Law School Discussion

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Messages - Citylaw

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11
First and foremost realize that anything you read on this board or others myself included comes from anonymous internet posters that know nothing about you, your situation, or goals and on the internet anyone can give themselves delusions of grandeur for all you know I could be the Dean of Harvard Law School or a crackhead in a public library. Therefore, take anything you read from anonymous internet posters with a major grain of salt.

With that intro I am familiar with USF, because I live right next to the campus and am a lawyer in San Francisco. Ymy litigation partner went there as did a number of other attorneys I deal with in court all the time. As with any law school in America from Harvard to Cooley there are great lawyers and terrible lawyers from every school. I have met some great attorneys from USF and some terrible ones at the end of the day whether you succeed in the legal profession has far more to do with the individual than the school they attended.

I think this is a great article explaining how to choose a law school. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

With that intro I will go into a little bit about USF and the Bay Area Law Schools.  For all intents and purposes if you want to live in the Bay Area University of San Francisco is a fine school. The campus itself is beautiful and San Francisco is an amazing City. One of the realities of attending law school in a major city like San Francisco is that all the law schools in the area will often have the same professors. Outstanding lawyers often want to live in San Francisco, New York, L.A, etc and University of Nebraska could be ranked far higher than a Tier 4 in San Francisco, but the professor will often prefer to live in San Francisco opposed to Nebraska. However, there are plenty of talented lawyers that would prefer Nebraska over the Hustle and Bustle of a City, but that is the main point there are countless paths to choose and you need to evaluate what is best for YOU.

In the Bay area for example there are 6 ABA schools. (1) Stanford; (2) Berkeley; (3) Hastings; (4) Santa Clara; (5) USF  (6) Golden Gate.

The same professors teach at these schools because the law is the same. A professor can spend an hour teaching contracts at Golden Gate hop on Bart teach at Hastings then take the N line down to USF and teach four hours in one day while collecting three paychecks and many do.

One example is Peter Keane who was an excellent Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Francisco.  He now teaches both Constitutional Law, Trial Advocacy and Criminal Procedure at Golden Gate, Hastings, USF, and has lectured at all the bay area schools. Below are his profiles for both Hastings and Golden Gate.

 http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/keane/index.php
http://law.ggu.edu/faculty/bio/peter-keane

So whether you attend Hastings or Golden Gate next year you will read the same Con Law Book likely written by Chemerinsky and Peter Keane will teach it to you in San Francisco.

Jon Sylvester is another contracts expert in the Bay Area who teaches everywhere. You will read the Contracts book written by Epstein and likely take 1L contracts from Jon Sylvester.

http://law.ggu.edu/law/faculty/bio/jon-sylvester
http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/sylvester/index.php

I could go on and on with examples of this, but the important thing to realize is that at any ABA law school you will learn the same thing. U.S. News is nothing more than a magazine offering an opinion and back when I was applying to law schools University of San Francisco was ranked in the top 70 schools and I guess now it is not, but in a few years it will probably go back up again.

This is par for the course of law school rankings as U.S. News is nothing more than a magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News ranks more than law schools and listed Albuquerque New Mexico as the number one place to live. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009 (I imagine you are not considering applying to New Mexico Law School, because U.S. News  ranked it the #1 place to live as it would be crazy to make a life altering decision such as where to live based on a magazine's opinion.

However, for some reason incoming law students make life altering decisions based on U.S. News. U.S. News is not doing anything wrong by publishing it's opinion and it us up to people to apply common sense when choosing a law school.

Conclusion:
There will never be right answer as to what school to choose. I was accepted to 20 different schools and I always think what if I would have chosen X? I will never know and even know I really enjoy by job, but I had other offers again what if I had chosen? Again, I can't know and one of the most important thing for a lawyer to be is decisive and the sooner you come to realize that there is no right answer and nobody really knows what they are doing the further you will go.

