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111
Something sticks out in your post is that you want to live in South Florida with your family and your fiance's family. If that is what you want then you should attend law school in South Florida or as near South Florida as possible.

Many law incoming law students myself included as a 0L do not take into account the realities of location and realistically when choosing a law school in my anonymous internet poster opinion you should consider the following factors in this order. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; and (5) last and certainly least U.S. News Rankings.

Location:
Your goal is to end up in South Florida where your family and fiance's family reside. If you attend any of these schools you will not be able to easily access South Florida. Additionally, is your fiance going with you and if so what will she do in Michigan for example and how will you handle sub-zero temperatures?

The point is many incoming law students myself included back when I was at that stage do not realize law school does not exist in a vacuum although law school is difficult life happens. If your fiance moves to Michigan where there are no jobs away from her family and in an area where she has no friends what will she do? She will likely get depressed and upset causing you to do poorly in school and damaging your relationship. No maybe you have friends and job opportunities and it has been a well hatched plan between you and your fiance where you want to live, but I am guessing you are the typical incoming law student that thinks law school will be all consuming and making the decision more complicated than it needs to me I know I did as a 0L.

First priority sounds like your family and your fiance so think of how the location of the school you choose will impact those relationships.

Aside from the relationships realize that if you attend any of these law schools you it will be impossible for you to intern in South Florida for 9 months of the year, because you will not be able to drive or fly daily to South Florida from Michigan, Tennessee, or D.C instead if you attend Michigan you will make connections in the Midwest. Tennessee in Tennessee D.C. and D.C.

Additionally, you will have to take a state bar exam and if you attend Michigan odds are you will take the MI exam, Vanderbilt Tennessee, D.C = D.C..

Final fact to consider is Ann Arbor Michigan, Nashville Tennessee, and Washington D.C. are very different cities and you will be living in Subzero temperatures in Michigan, which being from South Florida you have likely never experienced.

Bottom line if your overall goal is to keep close to your family, fiance, you love South Florida, and want to end up in South Florida then attend law school in Florida. South Florida i.e University of Miami or Florida International University, which has an amazingly cheap tuition rate for in-state residents, Florida and Florida State also have extremely cheap-in-state tuition rates. University of Miami does not, but if you went there for undergrad maybe you will be comfortable there .


Costs:
If you are in-state Florida Resident you have three of the best cost options for law school in America. Florida International University, Florida, and Florida State all offer extremely cheap tuition rates.

University of Florida 18k per year x 3= 54k in tuition 

Florida State 18 k per year x 3= 54 k in tuition

FIU 16k per year x 3= 48k in total tuition

University of Miami does not offer the cheap tuition.

Your current schools


Vanderbilt 46k per year x 3= 132k in total tuition

Georgetown 46k per year x 3= 132k in total tuition

Michigan 49k per year for non-resident= 137k in total tuition.

At this point the three schools you have listed are nearly three times more expensive and more than 1,000 miles away from the area you want to settle in and again what is your fiance going to do? At this point of the analysis if your goal is to minimize your debt and end up in South Florida then none of the three schools you have listed are better options than Florida, Florida State, or FIU.

(3) Personal Feelings About School:

Assuming you are going to choose from the three in your list is important to realize that each law school does have a culture and some you will like others you will not. To each their own, but the only way to know if you will like the culture of a school is to visit the school talk to professors, admins, walk around the campus etc.

I would highly recommend you do this to any school you are seriously considering and I would encourage you to visit Florida, Florida State, and FIU as well.

(4) Reality of Legal Education
At any ABA school you will learn the same exact thing your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Crim Law. In these courses whether at FIU, Georgetown, Michigan you will read Supreme Court Cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for each school. You will read Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro to learn about notice; Palsgraf in Torts to learn proximate cause etc; etc.

At the end of three years you will then sign up for the BarBri or Kaplan Bar Review Course hopefully you end up taking the Florida exam it may not happen if you do not attend law school in Florida and then you will study for the exam with law students around the country and after a few months of agonizing studying you will sit in a giant auditorium taking the bar exam and if you pass you have a license to practice law if you do not pass your not a lawyer. The school you went to will have no real impact on whether you pass the bar exam it will have everything to do with your own motivation and ability to handle pressure.

