« on: July 26, 2013, 02:00:17 PM »
I'm going to answer your question, but let me first suggest another option: LSU.
LSU has a good regional reputation, cheap tuition, and the median LSAT score is 157. The great thing about in-state tuition is that, unlike scholarships, it can't be taken away. Something to consider.
As far as your other options, I'd probably just go for the cheapest one. If you can avoid racking up a huge debt by obtaining a scholarship and/or living at home, that might be a great choice. Graduating from any of these schools you probably won't be in the running for Biglaw and a high starting salary. Therefore, you really need to consider the implications of a huge debt.
If you are seriously considering NYLS, take the time to research the NYC job market as well as living expenses. NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and you could easily rack up a six figure debt from living expenses alone. Additionally, you could end up as a small fish in a big pond. I don't get obsessed with rankings, but the fact is there is some heavy competition for jobs in NYC. You'd be up against NYU, Columbia, Cornell, and Fordham grads.
The same would go for Mercer or Texas, although to a lesser extent. Even if you score a substantial scholarship you will likely have to go into debt for living expenses. Also, it's very easy to lose most law school scholarships.
You should also consider where you want to live and what kind of lawyer you want to be. Are you comfortable with the idea of working at small office doing wills and trusts or being a public defender? Or do you want to live in Manhattan and work on Wall Street? If you go to school in Georgia, Texas, or NY that is likely where you will end up doing your internships, making connections, and getting your first job. Unless you graduate from a prestigious, nationally recognized institution it's difficult to attend law school in one region, then show up somewhere else and expect to find a job. It can be done, but it's tough.
Contrary to what you may hear elsewhere, going to a local, non-elite law school can be a good choice. The trick is that you need to get as educated as possible about the job market, the cost of attendance, and your realistic options after law school. (By realistic options, I mean don't assume you'll be the one person out of 500 who gets a federal clerkship or Biglaw offer).
What you want to avoid is a $2000 per month loan payment in a market where the median starting salary is $45,000.
Good luck with your decision!