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Messages - CA Law Dean

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61
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Never too late
« on: April 20, 2013, 07:20:44 PM »
Put another way, if you have a Harvard JD you could clerk for a Federal Judge or have the option of representing SSI claimants if that's your cup of tea; unranked and lower ranked school graduates don't have the same band width of options. The lower ranking your school, the fewer options you will have straight out of school.  However, in the scheme of things helping SSI claimants may indeed do more good for society than being the hatchet person for a corporate schill  judge or an insurance company or god forbid a bank!

JL, I think you have merely re-stated the obvious . . . and it it just as true in other graduate programs as well, business, engineering, architecture . . . top schools and top graduates get different choices. However, you provide such a one-dimensional view of life after law school. I graduated in the 70's from what is now appx. a 50th ranked school (they didn't rank the schools when I graduated) from a southwestern state, but even then I knew that SCOTUS was out of the question and my mid-class ranking wouldn't get me in to the urban high-rise BigLaw practice. None of that is new information. Wasn't then, isn't now. However . . . there are really interesting things that can be done with a law degree . . . business, finance, entrepreneurship, non-profit . . . many of which could care less about your school and class standing and much more about your initiative, creativity, drive, work-ethic, etc.

62
Law School Applications / Re: Post 9/11 GI Benefits and Law School
« on: April 16, 2013, 02:21:21 PM »
We just received the update Post 9/11 GI benefit summary and students starting after August 1 could qualify for up to $19,198.31 per year. This means that even without our Yellow Ribbon status, any veteran, spouse, or dependent that receives eligibility for 100% benefit would get their entire Monterey College of Law tuition, fees, and books paid for under the program. This would be true for other California accredited law schools as well. This is an extraordinary opportunity for veterans and their families . . . particularly if they have the flexibility to relocate.

63
M / Re: Monterey College of Law
« on: April 09, 2013, 03:53:13 PM »
On-line answer to an off-line question -  If you apply and are admitted to MCL this cycle (note: the application deadline is still open), but are still waiting for responses and to clear wait-lists (or financial offers) from other law schools . . . MCL will gladly hold open your seat offer until you have had the chance to hear from all of your other law school applications. We know that this decision is huge and we strongly believe you should have the benefit of all possible information about your choices before you commit anywhere. If we have accepted you, of course we hope that you will choose MCL, but our feelings are not hurt if we are your "safety" school.

However, what we have seen too many times in the past is that potential applicants who have all their eggs in one (wait-list) basket and get turned down at the last minute . . . don't rally from the disappointment in time to get additional back-up applications submitted in time . . . and miss the current admission cycle completely. If this could be you, and you have determined that MCL is a possibility for you, we strongly encourage you to get an application (and hopefully an acceptance) in place while you wait for the other decisions . . . nothing beats the feeling of that first "acceptance" . . . even if it isn't where you finally attend.

64
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: April 08, 2013, 11:09:09 AM »
Thanks for the "plug" JL. CBE (Committee of Bar Examiner), also known as CALS (California Accredited Law Schools) are small, regional law schools accredited by the State Bar of California, not the ABA. Many of them have 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 evening programs so that you can actually begin working in law-related jobs to gain relevant experience before graduating. Most have strong ties to their local bench-bar that provide valuable networking for jobs after graduation.

In reference to the question . . . they would indeed be a "bad joke" if your goal is to work in a large urban center in a multinational law conglomerate or if you intended to move out of California within three years after graduation. But if the idea of practicing in California, being a small firm lawyer, DA, Public Defender, Legal Services lawyer, or solo practitioner is what you are after . . . and you like the idea of graduating with reasonable or no student loan debt, a CBE school is absolutely not a joke. Just like any other law school, before you get serious about a decision, ask hard questions about bar pass rates, costs, job placement, clinical,programs, etc. One of the most compelling arguments for the regional law schools is that 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.

65
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Never too late
« on: April 07, 2013, 11:40:23 PM »
LL has it right and I think Duncan is doing a good job of keeping it all in perspective.

66
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Looking for some advice....
« on: April 07, 2013, 02:28:04 PM »
JL, I agree with many of your viewpoints, but sometimes you are stuck in your own limited paradigm. If you see the world solely through the model of a traditional student in their 20s going from high school, to college, to law school . . . you miss the entire point of the non-traditional student. Just three years ago, our number one graduate, moot court finalist, first time bar passer, and now successful local lawyer was a special student who entered without even an AA degree. She qualified through the baby bar and was an exceptional student from day one. Her education was in computer science and she had numerous certificates that qualified her for her job field in programing . . . just not the type of liberal arts education that somehow is presumed to better "qualify" a student in the study of law. She may be an unusual case . . . but we have returning veterans, small business entrepreneurs, and 50+ year old business professionals who did not have the luxury of a full undergraduate education that prove repeatedly that the piece of paper is not as important as an assessment of their interest, dedication, and willingness to do the extra work to make up any possible academic deficiencies.

