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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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521
Like I stated before, I'm coming out of law enforcement so if I was to practice law, I would prefer to work for the District Attorney's Office. After all, I would rather contribute by keeping criminals in jail rather than trying to keep those individuals out. The Cal-Bar school near my house is not correspondence, and a large number of their graduates are hired by the D.A.'s office. They also have a courthouse on site that is run by the Superior Court of California, so there is a lot of networking between the students of this school and the D.A.'s Office. If I couldn't get a position with the D.A.'s Office, I would open my own practice as I would not like to work for a law firm. Hence my situation, and the reason why I treading lightly and trying to weigh my opinions . . .

If your goal is the DA's office, the local CBE school is a much better bet than online. Ask your local DA if they've ever hired an online grad, and I promise you the answer is "no". A couple of decades ago jobs like the DA and (especially) Public Defender were considered relatively easy to get. The pay was low, the turnover was high, and most new hires came from small ABA schools or CBE schools. That's not the case anymore. The pay is decent, turn over is practically zero, and most offices are on a hiring freeze. When jobs do open, they are flooded with applicants and can be very picky about who they hire. It's not at all uncommon now to see Public Defenders from UCLA, Davis, etc.

At some DA/PD offices you can still get hired as a CBE grad because the local CBE school is the only game in town. However, even at  those offices you will be competing with both ABA and CBE grads who have several years of experience under their belts. If you decide to go to the CBE school, do everything you can to score an internship at the DA, and do a great job. Personal connections matter, and it will help immensely when a job opens up.

Good Luck!

522
Law School Applications / Re: Character and Fitness - Law School App
« on: July 17, 2012, 12:23:04 PM »
As a general rule, I think you're always better off fully disclosing everything. Most of this stuff probably wouldn't cause any problems anyway, but not disclosing it might. You'll find out during law school that the bar is very intolerant of omissions/misleading statements even when it comes to minor issues. They want your full, frank disclosure. No equivocations, no excuses, just disclosure.

I don't know what individual law schools require you to disclose, or what individual state bars require, either. But think of it this way: you probably don't want any discrepancy between your law school apps and your bar app. If you disclose something on one app and not on the other, that raises red flags.

Just my two cents.

523
You don't necessarily need a B.A. to attend an ABA law school, either. The ABA does not require a college degree for admissions, only (I believe) 90 units of college work. Most law schools go above that minimal requirement and require a bachelor's degree. Some don't, however. Tulane clearly advertises on their website that they'll consider applicants without a bachelor's, and Whittier used to as well. I believe several other schools do, too. I think these programs are usually reserved for non-traditional students. I don't think they'd take a 21 year old who simply didn't feel like finishing his degree.

I have heard of people being getting accepted to ABA schools other than those mentioned, I just can't remember which ones. 

524
L.L.M. Board / Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« on: July 16, 2012, 05:22:52 PM »
I didn't know that it was possible to get an LL.M without a J.D., that's interesting.

Here's my question: what's the utility of the degree, and is it worth what you'll pay in tuition? An LL.M without a J.D. will probably not allow you to take the bar and practice law, so what's the advantage? If the reason is simply to gain knowledge of tax law, you might as well get an LL.M from a cheap online source rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to Villanova. I don't think the LL.M will permit you to give legal advice, so I wonder about it's cost/benefit.

Are you sure it's not an M.A. in Law, or something like that?

525
So attending law school via correspondence is a good fit for me, as I don not reside near an ABA school and I have experience attending school online. Where I find myself torn is whether I should go to the B&M Cal Bar school two miles away from my house for about $50,000; or should I attend a law school via correspondence for approximately $12,000 out the door? ,

So, the cal-bar school near your house, is that correspondence?

If I lived in California, honestly, I'd look at the distance learning / calbar schools.  But it depends a lot on your goals.  I am not ever going to be top
10% of my law school class and I intend to hang out a shingle when I'm done. 

