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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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651
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. 

652
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!

653
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. 

654
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.

655
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.

656
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!

657
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! 

658
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Emory? Hofstra? Neither?
« on: May 01, 2012, 12:28:56 PM »
Where do you want to live and work? You'll want to do clerkships/internships in that area, and you'll have better opportunities with a local school. Also really think about where you want to spend the next three years, NY and Atlanta are very different places. If you want to live and practice in the southeast Emory is a great opportunity. I've spent some time in GA, NC, and FL, and Emory has a very strong regional reputation. In fact, I'd say after Duke and UNC it's the most respected school in the area.

If you want to eventually live in NY, I'm not sure if Emory has the kind of national reputation that will open doors based on pedigree alone. That doesn't mean you won't be able to get internships and a job, but you may have to hustle to make it happen. I really don't know much about the east coast market so take everything I say with a grain a of salt. Just keep in mind that as an out-of-towner (especially if you're not top 10%, law review, etc) it is more difficult to compete with local grads who have spent the last few years clerking and making connections. In other words, a Hofstra grad with connections might be in a better position than an Emory grad without connections. Also consider the fact that the importance of your law school pedigree will diminish over time, and your resume will become the dominant factor.

I usually advise people to take the $$$ and minimize debt. Here, I'm not sure. Emory is a pretty darn good school. Not elite, but very good.
Ask yourself this: what are my goals after law school? Biglaw, government, solo practice? Realistically, what do I want to accomplish? Think about how each school (and its price tag) will help or hinder your goals. Rankings are something to consider in this case, but don't obsess over them.

659
Acceptances / Re: U of A vs. Pepperdine
« on: April 30, 2012, 03:04:44 AM »
Congratulations, you have two good schools to choose from!

You'll get a solid legal education at either school, and they've both got good regional reputations. To some extent it really comes down to where you would prefer to spend three years: Tucson or LA? (Notice I didn't say Malibu? Unless you're independently wealthy, you won't be living in Malibu.)

If you don't care where you end up after law school, I'd say that the scales tip in favor of Arizona. AZ is $23,000 per year, Pepperdine is $41,000. Over three years that's $54,000 extra to attend Pepperdine in tuition alone. I can tell you from personal experience that the cost of living is much higher in LA. Assume another $10,000 per year in living expenses as compared to AZ and you're at $84,000. Those loans are easy to take out, but much harder to pay back.

In terms of post law school employment, I think you'd have decent opportunities coming from either school. AZ may have an advantage, though. AZ is the top law school in the state. I imagine that AZ students have a good shot at internships/clerkships/summer associate/judicial clerkships throughout the state. Also, AZ has a solid reputation throughout the southwest. You could probably score summer positions in LA, Las Vegas, etc if you put some time into developing contacts.

The California market is more saturated. If your goal is biglaw or the more competitive government positions, you'll be facing some serious competition.

Here a few things to consider:

1) What are your goals after law school? Don't limit yourself to focusing only on which school to choose, but think about what you want to do with your degree. Biglaw, government, solo practice? The answer to that question will guide you ultimate choice.

2) Be realistic about your goals. The people I know who graduated happy and with job offers started law school with clear, achievable goals. You don't need to be valedictorian at Harvard to get a great job, but if your goal is to clerk at SCOTUS you better be valedictorian at Harvard. 

3) Money. The vast majority of 0Ls don't seem to think about the cost of a legal education and how that debt can cripple you later. Generally, I think you're almost always better off minimizing your debt. It will allow you greater flexibility when you start to look for a job, a huge advantage. Remember, no matter where you go to school there is no guarantee that you'll land a high-paying job.

4) Rankings. Don't obsess over them. Very few schools have national reputations so strong that the pedigree alone will get you an interview. Often students choose to go deeply into debt to finance a legal education based on a school's ranking, when they could have obtained scholarships at lower ranked schools. Unless we're talking about truly prestigious law schools, this is a bad idea.

5) Network, hustle, and make connections from day one. the market is very competitive right now and you can't rely on OCI and mass resume drops to get you a job. You need to make connections. The people I know who have job offers at graduation are not necessarily law review, top ranked etc. They are, however, great at marketing themselves and working hard.

Good Luck! 




660
Some T1 grads will make $160k starting. I just find it hilarious that there are people who would consider $160k a tier-wide average. 

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