Law School Discussion

Feedback from Penn State student attorney

Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« on: February 23, 2005, 08:59:17 PM »
Tonight I met with the attorney who provides free legal advice on campus to Penn State students, and also teaches some criminal justice classes here.  Other than my Northwestern interviewer, he's the first actual attorney I've discussed my law school plans with.  He had some interesting insight about law school in general, and also about the Penn State Dickinson saga, which I know several people on LSD are interested in.

I summarized my background and motivations for law school and he did not seem at all hesitant about me pursuing law.  He was very enthusiastic about my career prospects and potential for success in law school.  He went to a small school I have never heard of on Long Island, working full time (55 hours a week) to support a family at the same time.  He was a JAG officer in the Marine Corps so I assume they paid for his education.  He said that anybody who's single and doesn't have to work full time, or have family commitments to worry about, has a huge advantage in law school.  He seemed really happy about his career and what he's doing now - teaching at Penn State and providing legal advice to students.  He was definitely not the typical "hate my job and regret taking the bar exam" lawyer I seem to hear about all the time.  The other interesting thing he mentioned was George Mason law school.  He had lived in Arlington, VA for a year or two and couldn't say enough about GMU.  He said it has been skyrocketing up the rankings lately because they have been bringing in a lot of good faculty, and they place extremely well in the DC/Viginia area, especially for patent law.  He spent 5 or 10 minutes talking about how great GMU is, even after I told him I had been accepted at Northwestern.  He really seemrd to think I should seriously consider it over much higher ranked schools.

As far as Penn State Dickinson goes, he said the dual campus system is inevitable, and will happen within the next 10 years.  But he said something that surprised me.  He thinks Dickinson's location in rural Carlisle is actually advantageous for L3's, for it's proximity to Harrisburg and DC.  He expects that the dual campus system will turn into a State College-to-Carlisle feeder program, in which L1's and L2's take advantage of all the general infrastructure at Penn State's main campus before transferring to Carlisle for clinical opportunities.  I had always thought the dual campus system would be an all or nothing choice, with most students obviously choosing State College over bad Carlisle.  But apparently Carlisle's location actually has some advantages over State College that I wasn't aware of. 

onepoint

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Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2005, 10:01:22 PM »
awesome info, thanks.

and as far as gmason goes, i've heard nothing but fantastic things about arlington.  similar to hoboken, nj as far as being a 'hip' area for young professionals goes.  not that this is a good thing for law students though, i suppose.

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2005, 07:47:52 AM »
Burghblast,
can you elaborate on the dual campus system.  I applied to PSU with the impression that the campus was in Happy Valley (main campus), but did not do enough research as I just realized that the campus is actually in Carlisle.  Is there a law school on the main campus?  Or is this foreseeable in the near future?

Thanks.

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2005, 08:12:05 AM »
Burghblast,
can you elaborate on the dual campus system.  I applied to PSU with the impression that the campus was in Happy Valley (main campus), but did not do enough research as I just realized that the campus is actually in Carlisle.  Is there a law school on the main campus?  Or is this foreseeable in the near future?

Thanks.

There is no law school in Happy Valley.  The law school is called Dickinson School of Law and has been located in Carlisle for many decades, possibly over 100 years.  I'm not sure.  I think Penn State's affiliation with Dickinson is relatively recent, within the past 10 or 20 years?  Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.  Within the past 1-2 years they have been looking at ways to improve Dickinson's ranking.  Obviously the people at Dickinson are against any sort of change that would move the law school out of Carlisle. Penn State proposed a dual campus system where students could choose to attend either in Carlisle or at the main campus in State College.  Dickinson was initially against this because they foresaw the Carlisle campus withering and dying. They finally gave in and accepted the proposal, but now a few dissenting members of the Dickinson board are suing to have that decision reversed, because they believe Dickinson was "pressured" into it by PSU.  It's all kind of up in the air right now, but under no circumstances will there be a law school at main campus anytime soon.  Once the agreement is finalized, it will take several years to plan and build.  Anyone applying to PSU-Dickinson now will be out law school long before the dual campus system exists. 