That's a tough choice, and there are pros and cons to each. The question is whether the benefits of one choice outweigh the detriments of the other. As Legend would be quick to point out, this is a highly personal decision. However, I do believe that there are general broad considerations that apply to just about everybody. A cost/benefit analysis is among those generally applicable considerations. You'll save 40k by going online, that's clear enough.

That 40k you'll save in the short term, though, is really only "saved" if you pass the bar and get a job. If you don't pass the FYLSE (not required for CBE schools!), or don't pass the bar, you'll be spending time and money preparing for those exams instead of earning income as a lawyer. Statistically, you'd have a much better shot at passing the bar from a CBE school than from an online school. And remember, the bar is only offered twice a year and have to wait five months to get your score. If you have to take the baby bar a couple of times, then the big bar a couple of times, think about how much time you'll lose.

I know that there's a lot of talk here about school reputations (maybe "obsession" is a better word), but it has to be addressed. A degree from a CBE school and a degree from an online/unaccredited school will not be viewed the same by the overwhelming majority of employers, both public and private. Plenty of places that will gladly hire from a CBE school (think DA, PD, small firms) will not hire an unaccredited grad, period. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

If you plan on immediately hanging out your own shingle, or already have a job lined up, that may not matter anyway. It seems that alot of online grads plan to go this route. Spend a little time researching this option before committing to it, though. Most people who have not had experience in a law office have no clue how difficult it is to start your own firm straight out of law school with no experience. At least initially, most solo practitioners have to rely on referrals. Honestly, lots of lawyers would be skeptical about referring business to an online grad.

It can be done, and I'm sure you can find testimonials from people who have done it. I'd be willing to bet that most of the success stories involve people who had small business/entrepeneurial experience before attending online law school. In the end, my point is this: unless you have a very clear plan and understand the ramifications of attending an unaccredited school, you may not save that 40k after all. The decision is yours alone, and I might be totally wrong about everything I've said. These are just a few things that I want to consider if I were in your position.

526
I am under the impression the online schools are not state accredited, they are registered with the state.  The state accredited law schools are not online.

That's exactly right, the California state bar (like the ABA) will not accredit distance learning J.D. programs whether online or correspondance. The online schools have no specific programmatic accreditation, but in the case of Concord I think it has some kind of other distance learning-based accreditation. For the practice of law, however, only two kinds of accreditation matter: ABA or state bar. Unaccredited CA schools are "registered" with the state bar, but that's it.

Graduates from CA state accredited (CBE) law schools can, as Cher1300 pointed out, take the bar in other states depending on the state's specific regulations. Sometimes they require 3-5 years practice, sometimes not, it varies. Many states, however, will not admit an online of otherwise unaccredited grad, period. It's one pretty big advantage the CBE schools have over online (along with no FYLSE requirement). 

527
True, it's the unfortunate reality of living in a depressed economy. And, BTW, it doesn't mean that a non-ABA can't get a job, it just means that applicants should be aware of the pecking order that most law offices adhere to: Big Name ABA, Small Name ABA, Calbar, everything else.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. A Calbar grad with 3-5 years experience in criminal law, for example, would probably stand a better chance at getting hired by the DA or PD than an ABA grad with no applicable experience. Geography also plays a role. The thing about online J.D.s, in my opinion, is not that they have a bad reputation, but it's that most attorneys just don't know what to make of it. Most attorneys in CA have worked with both ABA and CBE grads, and know that there are good and bad lawyers from each category. There are so few online grads, however, that I think it's simply an unknown quantity. I think that the lack of knowledge leads to skepticism, which might be unfair. As online education becomes more common, may be this will change, but I wouldn't hold my breath. 

528
BTW, there is a lot of talk about if someone goes to an online school they won't be able to get a job.  Many threads by grads of traditional schools focus on getting a job.  Can get, hope to get, can't get.  A job.

A lawyer not being able to find a job has nothing to do with their online law J.D degree. There are lots of lawyers that attended brick and mortar ABA approved J.D programs that can't work as lawyers either. If they can't a find it's because they are not good writers or good public speakers. Most law firms will require a sample of the applicant's writing in addition to a face to face interview. The new lawyers are failing the interviews. Has nothing to do with where they attended law school.

