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Messages - loki13

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I was going to concur with Maintain. My only added notes-

"These are, IMO, practically meaningless."
I would omit "practically[.]" Subcategory rankings are completely useless.

"Unless you are prepared to live in St. Louis or Ohio, I would look at CA schools."
He stated this more succinctly than I did. I'll emphasize it.

I would add that, IMO, Hastings > Santa Clara  > USF. But it should come down to costs. If you know you want to practice in Cal, chose from those schools. Ask for more money. Run the numbers. Check out the differences in likely salaries and job outcomes at other websites so you understand the cost/benefits of each. Don't forgot to factor in living expenses (if you can stay rent-free, for example).


I cannot make this decision for you. And it's a tough decision! It was easier for me, because I grew up all over the place, and traveled overseas. So I didn't mind moving around. I'm not in your boat.

Only you can answer the question of whether or not you could be happy living outside of California (or the Bay Area, for that matter- I lived in SoCal). What might be helpful is to really understand the costs- look at the cost of living (getting an apartment, food, etc.), and budget that out. Then add in the cost of the tuition and everything else (minus discounts) and compare over three years. That will give you a better idea of how much you're going to be spending.

But if you can't see yourself living and practicing in the Midwest (St. Louis or Chicago)... then I wouldn't recommend SLU. While not impossible, it will be very hard to get back to California, and your degree won't mean anything there, and there will be close to 0 alum connections.

You wrote that you want to pick the "objectively best option[.]" There isn't one. The best choice (oh... I'm sounding a little like CityLaw here) is the school that works for you. That gives you a shot at being an attorney, where you want to practice, with the lowest possible debt load. This really comes down to location and cost. Personally, I think most people don't consider cost enough, because law school is a somewhat risky proposition. But if you can't see yourself outside of Cal, don't go to SLU.


Thank you for the clarification! Given your background, some intersection with the law and a medicine might be useful. As an aside, some schools allow you to take a very limited number of courses at affiliated (non-law) universities and transfer them in; if you aren't familiar with all the terminology, taking some 2 CR course in medical terminology, if you're going into this field, will be helpful.

It's good that you've shadowed some attorneys; it sounds like you'd like to practice in transactional work instead of litigation. I'm a litigator, so that's not really my bag. But I work with transactional lawyers, and, um, they do stuff. ;)

Here's what it comes down to- UC Hastings, despite being in-state tution for you, costs more than SLU straight up (without taking into account scholarships). Ouch. Then, there's living expenses; would you be living with your family in San Francisco, because if not, your living expense will be higher than SLU (and not covered either). SLU's job stats are also better (but Hastings is good).

So.... SLU, IMO, is a slamdunk. That said- of the people who graduate with jobs from SLU (84%), 60% work in Missouri. 11% in Illinois. And a little more than 3% work in D.C. Get the picture?

Once you move out of the T14, schools are regional. Assume you will be practicing in St. Louis- or maybe Chicago. That doesn't have to be the case; I went to a regional school, and ended up on the opposite coast in California because I wanted it and did really well. But my story is, by far, an outlier. The vast, vast, majority of grads from my school work in-state, or in the neighboring state. Period. Remember that.

But student debt is like herpes- it will follow you for life. My advice is always, always, always minimize that student debt if you're going outside of the T14.


First of all, congratulations! Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can only make it at a T14 law school. While I agree that the T14 law schools give a person the best chance to get that BigLaw job, and are the schools that might be worth going to if you're paying full freight, there are some great schools outside of the T14 that might make better choices from a cost/benefit analysis if you know your options.

Now, your first comment is nearly nonsensical when you write about choosing between healthcare law and IP law. Do you have a STEM degree? Any idea about the patent bar? Many people talk about IP law, but the fact is that this is an incredibly hard field to break into; I did some "soft" IP work early in my career (copyright, trademark), but... well, unless there's something in your background you're not telling us, I'm not sure why IP law is even an option. Also- healthcare law? Um... no offense, but... what does that even mean? That's kind of a joke, but- I know medmal attorneys (on both sides). I know attorneys that do admin law (specifically, FDA). I know attorneys that specialize in compliance with government regulations as they relate to health care (medicare issues, PPACA, HIPAA, non-competes, etc.). But that's a pretty nebulous thing to practice (cf. "elder law"). You might want to think carefully about that.

