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Author Topic: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?  (Read 3087 times)

Teletype

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ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« on: March 20, 2005, 01:13:56 AM »
Hello, all,   :D

I need to provide a quick background before I present my question for your consideration.  And it is this: I am about to complete the second year in a four-year program at Nashville School of Law (NSL), so I am almost halfway there.  Unfortunately, NSL does not have any certification with the American Bar Association (ABA).  Meanwhile, there is a significant possibility that my employer may ask me to relocate up to Michigan, because my existing position was made redundant just this past week.

So here's the thing:  Just for the sake of keeping my options open, I've got applications into three Detroit area schools: Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Thomas M. Cooley, all of which appear to be ABA certified.  But all three schools have indicated that none of my existing credits will transfer, which in turn means that I would effectively start over.

I will accept as true, for purposes of this discussion, that an ABA-certified school will always be better than a school without such a certification.  My question is: Is that alone enough to justify the time and expense in starting over?  Or would I be better off trying to find another job in Tennessee, and see the remaining two years out as to my existing school? 

Thanks much in advance,
/Sandy/

LibertyBell

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2005, 01:32:55 AM »
I would say yes.  Even if you switch jobs and stay in TN, what happens if you want to leave later?  ABA certification goes beyond tiers and all of that, it can effect where you can practice and which bar exams you can take.  ABA certification is a good thing. 

I won't go into the Cooley conversation, but those warnings are incoming...

Hello, all,   :D

I need to provide a quick background before I present my question for your consideration.  And it is this: I am about to complete the second year in a four-year program at Nashville School of Law (NSL), so I am almost halfway there.  Unfortunately, NSL does not have any certification with the American Bar Association (ABA).  Meanwhile, there is a significant possibility that my employer may ask me to relocate up to Michigan, because my existing position was made redundant just this past week.

So here's the thing:  Just for the sake of keeping my options open, I've got applications into three Detroit area schools: Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Thomas M. Cooley, all of which appear to be ABA certified.  But all three schools have indicated that none of my existing credits will transfer, which in turn means that I would effectively start over.

I will accept as true, for purposes of this discussion, that an ABA-certified school will always be better than a school without such a certification.  My question is: Is that alone enough to justify the time and expense in starting over?  Or would I be better off trying to find another job in Tennessee, and see the remaining two years out as to my existing school? 

Thanks much in advance,
/Sandy/

SLJ0720

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2005, 03:10:31 AM »
Look for another job in TN.  I am assuming that had this not happend in 2 years you had planned to quit your current job (that is, after passing the TN bar and securing an atty job in TN).  I don't see why you would want to start over now.  Tuition at another school will probably be more than you are paying now, so you might have to get student loans, not to mention that you have already paid 2 years of tuition. Most importantly, it will be 2 more years out of your life that you will be giving up.  An ABA approved degree may be better, but if you are happy living in TN and don't have aspirations of practicing in another state, then I would say continue what you are doing at your current school, especially if you are going to come out of law school with no debt at NSL. Don't incur the time and expense of starting over based on a job that you are quitting in a few years. 

Teletype

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2005, 01:52:06 PM »
Just as a brief update to my initial post--

Well, the decision was very difficult, but I have opted to stay in Tennessee for the time being.  Considerations going into the decision included the fact that all attempts to date to find suitable employment opportunities have fallen through, that I was being asked to make final commitments to the school without knowing if or when I would be able to find suitable employment with any company, and that my family would not be able to bear the costs of interstate relocation under the circumstances.

But perhaps the biggest factor to consider was indeed the difficulty I had in getting through the first two years of school in the first place.  I don't wish to suggest that I ran into academic difficulties--in fact, my grades have been fairly solid.  I would suppose that in a generic sense, anyone who has reviewed through a year's worth of material in preparation for a final exam that is worth 50-75% of your grade will know just what I am talking about.  And I also had to prepare for my first year's final exams (in 2004) during a time when my wife needed to recover from a ruptured appendix, so that year was even more painful.  Legalise's argument is therefore compelling.  There is simply too much to throw away at this point, the ABA certification issues notwithstanding.  Perhaps if I had completed only one year instead of two, the weighing process might have been different.  But being right at the halfway point does change the equation significantly. 

