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Messages - loki13

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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.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 31, 2015, 04:11:00 PM »
"Just a huge John Grisham fan and he is doing quite well for himself coming out of Mississippi Law School a non-top 100 school."

Also wanted to note this- no, Ole Miss is not Harvard. But the undergrad is pretty good (for the South). And it is a Top 100 law school (albeit barely). It's also the top law school in Mississippi, it's the top state school in Mississippi (sorry, state), and it's an incredible value if you're paying in-state tuition.

If you're going to practice in Mississippi, it is definitely the school to go to. Period. In fact, it's one of the reasons that ranking (outside of the T14) are of limited value. The top state school for a state, in many areas, is often one of the best schools to choose if you're going to practice in that state, and is a bona-fide requirement if you're going into politics or, heck, just need the networking.

So, Ole Miss and Whittier are not really comparable.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 31, 2015, 11:15:38 AM »
"Where I would disagree with Loki is on the idea of Whittier (or any other school) being a legal scam."

Technically, what I wrote was, "They are really close to what one might call a legal scam." I wrote that, and I stand by it. they prey on low-information young adults, saddling the vast majority of them with debt they will never have a chance of paying off. Is it possible to get a degree from Whittier and a career in the law? Sure. But the odds are stacked against you. Way against you. Less than 4% of Whittier grads have a job when graudating, and longer term, almost 50% of Whittier grads are unemployed. Let that sink in- because of the 50% (or so) that are employed, 1/2 are employed in jobs that don't require their JD.

And even succeeding at Whittier is unlikely to put you in a job that will repay your debt. Remember- you will need to finish in roughly the top quarter of your class just to get that PD or City Attorney job. You are paying Harvard prices for a "You want fries with that?" outcome.

Yes, I agree that it's not, technically, a scam. AFAIK, the lawsuits against these types of schools failed (as I agree they should have- there's a sucker born every minute, and people are free to make bad choices). Numbers, such as the ones I just cited, are available if you look and don't depend on the glossies from the admissions office.

But, again, I would recommend lighting that money on fire first. At least you'd have the pleasure of watching it burn, and you'd have three years to do something else.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 30, 2015, 06:01:49 PM »
CITYLAW!!!!!! (In the voice of KHAN!!!!!)

We continue our debate, I see. ;)

Whittier is not a good school. It is, in fact, a pretty bad one. I'll be more explicit- it's one of the worst. Whittier has one of the highest average debt loads of any law school for its graduates. Conversely, Whittier has one of the worst job placements of any law school, period.

So, to put it more simply- Whittier makes students take on a lot of money, and the vast majority of them graduate with no ability to puruse a career in the law. They are really close to what one might call a legal scam. Now, that said, you will get your JD. Maybe you hang up a shingle.

But I would rather tell people to burn their money than attend Whittier. Because not only will you have wasted that money, you will have wasted three years of your life. Or, instead of burning that money, use it to buy a house. Get started in life.

Or attend any other law school. Whittier is right there with the Cooleys of the world. Don't do it.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 30, 2015, 12:32:18 PM »
A few thoughts-

I disagree with Citylaw re: taking time off. I think it depends on the person. I saw far too many people who just went straight UG - Law School. And I think it hurt them. Because UG is not law school. Sometimes, it helps to take a little time off, work a job, get some perspective. Truly know what you want. Law school is a big commitment. In my experience (YMMV), the people who took off a year or two and worked, and who then decided that they *really wanted it* and treated law school like a job did better. I saw far too many flame out during law school because they were treating like an extension of UG.

Now, your options. To me, it's pretty simple. Where do you want to live? Do you want to live in Chicago, or California? Because none of these schools will carry you outside of the region. Make that choice first, unless you are flexible. IMO, you nailed it- SW if you want LA, Kent if you want Chicago. But you need more money from those schools.

Next, some brutal honesty. These schools are ... not good. Whittier is truly bad. I would not go there unless they offered a full ride, no strings attached, three years. Period.

The other schools- well, Kent is okay. I don't know- this is a lot of debt to consider. It's good that you have family that will help you with living expenses! Just remember that none of these schools is a likely thing to place you in a job that will repay your student loans very easily. You will need to do extremely well.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


I took the CalBar in Ontario as well. When I learned I was taking it there, I was pretty pissed (as in, wtf, Ontario?) but I completely second your comments.

I also stayed on-site. Which is something I have recommended to every person taking the Bar, in every state. Always, always, always get a hotel room. The price you pay (IMO) is completely made up for in peace of mind.

That said, I disagree with one thing you wrote about LA. No one lives in Long Beach. ;)

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