Erapitt

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Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2005, 08:18:22 AM »
Not to sound like a jerk, but what kind of moron applies to a school and doesn't even know where it is located?

prospect

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Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2005, 08:19:55 AM »
I think Dickinson has always been in Carlisle (1834), though I could be wrong.  The association with PSU began in 2000.

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2005, 08:24:08 AM »
Not to sound like a male private part, but what kind of moron applies to a school and doesn't even know where it is located?

Me.  I applied to Wake thinking it was in "the triangle" with UNC and Duke, down near Chapel Hill and Raleigh :)

Imagine my surprise when I received an acceptance packet from Winston-Salem.  It's all my friend's fault though!  She goes to UNC and her ex-boyfriend goes to Wake.  She goes to visit him all the time and vice versa, so I just assumed they were commuting within the triangle.  She negelected to mention everytime she went to see him was over 2 hours round trip.  I told her to be more descriptive in the future :)

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2005, 05:10:26 PM »
There was some association as early as 1997, but the merger supposedly wasn't complete until 2000. Dickinson has been around since the 1830's, and is PA's oldest law school.

Dickinson is a while away from Philly, but there are a few unsavory rumors are floating around, with the general consensus being that PSU is basically hijacking Dickinson and will stick it to the Carlisle campus in a decade or so after enticing all the faculty over to State College. As bad as the rumors sound, I think there is a grain of truth to them. It doesn't make economic sense to maintain two facilities in central PA. That means twice the support staff on the payroll, a split faculty, two law libraries, two admissions offices, and so on. It just makes no sense to me from a commonsense standpoint. I realize that Dickinson needed the money from the PSU alliance, but the price of that alliance is probably the complete loss of the school.

I think Dickinson has always been in Carlisle (1834), though I could be wrong.  The association with PSU began in 2000.

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2005, 07:31:37 PM »
There was some association as early as 1997, but the merger supposedly wasn't complete until 2000. Dickinson has been around since the 1830's, and is PA's oldest law school.

Dickinson is a while away from Philly, but there are a few unsavory rumors are floating around, with the general consensus being that PSU is basically hijacking Dickinson and will stick it to the Carlisle campus in a decade or so after enticing all the faculty over to State College. As bad as the rumors sound, I think there is a grain of truth to them. It doesn't make economic sense to maintain two facilities in central PA. That means twice the support staff on the payroll, a split faculty, two law libraries, two admissions offices, and so on. It just makes no sense to me from a commonsense standpoint. I realize that Dickinson needed the money from the PSU alliance, but the price of that alliance is probably the complete loss of the school.

That's pretty much what I thought before last night too, but if you read my OP you'll see that there are some compelling reasons to maintain a campus in Carlisle, at least according to one Penn State attorney/professor.

Re: Feedback from Penn State student attorney
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2005, 06:27:53 AM »
A Penn State employee or professor has bias and interest in the dual campus system (who isn't going to root for their school?), so his comments don't surprise me.

I'll respond directly to his argument:

>He expects that the dual campus system will turn into a State College-to-Carlisle >feeder program, in which L1's and L2's take advantage of all the general >infrastructure at Penn State's main campus before transferring to Carlisle for >clinical opportunities

Moving is inconvenient and often impractical for people with families. And once someone has spent two years in State College and become familiar with the area, are they going to want to just pick up and leave?

Proximity to Harrisburg, no argument there, but DC? Still 2 hours away, and DC already has many law schools.

The advantage of clinicals doesn't erase the need for duplicate facilities, faculty, and staff. Additionally, having 3Ls depart for another campus fractures the community. Having everyone on the same campus creates good oportunities for networking and mentoring. And what about journals? Editorial boards are generally composed of 3Ls and the general staff are usually 2Ls. It would be difficult for 3L editors to manage staff from a remote location. Is the school going to ask 3Ls to choose between being an editor at their original campus (a time consuming task) and taking a clinical somewhere else? Would students want to shuttle back and forth between campuses to do both? There are probably a whole host of other issues I haven't thought of, but fracturing a law school community in exchange for some clinical opportunities seems like a poor tradeoff.