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Messages - loki13

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I'm in agreement with you. I think, though, that we *both* emphasize the conditions on scholarships. A lot of these "free rides" may not be so free after all. Yes, they work for some people, but I've also known far too many people who have gotten suckered into them, finished just below the cutoff, and had to decide what to do (after already spending a year and taking out loans for their living expenses).

But I agree with you in one key aspect; absent special circumstances (for example, parents paying the tuition or going to one of the state schools were the full freight is actually *really* discounted for in-state, and you're getting in-state), I would never, ever recommend going full freight once you move past the t14 considering current tuition costs. Assuming reasonable scholarship conditions, full tuition scholarships at even a GG, SW > nothing at other schools, provided the 0L understands what they will need to do to succeed and their likely options at graduation.

(To give you an idea, GGU's stats are comparable, but technically worse, than Cooley's. These are schools where, if you're taking any amount of debt... plus the time (three years of your life)... then you're really taking a chance. Yes, I know they give opportunities to people who both didn't do well in undergrad AND didn't do well on the LSAT, but the sad fact is that most people who have major issues on both those counts are not going to be great in law school or as a practicing attorney. There are exceptions, of course, but... if those are the schools you are thinking of attending, it might pay to make absolutely sure you know what you're getting into.)

"$50k debt from someplace like GGU, or $200k debt from someplace like SCU?"

Neither? If you're talking 50k in tuition debt alone (not to mention Cost of living, eating, etc).

In the current environment, the employment stats of a GGU are pretty bad. But I also couldn't recommend ever going into 200k debt to go to SCU. So....

I guess if a person has their heart set on being an attorney, was aware of the possibilities, thought about their options (not just the debt, but the three years of their life), took it super seriously (in other words, treated it like a job, worked their behind off to network and take advantage of everything the school offered etc.), understood the opportunity cost (you could spend the three years doing something else, or getting a different degree, without the debt), then, sure. Why not? You might not get a BigLaw job straight out of GG, but if you do well, you can get a JD and start your career path. If those were the two options (as opposed to waiting & retaking the LSAT, maybe considering other options) then I would go with GGU. But you'd have to really want to be an attorney.

To give you a quick idea on how to compare outcomes with employment scores of schools mentioned:
GG: 22.4%(incl. school funded)
USF: 34% (incl. school funded)
McGeorge: 36.2% (incl. school-funded)
Hastings: 41.6% (incl. school-funded)
SCU: 42.4%
SLU: 50.5%
Case Western: 58.6%
Stanford: 87.6% (incl. school-funded)

As you can see, schools tend to separate into bands (IMO). I'd be extremely wary of schools in the 20-30% range. For me, that's a no go, no matter what. I would probably be very wary of the schools in the 30-40 band. One interesting thing to note, for you, is that SCU has a better outcome profile (barely) than Hastings, with the exception of federal clerkships.

But I will again, reiterate, that it is how you do at the school. If you're going to be a superstar at law school, it is likely you will be a superstar at any law school. To me, the concern is for the people that believe in themselves, but don't realize that they won't finish in the top 5% of their class. If you're not going to do really well, in the current legal environment, taking on *any debt* to go to a school like GG, USF, or McGeorge is exceptionally risky.

"Also the employment statistics for SCU seem to be far different on their site (ABA approved?) than the source you used (LST?)"

The stats are the same (NALP-reported); LST just does a more thorough job with them. What many people learned, to their horror, in the last ten years, is that law schools were artificially goosing the numbers to look good to prospective students and to US News. Common examples include, but are not limited to:
1. Reporting students hired part-time by the school itself as hired in JD positions (this was somewhat common, and some schools would do this for 5-15% of the class..... SCU employed 4.3% of its graduating class in 2013);
2. Reporting students working intermittently (even students who worked one research job in nine months and then gave up) as hired in JD positions;
3. Reporting students hired in non-JD positions as part of their employment;
4. Reporting students who were unemployed as sole practitioners;
5. Counting yanked offers as employed;
6. Not trying very hard to get salary information- since this is self-reported, only the successful students would self-report, and you'd get curves that would show a decent likelihood of that $160k job (sure, if you realize that 20% of the students reported their salary, and those were the successful ones);
7. and so on. Heck, sometimes they just, um, fudged the self-reported numbers.

