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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: July 11, 2012, 03:22:30 PM »
That's some of the best advice I've ever seen on this board.
The fact is, legal education has been standardized to an astonishing degree. The classes at Harvard and Cooley, for example, are almost identical, especially during the all-important first year. That's the entire point of ABA accreditation. It allows potential students like yourself, OP, to rest assured that a school has met minimum requirements ranging from bar pass rates, to long term financial stability, to faculty hiring practices. Acquiring ABA accreditation takes years of planning, making constant improvements based on ABA site-evaluation team reports, and costs millions of dollars. It's not like getting your driver's license, and it's hardly the stuff of "bottom feeder" institutions.
I've worked at offices where graduates of Ivy League law schools worked alongside grads from T4s. The only thing anyone cared about was skill and performance. Most actual attorneys I've met, as opposed to law students or 0Ls, seem to have mellowed out on the whole rankings/prestige kick. They work with other lawyers from a variety of educational backgrounds and realize that there are good and bad lawyers from all ranks. The first judge I ever appeared in front of graduated from an unaccredtited law school.
This is why I believe that the USNWR rankings scheme has been so detrimental to legal education. Non-scientific, subjective criteria are used to rank schools which leads students to spend tons of money on degrees from schools that are not elite anyway, but are simply ranked higher than another school. Trust me, going to the #74 school will not impress anyone more than going to the #136 school. The rankings utterly fail to take into account the uniformity of the education offered at each. Places like Harvard and Yale will always be in a class by themselves, they were long before USNWR came out. The absurdity, however, is drawing tiny, minute, meaningless differences between non-elite local schools and then proclaiming that one is better than the other. Ridiculous.
OP, just remember two things:
1) You may not do as well as you'd like on the LSAT, and may have to attend a school that's not as prestigious as you'd like. Would you consider yourself a "bottom feeder"? I wouldn't.
2) You may do just fine on the LSAT, get into Marquette and spend three years working your ass off to get that JD. After all that hard work, there are snobs who will brush you aside because they consider Marquette a "bottom feeder" school. I think that's absurd.
« on: July 10, 2012, 02:23:52 PM »
I know where you're coming from. I went to law school with a wife, kids, and a mortgage. Moving out of the area wasn't an option for me, so I focused on getting the highest possible LSAT score and a scholarship. BTW, that's also something you may want to consider: if you have the option of going to school outside of your ideal geographic region but with a large scholarship, it may be worth it in the long run.
Schools tend to focus heavily on LSAT and GPA for the purposes of scholarships and admissions. Like I said before, your softs are great. They will mostly matter, however, when you are being compared to other applicants with similar numbers. That is why it is imperitive to get the highest LSAT score you can. A high LSAT is often more beneficial than a high GPA. With your GPA and softs, a high LSAT (say, 165+) could probably secure some huge scholarship offers at the schools you've mentioned. You've got a couple of years to prepare, and the LSAT is a learnable, standardized test.
Just wanted to throw a couple of other possibilities out there: Toledo (which I think FalconJimmy mentioned), UW-Madison (depending on LSAT), and maybe some Minnesota schools. I have two friends who went to St. Thomas and had a great experience. I think you said you'll be in Kansas,so maybe Washburn, too.
« on: July 10, 2012, 12:37:49 PM »
Maximizing the LSAT
As FalconJimmy said, takes tons of practice exams and, if possible, a prep course. I wouldn't worry about the prep course until maybe a year or so before the LSAT. When you take practice exams try to take them under actual testing conditions if possible (I realize this may be impossible in your sitution.) Also, really take the time to go over your answers and understand why you got a particular question right or wrong. I marked the problems that gave me the hardest time and specifically went back to those after the practice exam in order to figure them out. When you take enough exams you'll start to see patterns and you'll be able to predict many of the answers. You have lots of time, so you're in a good situation.
I don't think there is anything you can do that will make your resume look better than it already does. You have great "soft factors", and that will help you. Nonetheless, admission to law school is based almost entirely on GPA/LSAT, so you should focus on scoring the highest possible LSAT.
