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Messages - CA Law Dean

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51
M / Re: Monterey College of Law
« on: July 25, 2013, 10:53:18 AM »
[The following post has been updated with the completed employment survey. We now have data on 100% of the graduates from the classes of 2009-2012. A previous post was preliminary with only about 75% responses.]

MCL recently conducted an alumni employment survey. Although MCL is not required to do this type of survey under the State Bar of California accreditation rules, all of the discussion about employment statistics in the national press  motivated MCL to conduct our first survey this summer.

We sent out 319 e-mail surveys to alumni using SurveyMonkey and used the NALP survey questions as a starting point (with a few modifications to better reflect the type of jobs in our community). We received 189 responses, but most important, we completed 100% employment data for alumni from the most recent graduating classes (2009 - 2012). The following reflects the data from the graduating classes of 2009 through 2012.

MONTEREY COLLEGE OF LAW ALUMNI EMPLOYMENT SURVEY (2013)
Graduating Classes 2009-­2012
Number of Respondents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Number of Surveys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Percent Survey Responses . . . . . . . . . . . . 100%
% of Graduates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100%

Employment (9 months after graduation)
Employed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88%
Not employed, seeking work .. . . . . . . . . . . 5%
Not employed, not seeking work .. . . . . . . . 7%

Job Type/Job Status (9 months after graduation)
Bar Admission Required . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49%
JD Advantage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17%
Remained in Pre-­Law School Job
- Other Professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20%
- Other Non-­Professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2%
Not employed, seeking work . . . . . . . . . . . 5%
Not employed, not seeking work . . . . . . . . 7%

Current Employment
Employed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91%
Not employed, seeking work . . . . . . . . . . . 1%
Not employed, not seeking work .. . . . . . . . 7%
Retired . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1%

Job Tenure
Full Time, long-­term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83%
Full Time, short-­term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8%
Part­‐time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9%

If Working in a Law Firm -­ Firm Size
Solo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13%
2 to 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67%
11 to 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13%
26 to 50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2%
51 to 100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5%
More than 100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0%

If Working in a Law Firm -­ What Type
Private Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74%
Public Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14%
Non-­Profit Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5%
In-­house Corporate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2%
Academic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5%

If Working in a Law Firm/Public Agency -­ Position
Attorney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74%
Judicial Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0%
Paralegal/Law Clerk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16%
Administrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5%
Dean/Professor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5%

52
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.

53
Law School Applications / Re: Splitter Advice
« on: July 02, 2013, 06:41:40 PM »
www.lawschoolpredictor.com is as good a place to start as any. Start with the Top 100 list, since that is your preference.

54
What sounds better on your professional resume? "Successful Master of Legal Studies degree" or "academically dismissed because of (marginally) low first year law school GPA?"

This idea does not fit everybody . . . but for a few (now former) first-year law students , it might be a viable option to at least consider: If you have completed (with grades of 60 or above) up to 18 units of first-year law school courses, but have been academically dismissed from an ABA or California-accredited law school because you fell below the minimum required 1L GPA . . .  you may still be eligible to transfer to Monterey College of Law and complete our Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree program in two semesters. If you have an alternate plan to re-enroll and finish your JD, this idea is definitely not for you. However, if you prefer not to walk away from the time, money, and emotion invested in a full year of law school, or don't want to sit out the required two years before you are eligible to re-apply to a JD program . . . you might want to at least consider this program.

Monterey College of Law's MLS degree is the law school equivalent of an MBA or MPA. Similar to these degrees, it is an academic non-licensure degree that does not qualify a graduate for any specific job. However, as a Masters degree, it may improve opportunities for teaching positions, higher pay scale in public service jobs, and other opportunities in related industries such as finance, real estate, contract administration, public safety, and human resources. The MLS degree is a 36-unit curriculum including regular law school courses in the JD program. MCL will accept up to 18 transfer units from ABA or California-accredited law schools, which means that the remaining 18 units can be completed in two semesters. This is a residential (not distance education) program, so it does mean that you will need to move to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula area (Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Santa Cruz). However, the other benefit is that all MCL courses are in the evening, meaning that it is possible to work during the day to offset the cost of your degree program . . . or if you are in the enviable position of not having to work, you can "work" on your surfing, golf, fishing, or hiking when you are not studying for evening classes.

As I previously said, this is not for everybody. However, if you are reading the "transfer" discussion thread because you did not have a good 1L experience at another law school , this might be a "plan B" to get closure on your law school experience in a positive way.

55
Bottom line, you have all the right things going for you . . . and have clearly done the hard work to position yourself to be a competitive law school candidate. The last step is to do what it takes to do as well as possible on the LSAT. LivingLegend is spot on about the scores required. But also, you need to think about the money as well. You cannot change your GPA, but every point on your LSAT above 160 will affect your scholarship offers. Above 170 and you might be in the range of a full ride with your other factors. The numbers in play are the $250K COA (cost of attending) that you will pay for SMU and any other private law school. With that in mind, you should consider investing in the time and money for a rigorous LSAT prep course. I know they can cost up to $2K, but since you have a business degree, I shouldn't need to tell you what the rate of return of that investment could be if you can improve your scholarship and stipulation conditions (minimum 1st year grades required to retain scholarships into year 2 and 3).

