« on: January 15, 2012, 11:52:13 PM »
This isn't really a DL post I'm about to write, but it may add some food for thought. I'm a 2L at a California-accredited law school. There are advantages and disadvantages of a CBA school to any ABA school in CA.
ADVANTAGES of CBA
1. The tuition is about one-third the cost of the cheapest ABA school in California, which means you don't graduate owing the equivalent of a 30-year mortgage to a lender. I won't owe anybody one thin dime when I graduate.
2. If you maintain at least a C in all core 1L classes, you don't have to take the baby bar.
3. CBA schools allow you to hold down your current career while attending law school at night.
4. The quality of the classroom sessions and the coursework equate to what you'd get at an ABA school. My property professor got his J.D. from USC, and that's what he said, anyway. (I would know if I were being dealt a bill of goods on this point. The quality of the education is excellent, in my opinion.)
5. CBA schools are sometimes found in locales where the closest ABA school may be 200 miles away or more, depending on the circumstances.
6. Even if you barely speak English, they'll probably give you a chance to take a stab at 1L. So if you were an average student in college or got an average score on the LSAT, you have a good chance of getting accepted. And if in fact you can't handle it, see No. 1.
7. CBA graduates who pass the bar are found practicing law and sitting as judges all over California.
8. If you're already experienced, connected and successful in a field that you do not intend to leave, and a law license could enhance your existing career, then a CBA degree will take you to the next level. After all, you're successful already, yes? The goal here is singular: get the license. The prestige of the J.D. here is of little worth. Just get the license. Mission accomplished. The world is your oyster. As long as you're somewhere in California.
1. Oh Lord, you're stuck in Lodi. Forever. There are some exceptions, e.g., in-house counsel seem to have some freedom to move around the country after a few years of practice, but for the most part, if you don't intend to stay in CA, a CBA school is a total waste of money.
2. Forget Biglaw. Period.
3. As a direct result of Advantage No. 6 above, a percentage of people in 1L courses probably shouldn't be there. We lost more than a third of our class going into 2L, although in fairness, there were many reasons why people didn't return besides just grades.
4. A number of ABA students who have never done a tour of duty in the military, nor gone anywhere or done anything in life except attend school, are convinced that they are inherently superior to everything that walks and talks. Especially to the lowly CBA graduate. This character trait attaches to the personality profile and unships with great reluctance. Deal with it. This cannot be changed.
5. You'll have fewer career options.
6. You will have less prestige among other attorneys. You are not at all among the elite. This is the social and professional "relation back doctrine." See Disadvantage No. 4.
7. Unless you have the experience mentioned in Advantage No. 8, you're very likely to end up in criminal law if you make it all the way. I don't know the stats, and this isn't absolute. But I would risk five bucks I'm right.
8. Most CBA schools with which I am familiar take four years to complete. ABA schools usually take three, unless they're part time.
9. Statistically, your odds of passing the bar on the first try are only 50-50. This bears some discussion. I do not believe that this has anything to do with getting a J.D. from a CBA school. It goes to the average academic abilities of CBA students taken as a whole. The A/B students who make it through a CBA education are highly intelligent, highly motivated, and would do just fine in an ABA school. And they tend to pass the bar on the first try. However, the other half of the CBA bar candidates who graduated with a C average have much greater difficulty passing the CA bar exam, which is well established as being one of the hardest bar exams in the country.
The practical upshot is, there are advantages and disadvantages to attending a CBA school. The same can be said for ABA schools, as shown by all the scambloggers across the internet screaming bloody murder about the size of their debt and the lack of jobs to be had. Whichever course you take, you need to weigh the decision carefully and pragmatically, taking into account the totality of your circumstances. (I just had to say that. I have my crim pro final in two weeks. This thread is a #$%&! distraction.)