Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: ez075230 on April 09, 2005, 12:27:58 PM

Title: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ez075230 on April 09, 2005, 12:27:58 PM
Initially I was happy about getting into a bunch of 4th tiers in sunny southern CA(CA Western, Whittier, TJSL, still waiting on Chapman), but some extensive reading on this site has dampened my mood. As of now I'm leaning heavily towards CA Western, but I keep reading about how these are sub-par schools with terrible reputations. If 3rd tier toilets are bad, then what are these? After I'm done, will I be able to find a good job? Will I have a degree that invokes as much laughter as respect?

The newest USNWR numbers for CA Western specifically are directly comparable to many third tiers: 152-157 25th & 75th LSAT, 28% acceptance rate, 85.6% 9month employment rate, 55,000 median private starting salary, 61.7% bar passage rate(pretty good for a lower tier CA school it seems). What makes it so much worse than all the rest of the 3 and 4T's? Or is it that everything under 2T is garbage?

I'm keenly interested in the law, but I'm not going to sink 3 years and a bunch of money into breaking even(or less) professionally. I'm not shooting for the stars; I know i won't be getting any 100k offers out of the gate from BIGLAW, but I want to be able to do better than I am now, and I already have a decent job with my Economics and Communications degrees from a top 40 school. Am I overreacting or are my concerns well founded?
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ilsox7 on April 09, 2005, 12:33:25 PM
You're mostly overreacting.  Take everything on here with a grain of salt.  In fact, ignore most of it.  If you go to school and do well, you'll be fine.  If you don't do well, then yea, you're probly in some trouble when it comes time to look for a job.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Franz on April 09, 2005, 12:37:03 PM
i wouldnt do it. if law is your love and you dont mind carrying a lot of debt and having to hustle for a mediocre law job, then go for it. otherwise, learn how to take the LSAT and try again.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Troy McClure on April 09, 2005, 12:39:57 PM
85.6% 9month employment rate, 55,000 median private starting salary, 61.7% bar passage rate

You're looking at it the right way.  You already know how much you will or won't have to go to school as well as any scholarships.  Add up how much debt you'll have after three years, and ask if you can manage that with the $55k median salary.

You have to ask how bad you want to be a lawyer.  If you can graduate with very little debt, then that $55k isn't too bad.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: AllisonAzee on April 09, 2005, 12:41:34 PM
It might be worth your while to work your ass off first year then transfer up, that's what I would do if I were you.  It isn't worth going though if you aren't willing to kill yourself doing badly at a fourth tier is just a way to get a lot of debt.  But if you're at the top of your class I'd say you'd have some real option and might be able to transfer to like U of Pacific, USF or maybe Santa Clara.  
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Troy McClure on April 09, 2005, 12:46:39 PM
It might be worth your while to work your ass off first year then transfer up, that's what I would do if I were you.

Good luck with all that.  That's the plan of 99% of 4th tier students.  Like every 1L, they all assume they'll finish top of their class and will have all kinds of great options.  I say if you're not happy with the prospect of graduating in the middle of the class at a school, don't go there.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Precise on April 09, 2005, 12:50:19 PM
many people from 4th tier schools do well. Just work hard over the next three years and you'll be fine.

If you still feel kind of shakey, just do what other people from 4tier schools and 3rd tier toilets do to make themselves feel better: make fun of www.peoplescollegeoflaw.edu
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: DodgerLaw on April 09, 2005, 12:55:02 PM
Yes, it would be nice to go to a more prestigious law school. Nevetheless, law school is ultimately what you make of it. My dad graduated from Pepperdine (but let's not kid ourselves it was the Orange School of Law when he started and was accredited by the ABA and bought by Pepperdine while he was there) circa 1971. By 1974 he owned a house that would cost well over $1 million in 2005 dollars.

You have to ask yourself a few questions:

Do you have the ability to kick butt in law school, and as a lawyer? (To be honest about this you have to come to terms with the reasons you could not get into a higher-ranked school, whatever they may be)

Will you work your a$$ off in law school?


