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Messages - loki13

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1
"So, do rankings matter? Yes, especially at the top. But as others have stated, once you get into the great blurry mass of the other 190 or so schools that are not elite, you better prioritize cost and location over rankings."

I completely agree with this. At this point, I'm continuing the thread because it's better than Russian spam. :)

A few points I would like to emphasize- when I worked in BigLaw, I looked at my incoming class of associates. In all the offices, there were four (four!) associates from outside the T14. One from UCLA (in the LA office). One from George Washington. Two (including myself) from other top 50 schools.

There were 14 Harvard grads. That means that Harvard, alone, placed more than three times as many graduates into my BigLaw firm as associates as did every other school from 15 on.

Next, regarding the City Attorney position raised by CityLaw; I agree that know local government will fly you out to interview; on the other hand, your chances of getting hired increase exponentially if you are Harvard grad. One of my friends (Harvard Grad) couldn't hack BigLaw, and left after a year. She went on to work cases in the local city government. Her pedigree, as opposed to accomplishments to date, got her the job. That's neither right nor wrong, but rather a fact of life. Sure, once you have proven yourself in practice, your law school will fade away (except for the academic track if you want to be a professor). But that takes a while. A T14 degree will open a lot of doors.

I am not sure what to make of the transvestite/gay comment re: HYS, as it appears based on somewhat outdated stereotypes. Harvard, to use one example, is among the most progressive schools in the nation, with an active LGBT community (at least, it was according to the people I knew who were a part of it).

I do agree with the second career bit from Citylaw; if you're much past the age of 30, it will be much harder to get the type of job to help you pay down the debt that a T14 school will give you. That goes to the question of whether it's a sound investment, but I would also question why someone would want to attend law school at 44 unless they are already financially secure  and this is more of an intellectual exploration / desire to explore a second career that they can take or leave.

Finally, I would ask that Citylaw post some more thoughts about hanging out the shingle (becoming a sole practitioner). One of the ongoing issues in legal practice is how difficult it is for new attorneys to begin practice without experience, as law school is not a great way to gain experience... this has been an ongoing topic of conversation in my state bar. Simply put, absent a close network of people that you can rely on for advice, as well as community connections that you have prior to law school (clients!), and an entrepreneurial spirit, I would never recommend hanging out your shingle to begin with, but instead working, for at least a year or two, with a small practice or as a prosecutor/PD (litigation experience). Had I hung out my shingle to start with, I know I would have been committing malpractice. But, again, I am risk adverse, and I know that various state bars are trying to help with this problem.

2
"There are scenarios where Cooley is better than Harvard. This is few and far between and 99% of the time not the case and if you want to go the Clerk-Big Law etc path it is 100% not true. However, not everyone wants the Big-Law clerkship path and if you want to work for a solo attorney in Lansing Michigan they will be more likely to hire someone from Lansing law school than flying a Harvard Grad out."

I agree. Judge credibility of people. Let's take this bon mot. Cooley, for example, places less than half of its graduates in long-term employment. It places less than 1/3 (22.9%) of its graduates in employment that requires a JD... that's any job. Public defender. Sole practitioner. Anything. Combined, it places less than 1% of its class in any sort of clerkship of BigLaw job. Think about that for a second. But wait, there's more!   And the graduates of the Cooley are the lucky ones (maybe?). Because Cooley is notorious for failing out students in its first and second year, and their conditional scholarships.

Harvard graduates 87% of its students into jobs that require a JD (some, supposedly, take their Harvard JD into other positions, like my friend who then went to DC). 73% (!!??!!) go to clerkships or BigLaw. If you want it, you'll get it. And if you really want to be a PD in Lansing after Harvard- guess what, you can have that, too! Which is certainly aren't guaranteed if you decided to attend Cooley (see above).

What about costs and fees? Harvard costs 10k more per year. So that's 30k over three years. That's called an investment. In not getting totally screwed by a nearly worthless degree.

Go to websites like lawschooltransparency, and see what the real numbers are. Treating this as some sort of mystical decision does students a disservice. Like any investment in your future, this is a decision that should be fact-based, not made up because you liked one admission department's dog and pony show better than another's, or because you talked to a grumpy 2L at one place who was editing a cruddy law review article on a non-bagel day and a sunny 3L at another place who was blowing off their "Law & Pottery" class.