Good luck in your pursuit of a legal education and if you have any specific questions about USF or San Francisco you can personal message me or just keep sharing on this board.






12
General Board / Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« on: January 06, 2015, 08:03:05 PM »
Congrats on your first semester grades! The release of those is a very stressful time and it getting a 3.0 is not bad at all. As Maintain States most 1L's assume they will get a 4.0 and 100% of them are certain they will be in the top 10% of the class and there is no way they wouldn't in the top 25% and it would absolutely impossible for them to be in the bottom half of the class. However, you don't need to be a math major to see how that math works out.

Any ABA Law Schools is compromised of very smart, motivated and hard working people and many students are shocked when 1L grades come out and they see C's for the first time. At the end of the day your grades mean very little and whether you pass the bar or not is what counts, but nobody has ever been hurt by having a solid law school GPA.

To sum it up a 3.0 is a great start and you are likely in the top 35% of your class with that so congrats and keep pushing through law school. If you have additional questions about the process this site has several insightful posters that offer excellent advice.

13
I agree many online schools just like to bash the ABA, but it is there for a reason and there is certainly merit to having a regulatory agency overseeing legal education.

Reading more about the W & M program I think it is a great compromise. I almost feel like a mandatory Brick & Mortar 1L is necessary as that is really when you learn to think like a lawyer. I am sure all of us had some joke classes during 2L & 3L that easily could have been done online, but there needs to be a brick & mortar component.




14
Interesting to see William & Mitchell taking that route.  I think online learning has some benefiets I know I did BarBri online, but I would always go to the lecture hall to watch the video. My school did a study on those that did home-study v. came to school to watch the BarBri videos and those that came to school did far better than those studying at home.

For the most I part I believe online learning does not work for law as the intensity of study to succeed is extreme. If you are not in a group environment you will likely be unable to know how much you need to know and there is something to be said for the Socratic method and working with classmates.

I think JonLevy makes a great point that most online schools attract students that are likely to struggle in the first place and put in an environment with less structure than ABA schools, which leads to bad results. Of course there are numerous examples of people succeeding from online schools, but it takes a special person to do that and most people don't have that commitment, which is why I think the brick & mortar approach should stay in place. However, a compromise of brick & mortar as well as online learning like the program offered by William & Mitchell makes sense.

15
Denials / Re: 141 LSAT and 3.5 GPA Probability of Getting Accepted?
« on: January 05, 2015, 10:50:13 AM »
First and foremost good job taking the LSAT and getting the score it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and get a score. I do not know how many people tell they want to attend law school, but never have the guts to take the test. Additionally, a 141 is not a great score, but you could have done worse.

With that intro, I believe all the schools listed will take your highest LSAT score. Therefore, I say apply to all the schools in San Diego and with a 141 3.5 you might have a shot and if you score higher on the next LSAT great.

One thing to be wary about however, is that if you struggle with standardized tests nerves etc the LSAT is the least stressful test you will face during the path of becoming an attorney. Your first year exams are far more stressful than the LSAT and much more is riding on them.  Then of course there is the bar exam, which is the highest stakes of all.

I think you may have a shot at Cal Western or Thomas Jefferson with your  numbers, but I think you should retake and be sure law school is right for you. A 141 LSAT score might indicate struggles with standardized testing and obtaining a licensing to practicing law requires the ability to handle the pressures of standardized testing.

Conclusion:
I plan on applying to the schools you are interested in August and take the LSAT as many times as possible. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by retaking.

I don't imagine you will do worse than 141 and even if you do schools will take your highest score. Additionally, the more you practice the better you are likely to do.

Good luck in your pursuit of a legal education.

16
Distance Education Law Schools / Re: Baby bar test scores
« on: December 22, 2014, 08:07:48 PM »
To the Original Post I don't know if everyone is dying to go to Concord or any online law school, but there are realities. Everybody would love to attend Harvard or Yale on a Full Tuition Scholarship, date Scarlette Johansen, have six pack abs and an unlimited trust fund. However, we all have situations and life circumstances preventing all of those things from happening.

