I just got accepted to California Western School of Law so I'm pretty excited about it since I'm from San Diego. Do you practice in NorCal or SoCal?
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On tier 3/4 schools? I've gotten in a few with pretty decent scholarships and am waiting to hear back from quite a few schools (ranks mixed) still.
I pretty much have a job secured after law school but what are your thoughts, is it worth going to tier 4 with good scholarship?
Livinglegend is providing a lot of useful information, but he's overloading you. You are perfectly capable of evaluating the cost and whether you like the city. The bigger issue is how the school is viewed in the region you want to work. For example, the university of Idaho is ranked 129, but it's the only ABA law school in Idaho. If you want to work in Boise, Idaho is a good choice. You could go to a much higher ranked school like the University of Arizona and get little to no benefit.
If you want to live in Topeka Kansas, Washburn Law School will give you similar job prospects to the University of Kansas. However, if you want to work in another state, the name recognition and superior ranking of the University of Kansas will be a significant benefit.
The top graduates from any school will have an opportunity to get a job based on their performance in school, but the rest (like 85%) will get jobs based on their hustle and relationships. So in most cases, I would recommend you consider your potential debt load as the #1 factor in your decision, followed closely by where you would like to work.
One additional comment. Law school applications have declined sharply. This year, LSAC estimates that there are 50,000 applications for 59,000 spots. When I applied, there were over 100,000 applications. This is great news because the legal industry is only projected to create 9,000 new jobs per year and only 10,000-15,000 attorneys are retiring every year.
Congrats on your acceptance very few people actually end up showing up for the LSAT and going through the application process and getting admitted. Although you might read a bunch of things saying otherwise on the internet getting into an ABA law school is an accomplishment. I am a licensed employer lawyer that did not go to a T14 school and believe it or not 90% of lawyers did not go to top 10 schools.
With that said before I give any advice realize that anything you read from anonymous internet posters on this board or others my post included should be taken with a grain of salt. Some of the advice might be helpful, but nobody posting anonymous on the internet knows anything about you, your situation, or what is best for you. Furthermore, there is no license required to post on this board or others for all you know I could have been valedictorian at Harvard law or be some bum in a public library shooting up heroin so take anything you get from sources such as this with a major grain of salt.
In regards to choosing a law school I have posted some factors I think any 0L should consider and they are in this order (1) Location (2) Cost (3) personal feelings about the school (4) Reality of Legal Education (5) Lastly use the rankings member it is nothing more than an for profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion you might want to use it, but don't make a life altering decisoin based on it.
I will break down the factors quickly.
This is the most important thing in my opinion wherever you attend school is where you will spend 3 years of your life and more than likely where you will end up living at graduation. Law school is a life altering event and during your time you will make friends, enter a romantic relationship or maintain a current one, get an apartment, a routine etc and at a minimum you will be there for 3 years. Furthermore, all your internships will likely be in the area because 9 months out of the year you will need to be in the location school is.
Also realize that law school does not exist in a Vaccuum I know nothing about you personally, but if you are a Conservative Mormon I would not recommend attending law school in San Francisco and if your a gay rights activist don't attend South Texas. There are also concerns of weather, culture, and so forth. If you are a person that loves living in a big city go to law school in a big city if you want the college vibe then attend a school in a college town. Although law school is time consuming the outside world still exists so consider where you want to live.
Scholarships are great and getting out with as little debt is ideal. However, pay close attention to any conditions you see on scholarship oftentimes it will be something along the lines of maintaining a 3.0 or being in the top 35% of the class. Now as a 0L I am sure you assume you will be in the top 35% of the class especially at Tier 3/4 school. However, that is not the case 100% of people at any ABA school are smart, hard-working, and motivated and if 100% of people think they will be in the top 35% you don't need to be a math major to see what happens.
That same logic applies to the 3.0 schools have stringent curves and generally only 35% of the class can get a 3.0 so pay extremly close attention to any conditions applied to your scholarships. Also look at the actual cost of tuition I know there are schools like FIU, CUNY, South Dakota, North Dakota to name a few that offer in-state tuition. You will only pay 12-15k per year and most schools charge 40k per year. So even if you got a 50% scholarship at some school that was 40k per year you would still be paying 20k opposed to 12-15k and there is a strong possiblity you will lose the schoalrship for years 2 and 3 so pay attention to all of that.
3) Personal Feelings About the School
When I was a OL I was accepted to numerous schools and in law school I participated in a lot of mock trial competitions. As a result of this I saw quite a few schools and learned that each had a culture and feel to it. There were some I liked and others I didn't, but what I liked you may hate and vice versa. I highly recommend you visit any school your serious about attending talk to professors, students, admins etc and see how they make you feel. I definetly left with a sour taste in my mouth at some schools and feeling really positive about others, but again that is my own personal feeling and there is a strong likelihood you and I don't have the exact same likes/dislikes. Remember nobody knows what is best for your better than yourself.
4) Reality of Legal Education
One thing I think few law students realize is that at any ABA school the education is almost identical. Your first year will consist of Torts, Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and you may have Criminal Procedure & Con Law in year 2 or those might be in year 1, but you will have all those courses. In these classes you will read Supreme Court cases Pennoyer in Civ Pro, Palsgraff in Torts etc. Believe it or not the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different schools the law is literally the same and once your 3 years is up at whatever law school you attend you will pay a company like BarBri or Kaplan to help you pass the bar and so will the kids at Harvard.
There are some schools that offer a few extra courses and if you have a particular area of interest you may want to check the course schedule, but even if that is the case most of your law school days will be spent studying the core subjects.
5) U.S. News
So many 0L's make life altering decisions based on this magazine, but remember that is all it is a magazine. U.S. News ranks more than law schools and they claim Alberqueu New Mexico is the best place to live and South Dakota will be the best place to live in 2032 . Not making this up either http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009 and http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2012/08/07/here-are-the-best-places-to-livein-2032 I imagine your not packing your bags to move to New Mexico right now or moving to South Dakota in 2032 because U.S. News said so. It makes me slightly more interested in these places, but I am certainly not going to make a life altering decision based like move to these areas because they said so. I encourage you to apply the same logic to law school use them as a basis, but don't make the decision of whether or not to go to law school because U.S. News says X school is 110th.
I can tell you these rankings change drastically year to year and outside of the top schools nobody knows or cares what certain schools are ranked. However, if you are expecting a 300,000 a year job right out of law school then go for Harvard or bust. However, if you really want to be a lawyer any ABA school will do.
Well that is it sorry for any typos I am rushing through this post hopefully some of that info is helpful and I wish you good luck if you decide to attend law school.