In essence, this allowed all the schools from Yale/Harvard down to Cooley/Whittier to appear to have roughly the same employment profiles- not the same, but in the ballpark. This appearance, which was never true, completely unraveled to the public in 2008. So places like LST try to parse these numbers a little better. I find that, with a few exceptions, the employment score listed there is a good, ballpark figure for the actual employment figures. However, you can also look at the full numbers on that website. But, to put it more bluntly, SLU, on average, has better outcomes than does SCU.

Turning to CityLaw's post, I both agree and disagree with him (as I have, often). On the one hand, I continue to think that his thinking betrays far too much pre-2008 thinking. Let's take Golden Gate, for example. You mentioned you wanted to be a federal judge. Now, that's pretty unlikely. But not a single GG U graduate received a federal clerkship in the 2013 class. Not one. Over 40% of their graduates were long-term unemployed. That's nearly unconscionable. Their average admittance for LSAT was below 150. They have an 8% school-funded rate, and even that doesn't help their job numbers that much. Now, does that mean you can' succeed out of GG? No. Some do. But the odds are very much stacked against you. I wouldn't go there unless they gave me a free ride, and I lived in the area. And I'd still hope to have better options. But that's me.

But he is right that if you want to practice in California generally, and the Bay Area specifically, you shouldn't go to SLU. You should go to a Cali or Bay Area school. Period. 100%. I am with Maintain in this- I've seen far too many people screwed, and (personally) I am flexible in locations, so I think debt is a bigger issue than location, but I know for some people it's like the real estate mantra (location, location, location). In which case, minimize your costs as much as possible and be realistic. Good luck.

Okay. Assume this is an investment. Let's use the numbers from the most recent grads on file (2013), and ignore the four year option and scholarships (numbers from lawschooltransparency)-

42.2% employment score (this is the number of people who successfully start a career in the law by working at a job that requires a JD, but does exclude contract jobs, school-funded jobs, and solo practitioners (which are very few in number nowadays).
22.7% are unemployed (defined as unemployed in any job, even after bar results).
Tuition is $47,040 per year, increasing at an average of approximately 4.56% a year over the last five years.

50.5% employment score.
15.9% are unemployed.
Tuition is $38,435 per year, increasing at 2.2% over the last five years.

So, assuming you are completely average, and ignoring inflation and debt servicing, then one way you could calculate an expected return is as follows:
SCU: 47040*3 =  141120 / .422 = 334407.58
SLU: 38435*3 = 115305 /  .505 = 228326.73

(This would be the cost of tuition per annum, times the number of years. Then divide it by the expected likelihood of finding a job. This gives you a raw score; lower is better.... in other words, a schools with a total cost of 100k and a 50% chance of ending up with a job has a true cost, or score, of $200k by this method).

Now, you can tweak the numbers by adding in cost of living. By putting in scholarships. If you feel adventurous, you can add in expected tuition increases, and also add in the added cost of the debt load based on current stafford, etc. rates. But this should give you a decent place to start to compare. It's cost + job opportunities. Also, before anyone says that yada yada the job score penalizes SCU unfairly, note that it also tracks the unemployment rates of the schools, and, in addition, SCU has non-reporters (not a good sign, so I'd add that 2.2% to the unemployment).

"So yes, I agree with you; I just figured SLU has more options and ways for one to "control the flow" of healthcare law from that "fire hydrant", as my friend mentioned previously."

I don't want to disagree with your friend too strenuously, but 95% of what they teach you in law school in interchangeable. You learn the basics- how to read cases. The lingo. How to "think like a lawyer." A lot of the "specialized" stuff doesn't matter. Yes, it is really helpful, if you are going to be a prosecutor or PD, to take criminal procedure. But here's the thing- almost every thing is going to be different in practice than in theory. Does taking "employment law" or "labor law" help make the first few days of boning up on a Title VII case easier- sure. But what really makes it easier are- doing well in law school (so you know the basics) and working with people who know what they're doing. And you pick up the rest.

To be honest, I don't think you have a great idea of what health law *is*. Does advising institutions on how to comply with HIPAA sound like fun? Maybe. What about compliance with the Stark Law (you can wikipedia that for a quick primer). A lot of it is, well, very specialized admin. law. Unless you want to help people (in which case it's more of a plaintiff's attorney practice) or go after insurance companies (which is more PA/insurance practice). Again, though, it might be just up your alley. IOW, I would think of it as a (very) minor plus, not as a reason for going. If it works out- great! But if you find out that what you really want to do is real estate transactions, or trusts and estates, that might happen too.

