Law School Discussion

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Messages - Citylaw

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11
Solid post Loki and Boris. I honestly, think the best thing to do in law school is go in thinking you know nothing. Many people come into law school thinking they know X, Y and Z and are special because of X reason. Just come in with a clean slate, listen to the professors and don't make it complicated.

Your first year will be extremely stressful and you will waste inordinate amounts of time on simple issues as every 0L does. I have kept my 1L property book, which is covered in pointless highlighter marks to remind to keep it simple, but that is really the hard part.

Go to class everyday, read the material assigned, and most importantly do practice questions. Everyone will remember the facts of the cases you read, but learning to write in IRAC and figuring out the Multiple Choice question tricks can only be done through practice. My first semester finals I knew every case backward and forward, which is good, but it is all about applying the law to the test.

I also highly recommend CALI Lessons, which are provided by every ABA school. I did those every night and listen to your professors don't get to wrapped up in various outside sources unless the professor loves the outside source. The professor writes the exam so pay attention to what they have to say.




12
Good to see you researched the issue and there is a 50% chance you will lose the scholarship and a 50% chance you will finish in the bottom half of the class. There is also a 50% chance you will finish in the top half of the class etc.

I think if you go into law school with realistic expectations it can work out, but it could also be a disaster, but anything worth doing in life comes with a risk. If being a lawyer is what you want go to law school , work your ass off and hope it works out.  You may succeed you may fail, but when I started law school my friend gave me the below quote from Teddy Roosevelt, which I think is very inspiring and true. I take it to mean that anything worth doing is a risk.

The Man in the Arena Quote
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

13
I think attending SCU is the right choice and awesome they gave you more scholarship money, but the only thing to be concerned about is that you think it will be easy to maintain a 3.0. That is what every law student thinks.

Ask SCU what the curve is and how many people can maintain a 3.0 after 1L. It is a very easy question they will answer if you ask, but if you assume you will just a 3.0, because your friends etc say it will be easy that is where issues arise. Again, it is possible you will lose the scholarship, but you do everything you can to keep it.

However, I definitely think SCU or any Bay Area School is the right choice for your situation.

Good luck.

14
I want to counteract the statistics argument by Loki and point out why I think they are not a great factor to use in the life altering decision of where to attend law school. As Loki accurately points out the difference between NALP/ABA statistics and Law School Transparency Statistics differ greatly. That is because statistics can be manipulated.

Are the NALP/ABA stats 100% accurate? No,  the schools have an incentive to "Juke the Stats" gotta love the Wire. Conversely, Law School Transparency an organization that essentially seek funding to point out how wrong the NALP/ABA stats are have incentive to Juke the Stats to prove their point. It is almost like Watching Fox News and MSNBC they will report the story, but in one story Obama is a hero in the other he is a Muslim Terrorist.  For the most part you can apply common sense to get the real scoop on  politics and the same is true when choosing a law school.

Golden Gate is a fine school as are all ABA schools, but it is certainly not Stanford or Harvard as I assume you already knew. If you finish in the bottom 25% of the class at Golden Gate, which there is a 25% chance will happen you may really struggle with the bar and finding employment. Again, as Loki points out law school is a risk.

There are hundreds of satisfied students from every law school each year and hundreds of dissatisfied ones. The reality is you finish in the bottom half of the class odds are you will struggle to start your legal career and there is a 50% chance you will be in the bottom 50%. If you finish in the top 10% at any school you odds are you will have a good chance at starting your legal career, but there is only a 10% chance you will be in the top 10%. Additionally, there is no way to know how you will do and going to law school may be the best decision of your life or the worst.

If we knew how things would turn out life would be pretty easy.

One way as everyone points out to minimize risk is reducing debt. However, without question be wary of scholarship conditions this New York Times Article does an outstanding job explaining the system. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?_r=0

A 3.0 in law school is very difficult to get 1L all incoming law studnets particularly ones with numbers good enough to get law school scholarships assume a 3.0 will be a walk in the park, but it isn't. However, ask admissions officers the tough questions how many students keep the scholarships, what are the curves, etc. They will not lie if you ask them directly, but if you just assume everything will be ok and you don't ask they won't tell you either.

Again, if you ultimate goal is to in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area. I would honestly talk to some of the professors that teach at multiple ABA schools in the Bay Area. They will give you the pros and cons of each school and there are pros and cons to each.

