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Author Topic: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?  (Read 3238 times)

taplinb

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Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« on: February 22, 2007, 10:50:49 AM »
I know this is sort of a pre-law question (except for transfers), but readers of the pre-law board would not necessarily know any more than I do. You would know, so... which Minnesota school would you pick and why? I have been dinged from U of MN so it's down to those three.

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

bigfatbox

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 10:55:53 AM »
Mitchell seems to have the best rep of the three. It's been around the longest (large alum base) and has decent admissions standards and a high bar passage rate. Academic attrition also appears to be quite low.

Hamline seems to lag behind Mitchell a little. This is probably due to the fact that Hamline wasn't accredited until 1975, so it hasn't been around long enough to build up a huge alum base.

With St. Thomas, the problem is that it's so new they don't really have an established law school alumni base. Sure, they may have a lot of undergrad alumni but that's not the same as have a LARGE base of law school alumni. Thus, you might have trouble when it comes time to find a job. If you already have a legal job lined up before law school OR know you want to open a solo practice, this may not matter.


Try talking to local attorneys and see what they have to say.


What other schools are you looking at?

Have you visited any of these schools?

What are your career goals?

Do you have scholarship offers from any of the schools?

taplinb

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2007, 06:01:36 AM »
Thanks, bigfatbox. In response:

> Try talking to local attorneys and see what they have to say.
I've done so, and they mostly seem to agree that Mitchell is the most established.

> What other schools are you looking at?
All in MN, but the U of MN dinged me (though I am employed there now).

> Have you visited any of these schools?
Took the LSAT at Mitchell, have seen them all. I plan to attend a St. Thomas "admitted students" day on March 2nd. I think it's a good school, whether or not one is Catholic - a bit equivocal about religion, but who better to equivocate than lawyers? Not dogmatic, more into social justice. Eager to be inclusive. The parent institution is massive and growing, with a new business school next to the law school. I like that the law school is a fifteen minute skyway walk from Minneapolis courts and most Minnesota law firms. My concern is that St. Thomas is over ten miles from my St. Paul home, whereas Hamline is half the distance and Mitchell a quarter the distance.

Rush hour traffic between Minneapolis and St. Paul gets bad, and downtown parking near St. Thomas, even when subsidized, is expensive, whereas Hamline and Mitchell are in/near residential areas where street parking is free. The Hamline neighborhood is kind of mixed - not deadly, but a bit risky a night. Mitchell's neighborhood is tony Summit Avenue, near restaurants and century-old mansions, brownstones, victorians, many churches. I like the idea of studying in a coffeehouse above Garrison Keilor's bookshop or having a beer at W.A. Frost, etc. Those are a bit north of Mitchell on Selby, a bit west of the Cathedral. I love Saint Paul.

Ambience aside, time is the concern. I must cross the Mississippi (twice from Minneapolis) to get home for dinner with my wife and preschooler, then hit the books again when he's down around 8 pm. From what I hear, most of you youngsters will be in the library (or bar) while I'm playing hide and seek or teaching my son to swim.

> What are your career goals?

That's the tricky part. I will stay in MN. I'd like to be a prosecutor, or something public, but the pay isn't so great and it's looking like I'll have to borrow $100k+. I may litigate or whatever to get established. IP looks interesting, and I know that Mitchell has a few respected profs in that, but Criminal and IP are very different tracks. I guess that is not something I must decide until mid-2008. I imagine that many folks in Criminal started in the trenches handling DWI and traffic ticket or juvenile cases. Nobody hands a baby lawyer a major felony.

As to scholarships, none yet, but I have not yet heard from Hamline. If they offer me a nice one, that could be enough to swing me over from St. Thomas and Mitchell.

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

VitaminE

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2007, 11:40:10 PM »
I replied to your post on the William Mitchell specific board, but I must say that I am happy with my decision to go here. I also think that the fact that you have a family makes Mitchell an excellent choice. Flexible scheduling, other students who are parents, and the school's focus on "practical wisdom".

This link shows the activities that students (and the public) can go to at William Mitchell (and non-students too).
http://www.wmitchell.edu/docket/

Maybe you could go to a talk or an activity for some more insight? Also, if you accept a scholarship from any of these schools, pay attention to the GPA you're required to keep. And then find out what the school's curve is set at. I was offered scholarships at all 3 private schools. I know several people who chose Mitchell based on their scholarship offer (even over the U). Some people thought the scholarship would be easy to keep. After exam grades came back, though, some are worried about "stepping up their game" for Spring semester in order to keep theirs. My point is that if Hamline offers you a scholarship, that is a motivating factor for studying there. However, pay attention to where students get employed after attending there, what the different starting salaries are, etc. If you are happy with that information, then attend there. But I wouldn't completely base my decision on a scholarship offer. Also, you could TRY to see (if Hamline offers you $) whether Mitchell or St. Thomas would be willing to offer you anything. Sometimes after you have an acceptance and a scholarship from another school, another school might offer you something.

Alright, I don't know if this was really that helpful. All in all, I just want to say that I am really happy with my experience at William Mitchell, and I definitely would encourage other students to attend this school.

