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Messages - loki13

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" 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.


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!

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.

I know this advice will seem simplistic, but it is true. I remember, a long time ago, when I was told these same things and I didn't believe them. I didn't want to believe them because I wanted to have more control over the process, and because the decision mattered so much to me. And to my life! But choosing a law school is a pretty simple business.

First, consider cost carefully. I would *not* pay full freight at any school outside of the T14, with the exception of some in-state schools. Now, some people are in different situations (for example, their parents are paying, and they have a guaranteed job after graduation because they come from a family of attorneys), but that's my opinion. The risk/reward just isn't worth it. Remember- everyone you are competing against, for the most part, did really, really well in undergraduate.

Second, don't believe what law schools are telling you. No law school outside of the T14 or so is "national". Heck, some of the schools in the T14 aren't that national. If you go to a school in the T50, expect to practice in that region. If you go to a school outside of the T50, expect to practice in that locality. Does that mean you will? No. But chances are, you will. Most school in the T100 can pull some examples of students that went to a BigLaw job at another coast, or got a clerkship with X federal judge... but they did that on their own, and because they finished at the very top of their class. This doesn't mean that these schools are bad... the good students at these schools are just as good as the good students at the best schools in the nation. But it's the way it is. So, when looking at schools outside of the T14, consider where you want to practice. Seriously. That doesn't mean that you're forever trapped there. But it does mean that if you dream of practicing in, say, Los Angeles, you probably shouldn't be looking at Dickinson.

Now, moving to your specific questions... it's hard to answer without having some idea of your goals. No one knows exactly what they want to do going into law school (no, you're not going to be a "Constitutional lawyer"). But going to a school like UPenn gives you a much better chance of working at a BigLaw job, or getting a clerkship with a federal judge, or a prestigious (but lower paying) government position than these other schools. Period. The alum network will be better. Is it Harvard, Yale, Stanford or Columbia? No. But it's going to be a powerful signal that will help you for a long time..... on the other hand, you'll be looking at, what, $200k in debt by the end? (Don't forget that you need to live, in addition to tuition). That debt *will* constrain your choices in the future, but it will can certainly be worth it (be aware that BigLaw, for example, is not for everyone.... I did my time, made my money, and I am now working my dream job).

Your questions about "straight As" at Nova, to me, are nonsensical. Never, ever, ever count on straight As. Right now, you have no idea if you'll do well in law school. If you'll make law review. If you'll get on moot court. *Every class your 1L year has a forced curve*. Do you know if you will do as well as your peers in contracts, crim law, con law, property, and torts (all of which are decidedly different)? Are you as good at timed essays as take-homes, open book as closed book, as good at multiple choice (my 1L year I have exams in all those formats)? Instead, assume that you'll do the average, and work to do better. Treat it like a job. Assume that if you go to a school like Villanova, you'll likely be working in that market. Remember- their connections, their alum, their OCI focus is in that area. I worked BigLaw in two markets, neither Philadelphia. I never met a Villanova grad, and I wouldn't know anything specific about that school.

And that's the real issue. There's a trend in your schools. Do you want to work in the Philly market? If so, I would go to a full scholarship school like the ones you have listed. Probably Dickinson. Because once you go out of the T14, you need to think of law schools like real estate- location, location, location. You are not doomed to where you went to school, but it is more likely that you will end up practicing in that area. And remember that lawyers, moreso than almost any other profession, have a lack of portability due to state bar requirements and the differences in state laws. Once you start practicing in one state, it is no easy task to suddenly move to another (yes, some states and groups of states now have reciprocity allowances... but others don't).

TLDR- Penn is an investment if you are sure, otherwise take the free ride. Whatever you do, don't count on finishing with straight As or at the top of your class. You very well might, but remember that the majority of your class mates feel the same way.

So... a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, I used this board. I posted about my fears (and happiness!) when it came to getting into law school.

Then I posted during my first year of law school.

Then I cam back as a 3L and posted a bit about my experiences.

So... it's been a while. A long while. And now that I'm back, I see that LSD (heh) is overrun by spammers hawking shoes, pharmaceuticals, and, well, stuff I probably wouldn't want if I could be bothered to google translate it. Is this just a down period? Or something else?

Anyway, I'll be checking in for a few days. If you have any general questions about the law school experience, feel free to ask. I'm a lawyer who has gone through the whole process (relatively recently), and worked at a BigLaw job until lateraling to my dream position recently. I've worked on the West Coast and in the SE, and have contacts pretty much everywhere except the Midwest (why not there? who knows...). If you have questions, ask away.

I will make this simple-

If you can afford it (loans, etc.) AND you really want to be a lawyer, and know that, and want to make the sacrifices to make that happen, go to UPenn. It is an investment. It's a T14 school. It's national. You are almost guaranteed to find a decent job (if you wish) afterwards. The debt will suck, and will haunt you for a long time. It wouldn't be worth it outside the T14 (at all!) But that degree can be a powerful signal.

Your last comment doesn't make any sense. At this point, how could you be looking into other schools?

