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Distance Education Law Schools / Re: Orly Taitz for US Senate
« on: May 13, 2012, 01:59:13 PM »
Taitz is a loon, but I had no idea they were blaming Taft for her antics. Did they blame Duke for Nixon? If anything, I guess Taft deserves a little credit, she did pass the bar.

Law School Applications / Re: Go to Cooley, or retake LSAT??
« on: May 10, 2012, 02:31:16 PM »
If you take the LSAT twice, most schools will either average your scores together or use the highest score. I have no idea what happens if you take it three times. You may have to wait a while before you can take it again, check with LSAC.

I would definitley advise taking a course if possible. I took kaplan and found it to be very beneficial. They had a test center in my area and I went every single day and took at least one full LSAT under actual test conditions, then analyzed my answers. Very helpful. It is expensive, however. If you do take a class you will get out of it what you put into it. Work hard, review your answers (don't just keep re-taking tests without review), and make the LSAT your single focus.

If you're not in a rush and can wait a while, I'd say take a class and re-take the LSAT. If you do decide to go to Cooley, take the time to research all aspects of the school and understand what it's going to take to succeed both in law school and afterwards. Transferring is not easy, and you really should not go to any law school that you aren't prepared to graduate from.

I hope that helped, good luck!

I don't have any personal experience with either school, so keep that in mind as you read this. To me, it sounds like UMass is probably a better bet.

1) It's cheaper, a huge advantage. Since neither school currently has a huge reputation, you might as well save money.

2) The UMass system is fairly well respected, and I think there's a good chance that UMass Law will eventually build up a solid reputation. Having a strong, well recognized parent institution supporting the law school is invaluable. It means that even though the law school is new, the institution already has experience with administration, fundraising, setting up financial aid programs, etc. All of that experience will come into play when the law school applies for full ABA approval. The ABA looks at everything from long term financial viability, to employment policies and administrative stability. Also, UMass has already hired some pretty good people, including Malagrino (formerly of La Verne and USD) for property. All good signs. 

3) NESL, on the other hand, has probably peaked and isn't going any higher.

Transferring / Re: Process of Transferring From COOLEY
« on: May 09, 2012, 01:10:32 PM »
I agree, it's a statement with no basis in reality. Many law schools have a median/average LSAT score below 160, and yet maintain low academic attrition.

Transferring / Re: Process of Transferring From COOLEY
« on: May 09, 2012, 11:16:53 AM »
Of course the LSAT isn't perfect, no test is. However, as you point out, the LSAT is a dependable predictor of academic aptitude (the exact thing it is designed to predict!). It stands to reason that in most cases a student with a high LSAT score will out perform those with lower scores. The LSAT is not supposed to approximate the law school experience, it just measures ability.

To the OP: don't go to ANY law school unless you are prepared to spend all three years there. Once you start you will quickly discover that law school, whether you're at Harvard or Cooley, is nothing like college. The competition is intense and it's  very difficult to predict how you will perform, especially if you're coming in with less-than-stellar numbers.

If you are prepared to spend all three years at Cooley anyway, that's a different story. Research the school's curve and contact the schools you'd like to transfer to. Most importantly, be realistic about your gals and options. If you start law school on day one expecting to be in the top 10% and transferring, you will likely be disappointed and frustrated. This is nothing against you personally, it's just the cold, hard reality of law school. My law school had a brutal curve that made it very difficult to transfer, and I suspect Cooley is the same.

Be realistic about all aspects of law school, not just transferring, be prepared, and be informed. If you do that you'll probably be alright.   

Sorry, just forgot to mention a few things.

If your living expenses are coming out of pocket, does that mean you'll be taking out loans to cover them? SF and NYC are especially expensive cities, and that could add significantly to your debt.

You also stated that you're concerned about attending any T2, 3, 4. Well, this goes back to what I said earlier about establishing realistic, achievable goals. For example: You don't have to be a Harvard grad to get a great job, but if you want to clerk at the Supreme Court you better be Harvard grad. It's a trite example, but you get the point. If you want to work at a prestigious national organization or big firm, you need to get into a top law school and then perform very well.

On the other hand, check into your local DA (which has domestic violence and sex crimes units), Public Defender, or local advocacy groups. I guarantee that they're NOT stocked with Harvard and Yale grads. You can attend a local T2, 3, or 4, and have a good shot at these places. If you go to school in CA, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the state bar's training program which allows you to become certified to make court appearances while still in law school. You can even argue full misdemeanor trials. That kind of experience is worth its weight in gold when it comes to finding a job.

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. 

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