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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: April 02, 2015, 04:21:32 PM »
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).
I agree. Hastings definitely has the strongest local rep among these three schools. Is that increase in academic profile worth the additional money? That can only be answered by the individual.
As between USF/SCU I think it's murkier. Like I said, SCU may be perceived as slightly higher on the food chain than USF, but it's not as stark as the difference between both of those schools and Hastings.
Funny enough, my wife is a Hastings grad and tells me that everyone she knew from USF, Golden Gate, etc had an inferiority complex about Hastings. Conversely, her Hastings classmates had inferiority complexes about Berkeley and Stanford. No matter where you go (unless it's Harvard) these things will come up.
« on: April 02, 2015, 03:04:31 PM »
I agree with most of what Loki has said, especially in regards to healthcare law and IP. A couple of points I want to expand on:
These are, IMO, practically meaningless. I wouldn't base my decision on whether a school that is otherwise non-elite ranks high in some specialized category. In my experience the only people who tout these rankings are the students and administration of these particular schools.
Here's and example. Lewis & Clark and Vermont Law School have some of the highest ranked Environmental Law programs in the country. And guess what? A big firm will still give preference to a Harvard grad who has never taken single environmental class, ever.
Same goes for IP. Do some SCU grads get hired by the big Silicon Valley firms. Sure, people who graduate top of their class, are on law review, and who intern at a big firm may be able to compete with the Stanford/Berkeley/Hastings grads for those jobs.
I have no doubt that SCU is solid school with a good local reputation, just don't put too much weight on a specialty program. It matters, but its importance is perhaps somewhat limited.
Location and Money
This is really what your decision boils down to. If you want to live and practice in the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley, it makes no sense to go to law school at a non-elite out of state school. If you were considering Michigan or NYU, that would be different.
Case Western and SLU are both (like SCU) solid local schools. They have very good reputations within their respective regions. In CA, they are virtually unknown. It will be very difficult to obtain CA internships and to make networking connections from 2000 miles away. This is important because when you graduate from a non-elite school your ability to find gainful employment will be based largely on your own networking abilities.
Unless you are prepared to live in St. Louis or Ohio, I would look at CA schools.
If you can live with family and cut down on living expenses, the USF offer may be a good one to consider. I know that SCU may be considered higher ranked, but I don't think the difference is so huge that it outweighs the additional expense of attending SCU. If you live in Walnut Creek you can take BART to USF, live with your family, and limit your debt.
With a 155 LSAT Hastings is probably out, so I wouldn't worry about it.
This is nothing more than my personal take on things, knowing next to nothing about your actual situation. Don't base your decision off of what anyone here tells you, but these are some things you can consider.
« on: April 01, 2015, 07:41:51 PM »
My general thoughts are that I would not pay full price for any of these schools, USD included.
That said, USD and CW will give you a better shot at employment in SD than Whittier. Conversely, Whittier's location will offer better access to internships and networking in the LA/OC markets. When you are attending a non-elite, local reputation school, knowledge of the local market and the ability to network and make meaningful connections is paramount. If you attend any of these schools your ability to get hired will depend more on your personal networking and experience-building skills than on the school's ranking.
Outside of SD, I don't really think any of the three schools will be viewed all that differently. Yes, I know that SD is ranked higher but it's not the kind of school that will get you an interview based on pedigree alone (at least not outside of SD). Within San Diego, USD is considered the top school. Both USD and CW, however, face competition from the numerous LA area schools (especially for the higher paying jobs).
For me personally, cost would be at least as important as location. You really need to look at the scholarship stipulations. If you need a 3.0 GPA to retain the scholarship, that's very difficult and you will likely lose it. If you only need to maintain "good standing", that's much better.
Remember that even with a scholarship you will accrue living expenses unless you can stay with family. Thus, even a 50% scholarship to CW could still result in a 100k debt.
Like I said before, I personally would not be willing to accrue that kind of debt for any of these schools. I think it's difficult for a 0L to imagine just how crippling that kind of debt can be when you are NOT able to land one of the few high paying jobs that go to graduates of local schools.