Concord or an online law school can be a good fit for the right person. I don't think anyone the online law schools themselves would say they provide as good an education as an ABA or even brick and Mortar CBA school or the same career oppurtunity, but if it provides you with a bar exam ticket that is all some people are after.

For a retired engineer that always wanted to go to law school and say they passed the bar, but has no intention of practicing law it would make far more sense for that person to attend Concord than a brick and mortar ABA school.

Or if someone lives in a small rural town with a disabled child and can't move to a brick and mortar ABA school, but once to be a lawyer and open their own firm an online law school is great.

The possibilities are endless, but works for one person doesn't work for someone else.

To sum it up I don't think the majority of people are would choose an online law school, but for certain people it is the right option.

17
Law School Applications / Re: QUICK READ! PLEASE RESPOND!
« on: December 19, 2014, 01:13:31 AM »
It will help and you can look at this website lawschoolnumbers.com to see how much it helps at various schools. With a 3.5 and 153 LSAT you could get into a number of ABA schools without URM status and the fact that you are a URM is just a boost, but there is no clear cut answer as to how much URM status helps.

I encourage you to apply to all law schools you are interested in and you should also consider attending an LSAC forum to get fee waivers and if you check in with schools at these forums it provides you with a slight boost in your application, because you went to their booth minimal, but a day can save you about $1,000 on law school applications and give you a slight boost. It will also allow you to talk to schools reps, which can give you a little insight into the school.

Here is a link to the LSAC forum locations. http://www.lsac.org/jd/choosing-a-law-school/forums-and-other-events

18
Acceptances / Re: Cal Western in SD or Loyola Law School in LA
« on: December 16, 2014, 02:40:33 PM »
Perfectly stated Gunner and so true.

What means absolutely nothing to one person can be a huge factor to someone else and anyone considering law school should take that to heart.

19
Acceptances / Re: Cal Western in SD or Loyola Law School in LA
« on: December 15, 2014, 08:38:58 PM »
Completely agree with Groundhog about not putting to many eggs in one basket with this firm.  It is very difficult for any firm to know what will happen in five years major clients could back out, another recession could occur, immigration reform could completely change how your firm operates etc.

If the firm was offering to pay for law school then the firm is putting it's money where it's mouth is, but of course they will tell any decent employee to stick around and pursue law school while working for them. You will be paying for own education making you more valuable while being paid the same rate. If you graduate, pass the bar, and it happens to be a good time I am sure they would hire you, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they will hold a position for you.

As to your overall question I always tell any incoming law student to consider the following factors in this order.

(1) Location
(2) Cost
(3) Personal Feelings about school
(4) Understanding the reality of legal education
(5) Last and Least U.S. News Rankings.


This article does an excellent job analyzing these factors to any incoming law student. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html , but I will analyze these factors to your current situation below.

I will also add some minor input about my thought on part-time law school, which I do not recommend, but to each their own.

(1) Location:
For all intents and purposes San Diego and L.A. are pretty similar, but during law school you will not have the time or financial resources to go between the Cities. However, you will have time to enjoy life a little bit and for three years wherever you attend law school will be the City you spend 95% of your life in. Additionally, after three years it is unlikely you will move. If you stay in L.A. and work for that firm part-time there is a good chance you will end up at that firm or another L.A. firm. Additionally, you will make friends in San Diego or L.A. and likely enter into a serious romantic relationship or solidify an existing one during law school and that person will likely get a job in the City you attend law school. So upon graduation again you will likely stay in San Diego or L.A.

On top of that during law school you might find an apartment you love and don't want to leave for at least few years. These are all things that ended up happening to me and I still live 1 mile away from my law school, which is in a City I didn't intend to live in when I enrolled, but things happen and during your mid-late 20's you really solidify where you will end up living so if you really want to be in San Diego attend law school in San Diego.