So... what is *my* advice? It's simple- if I were you (and I'm not), and given the limited amount of knowledge that you have given me, I would go to the school that is offering the most money in the location I could practice. If you choose St. Louis, then there's a good chance you'll end up practicing there... perhaps for the rest of your life (job mobility for attorneys is less than that of other professions). Something to think about. But it's usually pretty simple- lowest cost, in a place you can see yourself practicing.

Also- don't forget the cost of living. It is likely you will have to take out loans to live on as well. Don't forget to factor that in. Finally, if you haven't already, go to other websites such as lawschooltransparency to see some statistics on jobs, expected salaries, costs of attendance and living, etc. from each of the schools your are looking at.

Again, congratulations! You seem to have a good heard on your shoulders. I think that the one misconception you have (that many have) is that you are likely to practice X law. Very few people I knew ended up practicing the type of law they thought they would as a 0L.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 02, 2015, 08:57:33 AM »
"They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome."

And this is where we get to our fundamental disagreement. Yes, I went to law school because I loved the law. Luckily, it worked out for me. Here's the thing, though- people, generally, go to law school because it's an investment in their future. Because they expect, at the end, that they will have bettered themselves, and that all that time and money will have been worth it. They did not go to law school simply because they "love the game" and hope that they can participate in a moot court at the Y with some friends in the future while flipping burgers. I might even add that the vast majority of people that go into law school have little to no idea what working as an actual attorney is like, and therefore have no conception as to whether they will "love the game," moreover, they won't even know when the finish law school (since law school is not the same as practice... it also works the other way; I had a friend who hated law school, did okay, and loved working as a PD and transitioned to work in private practice / criminal defense).

So that's what we get to- if you view law school as an investment, which you should, the question is whether or not it pays off at the end. Because you're not just paying the tuition. You're not just paying the fees. You're not just paying the living costs. You're not just paying the interest on that student debt. You're also paying the opportunity cost of three years where you could have been doing something else (and sometimes more if you received a JD and then spend a year or two or three trying, and failing, to get a job in the law). Therefore, for you to tell people to have "realistic expectations" without being a bit more explicit about the endgame does them a disservice. We have now had almost a decade of experience with this issue- too many schools, graduating too many attorneys, with not enough work. The statistics are out there. Simply put, unless you're getting a free ride to a school like Whittier (with a scholarship without strings, other than good standing), you shouldn't go. And I would probably look elsewhere even if I received that scholarship. The data is out there. Some schools just aren't very good.

Finally, you are far too encouraging about "other options." I am plugged into my alum group, and try to help grads from my law school (which, while not T14, secures more than 1/3 of it students jobs before graduation and 70% of its students jobs in legal fields). It's still hard out there. I agree that the things you list (foreclosure defense, criminal defense) are the types of things a Whittier grad might do, especially considering that their salary numbers are so low, but you posit that as a fallback option. No. These are some of the best case scenarios. When your school has such terrible bar passage rates, and 1/4 of their grads go into law jobs, those are the jobs they are getting.

And that's the issue. If you attend one of a number of non-T14 schools (such as a state school, or another private school), you have a decent shot at a law job, and if you do really well, you might (just might) get a really good job in the law. If you do really well at Whittier, you might pass the bar. And you will pay through the nose for it. Not warning students about this does them a disservice.

All that said, 0Ls can make their own choices. Whittier accepts students who cannot get in elsewhere. The 50th percentile of their LSAT/GPA is 146 and 2.9.  I'll let you think about that for a while. So, yes, if a person was terrible in undergrad, can't do the LSAT, and still believes they have what it takes to be an attorney, then the choice is theirs. But that choice has proven disastrous for the vast majority of individuals that have taken it.

