Law School Discussion

To go or not to go...

To go or not to go...
« on: March 22, 2006, 10:55:57 AM »
I have applied to 3 schools.  I haven't heard from my super reach school (Boalt) and doubt that it will be an acceptance, but a girl's gotta try and the Cal system needs the $, so I threw my hat in and hoped soft factors would help.   :)

I have 1 accept to a solid tier 3, regionally well thought of school.  I have a rejection from the numbers whore state school that thinks it's the Stanford of the Pacific NW.  That rejection has really forced me to think about whether or not to go.  That, coupled with the very cool poli sci class I'm taking, and I'm considering doing a MA/PhD.

I have a 159 LSAT & 3.72 GPA and am non-trad because I have 4 kids and have worked full time/gone to school part time for the last 10 years working on my BA.  I work for the in house counsel of my undergrad school (financed through an employee tuition waiver) and its law school is my only accept (and with $).  However, I have concerns about job prospects and said prospects providing enough $ to service debt & clothe/house/feed a family of 6.  My dh is an artist which should explain why I'm supporting the 6 of us.

At this point, I see my choices as this:  go here and either stay here or transfer to the state school after 1L; wait a year and go through process to reapply and hopefully pull an admit to a higher ranked school; or forget about it and go for the MA/PhD with my first app to the school that rejected me for LS.  My career plan is to work in public interest law/get a clerkship, whatever.  I'd love to teach but with a JD from my tier 3, that's very unlikely--again this provides a plus for going the PhD route.  But then again, academic jobs are few & far between and not paid well.  I don't want big law but a decent living would be nice.  I make around $37K now and would need a good $10K more to justify the debt, imo.  I'm not entirely certain that my tier 3 can get me that, especially considering I'm a 34 yo female with kids, so not an exciting hire for any firm considering I present doubts about my commitment to the firm right off the bat.  Also knowing attorneys who graduated from the tier 3 that have had a hard time after practicing for 10+ years finding another job is not bolstering my confidence re career placement!

I've been over and over it and just can't decide!  So, casting a net for others' thoughts...

Re: To go or not to go...
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2006, 08:01:30 PM »
I think you should go...You have a lot invested in this whole process.  Give it a shot.


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Re: To go or not to go...
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2006, 08:13:39 PM »
(1) If you want to make over $40K teaching at the college level I would not start any non-PhD grad program.  A master's in academia is not quite worthless, but close to it.  You can teach at community colleges, but jobs are hard to find and do not pay well.  Look at a community college website and see how many PhDs are there.  See how many part-time and adjunct faculty there are compared to full time. 
(2) A PhD program can be cheaper than law school.  Go somewhere that will guarantee you in writing three years of TA/RA stipends.  This will give you a tuition waiver and money to pay bills.  Do not borrow money to go to graduate school.  If they will not give you a funding guarantee they are not the right school for you.
(3) I assume you are waiting on Boalt, in at Seattle and out at U.Dub from your comments.  Seattle places well in Seattle from everything I have seen.  If you like it there and you want to live there and you are in the top 1/2 of your class you should be able to get a job.  It will not be a biglaw job, but that doesn't sound like something you are interested in.  If you work there, go to career services and find out what jobs the 30% - 35% grads in last years class got.  If those jobs sound more exciting than, for example, teaching poli sci at Western, go to law school.  If teaching poli sci at Western sounds more exciting and you are confident you can get into and finish the PhD program at U.Dub, do that. 

My $.02

Re: To go or not to go...
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2006, 11:45:35 AM »
Thanks for the $.02 to both of you.  I do have a lot invested in it, but overall, I do think I'd prefer teaching poli sci to being a lawyer, but what you wrote above, pass is a good way to look at it.

If I were at Seattle U., this would be an easy decision.  I'm actually at Gonzaga but lived in Seattle before moving to Spokane, so while it may seem like a lot to uproot my family of 6, it's not especially since my dh's 4 siblings live over there an only his parents live here in Spokane.  Also, Seattle U (afaict) does have a tuition waiver that applies to grad level, including law.  I've entertained a job at Seattle U to finance my education as I did for undergrad, especially with the p/t program.  The problem is that Seattle U places well in Seattle, but not over here, comparatively speaking.  The COL between here & there is tremendous and wanting to do public interest law means I can't afford to live over there.  As it is, a mortgage here means housing for $800/month and there would easily be 2x that for renting.  i couldn't justify the app to Seattle U because moving would cost so much and tuition is roughly the same as it is here.  And at this late date, it'd be hard to be competitive for scholarship $.

I would definitely not stop at a MA unless I felt too compelled to go back to the JD or just found it wasn't right for me and wanted something out of it!  There just isn't a lot for MA profs out there for sure.  So, I'd definitely go for the PhD.  I spent some time yesterday researching the path to law school professorship and I know Gonzaga will definitely not get me there.  I am most interested in the intersection of the legal world and how it shapes society and is in turn shaped by it and what that means for women and other disadvantaged groups and how the legal system can and has been used for positive change in those areas.  University of Wisc-Madison has an emphasis on the social sciences and the law stuff which would be incredible.  A JD & PhD would be handy, I think, but also a rather expensive investment.

Of course if I get in to Boalt (who am I kidding!) then I could do both there as well.  That's another appeal of UWash--you can do a joint degree in anything you please--JD + whatever.  I'm not entirely certain of my chances in the grad program at UWash though.  I haven't taken a GRE to see how I compare with their stats.

Thanks again to both of you, pass & Sabot.