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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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It's good that you're paying attention to the scholarship stipulations, they can be very tricky. Take the time to fully understand how the curve at your school works, and what it will take to maintain the full scholarship. I went to law school with a 75% scholarship and had to stay in the top 15% in order to retain it all. I assume your scholarship has some similar requirement.

Let me tell you, no matter where you go, whether it be Harvard or GGU, ranking in the top 15% (or even top 1/3) is no joke. A lot of people think "I'm going to lower ranked school, and I got this big scholarship, so I must be smarter than the vast majority of my competition. Clearly I'm destined to be on top." I'm sure you've heard this before, but law school is nothing like college.

Here's what they fail to realize: you may be smarter than the vast majority of people matriculating at your school, but you won't be competing against the great unwashed masses for that top ranking. You'll be competing against other people just like you. Smart, ambitious people with big scholarships and lots of motivation. The level of subject matter mastery and writing ability that would have gotten you straight A's in undergrad will get you a C in law school, seriously.

You can make it happen, however. Dedicate yourself entirely to succeeding, and don't waste time. I'm graduating from law school in CA with a small, local reputation only. I went out of my way to make connections and to obtain internships, and have a good job offer. It's not really the type of law I want to work in, but it's better than being unemployed. Like I said before, be flexible and adapt to what the market needs and you'll be two steps ahead of most of your classmates. 

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Cooley vs Capital
« on: May 07, 2012, 04:08:24 PM »
Thanks, that's very interesting!

La Verne has better long term long-term employment numbers than Hastings!? I must say, I've always thought that La Verne was a diamond in the rough, but still.

I didn't read the methodology, but I assume this chart represents percentage of grads who obtained long-term employment within a specified period of time (9 months after graduation, 1 year after, etc). Clearly, Cooley ranks near the bottom of this list and the big national schools rank near the top. My point was not to claim that T4 grads (from Cooley or elsewhere) are just as employable as T1 grads, but to challenge the metric by which we tend to define success, ie; biglaw/midlaw. 

I have some (admittedly limited) experience with public interest law. Here's the deal: "public interest" is a relatively broad term that encompasses everything from large non-profits like the Sierra Club to very small local food banks, and everything in between. Some private for-profit firms call themselves public interest firms because they focus on employment discrimination, immigrant's rights, etc. Some government jobs, like the public defender's office, can also be considered public interest.

Large, national PI organizations are actually very competitive when it comes to hiring. Lots of rich kids with Ivy League degrees who don't need to worry about paying off loans apply for these jobs. The smaller PI offices are less competitive, but as you've indicated, don't pay much. If you'll be graduating without much debt it may not matter, but if you've got to make $1500.00 per month loan payments $35-$40,000 is gonna be tough.

Here's the advice I'd give to anyone contemplating law school:

1) Set realistic, achievable goals and be clear about what it will take to realize those goals. If you go into law school with a distorted or unrealistic vision of the future, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Going to GGU doesn't mean that you'll be unemployed, but it does mean that you might need to be flexible and modify your post-law school expectations. Women's Interest legal jobs are few and far between, and you'll be competing with some serious heavy hitters. I'm not just talking about academic credentials, either. You might be competing against a woman who attended a T4 school, but spent ten years as the executive director of a small non-profit, or as a social worker, etc.

Your chances of being a happy, productive law student will greatly increase if you don't limit your options early on. Understand that you may not get your dream job straight out school, and be willing to build up experience in other fields so that eventuallly you'll be in a position to land that dream job. I hope I don't sound discouraging, but I've been throuh this process and I can tell you that adaptability is valuable. Regardless of what anyone tells you, you can go to a T3-T4, work hard, and get a job. Just be informed and realistic about your options. 

2) Get as much experience as you possibly during law school. This is absolutely imperitive, especially if you attend a less-than-prestigious school. Most public interest organizations have very tight budgets and can't afford to spend too much time training a new lawyer. In my limited experience, they tend not to hire people straight out of law school. Connections and experience will go farther towards getting you a job than your school's career placement office or on-campus interviews.

3) Consider rankings, but don't dwell on them. Very few schools have the kind of awesome reputation that will get you job based on prestige alone. When you get into the second, third, and fourth tiers the distinctions become even murkier. At that level most schools are regional/local,and it probably makes sense to go to school in the area in which you intend to live and practice. Grads from local schools who have had the opportunity to spend three or four years networking and doing internships are in much a better position than out-of-towners who show up after graduation. This is often true even if the out-of-towner went to a higher ranked, but still non-elite, law school. If you want to be in the SF/Bay Area, for example, I'm not sure it would help you to attend CUNY or Brooklyn.   

