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Messages - loki13

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41
"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.

42
Phantom-

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.
See http://law.scu.edu/bulletin/academic-policies/

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.

43
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.

44
Phantom,

I would like to key on this-

" BigLaw doesn't interest me "

No worries. Then whatever you do, minimize the cost of law school. If you're not working BigLaw, then you're not going to be making a great salary out of law school (depending on market, we're talking 30k-80k, public on the low end, private mid-size on the high end). High debt will absolutely kill you. That said, this is a career you're building, you're young (I assume), and you'll be fine if you have realistic expectations. But minimize those costs.

" I want to prosecute the abusive doctor, as well as the abusive patient for that matter. I want to protect people from shady insurance practices, as well as making sure that people have adequate coverage."

From what you're describing, it sounds very much like you have an interest in being a Plaintiff's Attorney! That's litigation, btw. Something you might want to think about when you get to law school.


 "It's just figuring out where the hell to go to make that happen is driving me insane"

One step at a time. Just figure out what school you're going to. Once that decision is made, you'll find that other things will tend to fall into place.

45
Phantom,

That's an interesting bit. That said, you might want to get back to that friend. For example, very few BigLaw firms that I am familiar with have their associates immediately practice in a single group (maybe litigation/transaction). Your first year is often spend floating with various partners.

Second, I went back at looked at my two BigLaw firms that I worked at; neither Health Care practice had an SLU grad. That doesn't mean they don't necessarily find a place, but almost all of them were T14. Ask your friend if his firms recruits for that practice at SLU; his answer might be illuminating one way or the other.

One thing I want to emphasize, and I think he covered in his third paragraph, is that while health care law is specialized, it's just... law. My first year, I did a lot of IP law. I never took IP law of any kind. You just pick up what you need to know. I also did a fair amount of litigation involving securities. Again- I had to pick it up.

Look, I don't want to rain on his parade; many schools are fantastic in certain subjects, but that, and five bucks, get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You want to work in BigLaw? Then at any of these schools, you're looking at the very top of your class, law review, etc.

If your passion is health care law, then, by all means, follow it to SLU. The professors there may have connections. You may be able to hook on with a mid-size or boutique firm in that area. Follow your passion. You should be aware that the actuality of law is often very different than what people believe going in. Health law is NOT about a passion for medicine and a desire to help people- it's about making sure that institutions stay compliant with relevant regulations. It's about deciding if a particular release is HIPAA compliant. And so on. Unfortunately, the practice of law can often be orthogonal to helping actual people (unless by actual people, you mean large institutional clients).

46
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).

47
Phantom,

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.

48
Phantom,

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.

49
Phantom,

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.

50
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.

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