Acceptances / Re: Whittier Law or Cal Western in SD
« on: April 01, 2015, 09:34:42 AM »
My thoughts, briefly-

1. Review the terms of the scholarships. Some require you to maintain a certain a GPA. Law school GPA is not the same as uGPA (undergrad GPA). Law schools grade on a curve, set by the particular school. I don't know the curves at these schools, but, for example, some schools in the past have been known to set their curves below 3.0, offer scholarships that require maintenance of, say, a 3.2 at all times relevant, and then depend on incoming students 1) believing that it will be easy because of their knowledge of grade inflation and uGPA, and 2) they can induce students to commit to the school on scholarship, yank the scholarship, and the student is then committed to the school at full freight. I'm not saying that's what is happening here, and this is less common than it was in the bubble, but make sure you understand the terms (OTOH, a "good standing" or 2.0 is common and acceptable).
2. Don't go to Whittier. I've written a fair amount about this on other threads, but don't do it. Even if the scholarship is good for the first year, it doesn't cover the full tuition and fees, and it won't touch your living expenses in the OC. In addition, you're committed to Whittier, and Whittier has absolutely cruddy Bar Passage rates and job numbers. Short version- if you go to Whittier, you are very unlikely to be a practicing attorney.

3. CalWestern is.... marginally better. I would not recommend that school, either. You should look at websites like lawschooltransparency to get an idea of actual costs and likelihood of jobs, as well as trends.

4. USD is solid. I wouldn't recommend it at full freight. But it's a good choice. As I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the other two, I would wait to see what other schools accept you.

Re: the markets. I worked in the LA market. One of my fellow associates was from San Diego. One of my classmates worked in the San Diego market (he was from out of state, but worked connections because he passed the patent bar, which seems unlikely for you?). What you wrote is pretty accurate. San Diego is a big small city. LA has a lot of people from outside. San Diego- not so much.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 01, 2015, 09:18:27 AM »

Here's where I disagree with you. Your advice, re: Whittier, is similar to telling random high school basketball players that they will play in the NBA if they just want it bad enough. If anything in the last ten years should have taught us a lesson, it is this- going to law school can be a terrible choice for many people. It needs to be viewed critically. Telling people that just getting into law school is an accomplishment is doing them a disservice, because for too many people, they believe that.

I believe that every single person who goes to Whittier believes, in their heart, that they will finish #1, or at least at the top 5% of the class. Chances are, based on pure math, they won't. The reality is that it is 75% likely that even if you make it through Whittier (which is far from guaranteed due to attrition, loss of scholarship, etc.), you will never get a job as an attorney. And you will still have that debt. That's the reality.

Put another way- if your *best* option is Whittier, it is likely that you will never work as an attorney. Because there will be people that attend Whittier who have what it takes, and who were attracted there for other reasons. Those individuals should seriously consider another option instead of going into massive debt and coming out the other side with no job prospects in the law.

I will say this again- I am not a ratings whore. There are many fine schools outside of the T14. Cost is a major factor, and if you go to those schools with realistic expectations (and, especially, a scholarship that doesn't have major conditions and/or in-state tuition), you can get a job as an attorney with a low debt load. But there are some schools, among them Whittier, that any reasonable person should be exceptionally leery of. There's a reason that Whittier is almost always dead last in CalBar passage rates, despite teaching to the CalBar. There's a reason they had issues with their ABA accreditation. There's a reason that their grads have trouble getting jobs. For you to keep repeating, "Have realistic expectations" without really informing people what's going on is doing them a disservice. You need to be really explicit- if you go to Whittier, it is exceptionally likely that you will not work as an attorney, and you will have a ton of debt that you will struggle for the rest of your life to work off. Because student debt is like herpes- it stays with you forever.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 31, 2015, 06:33:48 PM »
"Whittier has a 42% bar pass rate and you are saying 50% of Whittier Grads 9months out of graduation have jobs. So again my point is if you graduate from an ABA law school and pass the bar odds are you will get a job as an attorney. "

I agree that statistics are useless if you do not use them properly. In the longer term (9 months), approximately 50% of Whittier grads had any type of employment- full time or part time.