BTW, I'm not a rankings snob. I graduated from an ABA school with a good local reputation, but that's probably unknown outside of the immediate region. I went there because I had a very good LSAT score and they offered me a huge scholarship. For me, taking the most money was the right decision. It may or may not be the right decision for you, but I would urge you to carefully consider the long term ramifications of a huge debt combined with a non-elite degree.
« on: March 30, 2015, 07:16:52 PM »
I don't know about any Louisiana-specific scholarships, but generally the biggest discounts you can get are tied to your GPA/LSAT.
Do you already have a final GPA/LSAT?
« on: March 30, 2015, 07:10:27 PM »
I would just add a couple of points:
A school like Whittier may or may not be alright depending on the student's goals. I know several Whittier grads who are PDs, local govt attorneys, small firm practitioners. If that's your goal, then Whittier may be an alright choice. As Citylaw said, however, if your goal is Biglaw then you better look elsewhere.
As far as debt, Whittier is about the same price as most private law schools which is to say it is too expensive. I'm not sure why Whittier grads would necessarily accrue more debt than other California law students. The tuition and cost of living is high all over CA.
That said, Whittier does seem to have some unique problems that go beyond the general tight job market that all T4s deal with in CA.
One is location. This used to be an asset for Whittier, but now I'm not so sure. When Whittier moved from LA to OC in the 90s they were the only ABA school in the county. (Western State was still only Cal Bar approved at that time). Now, OC has Western State, Chapman, UC Irvine and Whittier. That makes the competition for both quality students and jobs tighter.
Additionally, Whittier's past problems with the ABA are still pretty fresh in a lot of people's minds. That can't help when it comes to looking for a job. I applied to Whittier when I was looking at law schools, but decided early on that regardless of what they offered I would not attend. I talked to too many people who warned me away. (Also, I visited the campus and thought it was ugly. Perhaps a small issue, but still...)
Where I would disagree with Loki is on the idea of Whittier (or any other school) being a legal scam. The tuition, bar pass rates, employment rates, and anything else you want to know about any ABA school is readily available. No one is forced to go to law school. Quite to the contrary, people ask the law schools to please let them attend.
Whittier isn't lying to anyone about anything. If they were, this would be an entirely different discussion. Schools like Whittier give people a chance to become lawyers when no one else will. If the students squander their chances by not studying or not looking into the legal market first, I don't have a lot of sympathy.
At some point, aren't college educated adults responsible for their own actions?
« on: March 30, 2015, 01:15:37 PM »
Then there's the cheap, local, easy to get into North Texas field: UT, SMU, UNT (unaccredited), A&M, or Texas Tech...?
As a side note, I had to look this up.
Apparently, the University of North Texas (part of the UT system) has opened a new law school in Dallas. This is the first I'd heard of it.
Although it is currently unaccredited, they are seeking ABA approval. Law schools can't apply right away, they have to be I operation for (I think) at least one year then can apply for provisional approval. They have to maintain that for another couple of years then can seek full approval. The new UC Irvine just went through this process.
If I were a prospective law student in TX, this would interest me greatly. With the backing of the UT system, I think they will probably get ABA without any problems. It's also cheap and (at this point) easy to get into. A student with decent numbers might be able to get some serious scholarships as they are likely eager to boost their numbers.
Of course, there are caveats to attending a new law school: no reputation, no alumni, etc. The UT system, though, is well respected. Although this school may not rival UT-Austin anytime soon, it might be viewed quite favorably within the DFW area.
An example would be the aforementioned UCI. The school had a good reputation and high expectations in So Cal before it even opened it's doors because of the strength of the UC system. UCI grads are competing favorably with much more established schools, and the lack of an alumni base does not seem to have made much difference. Something similar could happen with UNT.
« on: March 29, 2015, 12:00:18 PM »
As the previous poster has indicated, until you have an actual LSAT score on the board everything is pure speculation. The LSAT is such a huge part of the admissions criteria that it almost can't be overstated.
