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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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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. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 30, 2015, 05:10:27 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?

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Greetings,
« on: March 30, 2015, 11:15:37 AM »
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. 

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Greetings,
« on: March 29, 2015, 10:00:18 AM »
Hi King,

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.

Master's Degree
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.

Other Schools
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.

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.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: March 28, 2015, 12:02:49 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.

Other options
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.

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.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Need help making a decision
« on: March 26, 2015, 11:05:11 AM »
Please keep in mind that my comments are based on your statement that you want to work in TX.

None of the schools were discussing are what I'd call elite. Wash U is the highest ranked, but I have no idea what kind of pull it has in TX. My guess is that it would be viewed as a good school, but not the kind of place where you can rely on pedigree alone to open doors in TX. The same would go for the other schools on your list. I'm not sure that it would necessarily carry any more weight than Baylor or UH.

Once you get away from the elite schools, you really need to consider location and cost. In my opinion, you would be far better off attending a TX school if you want to practice in TX.

Don't base your decision on this. It probably won't happen.

A huge factor. I know that you are probably eager to start school, but here is a thought. What about reapplying to schools like SMU, Texas Tech, Texas Wesleyan, St. Mary's, etc., and seeking a big scholarship? A free (or at least significantly discounted) degree from one of these schools may be more beneficial than huge debt from UH. Just a thought.

I have a lot of respect for the above posters, both offer good advice.

However, when the discussion devolves into Cooley vs. Harvard we enter the theater of the absurd. How many students are actually faced with such a stark choice? Is anyone who has been accepted to Harvard actually contemplating Cooley, or any other school outside of the T14? Surely there are a handful of such cases, but it seems rather pointless to make such comparisons.

Personally, I think anyone who gets accepted to Harvard would be crazy to turn down the opportunity unless it was to take advantage of a full ride at another well known school. If you've read any of my previous posts then you know that I am VERY skeptical of the rankings and encourage people to examine all facets of their available options.

Nonetheless, a degree from Harvard/Yale/Stanford is so instantly recognizable as badass that it will be a boon to the job applicant regardless of geographic location. Even if your goal is to be a PD in Maine or Lansing, the Harvard degree will help. The debt is another issue.

A far more realistic scenario (and one which has the potential to adversely affect many more prospective students), is when someone is debating between Low Ranked School at Discount vs. Mid-Ranked School at Full Price. This is where the rubber hits the road.

How many of us know people who wanted to work as attorneys in say, California, but turned down a scholarship to the local T4 in order to attend a non-elite, out of state school because it was ranked higher? Huge mistake, IMO.

So, do rankings matter? Yes, especially at the top. But as others have stated, once you get into the great blurry mass of the other 190 or so schools that are not elite, you better prioritize cost and location over rankings.

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.


I live and work in the Los Angeles area and I cannot tell you how many times I've seen students pass up the opportunity to attend a solid local school on a 50% scholarship in order to attend a non-elite (but higher ranked) out of state school. They have been so imbued with the notion that rankings are infallible, that they cannot fathom that law firms in LA won't give a crap that you attended the #52 school vs the #67 school.

I've tried to explain that once you get away from truly elite schools (not just "good" schools), cost and geography should drive the decision  making process. Frankly, many of them are oppositional to the information. Oh well. They'll learn the hard way that a $150k debt is a far bigger obstacle to their success than the arbitrary nuances of law school rankings.

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