Good Luck.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Cooley vs Capital
« on: May 07, 2012, 01:31:03 PM »
Cooley has a bad rep, no question about it. But comparing Cooley to T2s like LSU and Houston is almost as flawed as the Stanford comparison. Both LSU and Houston have pretty good regional reps and much, much higher admissions criteria. The most accurate comparison would be between Cooley and other T4s in its region: Detroit-Mercy, Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Capital, Toledo, etc. Cooley may place poorly compared to those schools too, but at least you'd be comparing apples to apples.

One of the biggest problems with assessing most law schools is that post-grad employment date is often based on small number of alumni responses. This is especially true among the T3-T4 crowd. Obviously very few Cooley grads are getting hired at firms with 25+ attorneys, but again, is this different from most T3-T4s nationwide?

I'd like to know how many Cooley grads are making a living practicing family law, for example, in solo/small firms in the upper midwest. How many are prosecutors and public defenders? So much emphasis is placed on midlaw/biglaw, that it has become the primary criteria for appraising a school. I don't think that any reasonable person can defend certain aspects of Cooley's reputation (like the abominable attrition rate), but I'm not sure that the criteria by which they're judged is always fair.

Historically, the role of small local law schools (although Cooley's not so small) has been to produce attorneys who will fill non-prestigious but necessary niches: storefront law offices, local public interest, and local government. The fact is, someone has to serve the legal needs of the middle class by handling divorces, bankruptcies, and DUIs affordably. I'd be curious to know how both Capital and Cooley grads fare in those roles. 

Your GPA is excellent, which is  a great help. You'll probably need a 160-165 to have a good shot at BU/BC (closer to 165 for BC). Have you considered taking the LSAT in February instead June? This would give you more time to practice and maximize your score. Take alook at the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, it will give you a very good idea as to what your chances are at most law schools. As far as RWU, I don't know much about it. It's ABA apporved and has a decent bar pass rate, which are good signs, but I don't know about it's local reputation. If you want to stay in RI it might be good choice, especially if they offer a scholarship.

UMass-Dartmouth just opened a law school. It's not ABA approved yet, but with the UMass system behind it I suspect it will be in a few years. Suffolk is in Boston, but I don't know much about its reputation. 

Here are some general tips:

1) Consider your post-law school goals. What do you want to do? Biglaw, solo practice, government? Your answer to this question can guide your choice of law school. If you want a prestigious job in biglaw or a federal agency, then you'll need to go to an elite law school and perform very well. However, if you want to open your own office in the suburbs and practice family law, a scholarship at a small local school might make more sense.

2) Be realistic and set achievable goals. The people who are happy and productive in law school tend to be the ones who have a clear idea of where they're headed and know how to get there. You should try to  figure this out before you commit to spending $100,000-$150,000. Some people go to law school convinced that the only jobs worth having are in biglaw, or that a JD guarantees a high salary, or that they are destined to be in the top 10%. Those people are usually disappointed and frustrated.

3) Rankings matter, but not as much as you might think. This is especially true the further down the list you go. Very few school have the kind of powerful national reputation that will get you a job based on pedigree alone. Maybe ten or so schools in the entire nation (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc). The rest are essentially regional or local schools. For example, Boston University is a great school , but it is primarily an east coast/New England school. If your goal was to work in Seattle, you might be better off going to a local WA school even if it's ranked lower than BU. Most schools have an alumni base, employment contacts, etc all of which are local. Many students choose their school based on ranking alone and ignore the reality of the situation: the vast majority of schools are relatively unknown outside of their immediate region.

4) Do as many internships and clekships as you possibly can, attend local bar association meetings, and start making connections from day one. The legal industry is changing rapidly and you can't rely on your law school's career services office or on-campus  interviewing to get a job. The trend is moving away from big firms and towards smaller, specialized firms. Experience is key, I cannot stress this enough. Most firms (and govt offices) don't have the time or money to train a new clueless associate. They want people who can hit the ground running with minimal supervision. It is imperitive that you get real world experience, especially if you're not carrying around a Harvard degree.

Good Luck!

I wouldn't be too worried about the fact theat PHX received ABA accred in 2010. A school must be in operation for one year before they can apply for provisional approval, then must maintain provisional approval for at lest three years. PHX opened in 2005, so obtaining full approval by 2010 is pretty good. Also, their in-state bar pass rate seems good, which is usually a good sign.

