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First and foremost realize that anything you read on this board or others mine included comes from anonymous internet posters and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are some valid posts above, but the law school you choose is a highly personal decision and the reality is any ABA school will provide you with a quality legal education and the opportunity to obtain a license to practice law.  If you pass the bar and become a licensed lawyer whether you succeed or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attended.

With that intro I think any incoming law student should consider the following five factors in this order when choosing a law school. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News ranking.  Here is a good article summarizing these factors and I rambled on about them below as well.

It looks like you want to be in Pennsylvania so you are looking at the right schools, but I am unfamiliar with Pennsylvania and don't know if these schools are in vastly different areas. The neighborhood your school is in will be where you spend three years of your life so it is something to consider.

Getting out of law school debt free would be awesome. However, has another poster suggested be careful of the conditions it sounds like it is only a 2.0 at most schools, which is fair, but don't assume the law school will do you any favors be very certain you understand the conditions. This New York Times Article explains how law school scholarships work better than I can.

However, getting out of law school with little or no debt will give you more freedom down the road, which is something to consider.

Personal Feelings about School:
Each school has a culture to it and whether you like that culture is a question only you can answer.

UPenn is an Ivy League School, which is great, but maybe your not an Ivy League type person. One of my friends went to Harvard Law School, but hated every minute of it. He is from the inner city and not exactly a preppy person and would have been happier going to  a school that had more scrappy people in it. He got a Biglaw job offer, but hated that environment and then started his own firm and is a solo practitioner hustling, but he loves it. He could have had full scholarships to numerous other schools, but now the Harvard debt is impacting him. The point is he was not a fit at Harvard, but there are certainly plenty of people that are.

So the point of that story is really look at yourself and what you like and don't like. No magazine, internet poster, etc can possibly know what fits you best. I encourage you to visit each school, talk to students, alumni, professors, walk around the neighborhood and determine, which school feels right. UPenn might be the perfect fit, but it might be a terrible fit as well, but this is a question only you can answer and the only way to answer this question is by visiting the schools and talking to people in person.

4) Reality of Legal Education
Any of these schools will provide you with a great education. At any ABA school you learn the same thing. Your first year courses will consist of  Torts; Contracts; Civil Procedure; Property; Legal Writing & Research; and then Crim Law/Con Law/ or Crim Pro these switch between schools for 1L and 2L, but you will take all of those courses. In those courses you will read Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different law schools nor does the law change if you attend a different law school. 

In Torts you will read Palsgraff to learn about proximate cause; Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro to learn about notice; Hadley v. Baxendale in contracts to learn about remedies. So on and so on.

After three years at any of these schools you will then need to take the bar exam. You will sign up for either BarBri or Kaplan and then be completely stressed out for 3 months then pack yourself in a room of thousands of people where students from all of these schools will be taking the bar exam. If you pass the bar your a licensed lawyer if you don't your not. None of these schools guarantee you will pass and whether you pass the bar or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attend.

5) U.S. News Ranking:
Remember that U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News is doing nothing wrong by offering it's opinion, but there is no science behind it. U.S. News ranks everything from hospitals to best places to live and Alberqueue, New Mexico is the #1 place to live according to U.S. News

I imagine you are not going to apply to New Mexico law school, because U.S. News said New Mexico is the best place to live. Use the same logic when choosing a law school, you can certainly consider it, but a magazines opinion should not be the basis of one of the biggest decisions of your life.

I know nothing about you or your situation and certainly do not know what is best for you. The only person that can really answer the question is yourself, but use the factors above to assist in your decision. I also guarantee you now matter what you choose you will wonder "what if". I was accepted to numerous schools and even paid deposits at three. Part of me always wonders what if I had chosen school X over school Y, but you can only choose one and make the best of your decision.

Good luck and congratulations on all your acceptances.

Widener U School of Law / Re: Widener TAP Program
« on: March 04, 2015, 12:01:44 PM »
They might, but you might want to consider retaking.  A 139 LSAT is suggestive of poor standardized test taking skills and law school as well as the bar exam are standardized tests.

It is good that you took the LSAT and you should be proud of yourself for following through, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by retaking. Good luck.

Agree with a lot of the posts above. The reality is you should go to law school only if you want to be a lawyer, to get anything you have to be all-in.  An interest in law, but a less than complete commitment will not lead to good things. I am sure in your business practice you don't have half ass things as nothing good results.

General Board / Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« on: February 26, 2015, 12:22:28 PM »
Perfect follow-up. If bar finds the discrepancy then the investigator will have to ask if you lied/covered up that what else are you covering up, but if you tell them what happened and it is a reasonable explanation then it should be fine.

