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Messages - iowactor

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Iowa vs Wisconsin vs Others?
« on: April 08, 2009, 11:13:44 PM »
It seems like you have a lot of choices from schools all over the U.S. Does location matter to you? Is there any particular location you know you would like to work after law school? I graduated from IOWA in '07. I enjoyed my experience, and my friends work at firms in Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, L.A., Phoenix, D.C., and Miami. I think Wisconsin has a great law school, as well, and I like Madison a little more than Iowa City. That said, if you wanted to work in San Diego it would probably be better for you to go to UCSD, or if you wanted to work in Pittsburgh, you should probably consider Pitt or PSU. I think a JD from Wisconsin or Iowa might travel more broadly, but you should consider the $ you are being offered from other schools.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: UW Madison v. Iowa
« on: March 24, 2008, 06:36:54 PM »
Hey Wasapolo,

I graduated from IOWA in '07. Overall, I had a very positive experience. Almost all of my friends who wanted to work in BIGlaw were able to earn a position in Chicago or Minneapolis, but all of them finished in the top 25% or so. I have friends who finished outside of the top 25% who are working at very decent firms, but they are not making $140k+ their first year out (closer to $90k, I imagine). The faculty is solid. It is tough to find anyone better than Hovenkamp in Anti-Trust, and Hillary Sale is outstanding in Corporation Law.

I know some people who went to UWisconsin and had similar experiences to my own at IOWA, but I am uncertain of their overall placement. If you can earn a Research Assistant (RA) position at IOWA you get in-state tuition after your first year, but RA positions are competitive.

Despite some of the rants on this board, I think IOWA and UWisconsin are solid options. In fact, I know lots of people at these schools who declined offers from schools ranked #8-#15 in order to get $ (myself included). Also, my girlfriend went to IOWA and works at a BIG law firm, and the people in her year went to Penn, Michigan, Wash U., Duke, UChicago, Virginia, and Northwestern.

I hope this helps...

It does, thank you for the help.  How is the Career Services Office at Iowa?  You mention that the more successful grads are the ones who put in the legwork themselves and don't rely on OCI, which I can understand.   But does the CSO help you in directing your personal career endeavors, lead you in the right direction, give you contact information, show you different options, etc?

What would be your best advice to someone who is choosing between these two schools?  What would you call to their attention about both schools, have them think about.  Since you've been through the rigors of law school you have a different perspective than many posters here.

Thanks for your time

My candid opinion is that the IOWA CSO is average or even a bit below average when compared to some schools I know like Northwestern. The "Partner for a Day" program does provide opportunities to network, but I would not rely on CS to direct my law career. Now, I know the Dean and several faculty members are looking at improving the CSO and IOWA hired a man named Steve Langerud last year to improve Career Services, but I am uncertain whether Steve has made an improvement or not. I think the CSO when I was there did an okay job catering to the top 25%, but I think they could have done a better job scrambling to get positions for those outside the top 25%.

IOWA v. WISCONSIN. $ may be an issue. If one school provided significantly more $ than the other that would influence my decision. Second, do you have a particular area of law you are interested in studying? Typically, I would not encourage students to choose a school based on a single program, but since these schools are so close it might make a difference. Third, you might want to see how Journal placement is determined. At IOWA, you submit a written application. At Wisconsin? This might matter if you are a better editor/writer than test taker. Fourth,I think Madison is a (slightly) more exciting town than Iowa City, but they both revolve around the university.Fifth, could you see yourself living in Iowa or Wisconsin after law school? How do you feel about Milwaukee? Des Moines?

I would visit both schools and see what you think. The IOWA library is fantastic and you will NOT find a more knowledgeable group when it comes to legal research!!! IMO, this IS a big deal. The reason so many IOWA grads are excellent at writing and research is because of our resources. For instance, I was an RA for an IOWA professor who went to teach at Harvard for a semester. He constantly had me send him items from the IOWA library. Also, IOWA was the first law school with a legal writing center. You can improve your writing and your IRAC skills at IOWA. My overall advice is check out both schools and see if you click with one or the other...They are both excellent options. Congrats!

3
What IOWA is:
1. A law school with an Academically diverse student body. This means that some students will be Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduates from a range of undergrads to students with less than stellar LSATS or GPAs, but with special qualities/backgrounds not measured well statistically. Overall, the students are collegial, but the best word to describe successful students is hardworking.
2. A STATE School. What I mean here is that the law school makes it a priority to accept a certain percentage of Iowans. So, about 40%-50% of your class will be from Iowa. Some of these students are brilliant, some are average, and some just need to graduate in order to get a position back in their Iowa hometown.
3. National (sort of). 50%-60% of students leave the state after graduation. Some of my friends went to places like Chicago, D.C., Minneapolis, Kansas City, Phoenix, and Miami. I do not think we place particularly well in New York City or L.A., but this is due to the fact most students who come to IOWA do not aspire to positions in these places. That said, one of my former roommates is working at a firm in NYC, but he was from New Jersey originally. Also, IOWA is making connections with Delaware corporate law firms due to our relationship with the DE Supreme Court.