(5) U.S. News
Remember this is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. Many law students use the  magazine to make the life altering decision of where to attend law school and forgot to use common sense I hope that is not the case with you. U.S. News Ranked Albuquerque, New Mexico as the best place to live would you move there because of that?http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live

I would not and I would hope your not moving 1,000 miles away from your fiance and your family because some magazine says X school is better.


Conclusion:

I am an anonymous internet poster so \take my advice with a grain of salt along with advice received from other posters on this board, but I do encourage you to apply common sense to your situation.

If your goal is to live in South Florida and not accumulate debt attend one of the in-state tuition law schools in Florida. You will remain close to your family, fiance, friends, and be in the City you want to live in. Additionally, your debt load will pay 1/3 of what you would at the schools on your list.

I would really reevaluate your decision overall and make sure you have thought about the location angle and what your fiance will do if she moves to one of these cities or if you are planning on doing the long distance relationship/law school situation that did not work out for a single law school classmate of mine.

It is a tough decision, but really think about what you want and apply common sense do not over think the situation and I think you will come to the right decision. I know it is a very difficult time and I nearly made from stupid decision when I was 0L, by not using common sense and over thinking. 

Good luck and congrats on your law school acceptances they are very difficult schools to get into.




112
Below is a response to each of your questions, but do remember I and everyone else on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster so take any advice you receive here from myself or other posters with a grain of salt.

(1) IP Law & Location:
First I have to ask what do you know about IP law and why do you want to work in it? I ask this first and foremost, because when I first attended law school I thought I was interested in IP law, but turns out I took one class and thought it was awful most likely because I had no technical background prior to going into law school, and I ended up loving litigation.

If you really want to work in IP law you pretty much need to have a science background to obtain employment in the IP field. If you do not have that then odds are you will not like IP law and even if you do will not be able to compete with law school graduates with technical backgrounds regardless of what school you attend.

If you do have a tech background then I suppose Santa Clara would offer you more opportunities, because Santa Clara is the only school in the South Bay, which would provide you more internship connections  down there. In San Francisco you would be competing with GGU, USF, Hastings, and Boalt students (Boalt has easy BART access to SF so I do realize in it is not actually in SF.)

So the short answer to that question is #1 if you do not have a tech background do not make a decision on what law school to attend based on it possibly being located in a better area for IP law, because odds are you will not like IP law and you will not get hired in it so any intangible hypothetical should not be involved in making the life altering decision of what law school to attend.

If you do have a tech background then you may want to consider Santa Clara, but there is a strong chance you still may have an interest in IP law and if you really wanted to work in IP CalTrain, Bart, 101 or 80 Freeway can get you anywhere you want in the Bay Area and again it should not be a major factor in your decision.

Rankings and Hiring:
Very few employers care about ranking particularly the difference between GGU, USF, Santa Clara, Hastings. If you were saying Stanford v. GGU then yes that would have an impact, but none of the other schools are elite enough to provide a Pedigree that will wow anyone.

Many students that are no employable due to their own shortcomings like to blame their law school, the economy, their parents, the guy at Walgreen's any excuse other than making changes in their own life to accept responsibility for themselves.

I can guarantee you there are 1,000's of successful grads from GGU, USF, Santa Clara, and Hastings and 1,000's of failures. The reality is whether you succeed in the legal profession will have a lot more to do with you than the name of the school printed on your J.D.

Something I recommend you do to see this in real life is attend a few court hearings. 400 McCallister Street (Civil Court) or 850 Bryant Street (Criminal Court) watch lawyers in action some will be amazing, others mediocre, others terrible. You will not hear anyone's law school mentioned once in court and some people will have it others will not. Any of the schools you have been accepted to will provide you with a basic understanding of the law, a bar exam ticket, and the tools to succeed in the legal profession, but it will be up to you pass the bar exam and then apply what you learned in law school to the real world.

One final note on the rankings is that it is a for-profit-unpublished magazine offering an opinion. According to U.S. News New Mexico is the #1 place to live here is the citation. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live . Are you going to move to New Mexico because U.S. News says it is #1?

