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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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All of the schools you've been accepted to have good reputations, but you need to be very realistic about your options.

1)Career prospect
As an international student, if I want to practice law in US after graduation, I have to go to those biglaws sponsoring H1B visa. So employment rate at biglaws is one of the most important factors for me to make decision.

Hiring at the big U.S. firms is extremely competitive. You will most likely need to be ranked near the top of your class, which is no small accomplishment in law school. Your classmates will be just like you: disciplined, motivated, and smart. Everyone will be striving to reach those coveted few spots, and you simply can't assume that you'll be at the top. Before you commit yourself to law school, understand that there is a very good chance you will not get hired at a big firm.

I'm not sure what (if any) effect your immigration status would have on getting hired, but it may complicate the matter further. I'd ask other foreign law graduates directly about their experiences, as well as the law schools themselves.

I'm seriously considering about transfer to T6 after 1L. Will any of these schools give me some advantages for transfer? I heard that ND and W&M have good academic reputation, but Washington U & GW have higher ranking, which will help?

The general rule is that you should not attend any law school which you are not prepared to graduate from. As I said above, all of the schools you've been accepted to have good reputations. Transferring to a T6, however, is very competitive. Many people attempt to transfer to higher ranked schools, and very few succeed. You will most likely need very high grades and a high class rank by the end of 1L. Like getting hired at a big firm, you need to understand that while it's possible it's easier said than done.

You've set some very difficult to attain goals for yourself. Be realistic about your chances of attaining these goals, and evaluate whether you still want to attend law school even if you don't get hired at a big firm or if you don't get to transfer.

Good luck!

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: UC Davis
« on: March 21, 2013, 10:03:51 AM »
Let me first say that I am not a UCD graduate, and I can't really speak as to what connections or opportunities a UCD LL.M will offer internationally. You may want to direct your questions to UCD, and ask them about the post-graduation employment outlook for their international students.

To a large extent, I think the answer to your question depends on whether you plan to rely on the prestige of your degree to obtain employment internationally, or whether the LL.M is simply a means to qualify for taking the California bar exam. Like I said above, UCD is a well respected school in California. Internationally, however, I don't know how recognizable it is. I would suggest trying to contact graduates of the program as well as UCD and ask about their experiences.

As far as getting hired at a large U.S. firm, undertsand that hiring is very, very competitive. The entertainment industry in particular is highly competitive. Top UCD graduates do get hired at big California firms, but the prospects for a foreign applicant with a U.S. LL.M may be different. It may be more difficult to get hired, especially if there are any visa/immigration issues. Again, I'd contact Davis and ask them directly about how many of their foreign LL.M grads were hired by U.S. firms.

Good luck!

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: UC Davis
« on: March 20, 2013, 09:12:10 AM »
I have been accepted to UC Davis law school LLM program and was wondering how good the law school actually is?

It depends on what you mean by "good". Davis has a solid, well established reputation in California, but it's not nationally elite like Harvard or Yale. All of the UC law schools, however, are considered "good". As far a LL.M programs, I don't know how Davis compares to other schools. I think that depends on the specific concentration of the program.

When evaluating whether a particular school is the best choice you should consider your post-LL.M goals. Are you attempting to land a job with a large U.S. firm, or do you plan on returning to your home country? All of these factors have to be taken into account.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« on: March 20, 2013, 08:25:36 AM »
Jack and Legend both make good points.

None of the schools discussed here are nationally elite institutions, and you won't get a job based on pedigree alone. Minimizing debt should be a major factor in your decision. Also, you should be realistic about your chances of landing a biglaw position, and be prepared to take a lower paying job. Remember, even if by some chance you get into Penn you're not guaranteed a biglaw position.

Anti did provide one good piece of advice: consider retaking the LSAT and getting a scholarship at Temple. I'd add to that, and say if you can get a full ride with reasonable stipulations at any local school (Widener, maybe some of the NY/NJ schools) it might make more sense than a huge debt from Drexel or LLS. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« on: March 19, 2013, 04:41:55 PM »
Oh right, I forgot that 40% employment 9 months after graduation is totally acceptable.  OP, I retract my statement - feel free to attend either of these top notch legal institutions.

You're attempting to obfuscate the argument by attributing to me a point that I never made. I am making no claims whatsoever about the acceptability of employment trends for either school. I think we'd both agree that 42.7% is low.

I am simply pointing out that a very specific claim made by you (that it is more likely than not that a LLS grad will never work as an attorney) is unsupportable. The raw data required to substantiate such a claim does not exist. Unless you can provide at least some evidence to support your claim, it makes more sense not to believe you than to believe you. 

You're correct that some inferences can be drawn from the existing data. Clearly, the job market is bad, and people are having a hard time finding work. This data has to viewed in context, however. Most people, especially from non-elite schools, are not truly competitive in the job market until they pass the bar. This means that many grads have only been seriously competing for three months when the employment data is collected. In this market, that's nothing.

