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Messages - CA Law Dean

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Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: Weighing TX law school options
« on: February 08, 2014, 08:26:28 AM »
Prior to moving to CA to serve as dean of a small regional law school, I lived and worked in Texas. I am also a Univ of Houston law grad. In Texas there is UT and the other law schools. That doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the other law schools or that UT is perfect. It is just recognition that UT is the premier Texas law school  . . . has been and likely will always be.

That said, UT is very difficult to get in, it has huge sections, and you will need to be an extraordinarily good student to graduate high enough in the class to get preferential BigLaw jobs.

There is absolutely nothing academically wrong with Baylor. However, going to law school in Waco does not provide much of a leg up on employment. Since it is academically similar to UH, SMU, Texas Tech, and SoTexas, I agree with Citylaw. Apply to all and see if you can get scholarship offers.

St. Mary's, TxWesleyan, TxSouthern, Thurgood Marshall are not in the same academic tier.

Geography has a lot of influence in job offers in Texas. UT dominates Austin (and everywhere), but SMU holds its own in Dallas as do UH and SoTexas in Houston and St. Mary's in San Antonio.Texas Tech rules West Texas.

All said, think ahead about what you want to do with your law degree and it might help your decision.

An update on this topic for the 2014 cycle - If you were denied by every school you applied to . . . then you didn't have the right list! In these times of reduced applications to law schools across the country, if you have the passion and desire to earn a law degree (with the focus on EARN), there is no reason that you cannot get into an accredited law school. This doesn't mean that law schools are, or should, take every applicant. However, it does mean that there should be a law school that fits your profile.

For example, Monterey College of Law (disclaimer! where I serve as dean) has a rigorous academic support program for non-traditional students who may need supplemental workshops or tutoring to reach their potential. We are less interested in LSAT scores (a poor predictor) and are willing to consider special circumstances that had a detrimental effect on undergraduate GPA. For our older students who are returning to graduate school with considerable work experience, that undergraduate GPA is sometimes decades old . . . and has no relationship to the current potential of an adult student.

We look at every file from the perspective of evaluating the student's current potential to be successful in the study of law. Maturity, dedication, work ethic, academic passion . . . these are critical aspects of a successful law student.

If you have been denied admission by traditional ABA law schools that use a formula of LSAT/UGPA . . . consider a "Plan B" and look at one of the California accredited law schools such as Monterey College of Law. Feel free to send me a direct message if you have questions. If you want more information about California accredited law schools, check the posts on this site under the school specific comments in "M" for Monterey College of Law. Dean Mitchel Winick.

Law School Admissions / Re: REJECTED, ETC. TODAY
« on: February 06, 2014, 02:04:48 PM »
I fully agree with Citylaw. The problem is not that there are not enough lawyer jobs to meet the new graduate demands . . . the challenge is that there are not enough lawyer jobs that pay enough to service the level of debt required to attend many of the large urban ABA law schools. If a new applicant hasn't spent time on Law School Transparency ( to better understand the economics of a law degree . . . they should do so before accepting any law school offer.

I can only speak to California, but there are many non-urban communities that NEED new, young lawyers . . . right now. Of course, small-community lawyers start out at $50-60K, not $120-160K that is theoretically available in BigLaw. Therefore, if someone enjoys the idea of living, working, and raising a family outside of an urban center . . . look for a law school that successfully channels their graduates into those markets.

At least in California, many of the non-ABA, state-accredited law schools such as Monterey College of Law will provide that opportunity.