67
I don't know where your Masters program was located. If it was part of a general humanities department, I can understand your concern. Our Master of Legal Studies (36 unit) degree requires the same admission standards as the JD, except that the LSAT is not required. The students take the same law school classes and exams, are graded the same as JD students, and in fact, the law faculty only knows they are MLS students if the student chooses to inform them. In a rural county such as ours, a two-year limited license could be very valuable for low-fee, form-based legal assistance in areas such as family law, immigration law, and employment law. One of the local concerns for our Hispanic community are the unscrupulous Notary Publics that prey on individuals who think that they have the same qualifications as "Notarios" from their home country. They charge $1000s for very poor services. Skilled, trained, and licensed limited scope legal professionals could eliminate much of this abuse. Of course, this might be unique to rural, agricultural communities like we have here in California.

68
Law School Applications / Re: REJECTED, ETC. TODAY
« on: April 06, 2013, 02:40:20 PM »
It is interesting to look back over previous years posts on "Rejections". There is no question that the 2013-2014 cycle is turning out to be quite unique. OK, I admit to being a "data stalker" on lawschoolnumbers.com. Hey . . . we all have our issues. So far this cycle, if you have any portability at all, there is no "bottom" cut off on admissions for 2013. If you have your heart set on attending an ABA law school . . . and you have the resources to pay for it . . . there is a school this year somewhere for you.

I have never seen so many sub-2.5 UGPA and sub-150 LSAT scores direct-admitted to law schools before. That said . . . is this a good thing? I know you think I am about to whine about low academic standards, etc . . . but that is not my concern. What I hate to see are law schools skimming (scamming) a year of tuition (up to $50K) from law students who have no realistic chance for academic success . . . wait for the down beat . . . WITHOUT APPROPRIATE ACADEMIC SUPPORT.

It isn't that I think high risk (from UGPA/LSAT formulas) students cannot be successful in law school. However, I am CERTAIN that they cannot be successful without the school's commitment to identify at-risk students early-on and provide hands-on academic support. I do not fault law schools who are facing reduced applications for responding to market forces and opening their doors to a broader range of students. (Our school has statistics that show how poor of a predictor that the LSAT can be on ultimate law school and bar exam success.) However, with that change should also come an equal commitment to address the academic support needs of these students.

If you are an applicant who was rejected this cycle because you got caught up in the "how high in the rankings can I go syndrome" . . . there is still time for Fall 2013 to redial your strategy (particularly if you are a California applicant, or someone who envisions practicing in California) and look at one of the California accredited law schools. These schools are smaller, have hands-on, one-on-one academic support, cost 1/2 to 1/3 of tuition, and have very respectable completion and bar pass rates for good students. These schools are NOT for everyone. If you have your heart set on BigLaw and BigCity . . . not so much. But if you see yourself practicing in California as a small firm lawyer, DA, Public Defender, legal services, or non-profit lawyer . . . check out one of the 17 California accredited law schools before you check out of your dream to be a lawyer.

(for additional info on one of the CBE schools, see Monterey College of Law under "M" in the discussion boards)

69
M / Re: Monterey College of Law
« on: April 06, 2013, 02:03:12 PM »
I wish more eligible Veterans and their families were aware how valuable the Post 9/11 GI benefits can be for Vets, spouses, and dependents. Just as an example, for applicants (particularly those interested in practicing in California), the Post 9/11 benefits can pay up to 100% of their tuition at one of the California accredited law schools. Appx. $19,000 per year if you qualify for the full benefit.

$19,000 may not go very far towards a $50K (per year) typical ABA law school degree, but most of the CBE (State Bar of California "Committee of Bar Examiner" accredited law schools - also known as CALS "California Accredited Law Schools") have annual tuition at, or below, this amount. These schools are approved for Post 9/11 benefits and many, such as Monterey College of Law (located near NPS and DLI), are also Yellow Ribbon schools that pick up the difference if your benefits don't cover the entire annual tuition.

. . . and this is for SPOUSES AND DEPENDENTS as well. Many Vets are being bombarded by unaccredited on-line degree offers, but an accredited CBE law school will be a much better legal education for most, if not all Vets and their families . . . and law schools such as Monterey  are located in Vet-friendly communities with VA resources, etc.

70
Law School Applications / Post 9/11 GI Benefits and Law School
« on: April 06, 2013, 01:52:23 PM »
I wish more eligible Veterans and their families were aware how valuable the Post 9/11 GI benefits can be for Vets, spouses, and dependents. Just as an example, for applicants (particularly those interested in practicing in California), the Post 9/11 benefits can pay up to 100% of their tuition at one of the California accredited law schools. $17,500 per year if you qualify for the full benefit.

$17,500 may not go very far towards a $50K (per year) typical ABA law school degree, but most of the CBE (State Bar of California "Committee of Bar Examiner" accredited law schools - also known as CALS "California Accredited Law Schools") have annual tuition at, or below, this amount. These schools are approved for Post 9/11 benefits and many, such as Monterey College of Law (located near NPS and DLI), are also Yellow Ribbon schools that pick up the difference if your benefits don't cover the entire annual tuition.

. . . and this is for SPOUSES AND DEPENDENTS as well. Many Vets are being bombarded by unaccredited on-line degree offers, but an accredited CBE law school will be a much better legal education for most, if not all Vets and their families . . . and law schools such as Monterey  are located in Vet-friendly communities with VA resources, etc.

(for more info specifically on Monterey College of Law . . . see discussion post under "M")

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