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Messages - kol

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Good job getting into Southwestern considering your two LSAT scores, which are well below their 25th percentile. I would jump at the opportunity of attending Southwestern if I were you. Sorry to sound pessimistic, but with your combined scores Southwestern is, by far, your best bet. I was accepted to Loyola w/ no money and Pepperdine w/ very little money and decided on Southwestern with a full scholarship (this may change if I am called from USC or Vanderbilt's waitlist). I don't believe there is a huge drop-off from Pepperdine to Southwestern. Actually, I consider them almost equal (placement & salary statistics are very comparable). Loyola, on the other hand, is significantly better than the two others (check out their OCI, wow!). There are a few reasons, besides the scholarship, that I feel comfortable with my decision to attend Southwestern:

1. New Dean (1st year) - Bryant Garth (BA, Yale & JD, Stanford) has stepped in and made some huge changes immediately. The philosophy of the administration has changed as a result of this. His goal, according the admissions and career services staff is to drop from 12-13% attrition rate to 0% attrition in one year. Sounds impossible, but it is a step forward. He is obviously trying to emulate the strategy of higher ranked schools. In the short time that he was the dean of Indiana-Bloomington School of Law, they jumped from the 60's to the 30's in US News Rankings and have remained there since. There is a brand new assistance program and first year "law basics" style course in order to decrease attrition.

2. Curve - Southwestern's curve has gone up from 2.6 to 3.0 (also as a result of the new dean.) This is huge! My scholarship is based on maintaining a 2.6 (the old curve) which makes my chances of retaining the money much higher. This also makes for much nicer transcripts.

3. Alumni Base - Southwestern has an alumni base as large a Loyola's. Although it is known as the least prestigious law school in Los Angeles, it is held in high esteem by many local firms. There are many Southwestern graduates at elite firms. More than one would expect. I find it strange that individuals who want to practice in Los Angeles are debating whether to choose Whittier or Chapman over Southwestern. Neither of those schools have much of, if any, reputation in Los Angeles. I definitely would not attend T.J.

4. Friends Experience - I know 3 Southwestern alumni personally. The first got a job at a firm making 90k straight out of school. The second failed the bar exam the first time, and passed the second. It took four months after passing the bar for him to find a job (paid 70k per year). He has been an attorney for four years now, is working at his third firm making over 100k per year. The third worked for the DA for 15+ years and is now corporate in-house counsel. She wouldn't divulge her salary, but she lives in a multi-million dollar home with her accountant husband. It's not 125k BIGLAW straight out of school, but the top 10% have a shot at it (some alumni at O'Melveny, Hastings, and a few other elites).

That's my take. Let the Southwestern bashing commence.            

thanks for the advice groundhog. i have read some bad things about southwestern in previous posts. they are obviously striving to improve their program. i don't think they'll catch up to anyone else in L.A. anytime soon though. the thought of living in the midwest for a while isn't as scary as going 100k/plus in debt, but the thought of never being able to crack the L.A. market is. does anyone know how difficult it is to land a job in L.A.or transfer from a large firm in the midwest to L.A. after working in the midwest for a few years?

thanks again r98. you're advice is invaluable, as always.

thanks for the advice. the football program was just a small added bonus, not a determining factor. for those of you who are considering practicing in L.A., do you feel Loyola's reputation and alumni base is worth 100k? is there that much of a difference between the two schools in your opinion?

i'd rather not, thanks.

My seat deposit deadlines have been extended, but I must decide soon. I am a California native. I would like to practice in Los Angeles and don't know which school to attend.

University of Wisconsin - I have been offered in-state tuition ($12,000 per year). I visited Madison in early March and really loved it. The lower cost-of-living is also very attractive. I'm worried about getting a job back in Los Angeles. Wisconsin has an off-campus interview program in L.A., but I' not sure how many jobs are secured through this process. The plan was to try to come back and clerk during the summer in L.A. Also, I'm not sure what my future holds and I assume that Wisconsin carries more weight than Loyola or Southwestern outside of L.A. I'm a HUGE football fan and the idea of big-ten football has me really excited.

Loyola Law School - I was not offered a scholarship. Loyola has a huge alumni base in L.A. and better than average employment prospects. $100,000 in debt does not sound so good. Cost of living in L.A. is high, but I will be around friends and family. Local summer opportunities will probably be abundant.

Southwestern School of Law - Offered full-tuition scholarship. This school's reputation in L.A. is not as strong as Loyola's, but a friend of mine who recently graduated is doing fine (second job at 90k/yr). Apparently, the curve was raised to 3.0 this year, which is good news for those of us who are considering Southwestern. The school's new dean is making many changes for the better. The campus is beautiful and high tech.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.  

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