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Choosing the Right Law School / Re: corporate law career
« on: October 15, 2005, 08:46:11 AM »
So are you guys saying that at a non-top school, it would be harder to get a job in corporate law as compared to private practice? Oh and it's not a stupid question b10bwn. I meant to find out which schools have better connections to careers in corporate law as opposed to just preparing you for private practice. But it is kind of stupid to make a post just to say somebody's question is stupid.  :)

I like pointing out stupidity, although since you have clarified yourself here, I retract my comment.  Still, its safe to say that the answer to your question is pretty obvious if you are one to believe USN&WR rankings.  I'm of the belief that where you want to practice is just as important in deciding where to go to school.  Face it, everyone can't get into Yale, and once you get past the top schools, its all about where you want to practice.  I don't think any school prepares you more for corporate or private practice.  After your first year, you tailor the classes around what you are interested in.  Pick a school that is right for you, and if it is not a top school, pick one that has a good rep where you want to be.  If you want to do biglaw in NYC, don't expect to get there by going to St. Mary's.  It's probably not going to happen, but you will probably be able to get a good job in San Antonio, and further away like Dallas and Houston if you do well.

Well, if some graduates of St. Mary's had listened to part of the comment above they wouldn't be partners at Akin Gump in New York (the definition of BIGLAW) and at Verizon Communications (also in New York) and many other firms in New York. Furthermore, I guess there were some people that would have said don't expect to get nominated to be on the U.S. Supreme Court if you go to SMU law school.


I've been checking in from time to time, but now that everyone's pretty much decided where they are going to go, I haven't found as many of the topics posted as interesting as they once were.  When the new crop of undecided posters comes through, maybe that will change.

I apologize for the length of the rest of this rather long post.

You raise a good point about tradition. As I read that guy's blog above, I thought about how the legal profession really frowns upon specialization. The whole thrust in law school is to make you a generalist. The idea--some may say, the myth--is that after you graduate law school, you should "think like a lawyer." Therefore, you should be able to pick up any legal subject, and with some study, be able to competently practice that area of the law.  The reality, of course, is that clients have to pay for every minute you're working on their case, and they are not too keen on paying for you to learn how do something you've never done before. Let's face it, that can take a long time, and time is money. From the client's perspective, I'm sure they are thinking "didn't you learn how to do that in law school?"

Many times I have seen law school graduates shake their heads and say how they wished their law school actually taught them HOW to do something. You might have had it beaten into your head that after the time for a Defendant to file an answer to your lawsuit has come and gone, and if no answer has been filed, you can move for a default judgment.  But how do you do that--
move for a default judgment? What does a default judgment look like? How do you "prove up" the damages? Most lawschools don't teach you that.

More than a century ago, when Harvard lawschool set up the core classes and the Socratic method and created the casebooks, the legal educational system moved away from the older methods of teaching the law.  The older way involved serving as an apprentice for an attorney. Harvard wanted the law degree to be more than just a "vocational" degree. The study of the law had to be "scientific" and "professional."  Most law professors at other schools were scandalized to learn that Harvard was using instructors that had never practiced law a day in their lives to "teach" Contracts and Torts through the Socratic Method. But Harvard's method of instruction has lasted more than 100 years now.  Most law schools still follow that model. You are taught to be a generalist in the law.   

Now, with the rest of the modern educational system, the whole trend is toward specialization.  Academics all tend to want to specialize in a subject and be known as the authority on THEIR area. Today, we see law professors want to make names for themselves, but it's hard when the great casebooks on Torts and Contracts have already been written. The tendency, then, is to find another less studied area of the law and dig into it. But then, what about the students who face the problem of the bar exam? The bar exam does not test on the esoteric, or "special" subjects. It tests on the basics. It's a minimum competency exam. I agree with the Sardonic Lawyer that after graduating from an ABA accredited law school, shouldn't that feat alone be evidence of minimum competency?  But the reason we have bar exams is because law schools don't teach you to be minimally competent in the practice of law. 

In this regard, the modern legal education really is at cross-purposes with itself.  The "sardonic lawyer" comes down on the side of supporting having a bar exam because of what he perceives to be a failing in modern legal instruction.  Because the institution has failed, the student is left in the position of having to pray that he passes.   

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with this guy, but I thought he made some interesting points about the modern legal educational system.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Tulsa or St. Mary's?
« on: July 23, 2005, 03:43:17 PM »
St. Mary's is an old law school. The alumni base is very strong and very supportive of the school. St. Mary's graduates sit on every court in Texas, including the Texas Supreme Court. What's more, St. Mary's has the fourth most cited law journal in the country. Anyone arguing that St. Mary's has anything less than a stellar reputation in San Antonio shows he doesn't know much about the school. One poster above wrote that the "staff and students seem quite unhappy."  That's ridiculous. The law professors are well published and the vast majority of them have tenure. It seems most are quite content to stay at St. Mary's. Most have been there more than 10 years. In fact, I wonder just what a law school applicant visting the campus thinks a "happy" law professor looks like? 

Take a look at the San Antonio Bar Association and you see the vast majority graduated from St. Mary's. The bar passage rate is at 80 percent (July 2004), which is at the statewide average.

I don't know what to say about the poster who doesn't like San Antonio drivers or the skyline of San Antonio. Sorry you're not from Texas and don't like being here. 

As far as appraising the law school, which is the purpose of this thread, I would recommend visiting and seeing for yourself.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Tulsa or St. Mary's?
« on: July 23, 2005, 08:20:49 AM »
St. Mary's Law School ("StMLS") is a great law school with a proud history.