If you can answer these questions in the affirmative, then there is no reason you cannot do well in law school and as a lawyer.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: twarga on April 09, 2005, 01:02:33 PM
Amen!
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: MichaelK on April 09, 2005, 02:41:31 PM
Contrary to what some say on this board as well as xoxo (which I cannot stand), with rare exceptions, if you get into an ABA approved Law School, you still did pretty damn well.  There are many fabulous graduates who come out of lower ranked law schools.  If you pass the bar out of CA Western, you are still more employable to law firms than someone from Stanford who cannot pass the bar.  In deciding if you should wait or go this year, there are some factors you need to consider.  First, is any weakness on your application correctable?  For example, did you just have a bad day on your LSAT.  If true, that is something that can be changed.  You are not going to change stuff like your UGPA.  Do any schools in your local area have part time programs?  That way you can work and attend Law School.  If you want to do that, maybe you can speak with a boss who likes you and inquire about future job opportunities at your current place of employment after you graduate.  Some of the best paid graduates are those who use Law School as a stepping stone to better things at their company because the company trusts the employee and they seem to be more willing to pay to keep someone they have already trained and who knows exactly what the company does
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: omachoomar on April 09, 2005, 02:56:06 PM
I think it is important to remember that if you do a good job once you become a lawyer(like any proffession) Thier is alot of room for upward mobility as long as you are a hard worker.    With a degree from a T4 you will have to prove yourself, but if you have confidence in  yourself and really want to be a lawyer then go for ut.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ccorsi on April 09, 2005, 03:45:47 PM
I'll never understand why so many people have to denigrate others to make themselves feel better. 

Some of you on here telling people not to waste their time going to tier 3 and 4 schools do not know what the F you are talking about.  There have been Supreme Court Justices, master litigators (Cochran), and more Congress members than you can shake a stick at that came from tier 3 & 4.

This tired argument about T 1 & 2 or stay home is so ridiculous that I am growing weary of commenting on it.  I will say this though - go where you get in, give 100%, and don't listen to all the nay sayers.  If you do those 3 things you will be successful.

C2
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: linquest on April 09, 2005, 04:33:49 PM
I've spoken with a good range of attorneys about this issue--from in-house counsel and BigLaw partners in NYC, to a partner in a medium-sized firm in the midwest, and law professors.  Some have reiterated the overall sentiment of this board: what tier (not necessarily ranking within a tier since that constantly changes) LS you attend can be extremely important.  Others were graduates of so-called "TTTs" and still became very successful.

The most important thing that's stressed is how well you actually do in LS and what you've done to distinguish yourself on paper.  Aside from the tangibles of class ranking and law review, there's also previous work experience (which is particularly important to specialty firms if you have relevant pre-LS experience), your jobs in LS (an unpaid internship with a prestigious judge can be even better than a paid summer associateship), and how pro-active you are about networking.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: twarga on April 09, 2005, 05:19:35 PM
With some of the schools you wonderfuls are going to, I'd watch making fun of the People's College of Law site.  While it's certainly awful, so are all of you.
]

No.... People's College O Flaw robs innocent (albeit naive) people of their hard earned money with the promise of becoming lawyers.  Go to their website.  Read their stats.  It is certainly awful, and since I don't mislead people and steal their $$, it is certainly more awful than me.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Mookie on April 09, 2005, 06:42:23 PM
LSAT: 162 GPA: 3.79

I get tired of the Tier-bashing too.  The reality is, regardless of our 'numbers,' picking a law school is about more than just statistics.

For me, it's about finding a place where my wife can thrive in her career as well and where we'll be fairly close to friends and family.  We had planned on going Tier 1, but when she got a tremendous job opportunity, a Tier 4 became the best choice.  Does that mean I should just forget it?  No way.  Frankly, I feel blessed just having the opportunity to go to law school at all.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Highway on April 09, 2005, 07:00:41 PM
It might be worth your while to work your ass off first year then transfer up, that's what I would do if I were you.

Good luck with all that.  That's the plan of 99% of 4th tier students.  Like every 1L, they all assume they'll finish top of their class and will have all kinds of great options.  I say if you're not happy with the prospect of graduating in the middle of the class at a school, don't go there.

I always find it amusing how everybody thinks they will be in the top 10% when they finish their first year. Then, by some crazy mathematical magic, completely not understood by any, it turns out that only 10% of the class is actually in the top 10% when the grades come out. I have no idea how that happens...