(2) Cost:
With your numbers I assume California Western would offer you a scholarship and if they haven't ask them to. However, be sure to negotiate your conditions and make sure they are fair. Many students get a 3.0 requirement and assume they will easily get that, but law school is a different animal with a steep curve and only about 35% of the 1L's can have a 3.0 and nothing personal, but there is a 65% chance you will not be in the top the 35%.

3) Personal Feelings about the school:
California Western and Loyola are fairly close to each other and I highly recommend you visit both schools. While there talk to professors, admins, walk around the neighborhood, check out the campus, and see, which one you like more. As a 0L I visited numerous law schools some I liked others I didn't, and whether you like something or not is a highly personal decision and the only way to answer it for yourself is to personally visit each school. After your visit you will likely have a gut feeling about both schools and listen to that feeling. 

(4) Reality of Legal Education:
At any ABA school you will receive a great legal education. Whether you attend California Western or Loyolya you will for all intents and purposes learn the same exact thing. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Property. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and brief them. The Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different schools and you will likely have the same exact textbooks for each of these courses at either school. At the end of three years you will sign up for the California BarBri or Kaplan Course and study for a** off for months then pack yourself into a room with thousands of other law school graduates wanting to be licensed to practice in California. If you pass that exam your an attorney if you don't your not regardless of what school you attend.


(5) U.S. News Rankings:

Remember this is nothing more than a for-profit magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News ranks everything form hospitals to best places to live. Albuquerque, New Mexico was ranked #1 place to live, but I imagine you will not make the life altering decision to move to New Mexico because U.S. News said it was #1. Here is the link showing New Mexico is #1 http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live

Use the same logic when choosing your law school do not make a life altering decision based on what a magazine thinks.

(6) Part time law school and your employer:
The majority of people that fail out of law school go part-time. The reason is that first year is insane no matter where you go, and if you are dealing with the struggles of work your academic performance will suffer. Even if you don't fail out there is no way to will be able to compete with students going full-time and your class rank will not be as good as it could be.

I personally feel if you making the $100,000 life altering decision to go to law school go "all-in" . Don't dip your toe in the water, because odds are you will not do well academically, you will not make connections in law school, and you will simply not have the same experience.  There are people that can thrive in part-time programs, but the majority of people don't.

Again, as to your firm as I stated above there is no guarantee you they will hire you at graduation, but they might. However, a lot of doors will open once you are licensed to practice law unless this firm is where you want to work at graduation, which it might be don't settle. You are pursuing a J.D. to open doors don't put to much weight in this one firm if your not that into it. If it is a firm you want to work at and you are absolutely passionate about then perhaps part-time and working there is the best route, but only you can answer how interested you are in that firm. In closing don't sell yourself short and settle despite all the negativity from anonymous internet posters once you are licensed to practice law there are a lot of opportunities.

Conclusion:
I am some random anonymous internet poster along with everyone else on this board or others so take my post and everyone other anonymous internet poster's advice with a major grain of salt.  I have never met you, I know nothing about you, and I certainly do not know what is best for you and neither does any other anonymous internet poster.

What I do know is that either school will provide you with a solid education and an opportunity to be a licensed attorney. What you do with that license has far more to do with you than the school you attend and what the best decision for "you" is can only be answered by you. I encourage you to analyze the factors above to make your decision.

Good luck whatever you decide and congrats on your acceptances.





20
Personal Statement / Re: Need advice on Personal Statement Conclusion
« on: December 08, 2014, 10:52:09 AM »
If you have time and money to spend on a personal statement advisor go for it. Also hire a personal trainer, nutritionist, personal stylist, so on and so on.

I am sure you could hire some former admission officer from Ex-School to assist you with your personal statement, but at some point why not just give a generous donation to the school. I have friends that have done that to gain admission to top schools.


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