Most of the law school facilities were constructed in the late 1960s. The library has an impressive amount of titles, treatises, reporters, and legal periodicals. Some of these are quite old and the oldest books are probably a little musty. Of course, this is true in any library and perhaps your friend had just never spent much time in a library before. However, the library also has the most up to date publications and has modern internet connections. If you walk through it, and look at the carpet, the lighting, the glass doors and the furniture, it's an impressive facility and ranks as a quality legal research institution.

As far as the legal market in the area, San Antonio is the eighth largest city in the United States.  The law firms in the San Antonio area have a preference for STMLS graduates. Large law firms recruit on the St. Mary's campus.

StMLS is an institution with a rich history.  It is difficult to appraise the reputation of an institution when that reputation needs to be measured in terms of decades, rather than just glancing at the last year’s statistics.   For decades, StMLS ranked in the top three or four of the Texas Law Schools in terms of bar passage rate.  In the 1980s, the school was in the top three of Texas law schools five times out of ten July bar exam administrations. The school was entrenched as one of the best law schools in the state. It must be noted, however, that there was no U.S. News and World Reports “ranking system” for any law schools until after 1987.  Prior to the USNWR publication, bar passage rate was seen as an indicator of the quality of a law school’s program.  St. Mary’s was known as a “lawyer’s lawschool.”  It was a place where individuals could go and learn from Texas lawyers.  By all accounts, it was a rigorous program, disciplined, and firmly committed to the “nuts and bolts” of the practice of law. Many people who know something about the school are aware that StMLS had a dip in their bar passage rates in the 1990s; however, the school changed management and the bar passage rates have been on the rise again. There are more than 300 StMLS graduates that are elected officials in the United States.  StMLS has a current U.S. Senator (John Cornyn--Tex.). It's a fine law school and you should go and visit the school. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: bar passage rates
« on: June 25, 2005, 10:02:36 AM »
This is a complicated issue.

Statistically speaking, schools with higher LSAT admission requirements tend to have higher bar pass rates. So, in the aggregate, higher LSAT admission criteria tend to correlate with higher bar pass rates at the law school level. 

However, when analyzing on the individual level the correlation between LSAT score and passing a bar exam on the first try, the LSAT score alone is a rather weak predictor. If all we know at all about an applicant sitting for a bar exam is the individual's LSAT score (in other words, we don't know the school he/she went to, or the grades he/she received in law school, or any other factor at all about the individual), the LSAT score alone is a weak predictor of success on the individual's ability to pass the bar exam on the first try. 

Another difficulty arises by the question presented by this post. The question relies on the metaphorical use of the word "reflection." I suppose bar passage rates "reflect" both admissions criteria of certain classes and "quality" of instruction. However, you cannot say with much statistical confidence that an individual with a 160 LSAT has, say, an 85 percent chance of passing the bar on the first attempt. 

As far as the measure of the quality of instruction, there is one argument that no law school really prepares you for what many consider to be the hardest part of most state bar exams: the multi-state bar exam ("MBE"). The MBE is a 6 hour, 200 question multiple choice exam.  The MBE tests on "majority rules" in many cases. In other words, what most states do across the country. It also tests on common-law crimes.  Because, most, if not all, states have enacted criminal codes, the criminal law is largely statutory. Most criminal law professors "teach" the statutes from the codes. In other words, they "teach" the real law of the jursidiction.   Although many law school professors will allude to the majority rule, or the minority rule, or in the criminal law example, the old common law rules, in their lectures, most law schools emphasize the law of the jurisdiction where they are located. What's more, most first-year law school exams are presented in an "issue spotter" essay exam format.  This last statement is, of course, a generalization. But historically, multiple choice was rarely used on a law school exam. So, in this sense, law school does not "prepare" you to take what many consider the most important part of the bar exam--the MBE.  And in some jurisdictions, if you don't score at the least the minimum MBE score they want for that jurisdiction, they don't even grade the essays and you fail. 

With all this said, I still feel that law school does prepare you for the overall bar exam preparation necessary for a state bar exam (hint: take Bar-bri when studying for the bar exam). In other words, you master the language of the law and the key concepts in law school. Then, when you study for the bar exam, you can move through the massive amount of material fast enough to cover most of it before the exam. For the MBE, you end up having to learn what many refer to as "MBE law"--which isn't always the "real" law of the jursidiction where you are sitting for the bar. But you must know these rules to pass the MBE. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Texas Schools' tuition costs ranked
« on: June 24, 2005, 07:31:23 PM »
Found these 2005 statistics:

            Resident     Nonresident
1. SMU       $27,764
2. Baylor    $22,158
3. St Mary's $20,460
4. South Tx  $19,140
5. Tx. Wes.  $18,320
6. UH        $12,280    $17,590
7. UT        $11,462    $26,380
8. Tx. Tech. $9,756     $14,852
9. Tx.South. $9,752     $12,752

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Texas Law Schools' Bar results
« on: June 03, 2005, 08:26:57 PM »
The Texas Legislature just finished without passing legislation to create a new law school at the University of North Texas.

The Texas Legislature just concluded their session without passing the legislation to create a new public law school at the University of North Texas--Denton.

Choosing the Right Law School / UNT law school idea dead
« on: June 03, 2005, 07:02:31 PM »
There were several posts about this a few months ago. The Texas Legislature just concluded without passing the legislation that sought to create a new public law school at the University of North Texas--Denton.

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