Then, there's another issue. Are there any conditions on any of the scholarships? Not all scholarships are equal. Do any have GPA cutoffs (and what are they compared to the curve)? Unless there's some strings, I would take the money. Which means Dickinson (Penn. St.). Congratulations.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: UIUC v. Wisconsin
« on: March 18, 2015, 03:24:36 PM »
Mr. Underhill,

I will make this brief. Your first post is confusing; you state you have full scholarships at both UWisc. and UIll., and then note you have a partial at UWisc. If it's a partial at UWisc., and, as you note, there are no "real" conditions (no minimum GPAs, etc.) for the scholarships, then the solution to your problem is simple- go to UIllinois. Take the scholarship.

People agonize over slight ranking differences. Here's the thing- it doesn't matter. Really. If you're not going to a T14 (these aren't), no one cares. You either go national (T14), you go regional (T50), or, with a few exceptions (for example if you want to practice in Maine, UMaine is... well, it's an option) you should carefully consider the local market.

Both are fine choices for the Chicago market. Since you don't have any preference for living location or campus, take the money. No matter which of those two schools you go to, your viability in the Chicago market will depend on your performance at the school, with UIllinois being given a slight edge because (wait for it) it's the state school for that market. But just slight.

Don't overcomplicate this because of a slight disparity in US News rankings. Take the money. And congratulations.

Been a long time away.... quick facts- UF Law grad, FSU hater (it's in the blood), and practice in S. Fla.

That said, go to FSU. Period. It's not even close. While I am sure that there is a Wake Forest grad somewhere in S. Fla. (I've met grads from every law school), your life will be 100x easier if you choose FSU. If you had to do it over again, you might have wanted to think of UF or UMiami (local connections!). But you gave two choices.

FSU is some distance from South Florida, and it isn't ideal, but it still has vastly superior alum resources. And people in S. Fla. know FSU, and will respond positively instead of saying, "Um, isn't that the basketball place?"

Outside of the T14, nobody cares about a few spots in the rankings.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Why does everyone hate a gunner?
« on: February 19, 2009, 10:21:47 AM »
This is how I read the situation.  If you're at a T14 school, you probably were a gunner in UG.  In UG, there's a ton of knuckleheads and disinterested students.  However, at a T14 or 25, or even at most law schools in general, nearly all of the students have had success by being highly motivated - which often comes out through participation.

Thus, you have a classroom of people who would all like to talk.  However, the majority of students understand that we must keep our thoughts to ourselves.  We all can't talk.  Therefore, if you have a general question that helps to illuminate the text - an occasional question does not make you a gunner.

However, students that feel the need to always participate are very aggrivating.  It's like the entire class understands that comments need to be kept to a very moderate minimum.  When gunners go nuts, that even further limits your ability to talk.  So if the comments of the gunner are particularly unneeded, you'll get pissed off.

In terms of the gunner who does not talk in class yet is highly competitive, I imagine this might be disliked even more.  Collegiality is a public good.  The more everyone contributes to this good, the more it exists.  Most people prefer collegiality.  However, hyper competitive students reduce the overall level of collegiality.  It brings out competitiveness in other students who otherwise would have played nice. 

Everything written above is correct. Let me add the following (in a Jeff Foxworthy fashion):

You just might be a gunner if:
1. Your law school nick name is "helium hands".
2. After your answer, the next student answers a question by saying, "And then, bingo, the court found personal jurisdiction."
3. As you clear your throat to begin answering a question, you can actually hear the sounds of eyes rolling.
4. The professor always scans the room for at least five seconds when you raise your hand, and then sighs before saying your name.
5. You continually marvel that in a lecture class of eighty people, only you are insightful enough to know the answer each time.
6. You begin to seriously wonder how the other students in the class would ever pass the exam without the knowledge elicited by your penetrating questions, and, moreover, how the professor could possibly have taught this course without considering those issues.
7. "[Your name] is a tool" is the most popular facebook group in your 1L class.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: UF 3L - Will Answer Questions
« on: February 04, 2009, 09:55:57 AM »
To tshiph,

First, I will not talk poorly about FSU (other than their football program- do they still have one?). As a general matter, UF Law provides better opportunities than FSU Law, but they are both fine schools.

As for your specific question, I don't know enough about FSU's environmental program to comment specifically. I do know this- since they are located in the state capitol, they have excellent opportunities to network with the small firms that deal with state regulations about the environment. This also affords you the opportunity to deal with the regulated entities (in-house) and the regulators (state government agencies).

UF has an amazing environmental law program. There is an ability to get a certificate (specialization) in environmental law, and we have numerous professors that specialize in environmental law and regulations (too many, if you ask me- but I'm the heartless corporate type *grin*). I have friends that are working in DC for both government agencies and for firms dealing with regulated entities. So I think our environmental program is one of great programs (after our tax program, which is also amazing- think of them as 1&2).

I would contact FSU to get more information about their program. Please remember that many people end up practicing in a different area than they thought they would. I know I am.

Finally- yes, there is a lot of competition for public interest jobs at the *high end*. If it sounds interesting and prestigious, even with low pay, it will have as much (or more) competition as you would find for a private sector job, including BigLaw. Remember- people who go to HYS also dream of working for the ACLU, saving Koala Bears, and protecting the rain forest.

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