And this gets to the heart of my disagreement with Citylaw. It's not that his advice is necessarily bad (yes, location and cost are the two most important factors, and USNWR ranking are, mostly, useless, other than identifying the general groupings of schools). It's that it's so general as to be both useless and misleading.


3
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Need help making a decision
« on: March 24, 2015, 08:47:59 PM »
I completely agree with Citylaw regarding the last point- do not, whatever you do, go to a particular law school thinking you will transfer. There are two reasons for this:
1) You do not know how you will do. Everyone goes in thinking they will be above average, the star of the class. Now, most people go to law school because they're not good math. But you have to be pretty terrible at math to not understand why everyone can't finish in the top 10%.
2) If you do finish at the top of your class, so that you can transfer, you probably did well enough to get on law review and/or moot court. And you're likely giving that up. Maybe a scholarship too. And your network of 1Ls that you bonded with (and will be your friends for the rest of your life). This is no small thing. Transferring is almost always better in theory than it is practice, when it's even a possibility.

TLDR- do not base your decision on the possibility of a transfer to UT.

Do not be concerned with rank, at all. Outside of the T14, rank doesn't matter. None of the schools you have listed matters, other than the location. None of them are national. None of those names will carry you outside of their region.

If you ave your heart set on Texas, if that is where you want to live, where you want to practice, if you would be unhappy anywhere else... then go to UH. Personally, I would take the free ride, but (as an attorney) I am a little more risk averse, and I don't care much for Texas. ;)

4
I am going to write again because I strenuously disagree with what Citylaw is serving up.

"Of course a Harvard degree can open doors, but not everybody wants that many choices."

This is true. If someone states that they want to practice in Maine, and they have a job lined up post-graduation, then, by all means, go to UMaine! The vast majority of people do not have that luxury, and the reason they are asking questions is because they don't know (if they did, they wouldn't be asking).

"If someone wants to be a public defender in Lansing, Michigan then Cooley is a better choice than Harvard."

This is false. There is never a conceivable situation where Cooley is a better choice than Harvard. Even if a person believes they will be PD in Lansing. Cooley is, quite literally, the worst, and have been notorious for their terrible policies vis-a-vis students. Simply put, if Cooley is your best option, seriously reconsider going to law school.

"For all you know I could be a tweaker in a public library or the Dean of Harvard Law School."

This is true. I could have been running the "long con" by posting here starting in 2006. That would be a lot of effort! But to recap- I went to law school (so I'm familiar with that). Graduated and worked BigLaw after summering as a 2L. Now that I've done my time and made my money, I'm working the job that I've always wanted. But no, I'm not the Dean of Harvard Law School. I have been in practice for some time, and hired attorneys, and I am active with my school's alum and administration.

"In my experience the name of a law school does not matter that much."

This is 100%, verifiably false. Sure, after you've been in practice for a while and built up a book of business, you do what you want. But do you want to work BigLaw? Do you want a federal clerkship? Maybe dream of the academic track? Do you want a very powerful alum group? Yes, there are limited cases where the best option might not be a T14 school (you want to enter state politics, so the state law school could be a very good choice), but the name matters for the very top law schools. What people don't understand is that it doesn't matter after that. So, again, there are really only three groups of law schools. The T14 (or so). The next T50-100 (which are, at best, regional). And the rest (which are extremely local, sometimes even to the city).

"However, no matter school you attend the debt will be real and my two cents is try and avoid it, but there are plenty of reasonable people that will disagree with that advice. "

No. No reasonable person, at this stage, and considering the lessons learned in the last six years, disagree that a student shouldn't avoid debt. The risks are too real, and there are far too many horror stories. Outside of a very few schools that have realistic possibilities of putting large numbers of their students in top jobs, the simple fact is that most law schools do not graduate students into positions that allow them to easily pay off their debts.

"nobody knows what is best for you better than yourself."