I see ads in the online employment section all the time for associate attorneys. The employer does not care where you attended law school, he only cares whether you passed the state bar exam in that state.

I think something is wrong with lawyers that say they can't find a job. If they can't find a job, then they could open up their own office and make their own job. As stated, their writing sample given to the employer is subpar and that is why they cant find work.

The public defender offices in every state are always hiring. However, they demand a writing sample. 
 

You should do a little market research (or gain some actual experience) before you make such broad claims. The PD offices in each county are absolutely, positively, NOT always hiring. The budgets of all California counties have been slashed dramatically over the last few years. PD, DA, City Attorney, County Counsel, and state legal departments have been severely impacted. Most PD/DA offices cannot even get the funding to replace attrition due to retirement, let alone create new positions. My local PD's office recently got permission from the Board of Supervisors to hire something like eight new PDs, the first hiring they've done in a couple of years. They received something like 300 applications for those eight positions, and hired a combination of experienced criminal defense attorneys and lawyers who had been working for free hoping that a position would open up.

You're right that an attorney with bad writing skills or bad intwerview skills is screwed, regardless of where they graduated from. OTOH, the fact that an applicant submits an impressive writing sample is not sufficient to get the interview in such a competitive market. When you're competing against hundreds (or even dozens) of applicants, more than a few will have great writing and interviewing skills. Government law departments are in a position now to be much pickier than they have been in the past, and yes, they will look at where you went to law school.

If you've read any of my posts on this or other topics you'll see that I'm not a snob when it comes to legal education. My own degree is from a small, regional school. But I have personal, recent experience with government law offices, and hiring is much more competitive than you seem to think. At both the office I worked at, and the office my wife (a local government attorney) currently works at, an online or unaccedited grad would not have gotten an interview no matter how good their writing sample was. And if you can't get the interview, who cares how good your interpersonal communication skills are? A Calbar grad might have gotten an interview if they had 5-10 years of relevant experience, but unquestionably there is a strong preference for ABA grads.

It's possible that in a rural county with fewer applicants the results would be different, or that small firms would not be quite so competitive.

529
I think the student is required to take the FYLSE after the first year (or after the first 1 1/2 years, since they're part-tme). If they pass they can continue on to the second year. The CA bar requires the online/unaccredited school to certify that the student has completed something like 864 hours of instruction, divided into specific categories: a certain number of hours in torts, contracts, etc. This is the same requirement for applicants who study with an attorney or in judges' chambers.

After that, the requirements are the same as any other applicant: pass the MPRE, positive C&F determination, pass the bar.

BTW, the FYLSE is not typically required for students at CA accredited law schools unless they fail classes. Some (maybe all?) CA ABA schools require the FYLSE for re-admission if a student has been academically disqualified. If you look on the Calbar website you'll see a number of students from ABA schools taking the exam, but I don't know if that's required by the Calbar or if certain individual schools make it a requirement for re-admission.

Anyone who has more specific info, please feel free to correct me!

530
I was a non-traditional splitter like you, OP. I had a high LSAT/average GPA/great softs. The thing is, as other posters have already stated, law school admissions is very numbers driven. GPA and especially LSAT will dominate your admissions profile. As a splitter, your chances for admission to certain schools is a little less predictable, but if you focus on schools with average LSAT scores below your eventual score, you'll likely be alright.

It's difficult to predict how you'll do on the LSAT based on practice tests (some are easier/tougher than others), but if you score anywhere near 170 you will be fine. A high 160s/low 170s is probably sufficient to obtain a full ride at lots of schools in the T3-T4 range, and admission (but possibly without $$$) at lots of other places. The more prestigious the school, obviously, the less predictable the chances.

If you plan on staying in Florida you might want to check out FIU, Miami, and FSU. With a 170 you could probably get significant scholarships at all three.

Good Luck!

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