Jeff
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: TBoneUCLA on April 09, 2005, 07:13:21 PM
  There have been Supreme Court Justices, master litigators (Cochran), and more Congress members than you can shake a stick at that came from tier 3 & 4.


hey now!  >:(

johnnie boy went to loyola. and i dont know how the school fared back in the day, but loyola is up at the top of tier 2 now.

again, who's counting, but lets not mislabel.   ;D
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Trinitygunner on April 09, 2005, 08:21:07 PM
Seriously. T3, T4...still ABA approved. If you can pass the bar, you'll have a job. If you do well, you'll have a good job. Example:

Ming Chin (CA Supreme Court): USan Francisco
Johnnie Cochran: Loyola LA
Matt Fong (former California state treasurer): Southwest
Tom Ridge (former gov of PA, Homeland security director): Penn State/Dickinson

So, don't worry. Just kick butt in law school, and you'll be fine!

Kenn
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ccorsi on April 09, 2005, 08:23:33 PM
Good stuff, but I think Johnny C went to Loyola (CA).

Anyway, Thurgood Marshall went to Howard (Tier 3).

C2
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Franz on April 09, 2005, 08:30:33 PM
Seriously. T3, T4...still ABA approved. If you can pass the bar, you'll have a job. If you do well, you'll have a good job. Example:

Ming Chin (CA Supreme Court): USan Francisco
Johnnie Cochran: Loyola LA
Matt Fong (former California state treasurer): Southwest
Tom Ridge (former gov of PA, Homeland security director): Penn State/Dickinson

So, don't worry. Just kick butt in law school, and you'll be fine!

Kenn

tom ridge? good lord.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ilsox7 on April 09, 2005, 08:31:28 PM

tom ridge? good lord.


No matter what you think of his politics, he was a cabinet level person, which is impressive.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Trinitygunner on April 09, 2005, 08:32:29 PM
hahaha...yes. i meant Loyola Los angeles (hence, the acronym LA)

Good stuff, but I think Johnny C went to Loyola (CA).

Anyway, Thurgood Marshall went to Howard (Tier 3).

C2
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Franz on April 09, 2005, 08:38:39 PM

tom ridge? good lord.


No matter what you think of his politics, he was a cabinet level person, which is impressive.

i am not impressed. 
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: chico on April 09, 2005, 08:53:28 PM
Without condemning the concept of 'fourth-tier' (there are several 4th tier schools I would love to go to, such as U Maine and U Wyoming), one of those one your list has had some negative reviews. Cal Western in particular.


See

"I have never been more disgusted with an institution of higher education than I am with Cal Western. . ."

http://www.epinions.com/educ-review-62B2-1C5177AA-39CEBE78-prod6
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: goingtomiami on April 09, 2005, 09:01:08 PM
Geragos (Winona Ryder & Michael Jackson) went to Loyola as well.  His hourly rate is $500.  Not bad for a T2.  Also his brother/son graduated from a T4 (Southwestern).  Pretty sure they are making a decent salary.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: kilroy55 on April 09, 2005, 09:05:15 PM
Well first off any cabinet level position, and being governor of one the nations largest states is very impressive.  Even if you think he is an idiot.  And secondly, isn't Penn State a tier 2 school now for all of those who worship US news?
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: DodgerLaw on April 09, 2005, 09:06:37 PM
Without condemning the concept of 'fourth-tier' (there are several 4th tier schools I would love to go to, such as U Maine and U Wyoming), one of those one your list has had some negative reviews. Cal Western in particular.


See

"I have never been more disgusted with an institution of higher education than I am with Cal Western. . ."

http://www.epinions.com/educ-review-62B2-1C5177AA-39CEBE78-prod6

This is just one bitter person's opinion. Hardly enough to influence a decision.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Franz on April 09, 2005, 09:07:55 PM
Geragos (Winona Ryder & Michael Jackson) went to Loyola as well.  His hourly rate is $500.  Not bad for a T2.  Also his brother/son graduated from a T4 (Southwestern).  Pretty sure they are making a decent salary.

what did geragos do that was so great anyway?  he lost the peterson trial, couldn't even win a shoplifting case with ryder and he has a bad mustache.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Franz on April 09, 2005, 09:09:18 PM
Without condemning the concept of 'fourth-tier' (there are several 4th tier schools I would love to go to, such as U Maine and U Wyoming), one of those one your list has had some negative reviews. Cal Western in particular.