I would agree with this, with the caveat that many people have unrealistic expectations. People listen to the advice of, inter alia, Citylaw, and believe that they can go to a school, graduate, pass the bar, and good things will happen (the "any school will give you the tools to be licensed attorney" theory). They don't, for many people. There are far too many un- and under-employed attorneys out there for this to be an accurate representation.

The two biggest shocks I had in my life were my first year of law school, and my first year of practice. My first year of law school taught me that everything I thought I knew about the law before I entered law school was either wrong or inadequate. My first year of practice taught me that law school (even my summer experience and clerking) poorly prepared me for actual practice. Which is a fancy way of saying that getting that first job in the law is so important, and, unfortunately, the *where* you went to law school (and, especially outside of the T14, how you performed, law review, moot court, etc.) can determined your career path. Definitely? No. But sometimes hard truths are better than positive generalities.

5
"There are some valid posts above, but the law school you choose is a highly personal decision and the reality is any ABA school will provide you with a quality legal education and the opportunity to obtain a license to practice law."

To the extent this statement is true, this is misleading. While your post is largely correct, it is also largely the type of drivel you see from most admissions offices. The vast majority of people are going to law school to practice law, which means that they are looking to get a job. This is an outcome-oriented business, and people are paying a great deal of money (investing) for their outcome. Sure, a graduate from Tom Cooley is just as able to pass the bar as a graduate from Yale. But the likely expected outcomes are vastly different. And people rarely can get a good feel for a school just by visiting, not to mention that many of the things that people believe to be important at the outset will have little relevance when they graduate (give me a dime for every 0L who said they wanted to be either a "Constitutional Lawyer" or a "M&A Lawyer" and I wouldn't have had to do BigLaw to pay off my student debt). In short, do you really expect 0Ls who already know so little that they pay credence to the difference in 5 ranking spots in US News and World Reports to truly understand what makes law school different, especially when law schools offer a largely undifferentiated product?

This is not the complicated business you make it out to be. While the US News and Worlds Ranking are hardly a good guide, they can at least serve to alert a smart 0L to what schools are national in their ambitions (say, Cornell and up). These are schools that are "worth" full tuition in terms of likely job outcomes. *As soon as you move out of that sphere*, it becomes a much dicier proposition, and cost should be a major concern. Why? Because a 0L could take the money they would spend on law school tuition, and go to business school. Buy a house. Get started in a different career.

I agree that location is extremely important after you get out of the T14 (or so). A person should expect to practice in the region or locality that they go to school. And sometimes, there are special factors (I often cite the UMaine example- I would never go there, unless I was planning on practicing in Maine).

But I disagree about placing location over cost. Graduate with a degree in a location you want to live in, but be saddled with no job prospects and a ton of debt? Awesome! And that has happened to far too many people. We already have too many attorneys, too few jobs, and too many law schools (which the market has started to correct)- the wise person, at this point, needs to view this in terms of cost-benefit. Sure, don't go to a school with a free ride if you'd never want to practice in that area. But if that's your best option, perhaps revisiting the entire law school idea is preferable to paying full freight?

6
Law School Applications / Re: a bit of variance; seeking guidance
« on: March 24, 2015, 10:49:10 AM »
Like you, I was a crazy splitter (high LSAT, low uGPA). I did very well. With your LSAT, you should be applying to T14 schools.

You should also look at lawschoolnumbers.com That website has some profiles of applicants with their uGPAs and LSAT scores. I remember that in the past, it was helpful. Good luck.

7
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Need help making a decision
« on: March 24, 2015, 10:34:20 AM »
What Miami88 said was exactly correct. However, I might add a little twist. Most people (such as yourself) do not provide enough information to allow others to give truly informed advice, and, by the same token, appear to rely too much on rankings.

So, with that said, *if I was in your shoes*, and I couldn't get money from the Texas schools, then I would go to Dickinson (assuming it's not a severely limited scholarship- check the terms). Why? Because you haven't stated the following, "I am going to practice in Texas." If, like many people, you just aren't sure yet about your life, your future, what may happen... then *don't take on a ton of law school debt, and go for the free ride.* None of these schools guarantees the type of job that will repay the debt you will be incurring. Period.