Finally, I also agree with LL . . . PLEASE do not get wrapped totally up into SMU or bust. It is a perfectly fine law school (mediocre by most national standards, above average in Texas, but extraordinary in Dallas - FYI, I am originally from Dallas and taught at TTU, SMU, UH, and TWU). When it comes time to send applications, cast your net wide . . . You will be surprised at your opportunities.

56
M / Re: Monterey College of Law
« on: June 20, 2013, 11:51:38 AM »
MCL has had our two-year Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree in place for the past several years as an alternative to our regular JD degree program. As a non-licensure academic law degree, we have had about 10 students who wanted to seriously study law as a graduate degree, but not be licensed as a lawyer. Among others, participants have included court administrators, an HR professional, a police chief, a forensic examiner, and a college professor. The students take the same classes (and exams) as our JD students, but only need to complete 36 units, instead of the 86 required for the JD.

However, it is very exciting that we just enrolled our first foreign educated lawyer (Brazil) who is moving to Monterey for the MLS degree program to learn the fundamentals of US law so that she can enhance her International law practice when she returns to Brazil. Although we have had a number of foreign educated lawyers attend MCL in the past, all of the previous students enrolled in the JD program so that they could prepare and qualify to take the California Bar Exam and be licensed to practice in the US. Although it was not the initial focus of our MLS degree program, perhaps this will open up MCL to additional foreign educated lawyers interested in studying US law.

57
Minority Topics / Re: Native American male's chances for law school.
« on: June 20, 2013, 11:26:32 AM »
So I am heavily weighing my options on what to do after I graduate. It looks like I am going to graduate with a BA in Psyc with a 2.4. I worked through college, traveled home quite a bit to help family and just had so much on my mind that it affected me everyday. But my last 2 years I have improved my grades as much as I can. I have NO volunteer work and moving home back to the Indian Reservation with family I don't see any volunteer work to be found. I the first person in my family to get a 4-year degree. I just want to know if I have any chance of every being in law school. I have a lot to offer, but the thing is I don't have the factual evidence to prove it (volunteer work, better grades, etc.) There is nothing for me here on the reservation to let me grow as a person and I don't feel as passionate about anything else other than law school. How could I improve my application to any law school? If you would like to know any more information, ask me. ex

cb070 . . . do you want the "anything is possible if you work hard enough" speech or the "tough love, here is reality" speech?

MFL350 is correct that the ONLY option that even gets you into the "anything is possible with hard work" scenario is to dedicate several months of compulsively dedicated hard work on preparing for the LSAT and prove that you have what it takes (to yourself and potential law schools) by getting a high score (I would guess 155 is the minimum and 160 would be better). In other words, you need to show that your 2.4, which in blunt honesty is a simply terrible GPA if law schools are considering whether you can be successful in graduate school . . . is not a reflection of your academic potential.

I admire your honesty about your situation, but frankly, lets be realistic here . . . look at it from the law school's standpoint . . . what does any of that have to do about whether you have the fundamental academic ability to be successful in graduate school? Essentially you are saying, nobody (including you) knows, since you haven't had a fair chance to find out during college. Being an URM does help . . . but you need to be realistic that you are still competing with URMs who faced many similar challenges AND graduated with much higher GPAs.

Consider the scenario you have presented . . . I didn't do well, but I am moving BACK to where I don't have the resources to succeed (or am facing the same challenges that resulted in a 2.4). Here is the tough love part . . . you need to get it into your head about how you want to move FOREWARD, not BACK. Law school is not about wishes, good intentions, and volunteerism (although those are certainly admirable qualities that are an asset). Law school is about really, really, really hard work so that you will eventually be in a position to counsel people and advocate on their behalf about the most fundamental and critical issues in their lives . . . losing their freedom, children, jobs, livelihood. It is a wonderful profession and career . . . but to show that you have what is necessary, you need to get straight about . . . and be in a position to prove . . . what you CAN do, not look for excuses (even those that are understandable and unavoidable) about what you have NOT done.

End of tough love . . . the very fact that you are looking into law school tells me that somewhere there is a spark in you that might be interested in rising to the challenge . . . go for it . . . but only if you are willing to work for it. If you take MFL350's advice, prepare and do well on the LSAT . . . and are interested in living and working in California, feel free to contact me at Monterey College of Law (where I am Dean), one of the California accredited law schools. We are all about second chances . . . and provide a comprehensive academic support program for those who are willing to make the commitment to do what it takes to succeed.

Hopefully, no hard feelings . . . and Good Luck.


58
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Lincoln Law School in San Jose
« on: June 19, 2013, 11:29:26 AM »
Does anybody (who is familiar with LLS) have any opinions positive or negative about Lincoln Law School in San Jose, CA.  I personally would like to attend an ABA, however i do have a family and do work 40 hrs+.

