Law School Discussion

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Messages - loki13

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31
" I have kept my 1L property book, which is covered in pointless highlighter marks to remind to keep it simple,"

Heh. I never marked by books at all, since I took all my notes by writing (in actual handwriting!). Took 3 times as long, but it was worth it for me, and had amazing re-sale value!

But I will never forget one of my friends' tort books. The entire thing was highlighted. I asked her if the parts she didn't highlight were the important passages.

She didn't think that was funny.

32
Boris,

A few quick notes-

1. Procrastination is the killer in law school. Here's why LSAT + uGPA (before grade inflation) were such a good predictor for success. The LSAT was decent at seeing if you had the aptitude for law school; in short, could you read, analyze, and do the logic (whether abstract, like applying rules to facts in torts, or more concrete, like 1L property). uGPA was a good proxy for follow through and work ethic. You do not have graded home work or quizzes. You will have final exam (most likely) that is 100% of your grade. You may have absolutely no feedback until the next semester, grade wise, how you are doing. You absolutely must stay current with everything- all the reading assignment, all the classes, all the time. Form a study group (if possible) with other students so you're talking about the classes. And so on. Find out what works best for you- I learn by writing, so I took extensive notes for each reading assignment (that's how I learn best). The only person who will keep you on task is you, and many people try and catch up at the end- it's too late. If you go to a lecture, and you haven't done the reading, and you're on facebook because you don't understand... then you're in trouble.

2. You will have to work twice as hard in the subjects you don't care about. Some subjects (whatever they might be) will be taught well, will make sense, and you'll love. You'll want to learn more. Some subjects will have a crappy professor, will be dry as hell, will be at 8am, and those are the ones you have to watch out for.

I only pass this along because I always get concerned when I hear people say that they never have trouble working when it's something they like. Well, of course. But that's why it's called work, and not happy fun time. :)

33
Boris,

Congratulations, and it's good to see that SCU extended more money. I hope that the prior information I provided was helpful. It's a fine school, especially if you are going to practice in the area.

As I noted before, and you have seen, please be careful regarding the scholarship conditions. Try this on for size- how does your LSAT/GPA compare with the entering class at SCU? Based on trends, expect a 158 and a 3.5 to be the 50th percentile. IME, if you are overperforming those numbers, and have a good work ethic, you have a better shot at finishing in the top half of your class. While not dispositive, it has also been my experience that LSAT scores are very predictive for grokking law school, moreso than uGPA (provided you have a work ethic). Hope this helps!

34
Maintain,

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.

35
(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.)

36
"$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.

37
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.

38
"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.

39
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)-

SCU-
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.

SLU-
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).





40
"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.

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