Online Law Schools / Re: July 2013 Bar Exam Results
« on: February 05, 2014, 04:26:50 PM »
If I can jump back in here after being away from the discussion since last summer . . . IF the answer to why the California bar exam pass rate is so low was simple to figure out . . . trust me, our pass rate at Monterey College of Law would be 100%. First, remember that there are 21 ABA law schools, 17 California accredited law schools, and another 20 unaccredited and distance education law schools that feed applicants into the California bar exam. Compare that, for example, to 11 New York law schools, the next most populous state for law schools and other states that range to 1 school for Nevada and 0 for Alaska. This means that the applicant pool is dramatically different than for any other state . . . socio-economic, age, income, primary language, etc. Second, you need to realize that California deliberately scales the multi-state (MBE) scores so that a range of the raw scores that are passing in all 48 other states fail to make the cut in California. This "artificially" lowers the California overall pass rate and disproportionately affects non-traditional students, many of whom fall in the margin of difference. The three-day bar exam means that 2/3rds of the exam is timed essay and 1/3 multiple choice vs. 50-50 in most states. The exams are graded by lawyers who are 100% from traditional ABA schools and who were trained to answer law school exams in a homogenized environment that has changed little over the past 100 years. All in all, what it means is that the cumulative pass rates (not first-time and NOT Repeater - a nonsense number for this conversation) in California are far better comparisons for the state-by-state comparisons. Although the small cohorts of Monterey College of Law (one of the CALS) graduates could range from 0-80% first-time pass rates, the five-year cumulative pass rate of 66-68% is competitive in the context of the California scores.

Likewise, Concord Law School, the largest distance learning law school has about a 60% cumulative pass rate once you factor out their out-of-state and international students who have no interest in practicing in CA and rarely invest in the type of bar prep resources necessary to have a chance to pass in CA.

If you want to make your head hurt, here are the most recent 2012 statistics comparing national bar pass rates.

Law School Admissions / Re: REJECTED, ETC. TODAY
« on: February 05, 2014, 02:52:39 PM »
It looks like this will be a very good year for potential law students. With fewer potential law students taking the LSAT and lower number of applications nationally . . . it should be a "buyers" market. However, that does NOT mean that everyone will get accepted into the law schools that they initially choose. Soooo . . . what are you going to do if you get rejected from your first list of law schools? Do you have a plan B? As dean of Monterey College of Law, I would hope that you at least consider whether you might be a good fit at one of the California-accredited law schools (CALS). As small regional law schools accredited by the State Bar of California, CALS offer small classes, lower cost, and high employment results. This is because there ARE lawyer jobs available in the small non-urban communities of California such as Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Salinas. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have. AND we will take applications through JUNE, so there is still time to make us your "Plan B" law school if you are determined to be a lawyer.

If you are considering going to law school in California, don't forget to check out the 17 California-accredited law schools (CALS) in addition to the 21 ABA approved law schools. As dean of Monterey College of Law I am happy to answer questions that might help you identify why one of these regional law schools might be a good fit for you. Questions to consider are: 1) Do you learn better in smaller class sizes? 2) Are you concerned about the $150K cost of the typical ABA law schools? and 3) Are you interested in the type of law jobs available in smaller, non-urban communities?

If you live in California, or would be interested in living/working in California, consider one of the 18 California accredited, non-ABA law school (CALS). They are lower cost and as "opportunity law schools" have much broader admission policies that take SES seriously into consideration.

I would strongly, strongly second MFL 350's suggestion. Consider it from the admissions side of the desk . . . your 3.68 UGPA indicates that you have clearly demonstrated your academic ability to have a reasonable opportunity for success in law school . . . but your 140 . . . and reasons for not preparing for what is clearly known to be a critical element of law school selection . . . are huge, simply huge red flags that you are NOT in a position right now to tackle the rigors of law school. Properly prepare for the LSAT and law school . . . re-take and then apply.

Online Law Schools / Re: Current ABA Response to Distance Education
« on: July 10, 2013, 06:54:20 AM »
The State Bar of California is on the verge of approving a new rule that requires unaccredited law schools to meet the standards of accreditation within ten years or be closed. This means that a path to California State Bar accreditation must be allowed for all unaccredited schools that can meet the standards. There are several on-line unaccredited law schools in California. Concord is the most prominent and very likely will become the first accredited on-line law school in he US. As a subsidiary of a publicly owned corporation they have the means to make it happen . . . a quest they have been on for more than a decade. I predict it will happen within two years. Since the new ABA accreditation czar is Barry Currier, former dean of Concord . . . they also have an informed and sympathetic ear at the ABA . . . I predict less than five years before they get provisional ABA accreditation as well . . .

. . . remember that you read it here first.

Law School Admissions / Re: Splitter Advice
« on: July 02, 2013, 03:41:40 PM » is as good a place to start as any. Start with the Top 100 list, since that is your preference.

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