Awww. Jonathan . . . not considering Monterey College of Law just down the road? Just kidding . . . OK, maybe not . . . OK, just kidding. As dean of MCL, I know LLS and its dean very well.

I can confirm that it has all of the attributes that your parents have noted, particularly that it is less than 1/2 the price of Santa Clara Law School. However, just like all CBE schools in the same town with ABA schools, it lives in the shadow of Santa Clara. LLS graduates have to compete "heads up" with Santa Clara graduates for local law jobs. This means that you need to do really well at LLS to be competitive for traditional law jobs, whether they are in public or private sector. However, you have the advantage of NOT graduating with $250K in law school loan debt which will be a huge advantage when it comes to the point of considering job opportunities.

On another point, I am more concerned about how well you have worked out the balance between the 40+ hour work schedule, family, and law school, since you have brought it up right away as part of your consideration. LLS, like MCL is a part-time, evening program . . . but that still requires classes 3 to 4 nights per week, three hours per class, plus study time of at least 2 (and frequently 3) hours of reading, outlining, and study groups outside of class for every hour in class. It is doable . . . because many of our MCL students are the same and are successful. But it requires a family commitment and, if possible at least some job flexibility, particularly during exams.

The last item to consider is to check on the availability of supplemental writing, tutoring, academic support, and supplemental bar review programs. (This is important at ABA as well as CBE schools.) I am not familiar with that level of detail about LLS's current program, but I can tell you that MCL has found that to effectively support our full-time working students, we needed to add a department with an Asst. Dean of Academic Support, study skills workshops, exam skills workshops, and when necessary . . . private tutors in order to support their academic success. The BarBri bar review program is also included in our tuition, along with a modified, full semester, evening review program every spring with supplemental, graded practice exam sessions. In other words, we realize that non-traditional working students need extra support to be successful in law school and on the bar exam.

I have no first-hand experience, but a number of recent transfers to MCL from LLS indicated that (in their opinion) LLS has a more traditional "sink or swim" program. Although they were struggling at LLS, they have flourished at MCL with the additional academic support. (Just something to keep in mind. Of course, this has no negative affect on those at the top of the LLS program.)
 
On another note, i was also curious about low tier vs out of state law school.  Will i have more success finding a job with a degree from University of Hawaii or UNLV in California or a local but lwoer tier school in California like Golden Gate or USF?

I fully agree with the previous post on these issues. They are " spot on."

Good luck . . . law school is an exciting adventure and sets the stage for so many options for an interesting career.

59
I agree that it sounds like you made the right choice. That said, you need to take all of your remaining bar-tested subjects with the attitude that every single one of them are now part of your extended bar preparation program. You cannot rely on the false illusion that the bar prep course will fill in the "holes" on courses that you receive sub-par grades. I also highly recommend that you look ahead to the schedule for Bar Bri's early start program that provides extra time. Our experience is that non-traditional working students cannot get through enough of the Bar Bri "cram" course AND do enough graded practice exams and MBEs to be adequately prepared for the California bar exam.

Good luck. 

60
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Can i get in to an ABA?
« on: June 18, 2013, 11:44:28 AM »
Jonathan,
I think that MFL350 basically has provided sound advice and I agree that taking a review course and retaking the LSAT is your best alternative if you are serious about attending an ABA law school. It is easy to get several different views of your statistical chances by using one of the law school predictor web sites. They are described here: http://lawschoolnumbers.com/lsat-prep/lsat-score-predictors. I would add that because of the lower application rates this year, your numbers could possibly still get into one of the lower tier California ABA law schools (Golden Gate, LaVerne, Whittier, California Western, Thomas Jefferson Law School). HOWEVER,you really need to pay attention to the discussions going on regarding cost vs. loan debt vs. employment opportunities.

If you haven't reviewed www.lawschooltransparency.com, you are not fully informed about the implications of your choices.

Although I am certainly not an unbiased opinion (as the dean of one of the CBE accredited law schools - Monterey College of Law), I would highly recommend that you at least consider whether a CBE accredited law school might better fit your learning style. I am particularly reacting to your comment about being a poor test-taker. Schools like MCL have small classes and also have specific academic support programs for individuals who need to improve their test-taking skills. Your profile (149/3.2) would be close to MCL's median, so you are much more likely to fit in at a law school like MCL than at the typical ABA program in which your profile would place you well below the entering median scores. MCL graduates have also shown success on the CA bar exam. Like most of the CBE law schools MCL has strong ties within our local employment market, which is of growing importance to law school graduates. This means that you should also consider where you would most likely like to live and practice law as part of your law school selection process.

If you are considering this cycle for enrolling fall 2013, you also need to move quickly. Since you already have your LSAT, most of the CBE law schools (including MCL) are still accepting applications, but you are within a few weeks of missing the cut off.

CBE law schools are not for everyone, but it certainly is worth some investigation as you consider options.

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