One last point, OP. I don't know you or your situation, but I think that there are broad general concepts which are applicable to just about everybody when it comes to law school admissions. Among those broad generalities, I believe, is a need to be flexible and realistic. I noticed that you stated that if you don't get into one of three specific schools you just won't go at all. That's fine, but understand that such rigidity will severely limit your choices both during and after law school. Also, you may want to think about whether or not you really want to be a lawyer after all. Law school is a difficult, expensive, life changing experience. If you really want it, then you may have to make some sacrifices in terms of geography. You might want to check out Detroit-Mercy, Michigan State, and maybe some Chicago schools as well.
You also mentioned that Marquette has a sports law program. One of the funny things I've noticed about law school is that specialty programs usually matter less than you think. The fact is, if you go to Marquette specifically for sports law, there is still a very good chance that you won't end up practicing sports law. My guess is that the sports law market in the midwest is pretty limited (I think most jobs are probably in LA and NYC), and you may have to take another job. I'm not bringing this stuff up in order to be difficult or critical, it's just based on my experience.
If you are flexible and open to various opportunities you will have a better overall experience. Good Luck with everything!
« on: July 09, 2012, 07:49:19 PM »
I'm increasingly convinced that a single payer system may be the only way to go. I just don't see how else we can get costs down. Fareed Zakaria mentioned last week that doctors in Taiwan get paid about $14 per office visit. My doctor charges $350. Seriously, $350. Admittedly, my insurance probably negotiates that down by half, but still. Doctors here argue that you'll get less time with the patient, crappy care, etc. Well, for $350 my doctor only spends about five minutes with us anyway then moves on.
In Germany doctors make between $90-$130,000 almost without exception. Still a good living, but not the Porsche-driving, golf-playing, trophy wife-divorcing lifestyle that every doctor here I've ever met believes that they "deserve".
« on: July 09, 2012, 01:12:14 PM »
Not sure where to direct you, but I heard that there are some online foreign law schools that are reasonably priced at under $4000.00 for an entire 4 year law degree. Every State bar within the united states accepts foreign law degrees and will allow you to sit any state bar. This includes online foreign law degrees. The problem with this, is that other countries have different laws, so it would be difficult to learn, or rather difficult to pass the American state bar since you are learning a different countries law. For example, other countries do not have the constitution and we do.
What online foreign schools? Every state bar does not accept foreign law degrees, they accept only certain ones and only if you have qualified in that jurisdiction first as a lawyer. Quit making stuff up.
Jonlevy is exactly right. Some
states accept some
foreign degrees. In California there is an entire separate application for foreign lawyers, and the bar will do an evaluation of the foreign degree to see if meets acceptable standards. Sometimes an LL.M from a U.S. law school is required, especially if the foreign jusrisdiction is a civil law (as opposed to common law) system.
« on: July 06, 2012, 06:56:06 PM »
Thank you both for the informative response.
With respect to the scholarships, neither one has any stipulation aside from maintaining 'good standing' which is equivalent to 2.0 GPA, reasonable by any means.
U of I was ranked 21-23 the past couple of years until the admissions scandal rocketed them to # 35. SLU on the other hand is ranked 99-100 (US News).
The good thing about SLU is that the scholarship they gave me is a name scholarship and supposedly does bring some prestige, at least in the Saint Louis market. On the other hand, U of I does place better in Chicago.
I defiantly agree that both schools are regional, with U of I having a slight edge in reputation nationwide.
Right now, I have $32k debt from my undergraduate and graduate degrees. If I go to U of I, I am looking at barrowing the difference + COL which probably put me at approximately 50-80k in additional debt. All in all I will be looking at 100k in debt from my entire educational career combined.
In SLU...probably worst case scenario 10k a year, so 30k in additional debt. Of course, this case is reduced with 2L and 3L employment.
I wonder if graduating in the top 10%-25% will lend me a good opportunity in either school. I am definitely not in a good financial situation right now, so I wonder if the additional debt is worth it at all.
I do want to have good choices in the long run, and I wonder if I can get that from either of these two schools.
