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Messages - CA Law Dean

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Non-Traditional Students / Re: What are my chances?
« on: May 28, 2014, 02:10:10 AM »
Like $150K in debt and less than 50% (and as low as 25%) employment rates from lower tier CA ABA schools. Several of the CBE schools are half that price with superior employment stats for local jobs. You are correct that  you do get what you pay for . . . sometimes.

Distance Education Law Schools / Re: July 2013 Bar Exam Results
« on: May 28, 2014, 01:59:23 AM »
Maintain FL350,
When we get the individual school statistics for the February bar exam in a few weeks, I believe that your theory on which institutions are better educators vs. which are merely selecting and processing high achievers (and taking credit for their success) will be apparent. As an example, Monterey College of Law's median entering LSAT scores are 30-34% but our five-year cumulative bar pass rate for the California bar exam is over 60%. Several years ago, Stanford's median entering LSAT scores were 98%, but their first-time pass rate fell to 88%. Obviously 88% pass rates are better than 60%, but as you are suggesting, if you use the LSAT as a performance predictor . . . MCL has performed at twice the predicted outcome, while Stanford has underperformed by 10%. Maybe an investigation is needed to determine what Stanford did to "ruin" so many talented prospects, while MCL weaves straw into gold.

Updated for California applicants who are wait listed or rejected during the 2014-2015 cycle.  If your 2014  "Plan A" isn't working out. Gut check time . . . What is your most important objective? If the answer is becoming a lawyer . . . and not just becoming a [fill in specific law school name here] law school graduate . . . then it is NOT too late to consider one of the 17 California accredited law schools (such as Monterey College of Law) for Fall 2014. These regional schools are accredited by the State Bar of California, not the ABA. Many of them have very respectable bar pass rates (competitive with the unranked ABA law schools), are a fraction of the cost of the traditional ABA schools, and offer part-time programs so that you can actually begin working in law related jobs to gain relevant experience before graduating. Most have strong ties to the local bench-bar that result in jobs after graduation

Of course this is not the path if your goal is to work in a large urban center in a multinational law conglomerate. But if the idea of being a small firm lawyer, DA, Public Defender, Legal Services lawyer, or solo practitioner is what you are after . . .  select one of the California accredited law schools in an area that you might like to live/practice and get an application in . . . right away. Then go visit to see if it fits your goals. Ask hard questions about bar pass rates, costs, job placement, clinical,programs, etc. Most of the non-urban areas of California need lawyers (despite the articles in the national news) and many of them are great places to live and raise a family if you have not already decided to be a big city lawyer.

The biggest limitation is that upon graduation from one of the California accredited law schools you must take (and pass) the California bar exam first. You cannot go directly to another state and sit for their bar exam until you are licensed in California (and some states will require minimum years of practice as well). That is why the option is primarily for those who already know that they want to live and practice in California.

Bottom line, if you really want to be a lawyer, there is still time to make it happen.

OK . . . I guess that would be remiss in not suggesting that if you have any interest in working/living in a non-urban setting like Santa Cruz or Monterey vs. the big cities of SF, San Jose, and surrounding metropolitan areas, you would be welcome here at Monterey College of Law. You could be a big fish in a small pond if that has any appeal. We are an entirely different, and frequently overlooked alternative to the traditional large ABA urban law schools. Our focus is on preparing lawyers who see themselves living/working/being active in the communities of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties. Take a look at our website ( and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. Good luck as you set off on your law school adventure.

I am also familiar with these schools, being a dean from the region. I have met three of the four deans (not USF), and know that they are extremely capable and focused on the challenging issues going on in legal education today. I believe that in addition  to the considerations listed by Citylaw, you need to do a full COA analysis and seriously consider the implication of student debt post graduation. Go to Law School Transparency to review the financial and employment data for each school as well. In my opinion, none of the schools have rankings of a nature that make much of a difference in your decision-making. All of these schools have recent issues on job placement. That means you will need to go into the process accepting that you will be responsible for crafting and pursuing your own career path. All of the schools have active alumni networks in the Bay Area that will help you.