As far as their for-profit status, I'm not sure how (or if) that would affect things. The ABA freaked out when Western State in CA (a for-profit school) applied for approval. Thay eventually got approved and to the best of my knowledge operate pretty much the same as any other law school. If at all possible I would highly advise taking trips to PHX and OKC and checking them out for yourself. Speak to current students, get a feel for the place. Sounds like CU might foocus on the rep of the school a little more, so OKC might be a more established choice. I suspect, however,  that grades and ranking will outweigh everything else.

I know that you don't want to re-take the LSAT and I can understand why, it means waiting another whole year. But consider this: some schools have fall and spring admissions. You may not have to wait a whole academic year to matriculate. Also, you could reapply to the part-time program at DU. PT programs are usually easier to get admitted to. Food for thought.

Lastly, if you're not committed to being a lawyer you might want to think about whether or not law school is the right move. The fact is, you will likely graduate with significant debt and will have to work as an attorney in order to make the payments. You  will probably be putting in pretty long hours which will make it difficult to start up a sports agent career. I'm not trying to dissuade you, it's just that I've been through this process and I can tell you from personal experience that it is very difficult to predict (or even plan) what you will be doing after graduation. 

You might also be able to swear in once you arrive in IL, regardless of whether you missed the ceremony. Just check with the IL bar. When my wife received word that she passed the CA bar, she didn't want to wait for a swearing in ceremony. We drove to the local courthouse and asked the clerk if a judge was available to swear her in. Five minutes later she took the oath, the judge signed some paperwork, and that was that.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Cooley vs Capital
« on: May 04, 2012, 11:16:40 AM »
Inactive alumni doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the school. People go inactive for lots of reasons then return to the bar later. Considering that the school has been around since 1903, 1131 inactive grads actually seems rather low.

Capital had the highest first time bar pass rate in OH from 2007-2011, surpassing Ohio State, Akron, Cincinnati and others.

I don't think that either school will give you an advantage over the other in terms of transferring. You'll need to do exceptionally well at either to have good shot.

I really try not to be a naysayer about people's choices because it's impossible for me to truly understand your personal situation. Nonetheless, I would not advise anyone to go ANY law school that they were not prepared to spend all three years attending.

If you have any friends or family who are lawyers ask them what it means to score in the top 10-15% in a JD program. Its very, very difficult. Remember, you won't be competing against slackers and halfwits like you did in college. You'll be competing against smart, ambitious people just like you.

If you do choose to attend one of these schools try to go into the program with your eyes wide open. Give yourself realistic, achievable goals and have a back-up plan. Ask yourself "What if I don't get to transfer? What if I don't get additional financial aid? Will I stay or drop out?" It's better to have a plan now in case things don't work out. Also, objectively assess your own capabilities. You know yourself better than anyone else does. I assume (perhaps wrongly) that you did not get accepted at either CU or DU. If so, do you think you'll be able to pull off top 10% in law school? I'm not saying you can't , just ask yourself these questions.

If you base this enormous decision on a very difficult to predict contingency (high grades), you may be setting yourself up for a huge financial and personal disappointment. Is it possible for your wife to join you in either OKC or PHX? If so, that would be a huge help.

Good Luck with whatever you decide!

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Cooley vs Capital
« on: May 03, 2012, 12:57:13 AM »
Someone once told me that Cooley has a bad reputation for having a bad reputation. Some of the criticism is fair, some is unfair. Yes, I know, Cooley has a self-serving ranking system that produces dubious results. I agree, its absurd. I also think USNWR is absurd. Their attrition rate is very high, the result of admitting too many unqualified students. Certainly an argument can be made that it's unethical to matriculate such students, knowin  that they'll likely fail out. As a result of high attrition, however, they have an OK first time Michigan bar pass rate.

The legal education offered at Cooley is not significantly different from what most T3-T4s offer. If it was, they wouldn't be ABA accredited. I think Cooley's reputation has taken on a larger than life aspect at this point, and might not have much of a foundation in reality. Nonetheless, that is Cooley's rep.

I don't know much about Capital, but they have a great bar pass rate in Ohio. If you want to practice in the midwest I'm sure that Capital is fine. If you want to do small firm/solo/government in Michigan, Cooley might be alright too.

No matter where you go, be realistic about your goals and options. Go into law school with your eyes open wide, do as many internships as possible, and make solid connections. I have friends who graduated from well respected schools who are unemployed, and yet I spoke to someone the other day who is about to graduate from La Verne and has a kick-ass job offer. Network and learn to market yourself! 

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