What IOWA is not:
1. Racially diverse. In truth, we are not a racially diverse school. This is mostly due to the fact Iowa is not a racially diverse state. This is good news for non-caucasian applicants b/c IOWA offers crazy $ to increase class diversity.
2. BIGlaw Top to Bottom. Unlike some schools in the T-14, your chances of getting a BIGlaw position after graduation depends more on your class rank. So, if you are outside of the top 15%-25% or so, your chances of making over $100k+ your first year out is not great but not impossible.
3. An Oooh or an AAahhhh. Outside of the region, people will not say "ooh" or "ahhh" when you tell them you went to IOWA law. In fact, some people will not know the difference between Iowa and Idaho. You have to "know thyself" when it comes to the prestige factor.

Finally, a note on the professors. I think 1/4 are fantastic, 2/4 are okay, and 1/4...well, I have nothing positive to say. The fantastic professors are on the pulse of their area of law, publish, and are excellent lecturers. The okay professors are either lacking in their legal relevance or do not communicate well in the classroom. The final group is either passed their prime, are nascent professors still finding their stride, or people who should have never been offered tenure. However, I am excited about several of the new profesors, such as Katherine Porter.

--Hope this helps...

4
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Is Pepperdine worth it?
« on: March 23, 2008, 06:10:54 PM »
I had a scholarship offer from Pepperdine that covered tuition, but not living expenses (Malibus is, of course, pricey). I thought I wanted to go to Pepperdine b/c of their ADR program, but in the end I decided to go to my state school instead (ranked Top 20 at time). My reasoning/questions:
1. There was no guarantee I would keep my scholarship for the second and third year at Pepperdine;
2. What if I didn't like Alternative Dispute Resolution;
3. Did I really want to work in CA and how would I compete with USC, UCLA, etc.;
4. Being from the Midwest, would I connect and thrive in the Cali lifestyle?

You are getting some good advice on this board. There is no guarantee you will finish at the top of your class. There is no guarantee you will get a $100k job. At the same time, if you don't leave Ohio now will you ever leave? Is the reward worth the risk?

Added thought: Have you asked about transfering into Pepperdine or another CA school? At IOWA, I had friends finish in the top 20% of the class transfer to schools like UCLA, Northwestern and Columbia. Of course, transferring is not a sure thing either...just a thought.

5
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: UW Madison v. Iowa
« on: March 23, 2008, 04:45:55 PM »
Thanks for the info.

Do you know anyone in the bottom half of the class?  If so, what are they doing for work?

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where someone is in the bottom half for several reasons. First, IOWA only publishes the GPAs for those at 12.5% and 37.5%, so those falling below these marks will not know exactly where they rank. Second, its not something most people discuss. The interesting things is that my friends who finished outside of the 37.5 mark thought they were close to the 50% mark, but I imagine more people think this than is actually statistically accurate. That said, all of my friends have legal jobs--except for one friend who lives off the wealth of his parents. But I can not tell you with great certainty where somone who finishes in the bottom 50% or bottom 25% is specifically employed.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: UW Madison v. Iowa
« on: March 23, 2008, 02:50:26 AM »
I have friends who finished outside of the top 25% who are working at very decent firms, but they are not making $140k+ their first year out (closer to $90k, I imagine).

Do you know how far outside the top 25% they finished?  What kind of firms and in which cities are your classmates making ~$90k?

Also, in regard to the RA comments.  I have been told by several people that RA positions are fairly easy to obtain.  What makes them competitive in your opinion? 

Do you know people who were able to participate on a journal, maintain a RA position, and maintain their grades?  One of my concerns is cost, to which the RA option is always the answer.  Another concern is getting a good job from Iowa and from what I can
tell, participating on a journal makes ones chances much stronger. 

Hi Upgrade,

My friends in the $90k range work at firms in Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City, Chicago, D.C. and Miami. I cannot give you exact rankings but I imagine they were between the 30%-50% range. Of course, many of these people were outstanding in other ways. Some speak Mandarin, are CPAs, or had excellent summer positions (SEC, US Attorneys Office, Universal Studios, etc.).