So how to decide? I second Citylaw's recommendation to visit each school to see whether you see yourself there. Talk with current students, either in person or through one of the many social media law student boards. I would add that your statistics (3.23/156) place you at, or slightly below, the medians at Hastings, USF, and SC. You are well above the median at GGU. One way to look at this might be that with a full ride (=no financial stress), and a more academically competitive standing, Golden Gate would statistically and financially appear to be your best placement for potential success. However, please note that I am very, very biased against six figure student loans (or the $100K or more COA) that you will have everywhere other than GGU.

Congratulations on having earned choices and good luck.

L.L.M. Board / Re: Perks to an LLM
« on: April 21, 2014, 10:58:15 PM »
Thanks. Will keep you in mind. Have enjoyed your posts.

L.L.M. Board / Re: Perks to an LLM
« on: April 19, 2014, 07:46:40 PM »
I thought I might renew this discussion to get an update on current LL.M. opinions. Our law school (Monterey College of Law) is the first California accredited (non ABA) law school to offer an LL.M. Our first two students are foreign educated lawyers, neither of whom intend to practice law in the US, but will take their experience back to their home countries where they believe that it will give them a unique practice advantage. We have also had inquiries from foreign educated lawyers who wished to use the LL.M. to qualify for the California bar exam. Although this is allowed, when we outlined what we thought was actually necessary to accomplish this feat (vs. just taking their money and wishing them good luck), it is a full-time one year commitment. No one has taken up the challenge yet. Although we are facility based (not online), we have flexibility to design individual LL.M. programs. Just wondering what flavor of LL.M. Programs might be appealing? We will not do tax because we do not have the expertise. We do have unique access to international law and environmental law faculty.

Law School Applications / Re: CBE School or Wait Another Year?
« on: April 19, 2014, 12:22:41 PM »
I fully agree with MFL 350. All of his points are important and worth seriously considering. That said, given the supplemental academic support program that we have at Monterey College of Law (one of the CBE law schools) we have seen success with students who have similar scores to you. However, they have been honest about their need to improve on their undergraduate academic habits and were willing to do the extra workshops and tutoring necessary to bring their study skills and writing up to law school standards. Therefore, if you are willing to dedicate the extra effort, on top of the regular law school curriculum, a program like MCL could be an option for you. Let me know if you have additional specific questions about our program. We also have a conditional admission program that starts the first week of July and provides a ten-session course for pre1L skills such as study skills, time management, stress management, learning styles, and writing. It is taught by our first-year faculty and the Dean of Academic Support.

Excerpt from Karen Sloan’s article, April 16, 2014, National Law Journal:

Is now the ideal time to enroll in law school? Steven Freedman, assistant dean for admissions at the University of Kansas School of Law, has been making the counterintuitive case that it is.
In a series of posts on the law professor blog The Faculty Lounge, he argues that the relatively small number of people set to graduate with J.D.s in 2017 will mean better job prospects for those who do. In short, the supply of new lawyers will be much more closely aligned with the demand for their services than for the Class of 2013.

“Enroll today or you will miss out on what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Freedman wrote on April 10. “Namely, the chance to graduate from law school in 2017-2018, which will likely be one of the best times ever to graduate from law school.”

Read more:

St. Thomas (Florida) / Re: Summer conditional program
« on: April 19, 2014, 11:59:50 AM »
Since this topic revived, I might provide an update to the original discussion of summer conditional programs. Our school (Monterey College of Law) started a conditional summer course about six years ago. It was originally an alternative way to evaluate low UGPA and/or low LSAT with our own assessments over a ten session course. We also added a heavy dose of pre-1L prep, such as time management, study skills, stress management, etc.

Fast forward to the present and the course has such a good reputation and is so popular that 80% of the entering class chooses to take it even if they are not conditionally admitted through the program. It is not only because we can demonstrate a noticeable improvement in first semester grades for those who took the course, but the improved emotional balance (stress level) and engagement during the first semester for those who participated. The first year faculty have noted a positive difference as well. We actually added a short session on meditation and hypnotism (I am not kidding) as a possible answer for test anxiety. It was surprisingly popular and several students reported that it made a difference for midterms.

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