Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion

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 on: March 24, 2015, 12:26:10 PM 
Started by Mdw426 - Last post by loki13
"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."

To the extent this statement is true, this is misleading. While your post is largely correct, it is also largely the type of drivel you see from most admissions offices. The vast majority of people are going to law school to practice law, which means that they are looking to get a job. This is an outcome-oriented business, and people are paying a great deal of money (investing) for their outcome. Sure, a graduate from Tom Cooley is just as able to pass the bar as a graduate from Yale. But the likely expected outcomes are vastly different. And people rarely can get a good feel for a school just by visiting, not to mention that many of the things that people believe to be important at the outset will have little relevance when they graduate (give me a dime for every 0L who said they wanted to be either a "Constitutional Lawyer" or a "M&A Lawyer" and I wouldn't have had to do BigLaw to pay off my student debt). In short, do you really expect 0Ls who already know so little that they pay credence to the difference in 5 ranking spots in US News and World Reports to truly understand what makes law school different, especially when law schools offer a largely undifferentiated product?

This is not the complicated business you make it out to be. While the US News and Worlds Ranking are hardly a good guide, they can at least serve to alert a smart 0L to what schools are national in their ambitions (say, Cornell and up). These are schools that are "worth" full tuition in terms of likely job outcomes. *As soon as you move out of that sphere*, it becomes a much dicier proposition, and cost should be a major concern. Why? Because a 0L could take the money they would spend on law school tuition, and go to business school. Buy a house. Get started in a different career.

I agree that location is extremely important after you get out of the T14 (or so). A person should expect to practice in the region or locality that they go to school. And sometimes, there are special factors (I often cite the UMaine example- I would never go there, unless I was planning on practicing in Maine).

But I disagree about placing location over cost. Graduate with a degree in a location you want to live in, but be saddled with no job prospects and a ton of debt? Awesome! And that has happened to far too many people. We already have too many attorneys, too few jobs, and too many law schools (which the market has started to correct)- the wise person, at this point, needs to view this in terms of cost-benefit. Sure, don't go to a school with a free ride if you'd never want to practice in that area. But if that's your best option, perhaps revisiting the entire law school idea is preferable to paying full freight?

 on: March 24, 2015, 12:06:42 PM 
Started by Mdw426 - Last post by Citylaw
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.

 on: March 24, 2015, 10:49:10 AM 
Started by centraltennessee - Last post by loki13
Like you, I was a crazy splitter (high LSAT, low uGPA). I did very well. With your LSAT, you should be applying to T14 schools.

You should also look at That website has some profiles of applicants with their uGPAs and LSAT scores. I remember that in the past, it was helpful. Good luck.

 on: March 24, 2015, 10:34:20 AM 
Started by Htown - Last post by loki13
What Miami88 said was exactly correct. However, I might add a little twist. Most people (such as yourself) do not provide enough information to allow others to give truly informed advice, and, by the same token, appear to rely too much on rankings.

So, with that said, *if I was in your shoes*, and I couldn't get money from the Texas schools, then I would go to Dickinson (assuming it's not a severely limited scholarship- check the terms). Why? Because you haven't stated the following, "I am going to practice in Texas." If, like many people, you just aren't sure yet about your life, your future, what may happen... then *don't take on a ton of law school debt, and go for the free ride.* None of these schools guarantees the type of job that will repay the debt you will be incurring. Period.

Dickinson will make it extremely hard to practice in Texas. Their OCI office *will not help you*. You will have to do it all yourself. Your degree will not travel. You will have to a) do well, and b) make your own connections (use the connection you already have in Texas, contact the very few Dickinson grads that are practicing in Texas, and work your butt off to try and find a position).... and even then, you might get stuck in the mid-Atlantic/Philly or Pitt area to start off with. But there are worse things in life, like crippling debt and no job in Texas.

Now is the time for a little self-reflection, and some accounting. Do you live with parents/others close to one of the schools in Texas (in other words, save on living costs). What is your total cost of attendance and living at UH/Baylor v. Dickinson? Why do you want to practice in Texas eventually (is it just familiarity with living in Texas or is it because you already have connections)? These are questions only you can answer.