You're looking at one snapshot in time, nine months after graduation, and assuming that it will never change. I, too, am making assumptions, but my assumptions are based on experience in the Los Angeles market. It's not far fetched to assume that some people will obtain employment more than three months after passing the bar.

Here's why:
42.7% does not represent the total percentage employed. It only represents those who have passed the bar on their first attempt, and are in fulltime, long term positions. Others who are employed in short term or part time positions are still practicing law and building up experience. Some of those positions will mature into job offers, and others will act as a platform for the new attorney to network and gain experience, thus increasing their chances of securing long term employment.

To your point regarding those who have not found employment within a year, there is a huge difference between someone whose resume has a year-long blank spot and someone who has, say, worked as a volunteer at the DA's for a year and has done a dozen trials. That person has a decent shot at getting a job, but shows up in the LSAC report as unemployed.

Since many people use part time and volunteer positions to gain experience and improve their overall marketability, it's not a stretch to assume that they will gain fulltime employment or go solo. It just may not happen within three months of passing the bar. It's a reasonable assumption based on experience, and I see it happen all the time.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« on: March 19, 2013, 12:33:08 PM »
It is more likely than not you will never work as a laywer coming out of either school. 

What an utterly absurd claim. Either your lack of critical thinking is appalling, or you find it necessary to exaggerate to make your point. Either way it diminishes your credibility.   

Your statement is based solely on LST's data, which is nothing more than a regurgitation of LSAC's data for the most recent year available (2011). This data was collected nine months after graduation and has not been updated.

Most LLS students will graduate in May and pass the bar in November. The employment data is collected in February, only three months after bar results are released. At that point, 42.7% were employed in fulltime, long term legal jobs, and something like 56% overall. There is no data available for the subsequent months and years. 

Think about it: if only an additional 7.4% of the LLS class of 2011 gains long term legal employment, then the number becomes 50.1%. At that point it is in fact more likely than not that a LLS grad will work as an attorney, and your claim is refuted. I think common sense dictates that far more than an additional 7.4% will eventually find legal employment.

Can you provide data which proves that more than 50% of LLS grads will never be employed as attorneys? Of course not.

Does any of this mean that the LA market is in great shape, or that people won't struggle? No, not at all. It's a difficult market and it's tough to find your first job.

This is, however, a great example of how people misunderstand employment statistics. You can't use such scant data to extrapolate years into the future and support your claim that most LLS will "never" work as attorneys. It's an unsubstantiated claim, at best.   

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« on: March 18, 2013, 10:06:47 AM »
I can't really tell you what to do, per se, because where you choose to attend law school is a highly personal choice. Nonetheless, I live in LA, went to law school here, and worked in the entertainment industry for a while. Perhaps I can offer some insight on the local market.

Generally, you should go to law school in the area in which you want to live, unless you have the opportunity to  attend a highly prestigious national school. It is much easier to obtain internships, clerkships, and other positions locally. If you have the reputation of an elite national school behind you, like Harvard, well, that's different. But if you attend a local/regional school like Drexel it might be very tough to land entertainment related internships in LA. Conversely, if you want to live in Philly, it might be difficult to make connections if you attend an LA school. 

Even in a big metropolitan areas like LA and Philly, law can be a very local, insular business. I've seen tons of examples of students from small, locally reputable (but not nationally known) schools easily beating out applicants from higher ranked out of state schools. The ability to make connections and to network is highly valuable, and it's tough to do that from three thousand miles away.

Loyola and Pepperdine both have good reputations in CA, with an advantage to Loyola, in my opinion. Lots of attorneys in the entertainment field are Loyola and Southwestern grads, as well as UCLA/USC and Pepperdine. All of these schools offer various internship opportunities and alumni connections with the studios or firms, and offer courses in entertainment law. If you attend school in Philly, you will have to find a way to compete against the local talent from these schools, which may be difficult.

Your uncle is right, in that attending Drexel will by no means permanently prevent you from practicing elsewhere. Drexel is ABA approved, and qualifies you to take the bar in any state. The question is simply one of difficulty. No matter what city we're talking about, whether its LA, Philly, Dallas, whatever, it is very difficult to show up after graduation in a new city in which you have no connections and to compete for jobs against local students who have had three years to develop a network and gain experience. This is especially true if you are not graduating from a prestigious national school, as you won't be able to rely on your pedigree alone to open doors. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but be realistic about the obstacles you may face.   

Additionally, if you really are interested in entertainment, you will need to pass the CA bar exam. This is no small task, as it's considered the toughest in the nation. Take a look at the CA bar pass rates from out of state schools, and take that into account.   

Law School Admissions / Re: Prestige of UG
« on: March 16, 2013, 09:20:10 AM »
If you look at the matriculation profiles of elite schools (not just the so-called T14, but more like the top 5-10) there does seem to be a preference for peer institutions. At other schools, I think it matters a lot less. Law school admission is primarily a numbers game, and your GPA/LSAT will dominate the process regardless of where you went to college.

