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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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I have no doubt that UMass is a good school, my main point was simply that it doesn't make sense to go to a relatively unknown law school in MA if you want to practice in Los Angeles.

I'm not sure what that particular administration of the exam indicates about UMass, if anything. Schools sometimes have "outlier" years where they score low, then recover.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« on: January 16, 2013, 05:11:57 PM »
I would suggest first deciding where you want to live, then choosing the least expensive school in that region. Most of the places you've been accepted to probably offer similar post-grad employment prospects, with a slight advantage being given to U Miami. Assuming that you're a FL resident, I'd look closely at FIU. The in-state tuition is reasonable, and (unlike a scholarship) it won't be lost after the first year. I don't have personal experience with the south FL market, but I doubt if the slight reputational advantage enjoyed by U Miami outweighs the cheap tuition at FIU.

Scholarship stipulations are tricky, and it's very common to lose all or some of your scholarship. You'll quickly find when you get to law school that it's far more difficult than undergrad, and staying at the median is not as easy as it sounds.

My analysis would apply to the midwest schools, too. If you want to live in Chicago, then DePaul might be a good choice. But if you plan to live in south Florida I'm not sure that it makes too much sense to spend three years in Bloomington or East Lansing. Also, if you go out of state you're likely to accrue debt for living expenses, whereas maybe if you stick near home you can avoid that cost.

Trust me, it's easy to take out those loans but it hard to pay them back. Coming out of one of these schools you probably won't be making $150K right out of the gate, so do what you reasonably can to minimize your debt.

What are my chances of getting into a top 20 school without retaking the LSAT?

Pretty low. Please understand that I'm not trying to be harsh, I'm just answering your question directly. As I'm sure you've read here and elsewhere, law school admission is primarily a numbers game. GPA and (especially) LSAT are the two biggest factors in the process. For schools in the top 20, both your GPA and LSAT are on the low side. For elite schools like Harvard and Yale a GPA/LSAT combo of around 3.8-4.0/175-180 is common. Even at schools ranked in the 15-20 range I think you're looking at averages of around 3.5/165+.

Take a look at LSAC's admission profiles for more detailed info on individual schools. The conventional wisdom states that a high LSAT can help compensate for a lower GPA. In order to have a shot at the top 20 you'd probably have to retake and score very, very high (170+).

Will my job experience (including previous internships at prestigious places of employment) and scholarship outweigh my GPA and LSAT?

No, at top twenty schools your soft factors will generally not outweigh your GPA/LSAT. Your soft factors exist complimentary to, but not in lieu of your numeric qualifications. In other words, they're helpful, but not dispositive. The thing you have to keep in mind is that you will be competing against other applicants who have higher GPAs, higher LSATs, and amazing soft factors. These schools tend to attract the best and the brightest, and literally thousands of people will apply for a handful of slots.

Also keep in mind that there is a big difference in the level of admissions competition at a top 20 school like Stanford versus, say, USC. If you raised your LSAT to 170ish you might have a shot at a place like SC, whereas the Stanford would still likely be out of reach.

Lastly, although this is probably anathema to everything you've read on every other board, don't get too caught up in rankings. Remember, these rankings don't exist according to some provable law of the cosmos, they're just the subjective product of a magazine.

Some schools will always be elite because they possess a certain aura (Harvard/Yale/Stanford and a few others). Other schools that USNWR has deemed worthy of appearing in the "Top 20" are not really elite national schools so much as very reputable regional schools. Don't kid yourself into thinking that going to one of these places is going to open doors throughout the country based on pedigree alone. You may be better off going to a reputable local school instead.

With a 3.25/161 you can into plenty of good schools. Think about where you want to live and work, and go from there. If you want to stay in NC/Southeast region, it may make more sense to go to focus on getting a scholarship at a school like Wake Forest, NC State, UGA, or even Charlotte rather than a school that is simply ranked in the top twenty.

Good luck!   

Online Law Schools / Re: Mid-Atlantic School of Law
« on: January 15, 2013, 08:06:02 PM »
They're definitely not accredited, but California allows students from unaccredited schools to sit for the FYLSE and bar. The problem is that they're not registered with Calbar, either. I just took a look at Calbar's summary of requirements for admission. As far as I can tell, the only unaccredited law schools whose degrees qualify one to sit for the bar are those which are registered with the State. I assume the requirements for the FYSLE are similar, since what would be the point in allowing someone to take the FYLSE if they can't sit for the bar?

So to answer your question, Financialandtaxguy, no, I don't this is a good option for FYLSE prep either.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: I want to be a...
« on: January 15, 2013, 09:43:08 AM »
I am very interested in obtaining either a judicial clerkship or getting a job as a prosecutor right after graduating from law school.

I don't have any personal experience with either the NYC market or the schools you're referring to, but I can offer some general observations.

Judicial clerkships are very competitive, and usually go to people who were top 10-20%, on law review, and maybe did a judicial internship during law school. There are only a handful of clerkships compared to the number of law grads who would like to obtain them, and you'd definitely be competing against the NYU/Columbia/Cornell crowd as well as top students from the other local T2-T4 schools. That doesn't mean you can't do it, just understand that it's highly competitive. 

As far as the prosecutor's office, check to see if they're still doing any real hiring. State and local government budgets have been hit very hard the last few years, and many prosecutor's nd public defender's offices simply aren't hiring. The best bet for maximizing your chances at getting hired is to intern at the prosecutor's office during law school. Making personal connections in incredibly important, and will go a long way towards landing a job later. Take all of the crimlaw/crimpro classes you can, do well, and try to squeeze in some trial advocacy classes. Even if you can't get an internship, volunteer at the D.A.'s.