The fact that IL went from #21 to #35 in a few years should tell you all you need to know about USNWR's ranking scheme. I guarantee that IL is the same school, in the same building, with the same professors teaching the exact same classes that it was when it was ranked #21. BTW, I've never heard of any admissions scandal at Illinois and if I were a prospective employer outside of the midwest I still wouldn't have heard of it.
I assume that you live in the midwest, so you probably understand the individual markets better than I do. If Illinois has a stronger reputational advantage in Chicago, and you want to work in Chicago, well...
On the other hand, if St. Louis is your planned destination a full scholarship at SLU might be an amazing opportunity.
As Legend said, these are very personal decisions and only you know the details of your situation. However, there are general principles that apply to just about everyone. One of them (I believe) is this: go to law school in the area in which you want to live. It will be so much easier to obtain internships and make connections, and you'll really come to appreciate that around graduation. Second, rankings matter, but be realistic about how much they matter. If your choices were between SLU and Harvard, well, that's a no brainer. But between SLU and ILL, I think it becomes murkier. Even if ILL has a bigger rep, does that help if you graduate in the middle of the pack? I don't know, maybe, maybe not.
By and large, I think people are almost always better off with less debt. This is especially true if you're attending a non-elite school. The flexibility that lack of debt will give you is a huge advantage.
« on: July 06, 2012, 05:17:29 PM »
Yes, I am aware that I am a candidate for IP law. Many of my friends who were engineers did this, but unfortunately I was looking into international law.
Do you think that perhaps a masters degree in Public Policy with a high GPA would make me a better candidate?
As far as I can tell, M.A.s don't really help too much. They're a soft factor, at best. I'm basing this on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, but that's what I've been told by friends who applied to law school after earning master's, MBAs, etc. LSAC calculates your GPA based on undergrad only, and might give you a slight boost because of your math/science background.
I think that with a 3.07 and a 170+ LSAT you can still get into some top schools, depending on your definition of "top". Yale, Harvard, and any of the other truly elite schools are probably out of the question, but plenty of T1 schools would be well within your reach. I don't know what part of the country you're in, but you'd have a decent shot at places like Davis, Hastings, George Washington, maybe Notre Dame. The key is going to be your LSAT score. Do everything you can to max it out.
« on: July 06, 2012, 11:20:16 AM »
I am curious Roald. Have you actually gotten a job offer?
Teacher guy: Another piece of advice is to talk to alumni of the school you get accepted to. Find out more than just their story, ask them what the job reality is for their whole graduating class. Most law school classes are small and everybody knows everybody.
Yes, I graduated with a good job offer from a mid-sized firm. Not my ideal job, but I'll take what I can get.
My point is not to deny that the job market is terrible, it is. Most people are graduating with no job offer, and are struggling to find work while juggling high student loan payments. My point is this: you need to put yourself in a position to acquire one of the jobs that is available by gaining experience. Law firms and government offices are operating on smaller budgets than previously, and they're not interested in spending a lot of time training a new lawyer. If you can show up with some experience you stand a better chance.
You mentioned that you wouldn't advise going to a school that isn't first or second tier. I think you and I would both agree that going to a prestigious law school is hugely beneficial, no doubt about it. But consider this: only a handful of the schools ranked in T1 are actually the kind of elite institutions that will get you a job based on pedigree alone. Most T1 schools are essentially good local/regional schools, and don't really carry any weight outside of their immediate geographic region.
Let's say you wanted to practice in Los Angeles. Would you be better off accepting a full ride at Southwestern (T3) or going $150,000 in debt to attend the University of Wisconsin (T1)? Although Wisconsin is a very good school, it's not exactly elite. No firm in LA is going to be so blown away by that degree that they'll offer you a job based on pedigree. Plus, having spent the last three years in Madison, you probably won't have made any contacts in the LA market. I'd argue that in such a tight market graduating from a T3-T4 without debt
would better than a non-elite T1 degree.
I also agree with you, kopacabana, that law schools manipulate and twist employment statistics. Don't trust the law schools to get you a job, you've got to make your own luck.
« on: July 06, 2012, 01:24:43 AM »
Also... I'm sure you Jack and the other bloggers all live in Cali.??. But.... what is your impression on the job market for students graduating from schools like SD, SC, McGeorge (t2, t3). I'm looking at more govt. type work and not big law.