Probably not it would be a little ridiculous to make a life altering decision of moving to a city based on what some magazine said. For many incoming law students however, myself included when I was 0L think making a life altering decision of where to spend three years of their life, $100,000 of their money, and the stepping stone of their legal career is a good idea. I can assure you it is not particularly because rankings change every year for no reason, because the formula makes no sense.

As example University of San Francisco was a top #100 school and they didn't even rank past top 100 when I was applying to law school. U.S. News started ranking to the top #150 and University of Francisco has now dropped 50-60 spots. You went to undergrad there was their some rebellion at the law school? Did anything at all change?

Conversely when I was a 0L I received a full scholarship to University of Tulsa law school, which was an unranked tier 4 school this year they are #72. I did not end up attending USF or Tulsa, but theoretically had I chosen the higher ranked school USF six years ago I would now have a degree from the lower ranked school by far.

Here is the chart for the last 6 years showing how drastically law school rankings change year by year. http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html

Overall Conclusion:

Rankings should play a very minimal role in your decision if all else fails use it, but very few if any legal employers will say wow he went to Santa Clara hire him; GGU hire him; Hastings hire him; USF hire him; you will have to interview, stick out, and do the right things that will be up to you.

I recommend visiting each school and seeing what school feels right. Also consider cost and make sure to NEGOTIATE for more scholarship money and better conditions. A 3.0 GPA stipulation from any of these schools will be hard to maintain and make sure you know what you are getting into there. Here is a New York Times Article that explains how it works. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Good luck on this very important decision, but remember it is your life altering decision do not let a magazine make it for you.

113
I am familiar with all of these schools and each one will give you a high quality legal education. 

One thing to careful about with the scholarships at any of these schools though is the stipulations. I believe all of them require a 3.0 GPA to maintain your scholarship, which is very misleading to incoming law students. Law school is a lot different than undergrad and I believe at each of these schools only 35% of the class can have a 3.0 at the end of first year, which means there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship at Santa Clara or GGU. You can negotiate for better conditions, but you need to and should  bring it up if you are attending a school based on the scholarship.
 
I have visited and been on all four of these campuses multiple times and I have strong feelings about each one some positive and some negative.  My two cents USF has a beautiful campus and I like the neighborhood; Santa Clara is in San Jose South Bay, which is not an area I like and I feel there is a smugness from that school; Hastings is an ugly campus in the heart of the Tenderloin and my least favorite of all the schools; GGU is probably the ugliest of all the campuses; but it is in downtown San Francisco and probably has the most supportive student environment.

However, those are my opinions and what I as an anonymous internet poster thinks should have no bearing on your life altering  $100,000 3 year commitment. With that I strongly encourage you to visit each school talk to professors; admins; students; alumni; walk around the campus; the neighborhoods; and after each visit your gut will give you a feeling.

Of these four schools there will be one you do not like I guarantee that as they all have different cultures, but listen to your own gut when visiting the school nobody knows what you will like best better than yourself.

As to the quality of education at any of these schools or any ABA school for that matter you will learn the same exact thing. Your first year will consist of Torts; Contracts; Civil Procedure; Property; and Criminal Law; and you will read Supreme Court Cases. At many of these schools you will have the same professors.

Peter Keane for example has and does teach Constitutional Law at Hastings; Golden Gate; and University of San Francisco. Hastings Bio for Keane;  http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/keane/index.php
GGU Bio for Keane http://law.ggu.edu/faculty/bio/peter-keane


Michael Zamperini has and does teach Torts at Hastings and Golden Gate. Hastings bio http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/faculty/facultybios/zamperini/index.php and GGU bio https://law.ggu.edu/faculty/bio/michael-r-zamperini

I could provide endless examples, but these schools are all interconnected and the education you receive will for all intents and purposes be identical. After three years you will then end up in cramed BarBri course with students from each school then take the California Bar Exam in an even more crowded Convention Center. If you pass the California Bar you are a lawyer regardless of the school you attended and any of these schools will provide you with a bar exam ticket and the legal knowledge to pass the exam.