See

"I have never been more disgusted with an institution of higher education than I am with Cal Western. . ."

http://www.epinions.com/educ-review-62B2-1C5177AA-39CEBE78-prod6

This is just one bitter person's opinion. Hardly enough to influence a decision.

yeah, that person didnt have a clue what he was getting into, but he makes some valid points about the school wanting to get rid of the bottom of the class and how the teaching methods at law school may leave a lot to be desired.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: goingtomiami on April 09, 2005, 09:21:42 PM
Geragos (Winona Ryder & Michael Jackson) went to Loyola as well.  His hourly rate is $500.  Not bad for a T2.  Also his brother/son graduated from a T4 (Southwestern).  Pretty sure they are making a decent salary.

what did geragos do that was so great anyway?  he lost the peterson trial, couldn't even win a shoplifting case with ryder and he has a bad mustache.


he got rich entertainers to part with their "hard earned" money.  plus, are'nt these people guilty anyways...
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: AllisonAzee on April 09, 2005, 10:29:28 PM
I would give one word of warning about tier 4's, they are NOT all created equal.  Some are good institutions, but some are horrible and will not give you the preparation and support you need, choose your school very very carefully.  It's not all about the ranking, but it is all about the school.  So buyer beware is all I can say.  With higher tier schools you can expect a certain level of quality, with tier 4's there are some real bad ones that will just serve to take your money.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Name Changing Queen on April 09, 2005, 10:44:37 PM
With some of the schools you wonderfuls are going to, I'd watch making fun of the People's College of Law site.  While it's certainly awful, so are all of you.
]

No.... People's College O Flaw robs innocent (albeit naive) people of their hard earned money with the promise of becoming lawyers.  Go to their website.  Read their stats.  It is certainly awful, and since I don't mislead people and steal their $$, it is certainly more awful than me.

I just went to their website, because I had never heard of this school, and it doesn't look as bad as all that.  It's just not "law school" in the traditional sense-- they are up front about their grads making little money-- I think they said something like "if you want to make money go elsewhere".  Looks like PI/activist training grounds to me.  I don't see how they can be stealing people's money when their tuition is only $4000 a year, their professors are VOLUNTEERS, and they are non-profit.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Name Changing Queen on April 09, 2005, 10:49:54 PM
I would give one word of warning about tier 4's, they are NOT all created equal.  Some are good institutions, but some are horrible and will not give you the preparation and support you need, choose your school very very carefully.  It's not all about the ranking, but it is all about the school.  So buyer beware is all I can say.  With higher tier schools you can expect a certain level of quality, with tier 4's there are some real bad ones that will just serve to take your money.

well-said!  I think that when you are looking at tier 4s & 3s you can't afford to be lazy-- you really have to do research. But some of them are very worthy.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: mpfg on April 10, 2005, 05:37:09 AM
Richard Parsons, CEO Time Warner, Albany Law School !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ridenrj on April 10, 2005, 06:30:03 AM
A local judge where I live went to Valpo T4.

Her advise when I asked her the very same question - "a law degree is a law degree, more important than where you go is who you know". Granted, the net result of going to a higher ranked school is that the recruiting and placement is probably going to be better.

However, too many people are looking at the prize at the bottom of the box and forgetting that they have to eat through 3 years of cereal to get to it. Regardless of where we end up going, we are going to have 3 years in the legal community where we are going to have tremendous opportunities to network with many different people who have a participatory role within that very same community - at many different levels. Get in and then go forward. If you are at a T3 or T4 school, you might have to work a little harder but we are adults and if you know that Big Law doesn't recruit at your school - then be proactive and go to them if that is where you want to end up.

