« on: December 14, 2011, 10:17:28 AM »
Attending a non-ABA accredited school is never a good idea. You'll be able to sit for the bar in only Mass and NH. You will eventually be able to be admitted into 20 other states, but in light of the fact that so can anyone else that attended any other law school ABA accredited or not, and some who attended an ABA accredited school can be admitted to any of the 50 states plus DC, I think it is more accurate to say there is no way you can be admitted to practice in 30 states. And not only are they not ABA accredited, they applied, were denied, sued the ABA and lost, and have been very adamant that they have no intention with meeting ABA standards. So it is safe to say, they probably never will be ABA accredited.
Then there is the question of what you intend to do with your degree. Your options will be very limited. You can only sit for MA or NH. The job market in NH is very small, and you will lose out to a UNH grad at every turn. In Mass you're competing with the grads of 10 other law schools, that cover the spectrum of ABA accredited schools, from Harvard that depending on the year is either ranked 1, 2, or 3, to your lower tiered schools like Western NE, and everything in between. So there is no shortage of local schools that a hiring firm can pick from, so there really is no local advantage. And who exactly did you speak to in determining they have a "good reputation for producing quality and successful attorneys"? The school's admissions recruiters? Every school will have someone they can point to that has been successful despite the disadvantage of graduating from a school with poor credentials. More important than those few grads that they display on their website as being successful is how are the 100 other grads that graduated with those people doing? What percentage of grads are working attorneys 5 years after graduation? The chances of getting a job with any law firm, of any size will be pretty slim. With the number of schools in Mass at every tier of quality, there's a good chance that even for an entry level attorney position at a 3 attorney firm, starting pay at $30k, there will be someone from a better school trying for that same job.
Then there is the cost factor that you mentioned. At least, unlike most T4 law schools that think they can charge you virtually the same prices as a top 14 school, at $15k a year, you're not paying BMW prices to drive a Yugo. The top 14 schools charge around $40 to $50k a year. Some T4 schools charge up to $40k a year in tuition. How a law school whose graduates don't any prayer at biglaw, can justifying charging the same amount as the best schools, whose graduates at least have a reasonable shot at the six figure income that can pay that debt, is just unconscionable. So you graduate with the same debt after 3 years that most JDs have after just their first year (not to mention since they don't even require the LSAT, you save a couple grand in LSAT fees and test prep). I don't know what their bar passage rate is, but I believe that anyone who vaguely pays attention in law school, and spends the money for a bar prep course, and studies their back side off, can pass the bar (and from what friends have told me, the Mass bar isn't that hard). So at less than $50k of law school debt, starting out on your own, or with a friend, doing basic legal work (wills, power of attorney, minor criminal cases), and building a practice from the ground up is at least possible. Heck, even taking contract positions doing document review should be able to pay that debt down. Not an easy or glamorous career path by any stretch of the imagination, and if you're bringing $30k your first few years, you'll be doing well. But at least if you can't make a career of it, the debt won't so oppressive where you're in a position where you can't even make the interest payments, and your debt is actually increasing. You'll at least be able to walk away from the legal field and move on without having to have to pay for it for the rest of your life.