Good luck with your decision.

15
I was in a similar situation to you years ago. I was living in the Bay Area and wanted to stay in the Bay area, but I was accepted to "better" schools in areas I didn't want to live in.  At the time University of Nebraska was ranked something like 60th I have come to realize how much it changes now and I was pretty set on attending University of Nebraska, because U.S. News said it was better and statistics etc said it was the better choice.

However, I spoke with several bay area attorneys my friends directed me to as I was really struggling with moving to Nebraska and they gave me this very simple advice.  The best way to get a legal job in the Bay Area is to attend school in the Bay Area.

I did that and it was the best decision of my life. If you want to be in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area. As a practicing attorney I know numerous attorneys from Berkeley, USF, Santa Clara, Hastings, Golden Gate, Davis and McGeorge all working at the same firm and even playing on the Bar Association of San Francisco Basketball League I mentioned.

Come down to Hastings Basketball Gym on Tuesday night and you will see a bunch of lawyers from every different school playing basketball together and the last thing that is ever discussed is our law school rank, employment prospects, etc.

I know many 0L's myself included years ago understandably over think and over analyze the school they attend. If your ultimate goal is to end up in the Bay Area don't attend law school in St. Louis.  St. Louis and Case Western have very little influence in the Bay Area nobody ever thinks about those schools here not that they are bad, but why would an employer here want to play someone out from St. Louis or Case Western and talk to professors out there when there are numerous law schools in the Bay Area.

I also don't know if this is true of other cities, but the professors at Golden Gate, Hastings and USF are pretty much the same.

Jon Sylvester teaches Contracts at each school
http://law.ggu.edu/faculty/bio/jon-sylvester
http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/sylvester/index.php

Peter Keane teaches Con Law at each school
 https://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/keane/index.php
http://law.ggu.edu/faculty/bio/peter-keane


I could honestly make a long list of professors that teach at each of these schools. Hastings, GGU and USF are in a 2 mile radius of eachother and Jon Sylvester is a genius he knows every rule of contracts and is taught to pay at each school. Promissory estoppel is the same at Hastings as it is at USF so why not get paid three times the amount for repeating yourself.

I honestly encourage you to talk to some of these professors that teach at each school. Most are very upfront and honest at happy to talk to a OL. Each school in the Bay Area has it's pros and cons, but any of them can open doors. The one thing I would highly advise against is attending school in St. Louis or Cleveland if your ultimate goal is to end up in the Bay Area.

Good luck whatever you decide.
 

16
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 03, 2015, 04:18:54 PM »
Again, I think we are in agreement, but I give people more credit than you, whether that is right or wrong it doesn't really matter.

I will agree paying full sticker at Whittier or a number of schools may not be the best idea. However, there are a number of schools in the U.S. that offer cheap in-state tuition many in Florida and the South. Then I know CUNY is also about $12,000 per year. Additionally, many of these schools will offer substantial scholarship money, but as we have both pointed out those are fickle based on conditions and any incoming student should look at the conditions closely and get out as cheaply as possible.

I am not advocating go into Whittier paying full sticker and just thinking it will work out. In fact I strongly encourage anyone attending a non-elite school to work a year or two in the legal industry to see if it is something they enjoy. A J.D. from Harvard will open a ton of doors and a J.D. from Whittier will open a few and if you really enjoy the legal profession and not just what you see on T.V. it might be a great investment for you.


17
To go back a few there are several other Bay Area Schools to consider University of San Francisco, Golden Gate and in all honesty Davis and McGeorge are close enough that you could get internships in the Bay Area particularly North Bay i.e. Napa or Solano County.


18
Excellent posts above and as for the comment about TLS realize that anything you read on the internet comes from anonymous internet posters so take it with a grain of salt. However, that includes my post and the ones above. Michael Scott explains it best : ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFBDn5PiL00 a little humor for you.

With that intro I think any law student should consider the following five factors. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about School; (4) Understanding the Reality of Legal Education and (5) Last and Least U.S. News Rankings. Here is a good article analyzing these factors http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

Below is a brief analysis of the five factors to your situation.

(1) Location:
You are living in the East Bay and considering a cross country move. As Maintain said would you be happy drafting wills & defending DUI's in St. Louis? That might happen more importantly even if you get you dream job out of law school would St. Louis be a place you want to spend the rest of your life? Or at the very least a minimum of three years?