If on the other hand you were arrested and in jail for a month, which then resulted in you having to drop out that seems like something you would remember, but if you were an 18 year old kid that was flaky at their local community college joined the military then forgot about 2 months when you were 18 it seems reasonable.

There are only a few online law schools and none are currently accredited by the ABA (American Bar Association).

California has a few California State Bar Schools that offer online and a few unaccredited online schools that will allow you to sit for the California Bar Exam, but will not allow you to take it any other state. Here is the info on all law schools in California from the State Bar Website.

Below is a list of the registered, but unaccredited California correspondence schools. To obtain a traditional legal education attending an ABA school is the best option, but it is mandatory that you physically attend the school. A license to practice law is a very serious responsibility, but if you simply what to get an education and have no desire to be licensed the registered unaccredited schools should provide you with a passable legal education.

Registered Unaccredited Correspondence Law Schools in California

The following institutions are currently registered by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California as unaccredited correspondence law schools. A correspondence law school is a law school that conducts instruction principally by correspondence. A correspondence law school must require at least 864 hours of preparation and study per year for four years.

American International School of Law

16491 Scientific Way
Irvine, CA  92618

Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy

P.O. Box 26870
Fresno, CA 93729-6870

California Southern University
930 Roosevelt Avenue
Irvine, CA 92620

Taft Law School
3700 So. Susan St., Office 200
Santa Ana, CA 92704-6954

International Pacific School of Law
3055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90010

University of Honolulu School of Law
1609 Tully Road, Suite 4
Modesto, CA 95350-4030

Northwestern California University
School of Law
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 306
Sacramento, CA 95833-4133

General Board / Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« on: February 26, 2015, 11:30:32 AM »
This is not the worst thing it is understandable that a two month stint at a Junior College before the military could be forgotten.

I think your best bet is to speak with the admissions officer at your school and explain your situation. You may also need to inform your local state bar either now or when you apply for your moral character application.

I have seen worse stories and I remember freaking out about a similar situation and I think most law students and people for that matter forget various things about their lives and then when the state bar comes around asking every detail it is scary, but I do not think you are the first nor will you be the last two drop out of their local J.C.

When in doubt disclose and you should be fine. Good luck.

Congrats on your acceptances and scholarships.

Before I say anything substantive realize that I or anyone else posting on this board or others comes from anonymous internet posters, my post included and when making a life altering decision such as where to attend law school anonymous internet advice should be low on the relevance scale.

With that intro I think any incoming law student should consider the following five factors in this order when choosing a law school (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) The reality of legal education; and (5) last and least U.S. News rankings. Here is a good article analyzing these factors.

Two main things that stick out in your post is that I think you are taking the rankings to seriously and you have listed what the scholarship conditions are, which is very important.

U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News is certainly entitled to provide it's opinions, but for all intents and purposes it is entertainment and should not be a large factor on where you attend law school. U.S. News ranked Albuquerque, New Mexico #1 best place to live. .  Will you move to New Mexico, because U.S. News said it is the #1 best place to live? I assume moving to a new city based on what a magazine says seems a bit crazy, but for some reason incoming law students myself included make three year $100,000+ commitments and move to new cities to attend law school often based on what this magazine says, which is not a smart decision.

Additionally, the rankings change year by year when I was in law school Villanova was #50 or so, but it has dropped to #91, but will probably rise again and the methodology U.S. News uses is far from scientific and it doesn't need to be it is entertainment after all. Here is the list of U.S. News law schools for the past 5 years you can see outside of the top 15 schools change drastically year by year.  If you attend Seton Hall at 68th now there is a strong chance Rutgers at 81st could be ranked higher by the time you graduate. It changes drastically year by year and more importantly nobody cares about 68th or 81st best. Seton Hall and Rutgers are both fine schools.

As for your scholarships what are the CONDITIONS many law schools require that you maintain a 3.0 GPA, which to an incoming law student seems like a piece of cake, but it is not. All law students are smart, hard-working, motivated and 100% really believe they will finish in the top 10%, but you don't need to be a math major to see how that works out. The 3.0 requirement is also unlike undergrad, because law school has a steep curve and typically only 35% of students can get a 3.0 first year. This means there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship if that is the scenario. I don't know what the conditions of your scholarships are, but ASK. This New York Times Article explains the situation better than I can.

You have a lot of good options, but I strongly encourage you to visit each school, learn the scholarship conditions, and put the U.S. News magazine down if after all the other factors are considered and you can't make a decision use it as a tie-breaker, but a magazine should not be a major basis for a 3 year, $100,000+, life and career altering decision.

Good luck and congrats on your acceptances.

General Board / Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« on: February 18, 2015, 12:08:41 PM »
First and foremost congrats on the great semester!