Advise from a 34 YO (old man) who has been working for a number of years now - don't wait for them to come to you. It's kind of like the ugly guy trying to get the girl. If you can't get her with your looks alone, then start feeding her drinks. If you get her drunk enough, she will sleep with anyone. Big Law (good jobs) work the same way, if you are proactive and can feed them drinks along the way, then you stand a chance of getting in their pants when you get out. If not, wait around until the bar closes and go home with the ugly girl - in the end, you're still getting some action.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: twarga on April 10, 2005, 07:05:25 AM
This whole tier thing reminds me of teenagers who are hooked on brand names.  They wouldn't be caught DEAD shopping at WalMart for clothes, and they wouldn NEVER stoop to going to a tier 4, even if it meant a free ride and (with good enough grades) a comparable job. 

I looked at the 4 schools I was accepted to and picked my tier 4 because once you peel off the labels and look at each one objectively, Widener was the clear frontrunner (for me, that is).
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: colforbin on April 10, 2005, 10:20:15 AM
As of right now, I'll be attending a Tier 4 school PT. However, I'll also be working in the industry I plan to practice in throughout the four years I'm in school. To me, that adds up to almost $20 K in my 401 k each year I'm in school, tons of networking experience, and a salary that at the end of four years will be comparable (if not more ) than most first year lawyers. That's me without a law degree. Passing the bar will surely bump those numbers up a bit. So, in the end, sure I would love to go to a higher ranked school, but, regardless I think I'll do as well as a lot of 1st and 2nd tier students without any experience. 
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: A.J on April 10, 2005, 10:29:01 AM
Look at the bar passage rate, starting incomes and employment rates for grads and then decide if its worth it to you.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: burghblast on April 10, 2005, 10:29:40 AM
Check out some stats I posted on the "TTT" thread:

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,31042.msg462179.html#msg462179
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: NJHandyGirl on April 10, 2005, 11:10:01 AM
Look at the bar passage rate, starting incomes and employment rates for grads and then decide if its worth it to you.

Um...and while you're at it, research whether the school curriculum is specifically geared towards passing the bar and not much else; if the starting incomes are on par with the locale you will be practicing in (ie: $100k in NY = $60k in places with a lower cost of living) and make sure the school does not hire grads to boost their employment ratings.  8)

Basically, it all depends on what works for you and how you put those 3 years to use.

Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: ez075230 on April 10, 2005, 11:46:27 AM
Thanks for the comments. I feel a little better about my prospects. Does anybody know anything about the schools that I mentioned specifically? I've gone through all the USNWR stats, but I can't help somewhat mistrusting data that's self-reported.
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Trinitygunner on April 10, 2005, 11:52:04 AM
Yeah. relax. Being a law student is tough enough. because you're at an ABA law school, you're already the cream of the crop. Plus, you learn the exact same stuff at 4th Tier Law School as you do at 1st Tier Law School.

And, the way i see it, if a law firm isn't going to hire you because you went to a 4th tier school, they can kiss my fat butt and go screw themselves. I can't stand arrogant people...and i take the idea of not hiring someone because they aren't a HYSCCN grad fairly arrogant and hence can kiss my behind.

Thanks for the comments. I feel a little better about my prospects. Does anybody know anything about the schools that I mentioned specifically? I've gone through all the USNWR stats, but I can't help somewhat mistrusting data that's self-reported.

Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: HURLEY- L.S.D. on April 10, 2005, 06:08:57 PM
So, as it relates to judgeing between "bad" tier 3/4's and "good" or "quality" tier 3/4's, where would you say that the following schools rank:

Widener

Southwestern

Whittier

Chapman

Nova Southeastern
Title: Re: Is going to a 4th tier even worth it?
Post by: Trinitygunner on April 10, 2005, 09:11:11 PM
I'm not sure if that was directed to me, but here's what i think...
You can't compare Widener, Nova Southeastern, and Whittier/Chapman/Southwestern.

but with Whittier/Chapman/Southwestern, say you are the exact median of your class (if you're in the top 10-15% of your class, this doesn't apply cuz you're competitive with anyone else on the job market), in terms of the "pecking order" for LA/Orange County:

1. UCLA/USC
2. Loyola Los Angeles
3. Pepperdine
4. Southwestern
5. Whittier
6. Chapman (but i'm guessing chapman places better in OC than in LA).

Now, before people bite my head off...this is MY OPINION. I could be wrong. But there are plenty of jobs in LA to go around...