All these schools boast job placements in the 90%s after nine months but I don't trust these numbers. Half of them could be working at Starbucks. I live in Texas but have always wanted to practice law and live in California... so why not do both at the same time, right?
It's tough to get an impression of the state without being there.... I know in Texas, I could go to Tech and it probably wouldn't be to tough to get an ADA job in the panhandle etc...
What's your impression?
I'm a recent grad from a California ABA school, and the job market is very, very tight. Obviously, graduates from top ranked schools like Stanford and UCLA have a reputational advantage that graduates from lower ranked schools don't. That having been said, I know plenty of people who graduated from places like Loyola, USD, and even newly accredited schools like La Verne who got good jobs straight out of law school.
There are a couple of things to realize. First, if you go to a decent local school like the ones I just mentioned you probably won't be competing with Stanford and Berkeley grads anyway. They're not applying for the same jobs that you are. Trust me, your local public defender's office is NOT flooded with applicants from Stanford and Columbia. It is, however, probably flooded with applicants from some of the schools you're talking about. The same goes for small family law firms, real estate firms, etc. If you want to do biglaw you need an elite degree or you need to be very high-ranked at a lower tier school. For government and small firm work you need solid, meaningful experience.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. The people I know who had job offers at graduation began their job search on day one of the first semester. They interned as much as possible, did good work, acted smart and professional, and made contacts. These people were not always the highest ranked students, but they were very good at marketing themselves. You will be amazed at how many of your classmates either wait until the end of law school to start looking for an internship, or who obtain one but don't take it very seriously. In this market, that just won't cut it. It is imperitive that you get some experience.
I had the opportunity to intern at a great, very supportive government office. They allowed me to take on as much work as I could handle, and I immediately recognized how lucky I was. While most of my friends were writing research briefs, I was writing motions for summary judgement and making appearances in court. I reapplied for the same internship the next year, got it, and continued to learn. By the end, I had been given a case which I worked up and argued in court. (CA allows law students to get certified. You can make appearances and argue misdemeanor and some small civil cases). As graduation neared the experience and recommendations I had acquired paid off with a job offer.
I'm not telling you this to brag about myself, I'm just trying to point out that although the market sucks, you'll be a much better position to succeed if you follow some basic steps: get experience, make contacts, and be friendly and competent. Seriously, you'd be amazed at how far the friendly and competent part will get you.
« on: July 06, 2012, 12:51:39 AM »
First of all, you're in a pretty nice situation. There are worse things than having to choose between law school scholarships! I don't live in the Midwest and I have no experience with the market, but I'll assume that Illinois has some reputational advantage over SLU. The question is: how much advantage, and is it worth the extra cost (if any)? My guess is that both schools have good reputations within their areas, and there may not be a huge difference between them.
Here are a few things to cconsider:
You mentioned that ILL is T1 while SLU is T3, and that you may want to practice outside of the midwest. In other parts of the country, I'm pretty sure ILL and SLU will be viewed as more or less interchangeable. Even though ILL is T1, it's not elite. Very few schools have the type of badass national rep that will get you a job anywhere in the nation based on pedigree alone. Even within the first tier, most schools are essentially regional. If you want to stay in the midwest, maybe ILL would be advantageous. But, if you moved to LA, for example, neither school would give you an advantage over the other. In that case you might as well save the money and go to SLU.
For that matter, if you really want to live in a particular part of the country after graduation, I'd advise going to law school in that area. It's much easier to get internships and make contacts if you're living in the area in which you plan to work. Think also about what type of law you might want to practice. I imagine that ILL would give a better shot at biglaw in Chicago and some of the other bigger midwest cities, if that's what you want.
As Cher said, pay very close attention to the details of your scholarship offers. Law schools are not always entirely clear about what it takes to maintain those funds.
The fact is, SLU and ILL are both fine schools and you'll get a good legal education at either one. I would just try to figure out if there is any real advantage which will accrue to you by choosing one over the other, and without getting to caught up in what an unscientific ranking conducted by a magazine says.
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