My thanks again to all for your contributions.  /Sandy/

JD_MSA

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2005, 03:22:09 PM »
If you practice in TN for a designated period of time, are you then eligible to take the bar exam or to qualify for reciprocity in other states? 

Teletype

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2005, 11:42:48 AM »
If you practice in TN for a designated period of time, are you then eligible to take the bar exam or to qualify for reciprocity in other states? 

I'm not sure.  My understanding is that reciprocity will be limited at best, because a number of state rules look to what law school you went to originally, besides looking at the experience level.  But I think I could go to Wisconsin or the District of Columbia.  /Sandy/

kenxc

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2005, 09:59:39 AM »
Some are locally accredited.  There are two in Massachusetts and they can take the bar exam in both Massachusetts and Connecticut (or so I've heard).  I think the dozen or so in Cali are in a similar situation.

Coregram

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2005, 07:28:56 PM »
Tennessee and Alabama also have law schools that are state accredited but not ABA accredited. 

Many states also will admit an attorney to their bar on motion an attorney who is licensed in another state regardless of where they went to law school; some immediately and some after a period of time. Or some will recognize certain state accreditations and not others.

Each state has its own requirements that people who want to practice there should investigate.

anoddduck

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2005, 07:46:58 PM »
Tennessee and Alabama also have law schools that are state accredited but not ABA accredited. 

Many states also will admit an attorney to their bar on motion an attorney who is licensed in another state regardless of where they went to law school; some immediately and some after a period of time. Or some will recognize certain state accreditations and not others.

Each state has its own requirements that people who want to practice there should investigate.

California lets you go to a Non-ABA school and still take the bar... Beyond that, I agree: people who want to practice should investigate...

Teletype

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Re: ABA-certified school: Worth starting over?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2005, 01:21:03 PM »
I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that in order to be eligible for the bar in most places, you had to have a degree from an ABA approved school. I could be wrong, but no bar exam = no license = no practice = wasted time and money. Why would anyone even think of going to a non-ABA approved school?

The other responses pretty much address the above question, from the standpoint of license portability, but I wanted to add one or two thoughts in a general sense.  As many can attest, there is not a "one size fits all" approach that can be taken in choosing a law school.  For most students, an ABA-certified school is arguably the preferred route.  Nonetheless, I would submit there are limited instances where the selection of a non-ABA (but state-certified) law school would be appropriate.  The key is to make the decision--whatever it is--as objectively as possible and in full understanding of the consequences.

Factors weighing into the decision would include (but is not limited to) the following--

  • * Whether someone is entering law school directly from an undergraduate or bachelor's degree, or if there has been an intervening number of years of work experience;
    * Whether that person can afford to proceed to law school without outside employment (even after considering the availability of student loans and scholarships);
    * The availability of law schools within a reasonable driving distance of home and employment; 
    * Whether the student would be willing to relocate solely for the purposes of entering into a law school;
    * Whether the law school's schedule will be compatible with outside employment; or in the alternative, whether a night school is available;
    * Whether the school is ABA accredited; or in the alternative, whether one would be able to accept the implications of going to a school that only has state accreditation (including certain jurisdictional limitations on where one can practice);
    * Family considerations (i.e., spouse, dependants, significant others, etc.);
    * The quality of the school(s) being considered, independent of the certification issue, including the track record of students that have have previously graduated from the school;
    * The student's prior accomplishments and legal aptitude (i.e., GPA and LSAT), including whether the student will be able to receive one or more scholarships at the desired school;
    * The cost of tuition for the schools being considered (or alternatively, the estimated amount of debt one will face after completion of studies); and,
    * One's reasons for going to law school in the first place, and to what extent these reasons are career-oriented.

Arguably, perhaps the last factor may be among the most important.  If one's motive is specifically to join the top 5% of law firms anywhere in the country, or to work in a high profile position in federal or state government, the school one goes to becomes highly relevant.  At the other extreme, there are those who study the law purely from the standpoint of personal interest or to supplement knowledge in one's current career.  In such instances, the school becomes somewhat less relevant.  Between these extremes are combinations of personal interest and career in various amounts, and these have to be balanced out carefully against the remaining factors as outlined above.

All the best,
/Sandy/