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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: April 24, 2012, 12:52:41 PM »
For the vast majority of people neither degree is worth the extra student loan debt. If your goal is to practice law the MBA will not give you an advantage because law firms are hiring you to be a business administrator (at least not straight out of law school). LL.Ms are rarely required and often not even preferred. In most cases an LL.M is a "soft factor" at best.
The exceptions are LL.Ms in Tax or Environmental/Natural Resources Law. For most students who are pondering a random LL.M, however, the expenditure will likely not result in increased earning potential. For those who don't believe me, scrool through the attorney profiles for any firm, large or small, and see how many non-tax/non-environmental LL.Ms you spot.
The SJD is a purely academic degree and would make sense if your goal was to become a professor. If your JD was from non-ABA or non-elite ABA schoolhowever, I think you'd probably have a tough time getting into one of the better recognized SJD programs. Academic jobs are extremely competitive, and even small, local law schools often hire people with pretty impressive resumes.
Bottom line: for most jobs the JD is sufficient, and an MBA/LL.M/SJD will not really help.
« on: April 23, 2012, 03:12:31 PM »
I'm not sure that it makes sense to lump T3-T4 grads into the same category as unaccredited online grads. The California bar pass rate for online grads is something like 20%, and thats after the FYLSEX has weeded out a significant number. Of those who pass, some will have successful careers. The numbers, however, are very small.
T3-T4 law schools, on the other hand, produce plenty of successful grads. Do they have the same job opportunities as those from T1 schools with national reputations? Of course not, at least not straight out of law school. Notice that I mentioned "national reputations". Many T1 schools really only have regional reputations that don't travel as well as their grads would like to pretend. Do you honestly think a mid-sized firm in LA, for example, is going to give preference to an Iowa grad over a Southwestern grad?
Of course it all depends on how you choose to define success, but most DA/PD/Midlaw offices are well stocked with such grads.
« on: April 22, 2012, 07:25:35 PM »
You indicated that you intend to practice in the Sacramento suburbs. That is a very specific locale, and I assume that you mean solo/small firms. Pepperdine is currently tied for 49 according to USNWR, and McGeorge comes in at 101. I'd be surprised if the benefits which would accrue based on attending a school ranked 49 vs. 101 would outweigh the benefits of cheaper tuition, internship possibilities, and alumni connections.
If you do choose Pepperdine try to obtain internships and summer associate positions in Sacramento. Look for Pepperdine alumni practicing in Sacramento and contact them as early as possible, even during your first year. I'm graduating in May and I can tell you from personal experience that connections mean everything when it comes to finding a job. In my experience, meaningful personal connections will trump class rank or law school rankings.
Good luck and congratulations on getting accepted to two fine schools!
« on: April 22, 2012, 06:21:56 PM »
I would argue that even an MA or PhD in many fields is almost useless. The guy mentioned in the article had a BA in Creative Writing, and is working at a low end job. Does that actually surprise people? Let's say he gets an MA in Creative Writing. Then what? Teach a few community college classes with no chance at tenure? Maybe, if he's lucky. Let's say he then gets a PhD in English from a non-elite university. What are his chances of obtaining a professorship?
I'm not trying to be snarky, I studied History as an undergrad, a field for which there is almost zero market demand. We have done a terrible job in the U.S. of preparing students to study for degrees that might help them earn a living. For many students college is an overpriced extension of high school.
Not everyone can (or should!) be an engineer, doctor, or chemist. I get that. But the numbers are way too skewed. I live right down the street from a very well known, very prestigious private college. For every pre-med or computer science major that I meet, I swear I meet twenty who are majoring in pottery and drawing.
Incidentally, I think this immature attitude contributes to the hiring problems faced by new law grads, too. Many of the people I go to law school with have limited their job search to OCI and mass resume drops. The people I know who have job offers HUSTLED. They're not necessarily top of their class, but they know how to market themselves.
I will now step down from the soapbox.
« on: April 21, 2012, 01:27:14 AM »
No, you're not screwed, but be realistic about your future. The people I know who went to T3-T4 law schools and were happy and successful were those who entered law school with their eyes wide open. Your chances of obtaining a federal judicial appointment would be slim even if you went to Harvard. So don't worry about it, and set your sights on realistic, achievable goals.
Study hard and crush the LSAT, and you can get into a T3, maybe even a T2. State court judges are often grads of T3 and T4 law schools, having worked their way up the ranks of the DA or PD's offices. In my area lots of the judges are La Verne, Western State, and Southwestern grads for example. So are many of the prosecutors and successful small firm/solo practitioners. I argued my first case before a judge who graduated from a non-ABA school.