However, when you're talking about elite schools, they have so many well qualified applicants that they can afford to take undergrad prestige into account. If you look at the entering students' profiles of elite schools, you'll see that a large percentage of students come from other Ivy League universities, elite liberal arts colleges, and highly regarded public universities (Berkeley, Michigan, etc). That said, people absolutely do get admitted from less prestigious institutions, but the numbers are smaller. The thing to understand is that admission to these schools is highly competitive, and lots of factors that wouldn't matter too much at other schools can matter within this context. 

At the vast majority of law schools the prestige of your undergrad degree will not matter much at all. You won't get dinged for attending a non-prestigious school. I know people who went to UCLA and Berkeley and who graduated from commuter state schools. However, even at lower ranked schools, I think a degree from a well known school can help. I attended a highly regarded university for undergrad, and one of the scholarship offers I received specifically mentioned the reputation of my undergrad institution. I got the impression that it was a soft factor, probably on par with extracurricular experience. Not a big deal, but a boost.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Suffolk Law
« on: March 12, 2013, 11:33:40 AM »
First, employers do care about the rankings.  Why do they care? Because they believe the highest ranked schools attract, on average, the most intelligent, hardest working students. 

I agree. If an employer sees Yale on your resume they're going to assume that you're very smart, and very hardworking. Not bad.

Do you think the same holds true for specialty rankings, though? Based on nothing more than my own anecdotal experience, I've never seen an employer get excited over the fact that an otherwise unremarkable school is ranked high in some random subcategory.

Say I'm looking at two resumes.  Author of Resume A went to an out of state school ranked 40, was ranked just outside the top 20%.  Author of Resume B went to an out of state school ranked T4, was ranked just outside the top 20%.  Assume I don't have a personal preference on the schools and I don't know either person.   

I agree that if an employer has nothing else to go on they'll probably make the decision based on rankings. But how realistic is this scenario? Typically an employer is not limited to choosing between two out of state, relatively unknown applicants.

I agree with you that rankings do indeed matter, but I think the degree to which they matter dramatically decreases the farther down the list you go. At the offices I've worked at, a local T4 grad with personal connections would have a much better chance than an unknown out of state grad from a random top 50 school. I'm not saying that the ranking would be completely disregarded, but I'm not sure that it would be sufficient to overcome a lack of experience or personal connections, either.

I've seen people from T4 schools get hired over T1 grads because they worked at the office as an intern and did a great job. They were a known quantity, and the hiring attorneys felt comfortable with them. I've also seen resumes from candidates who attended higher-ranked, but not exactly prestigious, law schools summarily dismissed. Why? Because they were unknown quantities, and lawyers can be very risk adverse. 

Now, if we include graduates from elite schools, the entire analysis changes. A Stanford grad will always get an interview, and probably get hired, based on pedigree alone.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Suffolk Law
« on: March 11, 2013, 05:26:28 PM »
Why is the employment prospect bad for Suffolk if the US News ranks the programs nationally pretty high?

This is a good example of why I'm skeptical of specialty rankings. In my experience, they really don't matter. Suffolk, for example, may have a good local reputation for dispute resolution in the Northeast (as Pepperdine does in California), and has been given a high specialty ranking by USNWR.

For whatever reason, however, these programmatic rankings never seem to generate better overall reputational/employment dividends. It seems that law schools have a general reputation based on their history, alumni success, and admission selectivity. Getting ranked in a specific, narrow field never seems to have much impact on that general reputation (positive or negative). Part of the issue is probably that most students are only able to take three or four classes within a given concentration. Therefore, while a few specific classes may be considered "ranked", the majority of the J.D. program isn't.

Here's an example. Lewis & Clark has one of the highest ranked environmnetal law programs in the country, ranked higher than Harvard. Does that mean that a huge firm in NYC is more willing to hire an L&C grad than a Harvard grad for its Enviro/Natural Resources section? I have no doubt that L&C is a fine school, but the big firms back east still want nationally recognized names. 

Im just confsued as to why so many people are attending unranked schools? Is it because they are known regionally? If so, wouldnt the job prospect employment score be higher?

People attend unranked schools for all sorts of reasons, its difficult to generalize. I graduated from T3 because (1) I needed a part-time evening program, (2) I didn't have time to commute (the school was only ten minutes away), and (3) they offered me a 75% scholarship. Some people were there for similar reasons, others just didn't get in anywhere else.

As far as employment prospects, the numbers are down for all schools right now. Some T3/T4s have employment prospects that are equivalent to many T2s and even some T1s, others are very low. It just depends. Many T3/T4s have decent local reputations and produce lots of local judges, DAs, and Main Street lawyers. Especially if the school is geographically isolated, the employment prospects might be alright. You really need to look at specific local conditions and parallel competition in order to evaluate whether a particular unranked school is a good choice. 

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