Generally, I think you should go to law in the area in which you want to live (unless you're attending an elite, nationally recognized school). If you want to live in California, for example, you'd be much better off going to school in LA or SF than NY. At most schools the post-grad employment opportunities, alumni network, and reputation are going to be local or regional. It's very difficult to show up in a new city after law school and to compete with the local talent for jobs. All of the schools you're looking at have good local reputations, and will offer the best opportunities within their immediate geographic region.

Lastly, view any law schools' post-grad employment and placement data with a skeptical eye. Law schools will sometimes include unpaid positions, non-legal positions, etc. Frankly, I'd be surprised if any school was acheiving "amazing" public service placement right now, since many government offices are laying people off. Call the school, ask how old the data is, whether that includes unpaid positions, etc. Set your BS detector to "stun" when you view this information.

Online Law Schools / Re: Mid-Atlantic School of Law
« on: January 14, 2013, 10:04:09 PM »
Would studying with MASL even qualify one to take the FYLSE in the first place? Although CA is comparatively open, they do still have some hoops you have to jump through. If a school is neither ABA/CBE accredited or registered with the CA bar (like Taft, Concord, etc.), then I think you'd have to qualify under the attorney-study option (not sure what it's actually called). Is that what MASL does, do they put their students in contact with CA attorneys who supervise their work?

I think Livinglegend makes a good point. Much criticism of the ABA is focused on the notion that there is a glut of lawyers, and that the ABA should be in the business of limiting the number of new law grads in order to alleviate this perceived glut. Much of this criticism comes from recent law grads who feel cheated, and think the ABA should have done more to dissaude them from attending law school.

A couple of points:

There isn't a long term over-supply of lawyers, there is a short term glut because the economy is in shambles. Previous to 2008, my lower tier alma mater had something like a 70-80% employment rate (within nine months of graduation). In the last five years that has drastically reduced, but it's not because the country is churning out any more lawyers now than in 2008. How many new law schools have been accredited since then? Maybe two or three? Until the economy recovers that won't change. But what can the ABA really do about that? De-accredit schools? Force schools to reduce class size? I'm not sure they have the power to do that.

It's not realistic to think that the ABA can develop policies which are pegged to economic fluctuations, and will reduce/increase the supply of law grads according to market needs.

Secondly, the cost of legal education has far more to do with the law schools themselves than the ABA. Some of the ABA accreditation criteria (tenured faculty, faculty pay, facilities requirements, etc) do indeed add to the cost of a legal education. However, these policies also add to the quality of an ABA accredited education, and that's why its seal of approval still carries weight in the legal world.

Other factors that are beyond the control of the ABA also contribute to the increasing cost. For example, in my state, California, the cheapest public law school is now almost $40,000 per year. Is that because of the ABA? No, it's because California is practically bankrupt and has no money for state universities.

Lastly, I meet people every single day who are successful graduates from T4 schools employed at small firms, solo offices, and government offices. Conversely, I also meet people who graduated from T1 schools and are unemployed. An individual who is smart, personable, and willing to take a low paying job so that they can build experience will be fine. That means doc review, DUIs, insurance claims, child custody disputes, and all of the other stuff that many T1 grads seem to think is beneath them.

At the end of the day, the ABA isn't your counselor or your life coach, it's just an accrediting/lobbying organization. 


If the OP is located in California he may want to consider the CBE (California bar) accredited law schools. Of course, there are many factors that should be considered when contemplating a non-ABA school, but in the OP's case it might be a viable option.

CBE schools don't necessarily require a bachelor's degree for admission, I think two years of college work will suffice. This could save the OP a couple of years worth of tuition and time. They also tend to be cheaper than ABA schools and offer part-time programs.

The main factors to consider are the OP's post-law school plans. If he wants to work at a large firm or government office, then an ABA degree is a must. Also, many states will not accept a non-ABA degrees for bar admission. Considering the other factors the OP has listed, however, this may be a route to consider. 

Transferring / Re: Transferring v. Reapplying
« on: January 11, 2013, 02:56:22 PM »
Maybe.  My LSAT wasn't very good and I still transferred up multiple tiers.  I started at a tier 4 as well.  I don't think LSAT grades are very important for transferring.  Easily the most important are grades and class rank.   

The answer, as always, is "It depends."

In the majority of situations grades and class rank are the dispositive factors. If you have very good grades and a high class rank you can probably transfer from a T4 to a T1. The thing that transfer applicants have to keep in mind, however, is that terms like "T1" and T2" describe a broad range of schools with varying degrees of selectivity in admissions.

For example, if you're trying to transfer from a T4 to Stanford, I think they might very well take your LSAT into account along with class rank, GPA, and the reputation of your current law school. The competition for those few transfer spots is going to be fierce. (I know someone who transferred from Hastings to Berkeley, both T1. They were ranked near the very top of their class after 1L, and had an impressive resume to boot).

OTOH, transferring from the local T4 to the local T2 (or even a non-elite T1) is going to be based largely on GPA/class rank.

One thing the OP may want to consider is whether transferring makes much sense in the first place. I'm not sure that any benefits gained from transferring to a California T2-T3 are necessarily much better than those gained from graduating top 10% at a T4. In fact, I recently worked at an office where a top 10% T4 grad would have been viewed as highly preferrable to an average T2 grad.

I went to a T3-T4 in CA, and the top 10% of my class secured good jobs. Some went to Biglaw, others to government/judicial clerkships, others to very reputable boutique firms. If you transfer, I assume there is a good chance you rank will drop. Also, I believe transfers are often not eligible for law review. Things like that may or may not be compensated for by the increased tier rank.

Just something to think about, good luck! 

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Common Law v. Civil Law
« on: January 11, 2013, 09:45:03 AM »
Keep in mind that if you plan to take the bar in any state other than LA, you will be tested on common law. Your decision depends on where you plan to take the bar(s).

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