Before I say anything substantive realize that anyone posting on this board or others  my post included is coming from anonymous internet posters and should be taken with a major grain of salt. For all you know I am the Dean of Georgetown Law or a crackhead in a public library on anonymous internet forums either individual can post the same as the next.

With that intro Doctolaw's post is typically true to transfer up at all you need to be in the top 10-20% and to transfer to a T14 in the top 5% or higher.  Obviously 80-90% of first year classes do not finish in the top 10-20% and 95% don't finish in the top 5%. However, ranking in the top 3% after your first semester there is a chance of transferring assuming you keep your grades up, but the bigger question becomes do you want to transfer?

There are pros and cons to transferring. I went to a low-mid-level school the rankings have changed so drastically since I graduated I don't even know what it is anymore. Anyways,  I finished in the top 10% after 1L and could have transferred, but choose not to. Many of classmates transferred and many stayed some loved the transfer others hated it.  Below are some factors to consider when choosing to transfer or not and it is up to you analyze them and make the decision.

I think the following factors in this order are what any law student should consider when choosing a law school.
(1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about school and your network at current school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News ranking.  Here is a pretty good article explaining it, but it is more geared towards 0L's not transfers.

Things to consider as a transfer:

Ask for scholarship money:
You mention costs and one thing to definitely do with your class rank is negotiate scholarship money. Many of my classmates that stayed and myself said we would transfer if they didn't give us scholarship money and our school did. If you don't ask they won't give it to you, but if you are in the top 3% you are an excellent performer and they don't want to you leave. You should apply to the other schools and tell Widener you are thinking about transferring, but you can stay if they offer you scholarship money. If they don't budge then f em you can transfer to a new school.

Your current network at school:
One thing a lot of my classmates that transferred struggled with was adjusting to the new school. During 1L clicks are formed and you typically have your group and it makes law school enjoyable. If you don't have that then not really something to consider, but I know I made several really good friends in law school that I would have lost had I transferred after knowing them for just one year.

Also, just adjusting to a new school as the new person can be tough if you are a bit shy and reserved. If you are a super outgoing person then that is less of a factor, but that is a question only you can answer.

Being the Big fish in a small pond or normal fish in a giant pond?
If your in the top 3% there is a chance you could graduate as the number 1 student in your class, which is impressive at any ABA school. Odds are the students above you will transfer up making you the top 1%, which is more impressive than being in the middle of the pack at Temple.  You can basically be the star at a small school or be another guy at a better school, but schools like Rutgers, Drexel, Villanova aren't going to impress employers they are fine, but nothing special. I interview people and if I saw 1 at Widener or middle of the class at Villanova I personally would choose to speak with 1 at Widener. Obviously, other people might think differently, but that is the world some people will love Widener others hate it. Some will love Georgetown others will hate it so on and so on.

One other thing to realize is the importance of confidence particularly in preparation for the bar exam. If you are just killing it at Widener and doing a great job you are going to feel good and confident. If you transfer to Villanova and struggle 2L, which can happen you might lose confidence and think you should have stayed at Widener. Or you might be super motivated to be the best at Villanova or wherever you transfer, again I don't know you or how you will react and odds are you don't either.

One final thing to consider is that before you choose to transfer visit every school you are considering. I know as a 0L I visited a number of schools and some I loved others I hated. I can't explain, but they just me a feeling, but others might love it. Much like a City I live in San Francisco and I love it, but plenty of people hate it. I personally do not like Sacramento, but there are plenty of people that love it there. The same is true of law schools and you need to visit each and determine if it is a good fit for YOU.

Whether to transfer or not is a highly personal decision. Before even considering that you should focus on this next semester and keep your grades up. I knew several people that did well first semester and thought they had it all down only to get back second semester grades, so you are still a 1L with a lot to learn. Stay focused on the school you are at for the time being.

If you do great after 1L and have the option to transfer negotiate for scholarship money. I know several of my friends got $25,000 per year scholarships for not transferring. I do not know if Widener will do that or not, but there is absolutely no harm in asking.

Then consider how you feel about Widener do you like the professors, have friends, so on and so on is it worth it to transfer to some mid level school like Villanova? Maybe.

One final point I want to reiterate is the U.S. News rankings please do not let it be to large of a factor in your decision. Schools like Penn & Georgetown can open some doors, but Villanova or Temple etc change drastically year by year. See attached chart

Realities of U.S. News Rankings and their irrelevance
In 2009 Villanova was ranked 61st today it is in a 7 way tie for 93rd. In five years it could easily be back at 61. In 2009 Template was 65th in 2011 it got up to a three way tie for 58th now it is in a 3 way tie for 61st. The rankings aren't actually based on anything it is just a for profit magazine offering an opinion. Nothing wrong with them doing it, but they rank more than law schools. Alberqueue, New Mexico is the #1 place to live according to U.S. News . I do not see New Mexico on your places to transfer to, because it probably seems crazy to move to a new city based on what a magazine says. However, for some reason and I was no different when I was in the law school students make life altering decisions regarding their careers based on a magazine and it is not a good idea.

