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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Distance Education Law Schools / Re: Taft, ALU, Concord
« on: August 01, 2012, 08:42:51 PM »
I've met attorneys who have told me that they found the FYLSX to be really tough, but I just looked at some past exam questions and they seemed pretty straightforward. You definitely need to know your stuff and to be prepared, but it seems doable. My law school finals in contracts, torts, and crimlaw were considerably more complex and lengthy than anything I saw on the FYLSX essays. Not to mention the fact that law school exams are typically three hours per topic, as opposed to one hour per topic on the baby bar.

Why is the pass rate so low? Frankly, it probably has to do with the academic capabilities of the average test taker. I went to a lower tier ABA school, and we had some students who clearly should not have been in law school. They did not possess the skills or drive to learn voluminous amounts of information and then to effectively apply those rules to a complex fact pattern. The people who squeeked in with low GPAs and low LSATs often failed out. I imagine (and maybe I'm wrong!) that unaccredited schools attract a larger number of these types of students, ie; those who didn't get accepted anywhere else. 

I don't mean to paint all students at unaccredited law schools with a broad brush, I know that there are success stories, and I know that some very smart people have graduated from such schools. However, it seems to be the most obvious reason.

Transferring / Re: Transfer Options?
« on: July 31, 2012, 01:37:34 AM »
I didn't know that a school could deny you access to federal student loans, I thought that was up to the federal govt? Is your school saying that because you fell below the minimum credits you can't qualify? I seem to remember that my law school required that you be enrolled in at least 9 units, even for parttime.

As far as transferring, unless something changes you're likely to have the same problem at another school that you have at your current school: not enough time. Trust me, I know how it is. Any school you seek to transfer to is probably going to have a minimum credit requirement, and you're back at square one unless you can make some kind of change in your schedule.

I'm not sure where you're located and which school you attend, but even making a lateral transfer (transferring to a school of the same general ranking as your current school) is probably going to be tough with a 2.0. Were you on academic probation at some point? I'm assuming that if your cumulative GPA is 2.0, then you must have had several grades below passing. That will all make transferring very tough.

Another option is to take a leave of absence while you figure out how to manage your schedule, then return to your current school. If you can enroll for the required number of units you should be able to get federal loans again.

Good Luck!

Transferring / Re: JMLS (Chicago) to Northwestern
« on: July 27, 2012, 01:52:37 AM »
I have no experience with  the Chicago market, but I'd be willing to bet that if you want to be a prosecutor top 3% at JMSL is probably better than middle of the pack at Loyola or Kent. I understand that both may have higher rankings than JMSL, but lots of prosecutors went to small, local schools. In fact, in my area (CA) many of the prosecutors I've met fit your profile: they were top students at T3/T4 schools. JMSL probably has good connections to the local DA's offices, and top 3% is very impressive. If that's your goal, you'll probably be fine. 

Hi Niques, sorry it took me so long respond.

I graduated from lawschool in CA recently and I have a little experience working at a firm and later at a government agency. I know a little about juvenile dependency, but not too much. Just so you know, I've met plenty of people who had LSATs in the 140s, went to CA accredited schools, passed the bar, and are practicing attorneys. Does that mean it will be easy, or that it's guaranteed? No, of course not. Those people may be the exceptiions to the rule. Nonetheless, they exist. I also know a guy with a JD from an ABA school who has not been able to pass the CA bar after multiple attempts. The point is, you know yourself better than anyone else does. Do a critical, realistic evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, and go from there.

Good Luck, let us know what you decide!

This issue has been discussed pretty extensively in other threads, check put some of the older threads.

In my opinion, state-accredited law schools can be a good choice for the right student. Generally, if you have the opportunity to attend an ABA school that's probably a better idea. The key is to really take the time to consider what you want to do after law school, and to think about whether or not a non-ABA degree can help you achieve that goal.

The cost of attending SJCL is (I think) about $50-60,000. That's a huge investment of money and time. Whether you're considering a state school or an ABA school, you need to think about whether the cost of attending will be outweighed by the benefit. In other words, after spending $50-60K will you be able to get a job that will allow you to make thise loan payments?

The job market is very, very tight right now, and I'm sure it's tighter for Calbar grads vs. ABA. Nonetheless, I seem to remember that SJCL has a good reputation in the central valley, and many of the local attorneys are grads. If you plan on staying in the immediate area, SJCL probably has a decent alumni network that can help you get some experience with internships, etc. Outside of the central valley, you'll have to compete against grads from bigger name schools.

As far as working in juvenile dependency, a degree from a state school probably won't hold you back, especially considering your experience as a social worker. The biggest problem you'll face in that field is that there are very few jobs available. The dependency positions that are state/county funded have had their budgets slashed, and the government dependency jobs (county counsel, DCFS) are almost all on a hiring freeze. When a position does open up, they get flooded with applicants.

One last point, and please don't take this as criticism: the LSAT is easy compared to the bar exam. The LSAT is one morning long, and covers a few topics. The CA bar exam is three days long, covers something like 16 topics, and is notoriously difficult. If you had a tough time with the LSAT you might want to think about how you'll handle the bar exam before you drop 60k on law school.

Good Luck with everything!

Unaccredited schools have a much lower pass rate, but ABA pass rates are also much lower than other states.