I live in San Francisco and it's awesome I just got offered an awesome job in Sacramento doing the exact kind of work I wanted, but I didn't want to move to Sacramento and turned it down. On paper it sounded great to me, but in reality leaving the Bay Area is not what I wanted. Or you just thinking these schools sound good, but not really thinking about where you want to live? Being happy with the City you live in is one of the most important things to consider.

2) Cost
As Loki mentions cut costs and be wary of the scholarship conditions.  Also, look at the actual tuition of each school.

Saint Louis University for example offers in-state tuition if you get residency at $26,000 per year $36,000 per year out-of-state.

Case Western is a flat $44,000 a year.

So if you get in-state tuition at SLU even without a scholarship your paying $78,000 in tuition vs. $132,000 in tuition at Case Western. I think many students assume all schools cost the same, but they vary. In that scenario even if Case Western gave a $15,000 a year scholarship you would still pay less at SLU. So just look at the actual tuition costs. This page from LSAC provides info on every school's rates.

3) Personal Feelings about School:
When I was a 0L I visited numerous schools and when I was in law school I did numerous mock trial competitions and visited even more schools. What I realized is that each school has a culture to it some I loved others I hated, but that is just me. For some reason I loved South Texas Law School, I was pissed off when I got sent to that Mock Trial Competition instead of the Chicago one I had been to the year before, but I just loved everyone I met at the school and the pride that had in their litigation team etc.

Other schools like Hastings aren't my cup of tea. In the heart of the Tenderloin, dirty, students in a bad mood etc just doesn't do it for me. There are plenty of people that love Hastings and they are letting us use their basketball gym for the San Francisco Bar Association Lawyer League so Hastings isn't all bad, but that school and me would not be a fit. However, you might love it and the only way for you to know if a school is a fit for you is to visit, talk to students, professors, alumni, work around campus, the neighborhood etc. Typically your gut will give you a good or bad feeling about a place and your gut knows more about you than anyone else.

4) Reality of Legal Education:
At any ABA school you will read Supreme Court Cases and take Torts; Contracts; Civ Pro etc during your first year. You will read Pennoyer v. Neff to learn notice; Palsgraf to learn proximate cause; Hadley v. Baxendale to learn contract remedies and the hairy hand case of Paper Chase fame as well.

To sum it up any ABA school will teach you the law and after you graduate you will then take BarBri or Kaplan to help you pass the bar.

5) Rankings:
Remember that U.S. News Rankings is nothing more than a for profit magazine offering an opinion.  They are doing nothing wrong by offering an opinion, but it should not be the basis of a life altering decision.

U.S. News Ranks Alberqueue New Mexico as the #1 place to live. I am sure New Mexico is great, but I imagine you are not going to apply to University of New Mexico, because U.S. News said it is the best place to live. It would be crazy to move to a City because a magazine said it was #1 right? Yes it would be.

It is also crazy to make a 3 year, $100,000+, career changing decision on where to attend law school based on a magazine as well. Use it as a tiebreaker perhaps and for entrainment, but don't let the rankings play a big factor in your decision.

Conclusion:
From my understanding of your post you want to be in the Bay Area. If you want to be in the Bay Area attend law school in the Bay Area and see what if anything you can do to reduce costs. If you move to St. Louis for law school it will be hard to get back to the Bay after. Not impossible, but difficult.

Good luck with everything and congrats on your acceptances.




19
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 03, 2015, 12:01:22 AM »
Good response and I think we agree on a lot of issues. However,  we have gotten completely off topic from OP's question.  Although I find the debate is interesting and enjoyable it proves my overall point that making life altering decisions such as where to attend law school based on internet boards is not a good idea.

You and I are discussing our thoughts about law school in general, which is clearly something we both have thought about. However, it does little to address OP's question.

With that I would like to continue our off topic debate with two responses to your last post.

1) Law School as an Investment:

First and foremost if your attending to law school to get rich, don't. If money is your number one priority there are better options out there.

On to the next point, education in general is a long term investment and in the short term law school is not a good investment. However, if you graduate law school at 27 and pass the bar you can have 40-50 years to work as an attorney and that can easily translate into $100,000-$200,000 additional income. However, in the short term that $100,000-$200,000 when your first job is paying between $40,000-$60,000 does not look good. However, after a few years of practice your salary increases and increases. Most lawyers typically pay off their loans in their mid 30's maybe even early 40's. However, after that is done and multiple years of experience have accrued you can bill $300-$400 an hour. However, getting to that point takes years.