Good luck with your decision :)



vercingetorix

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 10:34:36 AM »
if you look at the fundamentals of St. Thomas i think you'd quickly change your mind.  they breezed through ABA accreditation ahead of schedule, they have an incredible Dean (Mengler) who has brought a good deal of talent to the law school (from UM, Mitchell-Prof Hamilton for example was a full tenure prof at Mitchell and bailed to go to St. Thomas, and schools too numerous to mention-check out their web site), they have an insane amount of money and a well established alumni network inside Minneapolis/St. Paul (especially within the busiiness community), the campus is brand new and right smack in the middle of a vibrant city.  i have no doubt St. Thomas will quickly out rank both Hamiline and William Mitchell and establish itself as the alternative to UMN, i predict it begins in USNWR as a T3 but quickly moves up to T2.  the hard facts are that WM and Hamline have been (for years) and will probably remain T4 schools.

taplinb

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2007, 12:23:39 PM »
Thank you, VitaminE, vercingetorix, and others.

I have now been dinged by Hamline and the U of MN, but am in at William Mitchell and St. Thomas. Go figure. Maybe my personal statement to Hamline was not enthusiastic enough.

It is a relief to have the decision simplified. My big question now is whether St. Thomas will be so much better than William Mitchell that I can justify driving up to an extra hour per day for three years, pending traffic. The costs of attendance are comparable, meaning I must borrow $100k+ to attend either. The jury is out on whether St. Thomas will rise as far as some predict. I have seen little evidence thereof, and the respective entering classes sport very similar stats. I do know that most William Mitchell grads ultimately land jobs.

St. Thomas feels friendlier and very supportive, but this is about a career decision, not summer camp.

I need to chew on it more.

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

bigfatbox

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2007, 12:47:02 PM »
if you look at the fundamentals of St. Thomas i think you'd quickly change your mind.  they breezed through ABA accreditation ahead of schedule, they have an incredible Dean (Mengler) who has brought a good deal of talent to the law school (from UM, Mitchell-Prof Hamilton for example was a full tenure prof at Mitchell and bailed to go to St. Thomas, and schools too numerous to mention-check out their web site), they have an insane amount of money and a well established alumni network inside Minneapolis/St. Paul (especially within the busiiness community), the campus is brand new and right smack in the middle of a vibrant city.  i have no doubt St. Thomas will quickly out rank both Hamiline and William Mitchell and establish itself as the alternative to UMN, i predict it begins in USNWR as a T3 but quickly moves up to T2.  the hard facts are that WM and Hamline have been (for years) and will probably remain T4 schools.

Comments like this make me laugh.

FACT: old reputations die hard, and new ones are long in being built.

FACT: the difference between T4 and T2 and T3 is not as big as pre-laws tend to think it is.

St. Thomas will probably debut at T4, because no newly accredited school has ever debuted anywhere else. Look at Ave Maria, for example. That school has been around for about ten years and still only one of the big firms in Detroit recruits there. Even Detroit Mercy, a school that has been T4 for years gets more attention from the big Detroit firms. Why is that? Lawyers are risk averse, and hire what they are familiar with, which means schools they've hired from in the past whose students they've had good experiences with.

Another case in point: my own school has risen from T4 to T2 since the beginning of the USNEWS rankings, yet job prospects have been affected only slightly. The school has been around a long, long time and job prospects are still best in the surrounding area and surrounding states and that will never change. Also, many employers still prefer students from the top schools in the local area and surrounding states over students from my own school. That isn't likely to change either

Even though the school has had improved success at placing the very, very top students nationally, job prospects aren't all that different for the average student compared to say, 10 or 20 years ago.

There is no way to predict how well you will do in law school. Ask anyone in law school. If anyone or any school tries to tell you it is "on the rise" I'd be very,very skeptical of that statement.

For most people, if cost is equal, the best choice is going to the school with the best local reputation NOW, not what you think the reputation might be in 10 or 20  years.



cheeseisdelicious

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2007, 07:34:59 PM »
bigfatbox, Ave Maria has been around for about 6.5 years. I guess you're using liberal rounding.

As a UST student, I've heard nothing but positive things about our graduates and students from employers - in fact, plenty of Mitchell grads prefer to hire us over Mitchell students. Keep in mind that while UST has a smaller LAW alumni base than the other schools, we have a larger alumni base in the city and Tommies are incredibly loyal.

UST was the only one of the three I applied to - I'm not going to practice in MN and Mitchell and Hamline do not have stellar reputations where I want to go.

taplinb, good luck with your decision.

Runner-up

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2007, 08:09:17 AM »
I can guarantee you that William Mitchell has more of a history and a following in Minnesota than Hamline or St. Thomas. You want more details, just send me a private message.

I was actually accepted to Ave Maria. And, for that I'm grateful to them. But, in the end, I had to go with the school that has more graduates in the workplace. Ave Maria, a law school less than 10 years old, just isn't at that stage yet.

St. Thomas, though they should be commended for trying to re-start things, so to speak, will have their work cut out for them in trying to get entrenched in the major law firms, both in Minnesota and elsewhere. A school that has had 100+ years of churning out graduates including a Chief Justice, versus a school that just started again after a 66-year hiatus.

Pick you poison.

vercingetorix

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Re: Relative merits of Mitchell vs. Hamline vs. U of St. Thomas?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2007, 04:47:39 PM »
ultimately you will do what you want my friend but UST has a formidable alumni network and money out the whaazoo...i am certain it will debut above T4.  the truth is WM and Hamline are destined to be T4 schools forever because they lack the resources to advance.  Again if you look at the fundamentals of a school like UST (Dean, faculty, donors, alums and board) and you want to work in MSP/St. Paul you`d be doing yourself a disservice if you went to Hamline or WM.