The relevant statistic you wanted was the approximately 1/4 of Whittier grads that find employment in jobs that require a JD. The better translation is that 1/4 of all Whittier grads become attorneys of some kind. So, again, you're paying Harvard money to have a less than 50% chance of passing the bar, and a 25% chance of becoming an attorney. This is before getting into other factors (wasted years, the fact that having a JD can make people undesirable for non-attorney jobs). And the jobs you get out of Whittier, largely, do not let you pay back the student loans you took out EVEN IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW THAT GET A JOB AS AN ATTORNEY.

This isn't about half-assing it. Or finishing in the bottom of your class. You have to finish at the top of your class, at Whittier, to be considered for a public defender's position. I'm not a snob- I will defend the Ole Misses and UMaines of the word against rankings zealots. But schools like Whittier are the problem- not the solution.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 31, 2015, 05:49:36 PM »

Statistics are a great guide, and they are much better than anecdotes or glossies from an admissions office. Heck, they are better than any testimonials, so long as you understand how to use them. But quickly-

The jobs on graduation statistics refers to graduates who have a job when they graduate. It was extremely common (now, less so) for a firm or other organization to hire law graduates, and pay them while they were preparing to take the bar. That's what happened with me, and with many other grads. You get acclimated to the firm and the work. There's a lot you can do before you have to start signing your own pleadings. So I'm not sure what your point is- many attorneys, including me, were employed in their jobs the second they graduated, and worked at their firms while they 1) took the bar, and 2) waited for the results. It's a lot better (and more lucrative) than sitting on your butt.

As for passing the bar? FWIW, Whittier had the lowest passage rate of any California school, for the California bar. So the one thing they should do, they can't. 42%, baby!

I will repeat this- there's a difference between realistic expectations, and stupid ones. Realistic is saying, "I would like to be an attorney in Maine. Maybe UMaine law school, despite the rankings, is a good bet if I can establish in-state tuition!" Stupid expectations are, "Going to Whittier is likely to be a positive experience, as opposed to an exercise in three years of drudgery, followed by a mountain of student debt and no career in the law."

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 31, 2015, 04:37:45 PM »
Heck, let's do the comparison of Whittier v. Ole Miss.

Ole Miss (assuming in state tuition)-
Tuition and fees: $14.6k a year
Cost of living: $19.1k a year
28.5% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
More than 63% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
More than 80% of grads were employed in full-time jobs.

Tuition and fees: $42.4k
Cost of living: $28.8k
3.8% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
26.7% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
42.9% of grads were employed in full time jobs (some had part time- nearly 1/2 of grads were unemployed in the long run).

So, comparing the two, and without taking into account inflation:
Ole Miss will cost you ~$101,100 to graduate all told. That's new debt. In exchange, you'll probably work in Mississippi (bad), but you stand a very good shot of being employed in the legal field, and a pretty decent shot at having a good job by graduation. Heck, even though it's Mississippi, you can make pretty good money.

Whittier will cost $213,600 to graduate all told. In exchange, you have a darn good shot at being unemployed. And if you get a job (which may be hard) you'll be making less money, with more debt, than a grad from Ole Miss. Admittedly, the Mississippi factor is huge.

But this illustration is why state schools can be such a bargain if you know you want to practice in that state. By the way- many of the politicians, judges, and other power players in Mississippi will have Ole Miss connections. You can repeat this exercise with many states. This is an example of why ranking aren't everything. Sure, if I wanted to practice BigLaw in NYC, I wouldn't want to to law school at Ole Miss... that would be a difficult jump (although easier than Whittier). But if I knew I would be happy practicing in Mississippi, that would be an attractive option.

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