If you choose to attend law school in order to become a federal judge or biglaw partner, you will be disappointed. Contrary to what you will hear from almost everyone else here, attending a lower ranked law school is not the kiss of death unless you have unrealistic expectations to begin with. Keep in mind that many of the people offering advice have little or no experience in the actual practice of law.
Be realistic, work hard, make meaningful connections, and you'll be alright.
« on: April 20, 2012, 02:58:44 PM »
That's a good question, seems like uncharted territory. After reading the article is still wasn't entirely clear to me how the proposed program wouls work. It sounds like their simpl doing away with some of the general ed requirements.
I'm old school on this stuff, but I think that a bachelor of arts degree should actually mean something. It should mean that you have received a well rounded, rigourous education. If colleges (and students) simply want pure vocational training thats fine, by why call it a BA? For that matter, why bother requiring three years of education? A journalism major (the example used in the article) could just take two years of journalism and writing courses and receive a certificate or associate's degree.
Actually, I've never fully understood why four-year university degrees are offered in non-academic majors anyway. People want the prestige/legitimacy that a university degree imparts without doing all that pesky studying.
« on: April 20, 2012, 11:23:02 AM »
I suppose it depends on the particular law school. Some ABA approved law schools (Tulane comes to mind) will accept applicants who do not possess a bachelor's degree but have at least 90 units. I can't imagine that a bachelor's completed in three years would present any problems.
As far as state bars, again it depends. California only requires 60 units of undergrad work to be completed, so they'd be ok there.
« on: April 20, 2012, 01:35:31 AM »
It is possible to successfully negotiate a higher scholarship, I did. Please keep in mind that I have very limited experience with this, as I've only done it once. Anyway, here are some pointers:
1) Like any bargain, you need to have something that the other party wants. You mentioned that you will likely receive a large scholarship from this school anyway, so I assume your LSAT/GPA numbers are well above their medians. This is to your advantage. They want you because thay believe you will pass the bar and be a successful alum. Someone who is offered a, say, only a 25% scholarship probably has far less bargaining power. The school simply doesn't want them as much.
2) A comparable or higher scholarship offer from another school will give you leverage. I had a 75% offer from one school and something like 50% or 60% from my first choice (it's been four years, I honestly don't remember). After writing a letter explaining the situation my school of choice matched the 75%.
3) Be absolutely 100% honest, do not exagerate or embellish anything. If applicable, send a copy of the offer from another school(s) with your letter to show that you're for real.
4) Be positive. I wrote about all of the things that I truly loved about my school and why I wanted to attend.
5) Be humble. Remember, you're asking them for money, not the other way around. Don't try to convince them that you're the biggest badass in the world and that they're fools if they don't give you more money.
I hope some of this helps. Law school is absurdly expensive, and in my personal opinion many law students would do themselves a service by focusing more on scholarships and less on rankings. They usually have no clue how utterly crippling a $2500 per month loan payment can be. If you're talking about a truly elite school, yeah it might be worth it. But for the vast majority of mid to low ranked law schools, no way.
« on: April 19, 2012, 03:58:15 PM »
The last paragraph of legend's post is spot on. This is your decision, and only you can truly weigh the myriad factors. Personally, I opted for a huge scholarship at a lower ranked school vs. sticker price at higher ranked schools. It was the right decision for me, it may or may not be the right decision for you.
And yes, pay careful attention to the requirements necessary in order to maintain the scholarship. Mine required that I be ranked in the top 15% to maintain the full grant, not an easy thing to pull off at any law school.
Lastly, (and this is just my opinion) I sometimes get the impression that the minute, specific details in rankings matter more to law school applicants than they do to most lawyers. For example, many biglaw firms probably won't consider a graduate from either Pepperdine or McGeorge unless they're top 10%, law review, etc. anyway. Neither school really has a national reputation, so outside of CA I don't think it will matter.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that rankings don't matter outside of the T14, but I would try to be realistic about how much it matters. I also have no doubt that you'll receive a solid legal education at either school. They both have good bar pass rates and good local reputations.
« on: April 19, 2012, 02:06:28 PM »
If your goal is to practice in the Sacramento area, I'd take the 1/2 scholarship at McGeorge in a heartbeat. Pepperdine may be higher ranked, but (this is not meant as criticism) neither school is especially prestigious. McGeorge will probably offer you better internship opportunities and alumni connections in Sacramento, plus the reduced debt will allow greater flexibility when you graduate.
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