One difference between the two schools is that Hastings and Golden Gate have very active mock trial teams while USF and SCU do not. Mock Trial competitions are one of the unique things that some schools offer and if litigation is something you are really interested in then Hastings or GGU might provide more opportunities than SCU or USF.



114
Ave Maria / Re: Ave Maria Scholarship Retention
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:47:32 AM »
The 3.0 GPA requirement is a something used by most law schools. It is a bit misleading and you are right to ask this question.

Law school is much different than undergrad in that law school is based on a strict curve. At most schools only 35% of the first year class can have a 3.0 GPA, which means there is a 65% chance any scholarship student will not keep their scholarship for years two and three.

It is also important to understand everyone is smart, hard working, and motivated and on the first day of school everyone thinks they will be in the top 10% of the class and there is no way they will not be in the top 35%, but you do not need to be math major to understand how that plays out when first year grades come out.

With that said you might want to negotiate for more favorable scholarship conditions. As an incoming law student say I will attend if you give me a scholarship subject to merely being in good academic standing or something less difficult than a 3.0.

Many law students do not realize they are paying customers and should do everything they can to get the best deal possible. Congrats on getting a scholarship and your acceptance to law school.




115
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Should I defer?
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:35:21 AM »
You should not defer unless you have a good reason. Why are you considering deferring until next year?

116
You can get into a number of schools, but Harvard, Yale, etc will not be on the list.

Visit lawschoolnumbers.com for Suffolk here is the link for the past few years there. Someone was put on the waitlist with a 2.33 and 161 LSAT this year.  http://suffolk.lawschoolnumbers.com/stats/1314

You can also use the site Maintain FL lists the LSAC Official Guide to Law School.

You might also want to consider other Boston area schools like New England; Western New England; and maybe even University of New Hampshire.

a 165 is a solid LSAT score and I think you can be accepted into a number of schools.

Good luck.

117
Law School Applications / Re: Third Tier Admission
« on: April 18, 2014, 02:04:28 AM »
If you look at lawschoolnumbers.com for West Virginia with a 2.04 and obtain a 155 it looks like you might have a chance. http://wvu.lawschoolnumbers.com/stats/1314 .

As for the MBA I do not think you should pursue that path if your ultimate goal is law school. Law school admissions like at undergrad GPA and LSAT. Grad school grades are not taken that seriously most grad schools hand out A's like candy, which is why law school admissions do not take them seriously.

I think you take the LSAT and apply to West Virginia. The admission standards are not that difficult, but you need to get a decent LSAT score to overcome the 2.04 GPA, but it can be done.

Good luck. 


118
St. Thomas (Florida) / Re: Summer conditional program
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:59:27 PM »
I think the majority of posters on this board now are quite supportive. I agree with everything you said in your post and at the end of the day if a law school gives you a bar exam ticket you can pass the bar become a lawyer and succeed.

Obviously, Harvard will open more doors than Cooley, but there are graduates from Harvard that never passed the bar or were disbarred and there are Superlawyers from Cooley.

Whether you succeed in the legal profession has a lot more to do with you than the name of your law school.

119
Yea I think an EJD overall is a bad I never heard of it and just looked it up. If you really want to work in the law and cannot get admitted to law school you would be much better served by obtaining a Paralegal Certificate.

I am almost always very open to anyone pursuing an education, but this EJD feels almost fraudulent. They are making it sound like a J.D, but it is not a J.D and will not entitle you to take the Bar Exam. It also does not appear that you will learn the skills of becoming a paralegal either.

If you want to go to law school attend a school that will allow you to take at least one state's bar exam.

Again, I encourage you to retake the LSAT or pursue a paralegal certificate. Good luck.

120
General Board / Re: Where should I go in FL?
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:45:57 PM »
Awesome congrats on your decision hopefully the ASD at Florida gives you a good feeling and you can be on with your legal education. It is a very liberating moment when you make the final decision, but it is a very hard choice to make. I am sure everything will work out and I wish you the best of luck as your pursue a legal education.

Feel free to post on this board with questions as you begin law school there are a few very helpful posters on this site.

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