There is no statistic out there that will show law school being a good investment 5 years after graduation. Even if you make $160-$180 k right out of law school. You will likely be unable to pay your loans off in five years. However, after 5 years the loans are gone and if you continue practicing you can make a pretty solid living.

This is not unlike the debate of whether to attend undergrad or not. When I graduated high school several of my friends got jobs as loan officers at banks making $40,000 a year with no educational debt and it seemed like they were rich off their asses. While my other friends and I were accruing debt and working part-time broke as hell. Even a few years after graduation from undergrad those friends were still making more, but 10 years as a loan officer is not exactly exciting and without a B.A. they could not advance.

Eventually, all my friends and me the one guy went to law school made far more than $40,000 while the other guys were still in their spot. Granted over the past 10 years they collectively have made more money as the 7 years I spent in school I was not making $40,000 and in fact accruing debt. So let's say the gained $500,000 on me, but I have far more doors open for the next 40 years of my life than they do.

So that is the debate with education whether it be law school or any other form. In the short term education does not pay off in the long-term it does.

2) Finding Jobs Out of Law School More on the Person than the School:

One of my firmest beliefs is that no matter what school you attend whether you succeed or fail has far more to do with you than the school you attend. I am sure at your school as at mine there were some classmates that you would not trust to feed your cat let alone represent you in court. Then there were others that you knew would succeed.

You can have all the stats in the world, but I am sure at your law school there were some people that would show up late, have excuses for everything, not turn things in on time, not study and blame everyone except themselves for their problems. Those kinds of people exist at every school and cannot find jobs, which has far more to do with them than the school they attended.

Contrary to that every single ABA school has produced numerous successful lawyers, but again that has a lot more to do with the individual than the school.

Conclusion:
Law school and education is an investment and like any investment it can fail miserably, succeed greatly, or do just fine.

Law school is not a guarantee of anything and all any ABA school will provide you is the opportunity to take the bar exam and become a licensed lawyer. If you obtain a license to practice law what you do with it well have far more to do with you than the name of the school on your diploma.







20
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« on: April 02, 2015, 12:51:00 AM »
I think the difference between us is I give people more credit than you do.

I agree if someone thinks they are going to attend Whittier and be in the top 5% because they are special and expect to Transfer to UCLA and get a BigLaw job then there is a 99% chance that student will be disappointed.

I think the issue that you are addressing and is legitimate is that to many students have unrealistic expectations. However, Whittier or any other ABA law school can be a great fit for a student that goes in with the right expectations. I will also strongly disagree with your statement that if you attend Whittier you will likely not be an attorney. By definition if you graduate from law school and pass the bar your attorney and there will always be firms at the very least looking for appearance attorneys. If your expecting to be arguing in front of the Supreme Court from Whittier then the odds are low, but there is plenty of legal work out there. Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, Foreclosure Defense, Litigation, etc our typical things a Whittier Grad might do. If a Whittier Grad is expecting to be doing tax reform legislation right out of law school it is unlikely.

Again, to draw a basketball analogy going to Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. Let's use Robert Morris University as an example.  Robert Morris was a 16 seed in this year's NBA tournament, which is awesome for those players. However, I would be substantial sums of money that nobody on Robert Morris will be playing in the NBA. Many of these Robert Morris players however, can make a living playing basketball. If they really wanted to pursue basketball as a career they could play in Europe or become high school or junior college coaches. Maybe one might even make his way to becoming a Division 1 basketball coach somewhere, but the odds of that happening are low. So you can make a living off basketball, but the odds of making a living through the NBA are highly unlikely. The players at Robert Morris are aware of this, but love the game of basketball enough to pursue it despite knowing they will not be going to the NBA. They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome.

Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. You can make a living as a lawyer, but it is highly unlikely biglaw will be an option. However, as I mentioned above there are plenty of legal opportunities, but these are not the glamorous positions, but if you really want to be a lawyer it can be a great opportunity.

So basically go to law school with realistic expectations. Do anything in life with realistic expectations that is really where the issue is with law school and all education really. Many law students enroll thinking they will be millionaires and that society owes them something, because they went to law school. That is not the case you have to work your ass off to succeed in the legal profession and if your going to a school like Whittier you are going to have to work even harder, but it can be done.


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