3.75 is a very solid GPA and indicates that you probably have the potential to do well on the LSAT. To have a realistic shot at Harvard (or Yale) you'd need not just a good score, but a stratospheric score. 175-180, which is (I think) the top 1-2%. That's just to be competitive. Get a crazy high score first, then you can worry about Harvard.
If you are definitely going to law school, I wouldn't waste the time and money on a Master's. It will make very little (if any) difference, and will be waaaaay behind GPA/LSAT in terms of importance. It's a soft factor. If the idea is to get a Master's in case law school doesn't work out, that's different. Just be sure it's in a useful field.
Chances are you won't get into Harvard, so it's good to consider other schools. Again, without an LSAT score it's all speculation, but for argument's sake let's say you score 165. With a 3.75/165 you would have some good options in TX. (BTW, most people don't consider UT "easy to get into.")
UT would be a possibility with those numbers, although certainly not a shoe-in. Places like Texas Tech, SMU, etc would be pretty much sure things, with the possibility of scholarship money at some.
The question at that point would be what do want to do with your degree? Those schools are all fine if you want to live and work locally, but it would be tough to go into Biglaw, academia, etc.
Take the LSAT, get a score, then you can assess your options.
« on: March 29, 2015, 11:41:21 AM »
Let's be precise: no one voluntarily lives in Long Beach.
And yes, get a room as close as possible to the test center! The few hundred bucks you spend are nothing compared to the $100k you just spent on law school, and the reduction in stress is huge. You don't want to be commuting through traffic for and hour before either the bar or LSAT.
« on: March 28, 2015, 02:02:49 PM »
Citylaw's advice is good. I would just add the following:
Since you're already carrying 65k in debt, you may want to make debt minimization your top priority. Accruing an additional 100k (which is ENTIRELY possible even though you've been offered scholarships) can impact your career choices as much if not more than your choice of school.
Since none of the schools you're considering are elite, you probably won't be competing for a high paying job straight out of law school. Thus, you really need to consider whether or not you will be able to service that amount of debt on a (probably) $50-70k starting salary.
Citylaw has already addressed this, but I will reiterate: if you go to school in Chicago you will likely end up working in Chicago. If you want to live in California, go to school in California. When you're talking about non-elite, local schools it really is that simple.
I understand that you are probably eager to start law school, but if I were you I would at least consider reapplying to other So Cal schools and seeing what happens. Frankly, (and don't take this as criticism) I don't think any of the schools you mentioned are worth racking up a $150k + debt.
Whittier has offered the most, but you could easily lose it and be stuck paying full freight after the first year. Whittier has also had some problems with high attrition and low bar pass rates which resulted in the ABA putting them on probation several years ago.
If you were willing to wait on more year, you could study like crazy and retake the LSAT, then reapply to schools like La Verne, California Western, Southwestern, Chapman and Western State. You employment options from any of these schools would be about the same as the schools you're currently considering. You might be able to improve your bargaining position and significantly reduce you overall debt. Something to think about.
« on: March 28, 2015, 01:44:48 PM »
I grew up in LA, went to law school in LA, and currently live and work in LA.
Regarding the need for a car, you have to understand that people refer to all of the greater Los Angeles basin simply as "LA". Thus, the area that folks are referring to includes pretty much everything from Long Beach to Malibu, and from Santa Monica inland all the way to the Inland Empire. It's a huge, flat, sprawling area. So when people say "You need a car" it's because they're assuming that you'll be commuting 30 miles a day or more.
Downtown and the Westside are more compact. You can definitely get around on public transportation. If, however, you ended up living in Long Beach and going to law school in Westwood you would probably need a car. Just my two cents.
LSAT test centers
I don't know anything about ones in the areas you mentioned, but I took the LSAT at the University of La Verne and it was great. Nice big room, probably sat around 150, but only had 20-30 taking the test. I had a whole table to myself. It was definitely worth the drive.
Incidentally, I took the bar nearby at the Ontario Convention Center and that was a good move too. Parking was easy, there was more than ample space, there were places to get breakfast and lunch on site. It just seemed a little less crazy than you might expect. My classmates who took the bar in downtown LA had to deal with terrible parking issues, overcrowding, etc. Something to consider.
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