The costs (and scholarship conditions) on the other hand, is a very real issue.

"But at some point, figuring heavy cost and what school I believe will make me a better kind of lawyer I want to be comes into the equation."

On this, I hate to say it, but it is the student that makes the school, not the other way around. Look- I went to RandomStateU. But I treated school like a job. I did all of my assigned reading before the lectures so I could follow along. I made sure I paid attention to what the professors said (some professors want you to know the black letter, others to argue against it; some professors assume you will use supplements, others hate it and will have questions designed to weed out students who rely on supplements instead of course materials, and so on). I made sure I was involved (I was the President of a noted student group, which allowed me to network, I did pro bono and community service, which allowed me to gain experience, I clerked my first summer, I got on law review (and got involved in that... not just one of those people who showed up for bagels)... make sure you try out for LR, moot court, trial team, or other journals. I got to know my professors during office hours, and I'm still friends with many of them. I read law blogs and Supreme Court cases for fun. I worked as a research assistant to a professor. And so on.

By the time I worked for a BigLaw(tm) firm, I was the equal of any Harvard grad that I worked with. The school you go to does not make you. You make the most of your experience. No matter what school you choose.


FYI, my reading of the policy at SCU is that their curve policy is that ~50% of their students will fall beneath the curve you list. Maybe more, maybe less (it depends on how they do it per class), but that's a good guideline.

Be careful. Let me repeat- ~50% of the class in a given first year subject will be getting below a B-.

"Otherwise, can you guys honestly recommend Santa Clara over SLU?"

No. But location isn't as important to me as cost. While I think you should pursue your dream, I also think you should focus (as has been mentioned) on the real possibility that you will change your mind or focus, or just not be able to practice in the niche you desire. Would you be as happy being a prosecutor in Missouri or Illinois as you would be staying in California? Writing out wills? Or whatever you end up practicing in? I think of it as an adventure- but location matters. Do not go to SLU thinking you will be going back to Cal soon... or, necessarily, at all. You might, and you can set that as a goal, but as CityLaw, Maintain, and I have explained- unless you finish at the very top of your class (which can happen, but is unlikely), AND you reach out and make the connections yourself (which you have a shot at doing since you can say you are from there), you will not be returning to Cal. It's good to have that goal and work toward it (just like Health Law), but make sure you understand the reality.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 03, 2015, 11:09:50 AM »
I'm rather enjoying this thread.

Anyway, what I think you discount is that if people view it as an investment, then they need to appropriately balance the risks. For you to keep saying,  " If you obtain a license to practice law what you do with it well have far more to do with you than the name of the school on your diploma," is incredibly dangerous to people. There's a middle ground between your (IMO, truly bad) advice and the also (IMO, truly bad) advice offered on elitist forums where it's all "If you don't score a 175 on the LSAT and go to HYS, you're TTTrash."

You're sort of like the uncle who says, "Look, love is what it is. Sure, some people say you should build a relationship with a girl, and consider whether or not this has a future. On the other hand, some people meet a hooker in Vegas, and it works out just fine. So, you know, follow your heart!" But the thing is- you are more likely to have a stable, long term marriage with a girl you've known for a while than with a hooker you marry after a day in Vegas. Just the way it is. It's not impossible, mind you, but it's the odds.

Same here. Yes, there are people that succeed at every level of law school. There are even grads that have done well out of Cooley. But here's the thing- the number of grads who have done well out of Cooley is far, far, far exceeded by the number of people that went there, went into massive debt, and either a) never graduated; b) graduated but didn't pass the bar; or  c) passed the bar, but were unable to get a job in the law. Telling people to just follow their heart to certain schools is a lot like telling them to follow their heart and marry that Vegas hooker. It is *possible* that it will work out, but it is more than likely that they will be one of the statistics.

Because, in the long run, full freight law school beyond the t14 *is not a good investment* for  many people. Beyond getting to issues of the lifestyle of attorneys, the risk/reward ration is way, way, way out of whack. The knowledge level of people going in (as to what to expect) is not sufficient to know what they're getting into. Again, there are great schools that provide wonderful opportunities outside of the t14, provided the student has managed their risk/reward ratio correctly, but most people haven't. They are paying t14 prices and don't understand what the legal market really looks like. It's that simple.

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