For the February, 2012 bar:

ABA grads (including U.S. Attorneys): 3025 / 1547 passed
CBE grads: 538 / 141 passed
Unaccredited: 363 / 68 passed

Calbar's website breaks it down into specific categories, but those are the basics.

I've met many grads from different ABA schools who have had to take the Cal bar three or four times in some cases.   Similar to what FalconJimmy is saying, I believe my T4 has certainly focused on preparing us for the bar.  Low bar pass rates are reasons to take away a schools accreditation.  That happened to the University of La Verne after they produced just a 35% (not quite sure on the exact number) bar pass rate in July of 2011, but they were given back their accreditation earlier this year.   So while bar pass rates are not everything, it is still a significant factor.  An ABA bar pass rate that low is just unacceptable. 

In most states it is nearly unheard of for an ABA grad to have to take the bar three or four times. This is part of the problem I have with the ABA's one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating bar pass rates. Their methodology leaves almost no allowance for the varying difficulty levels between state bars. The ABA compares a school's first time pass rates to other ABA schools within the state.

If you're in Arkansas, for example, that means your school is compared to the only other school in the entire state, both with nearly identical admissions criteria (AK at Little Rock/AK at Fayetteville). If you're in Wisconsin, you don't even have to take the bar! But think of what that means to a small CA school: a CA T4, taking students with roughly the same GPA/LSAT profile as the Arkansas schools, is evaluted against Stanford/Berkeley/UCLA/USC. Even the "mid-range" CA schools like Loyola/Pepperdine/San Diego have average LSAT scores in the 162-164 range. In many states a 164 would be sufficient to gain admission to the state's top law school.

I was using La Verne as an example of how negatively this policy affects otherwise decent schools. Keep in mind that previous to about 2006, bar pass rates were not a big part of the ABA's criteria. Schools occasionaly, sometimes inexplicably, have a bad year. We saw it this year with San Francisco (32%), and last year with Thomas Jefferson (35%). USF is usually much higher, this was an anomoly. TJSL has already increased to 60% since last year. La Verne had the bad luck of having a low-pass year while they were provisionally accredited, which the ABA is much more willing to take away than full accreditation.

In 2009 bar pass rates plummeted state-wide, and La Verne's dropped more than most. They had 35% in 2009, then 47%, 53%, and 57% for the succeeding years. As a result, the ABA waived the usual accreditation rules and granted La Verne approval without having to start the whole processthe over. Their "ultimate bar pass rate", another method the ABA uses, actually exceeded the ABA's requirements. (I think it's around 91%). If you look at the schools that have had problems with the ABA over bar pass rates, they've all been California schools: Western State, Whittier, Golden Gate, La Verne, and now perhaps San Francisco and Thomas Jefferson. I think that fact indicates that there is something unique about the CA bar, and it would make sense to adjust the requirements accordingly.
Frankly, I think any school that can take students with low GPA/LSAT combos and get them to pass the hardest bar exam in the country at 50-60% for first timers, 90% overall, is probably doing a decent job. Also, this bar pass policy encourages T4s to admit huge classes then slash 30% (or more) in order to maintain higher pass rates. Ironically, the ABA says it's against this practice. 

BTW, I'm going solely off of memory on the percentages I quoted. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me.

I think the objective data indicates that the CA is the toughest substantively, not just because of a unique grading rubric.

MBE: CA requires a scaled score of 144 to pass, most states require a scaled 127.5 to pass

Performance test: CA requires two, three hour long PTs. Most states require either 1 three hour, or one 90 minute PT.

On Civ Pro and Evidence essays CA requires federal and state law analysis, I believe most states only require FRCP/FRE.

Length of exam: three full days, many states (though not all) are two/two and a half.

The low pass rate is not just due to students from unaccredited schools, they actually make up a fairly small percentage of all bar takers in CA. The overwhelming majority of takers are from fully approved ABA schools. The low pass rates for grads of out of state ABA schools is, in my opinion, the best indicator of the CA bar's difficulty. For the 2011 bar, Harvard grads had a 75% pass rate.

Just for purposes of illustrating why I am so critical of USNWR's ranking scheme:

The average for CA ABA schools was 62%, with most falling in the 50-60% range (a few schools with very high pass rates skews the average). Keeping in mind that CA has the toughest bar exam in the nation, consider the following:

As I stated earlier, Western State's Feb. 2012 first time pass rate was 92%, higher than every CA school except Stanford, and yet WSU is ranked T4.

University of San Francisco had a 32% pass rate and is ranked higher than WSU.

La Verne had a pass rate exactly equivalent to Davis and Hastings (50%), which they accomplished with 4% academic attrition as opposed to the 30% commonly seen at T4s. Nonetheless, Davis and Hastings are T1 and La Verne is T4.

Many T1 out of state law schools had pass rates which were significantly lower than CA T4s. I understand that bar pass rates are not the only metric to consider when evaluating schools, but I also think it speaks to the absurdity of the rankings scheme.

Western State just posted a 92% first time bar pass rate for the February 2012 California bar, and has been averaging 75%-80% for the last few years. Anyone who thinks you're at an inferior school is simply ignorant. BTW, I'm not a WSU grad, so this isn't just an attempt to brag about my alma mater.

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