Georgetown and Penn are well known schools that even if U.S. News ranked them dead last people would still know and U.S. News would lose credibility by doing that. However, Villanova, Widener, Drexel they could be top 50 or 180 nobody would think much of it they are all fine schools that will teach you the law.

Good luck in your decision and congrats on your strong first semester.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: SLU vs Mizzou
« on: February 17, 2015, 12:03:47 AM »
Well first off realize that anything on this board or others comes from anonymous internet posters and it should be taken with a grain of salt, my post included.

With that intro congrats on your acceptances! As to the question of, which school to choose there is no "right" answer, but I always tell 0L's to 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 least U.S. News rankings.  I will analyze each factor to your situation below.

It sounds like your not to off base on location. I see a lot of people ask whether they should attend Iowa or UCLA, which are drastically different SLU v. Mizzou makes sense. However, if your family lives in Saint Louis it will probably cut on costs particularly if you can live at home, but living with parents can also be a pain.  Also consider the neighborhoods of both. I have never been to Missouri, but my understanding is that Mizzou is more of a college town, while St. Louis is more of a city. Nothing wrong with either one, but if you prefer college football small town living etc than Mizzou might be a better experience for three years.  If your more of an urbanite St. Louis might be more enjoyable. So really consider the surrounding neighborhoods.

Congrats on the full rides, but be very careful with the CONDITIONS! most law schools will require you to keep a 3.0 or do something to maintain your scholarship. Almost every incoming law student particularly one with a scholarship offer assumes getting a 3.0 will be easy or finishing in the top 35% is a given. However, everyone in law school is smart, hard-working, motivated, and 100% truly think they will be in the top 10% of the class, but 90% will be disappointed. The 3.0 requirement is a common one and it sounds easy, but law school has a strict curve and typically only 35% of  students can get a 3.0 and in those situations there is a 65% chance you will not maintain the scholarship. This NY times article explains the situation far better than I can.

I strongly encourage you to negotiate the best conditions possible so there are no surprises after 1L.

3) Personal Feelings about school:
It sounds like you visited both schools, but I encourage you to go back talk to professors, admins, students, walk around the campus etc. It is a 3 year $100,000 decision so get as much info as you can.

4) Reality of Legal Education:
At any ABA law school you will learn the same thing. Your first year will consist of Torts, Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Legal Writing/Research. In these courses you will read Supreme Court Cases and the Supreme Court does not write seperate opinions for different law schools. In Torts you will read Palsgraf to learn about proximate cause, Pennoyver v. Neff in Civ pro to learn about notice, and Hadley  v. Baxendale in contracts to learn about contract remedies.

At the end of three years you will then sign up for BarBri or Kaplan in a room with students from all law schools. After three months of intense studying you will be in a room with 1,000's of other bar takers and if you pass your a lawyer if not you restart. If you pass the bar and become a lawyer what you do with your license has a lot more to do with you than the school you attended.

5) U.S. News
This is a for profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion, but if all else fails you can use it for  a tiebreaker, but you shouldn't use it as a basis for a life altering decision.

If I was you I would find out what school offers the best scholarship conditions. Also, if you can live at home during law school you can save $10,000-$30,000 on rent over three years, which could be awesome. No matter what you decide you will always wonder what if you choose the other one, but that is normal. Good luck in your pursuit of a legal education.

Personal Statement / Re: Please critique my ps
« on: February 10, 2015, 11:48:09 AM »
I think you have a very compelling story, but it could be tightened up a little more. You have quite a few extra words that take away from the story.

One example is

Your words
I did not know then that my experience would follow me throughout my journey in life, and help me make decisions.

Less words to say the same thing
I did not realize my experience would influence my life journey and impact my decisions.

A skill you learn in law school is using less words and I think if you try to tighten your statement up it will improve drastically although it is quite good now.

With that said it is important to realize 95% of law school admission decisions are based on LSAT/GPA. Your personal statement is really more of a tie breaker than anything else. It is worth spending time on, but if you have a 135 LSAT and 2.1 GPA you could write a personal statement that is published in books about writing personal statements you are still unlikely to be admitted to any law school.

I think your story is very interesting and wish you the best in your pursuit of a legal education. When it comes to choosing a law school this is an excellent article to read to help you select one.

This board also has a lot of very helpful posters and I encourage you to continue using it during the law school process. Again, good luck on your pursuit of a J.D. and I really do think you have a good personal statement, but it could be great with some tightening up.

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