I fear prospective students are led to believe that RA positions are guaranteed. I know this is not the case. I estimate 3 out of 5 students actually earn an RA position. Also, some professors are more demanding than others and make being an RA a nightmare. I was an RA for two different professors, but I am an extremely likeable person ;D! I am from Iowa, but I wanted to be an RA because of the experience and I really liked the type of work the professors were doing (negotiations and non-profit). Of course, the out-of-state students probably didn't like it when Iowans took these positions, but it happens.

I know a few people who did journal/moot court/student government/RA and stayed in the top 20%, but--in my opinion--they were crazy. Most of the time something is going to suffer. You have to know yourself and be realistic. I know people who did journal and they dropped from the top 15% to the 25%-37.5% range. Now the reason for the drop may be that the second year and third year of law school is different than the first year. Students can choose courses better suited to their interests or avoid professors with finals they do not do well on (like multiple choice or take-home essay or whatever).

The happiest IOWA graduates are those who took it upon themselves to search for jobs on their own. These people sent out dozens and dozens of mailings and did not rely soley on OCI (on-campus interviews) to get positions.

--Take care...

7
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: UW Madison v. Iowa
« on: March 23, 2008, 12:17:37 AM »
Hey Wasapolo,

I graduated from IOWA in '07. Overall, I had a very positive experience. Almost all of my friends who wanted to work in BIGlaw were able to earn a position in Chicago or Minneapolis, but all of them finished in the top 25% or so. I have friends who finished outside of the top 25% who are working at very decent firms, but they are not making $140k+ their first year out (closer to $90k, I imagine). The faculty is solid. It is tough to find anyone better than Hovenkamp in Anti-Trust, and Hillary Sale is outstanding in Corporation Law.

I know some people who went to UWisconsin and had similar experiences to my own at IOWA, but I am uncertain of their overall placement. If you can earn a Research Assistant (RA) position at IOWA you get in-state tuition after your first year, but RA positions are competitive.

Despite some of the rants on this board, I think IOWA and UWisconsin are solid options. In fact, I know lots of people at these schools who declined offers from schools ranked #8-#15 in order to get $ (myself included). Also, my girlfriend went to IOWA and works at a BIG law firm, and the people in her year went to Penn, Michigan, Wash U., Duke, UChicago, Virginia, and Northwestern.

I hope this helps...

8
Law School Rankings / Re: 2009 USNWR Rankings
« on: March 22, 2008, 05:53:04 PM »
Hey Everyone!

I found some of these boards helpful when I was looking at law schools. So here is my two cents on my alma mater IOWA:

1. Each Class is Academically Diverse. Some students went to undergrads like Yale, MIT, or UChicago and others went to schools you never heard of like Buena Vista, Florida Atlantic or the Univ. of Northern Iowa. Some have LSATs in the 170s and others are scraping the bottom of the 150s. Beware! Some of the best law students who finish Order of the Coif and Law Review EIC don't always have the "Ivy League" pedigree or a 173 LSAT. People who have the toughest time adjusting to IOWA are those who feel they should be somewhere "better" and never get over the fact that UMichigan or NYU or whoever rejected them. I discourage students from entering any law school with this mentality. Life is too short. Either retake the LSAT or join the Peace Corps or something to improve your resume. For example, I had a friend who took the LSAT the same time I did. I did a little better than she did, but she was determined to go to Yale. She waited two years and took the LSAT again. She is now a second-year student at YLS;
2. Hard Work is (generally) Rewarded at IOWA. My friends who wanted to work in big law firms and earn big money (130K+)are doing so in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Phoenix, D.C. and Miami (Yes! I have three friends in MIAMI of all places). If you want a clerkship at SCOTUS you should not go to IOWA, but we do place several students in Federal District and State Supreme Courts. Even students who finish at the bottom (Yes, half the class finishes at the "bottom") find employment in a variety of places, but it is harder to make big $;
3. Acceptance IS More Difficult for Non-Iowans. You need higher LSATs and higher GPAs to be accepted if you are not from Iowa, unless you are a student who brings a unique/special quality to the class;
4. $. Finances are a big issue. For example, I had the choice of going to a school between #9-#14 and paying $35k plus living per year or going to IOWA sans tuition cost. If money is not an issue or if you positively, absolutely know you want to work in a big law firm after graduation (so you can pay back your loans) then a more "prestigious" school may be for you. Also, I know at IOWA they tout that RAs (Research Assistants) get in-state tuition. Beware that when I went to IOWA these RA positions were not guaranteed and can be extremely competitive.

Okay, I have written too much. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about IOWA or law school in general.

Take Care...

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