But, yeah, if your only goal in life is to practice in Texas, go to a Texas school.

 on: March 24, 2015, 01:08:39 AM 
Started by Htown - Last post by Miami88
This depends on how committed you are to working in Texas. If that is where you really want to live/work in afterwards... go to the best/least expensive school you can in that region. With exception of UH, none of these schools are going to do much of anything for you (and maybe even hinder you) getting a job in TX. I'm not knocking the other schools... just saying that you will be fighting an uphill battle trying to find a job in TX while going to law school in Penn State.

When it comes to law school, you can't look at ranking as an absolute spectrum. The T14 are going to have national pull, T100ish will have regional pull, T100+ will have city pull. Even that is not firm, but a general guide. In other words, a school ranked 75 in TX is going to be way better for you than a school ranked 40 in New York. That that range, you are going to find a job by your networking and alumni base, not so much by your school's inherent clout.

All that said, if TX is where you are going to be living... the answer is pretty clear on a TX school (only UH and Baylor for you). I would just go to the least expensive of the two.

Have you negotiated for more $ with the schools?

 on: March 23, 2015, 10:14:24 PM 
Started by Htown - Last post by Htown
Washington University St. Louis
Wake Forest
Colorado Boulder
Penn State Dickinson [Full Ride]
University of Houston
-George Washington

Went to U of H for undergrad. I like their energy program. But they offered me almost no scholarship money compared to other universities.

Penn state is a full ride, but eventually I want to practice in Texas.

Washington University is the highest ranked school I got into.

Looking for advice

 on: March 23, 2015, 08:14:03 PM 
Started by centraltennessee - Last post by centraltennessee
real exam score.

i'm not entirely sure what the average gpa of my graduating class was, but i believe my class rank is still on my transcript. i do know that the class wasn't quite as top heavy as some of my friends who were at big state schools.

that's awesome news! i feel a bit lost going at this without much guidance.

your response is much appreciated. thanks!

 on: March 23, 2015, 08:00:35 PM 
Started by centraltennessee - Last post by Miami88
1) Is the 179 a practice exam score/projected exam score/ or a real exam score?

2) Assuming that is your real exam score (damn!!!) - what was the avg. GPA for your undergrad? If it was below a 3.0, then you should be pretty much set.

3) Regardless, you are going to be a crazy splitter for every school you apply to. I would apply to all of the top 14 schools and any other school that is in the region you would like to live/work in after law school.

Honestly, I would be surprised if you didn't get accepted at least into one (if not several) of the T14 schools. you will almost surely get mad money from a lot of very strong schools as well. Use that to leverage money at higher ranked schools. Your LSAT should be strong enough to off-set the 3.0. That huge boost to the school's LSAT avg. will likely be attractive enough to forgive the GPA.

Good luck!

 on: March 23, 2015, 07:22:41 PM 
Started by centraltennessee - Last post by centraltennessee
hey all -

quick question that will hopefully help guide, or at least inform my application process.

went to a top 15 (according to us news rankings, not sure how much weight that holds) private university.

ug gpa: 3.0
lsat: 179

served as a research assistant in college and after college. dean's listed and honors tracked early on-- undergrad career got sidelined by an abusive relationship.

will have over a year of experience as a political consultant for a reputable firm working for multiple members of congress at time of application.

wondering where that throws me in the pile.

 on: March 23, 2015, 02:30:55 PM 
Started by Mdw426 - Last post by Miami88
2. I think that UPenn should be a slamdunk decision. But it is still a risk-reward scenario. I have had friends who can't hack BigLaw. Who burn out after one or two years (which can be a lot of due diligence / doc review type tasks, depending on your litigation/transactional slant). It's said that the law is a lot like a pie eating contest, where the prize is that you get to eat more pie. Go to UPenn, and you will have a career, but you'll need to plan around that debt (with the benefit being that UPenn is one of the very few schools that graduates people to jobs that can take care of the debt). OTOH, go to another school *and you may never have that BigLaw job or clerkship you dream of*. But if you find out that what you really wanted was to be a public defender, or some other job that doesn't provide great remuneration, then you have a very manageable debt load. Of course, there's the possibility you can't find a job if you don't do well (something that is exceedingly unlikely if you go to UPenn).

But if I were in your shoes, I would go to UPenn.


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