Base - Southwestern has an alumni base as large a Loyola's. Although it is known as the least prestigious law school in Los Angeles, it is held in high esteem by many local firms. There are many Southwestern graduates at elite firms. More than one would expect. I find it strange that individuals who want to practice in Los Angeles are debating whether to choose Whittier or Chapman over Southwestern. Neither of those schools have much of, if any, reputation in Los Angeles. I definitely would not attend T.J.
4. Friends Experience - I know 3 Southwestern alumni personally. The first got a job at a firm making 90k straight out of school. The second failed the bar exam the first time, and passed the second. It took four months after passing the bar for him to find a job (paid 70k per year). He has been an attorney for four years now, is working at his third firm making over 100k per year. The third worked for the DA for 15+ years and is now corporate in-house counsel. She wouldn't divulge her salary, but she lives in a multi-million dollar home with her accountant husband. It's not 125k BIGLAW straight out of school, but the top 10% have a shot at it (some alumni at O'Melveny, Hastings, and a few other elites).
That's my take. Let the Southwestern bashing commence.