Dickinson will make it extremely hard to practice in Texas. Their OCI office *will not help you*. You will have to do it all yourself. Your degree will not travel. You will have to a) do well, and b) make your own connections (use the connection you already have in Texas, contact the very few Dickinson grads that are practicing in Texas, and work your butt off to try and find a position).... and even then, you might get stuck in the mid-Atlantic/Philly or Pitt area to start off with. But there are worse things in life, like crippling debt and no job in Texas.

Now is the time for a little self-reflection, and some accounting. Do you live with parents/others close to one of the schools in Texas (in other words, save on living costs). What is your total cost of attendance and living at UH/Baylor v. Dickinson? Why do you want to practice in Texas eventually (is it just familiarity with living in Texas or is it because you already have connections)? These are questions only you can answer.

But, yeah, if your only goal in life is to practice in Texas, go to a Texas school.


8
" that they cannot fathom that law firms in LA won't give a crap that you attended the #52 school vs the #67 school"

This. A thousand times over. I cannot emphasize this enough. You think the difference between a, say, "Emory" (#19!) and a UC Hastings (#59) is huge? Let me explain this- if you want to practice in Atlanta, or the South, go to Emory. If you want to practice in Los Angeles, or Seattle, people will have no idea what an "Emory" is. Even that giant disparity doesn't matter as much as location.

Going back to the original post, the only reason that I wasn't quite as full-throated in my support of UPenn as Maintain and Miami (both post, btw, that I absolutely agree with) is for the following reasons:
1. I don't know enough of your background. You have listed a number of Philly-area schools; do you live in the area? Can you minimize living expenses, etc? Do you plan on practicing there? Are your connections there? If so, then the full-ride schools might be a decent option.
2. I think that UPenn should be a slamdunk decision. But it is still a risk-reward scenario. I have had friends who can't hack BigLaw. Who burn out after one or two years (which can be a lot of due diligence / doc review type tasks, depending on your litigation/transactional slant). It's said that the law is a lot like a pie eating contest, where the prize is that you get to eat more pie. Go to UPenn, and you will have a career, but you'll need to plan around that debt (with the benefit being that UPenn is one of the very few schools that graduates people to jobs that can take care of the debt). OTOH, go to another school *and you may never have that BigLaw job or clerkship you dream of*. But if you find out that what you really wanted was to be a public defender, or some other job that doesn't provide great remuneration, then you have a very manageable debt load. Of course, there's the possibility you can't find a job if you don't do well (something that is exceedingly unlikely if you go to UPenn).

But if I were in your shoes, I would go to UPenn.

9
Marlowe,

There's the old saying- this, too, shall pass. This is not mean to belittle your pain (which is personal, and sounds serious), but rather to try and help you get some perspective.

First, apply to be a visiting student. I had a friend that did that at my old school, and it worked for them. Your fear is that they say no- well, what's the worse that could happen? They might say no, in which case you are *no worse off than you are now.* But you should try.

Second, don't do something rash like marry someone in a different state (wtf?). That is, literally, a nonsensical answer to your solutions that will have long-term ramification that you probably aren't thinking through.

Third, seriously consider taking some time off (a semester?) and seeking some help. Again, this does not belittle your situation, your judgment, or your experiences. But people can experience depression that is innate, and you might want to consider that it is not just your environment that is affecting you.

Good luck!

10
So maybe this will help. Look at a BigLaw firm like Reed Smith (they are big in the Philly market). Do a search for different law schools. You'll find the following:
4 Villanova associates (all Philly).
4 Drexel associates (3 Philly, 1 DC).
6 Dickinson associates, 11 partners (Philly, Pittsburgh)
43 U Penn Law grads, from Silicon Valley to London.

Now, do the same search for a well-known big law firm not prevalent in the Philly market (say, Quinn Emanuel).
Many U Penn grads (from NY to LA)
No Villanova.
No Drexel.
One Dickinson grad who built up his practice, and then lateraled in as a partner.

This is what I'm trying to get at. It's about risk-reward. UPenn will give you options, but it will cost you. The other schools are a free lottery ticket- and I would seriously consider them. But that's a choice you have to make. But what it comes down to is this; if you're willing to take the risk, I'd go to UPenn; if not, go to the best school in the location you want to practice in that is giving you a free ride.

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