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Author Topic: Mercer questions  (Read 1311 times)

Netopalis

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Mercer questions
« on: July 01, 2008, 01:34:43 PM »
Haldo,
   I'm looking through my lists of law schools, and I came across an interesting question.  Mercer has consistently ranked in the top 5 for Trial Advocacy and Legal Research and Writing, yet its overall USN&WR ranking is 100.  Why is this?  Are there any opinions about the quality of education at Mercer here?  What other skills do you feel are taught that might explain this discrepancy?  Is Mercer's ability to teach this skill so dismal as to drop it at least 90 points down the ranking, or does this illustrate a flaw in the rankings?
Mercer University School of Law '12

richardblaine

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2008, 01:46:58 PM »
The overall USNWR rankings are determined by a peer assessment score, an assessment score by lawyers and judges, median LSAT and GPA, acceptance and employment rates, bar passage rates, expenditures per student, student/faculty ratio, and library resources.  They are not based on the perceived quality of academic programs.

As for Mercer, search this site and TLS for Mercer threads and then duck...


Bulldog86

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2008, 03:27:12 PM »
They are not based on the perceived quality of academic programs.
Right. Whether that makes a lick of sense is up to you to decide.

Also, I believe I've read that the way they do the specialty rankings is they send a survey to certain professors at various schools and ask them to list the top programs in (whatever). Then they're ranked based on who gets the most nominations. Some schools send out fancy brochures touting their excellence in Specialty X, and so if you're a voter, trying to think of who has a good program in some random area (when you likely spend most of your time dealing with your program at your school), it's plausible you might think, hey, I heard all about Mercer's LW program somewhere, I'll put them.

That said, I have NO idea whether Mercer plays that game or not, nor would I judge them for it, but that's why the specialty rankings (to me) have always seemed a little... let's say less than scientifically accurate. (Not that the main rankings are much better!)

Quote
As for Mercer, search this site and TLS for Mercer threads and then duck...
This is true, though I don't know how deserved/accurate those threads are. I'm from Macon originally and know and worked for some very successful Mercer Law grads. But it's one of those things where, if you want to work in Macon or South Georgia or thereabouts, Mercer is probably a good choice (maybe UGA or even GSU would be better, I don't know, but MU would be fine given that the vast majority of the Macon legal market is their people). But there are no doubt people who want to go biglaw in Atlanta or DC or NYC or somewhere, go to Mercer, then find out that it's not all that accessible to them... and those people get on message boards and leave a steaming pile of feces behind.

As is often (always?) the case with lower T2 type schools, you have to know what you're getting into, and it's too bad people don't.
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Netopalis

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2008, 03:38:28 PM »
Well, I'm thinking that it might be a decent school for me...I want to do general practice in a small town with political opportunities open eventually, preferably in VA or NC.  The problem is that the schools in VA and NC aren't that accessible to me in terms of scholarships, or those that are (Campbell, Appalachian, Regent) are schools that I really don't want to consider...
Mercer University School of Law '12

Bulldog86

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2008, 04:38:39 PM »
Sounds reasonable to me. You might want to give Mercer's career office a call and see if they have any information on alumni that have done similar things. I would suppose (and this is just talking out of my ass, but based on what I've heard here and other places, for whatever that's worth) that if you made an effort to network in places you wanted to practice, that a Mercer JD would suit you just fine.
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vap

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2008, 12:39:24 AM »
Here is the link for the specialty ranking methodology, at the bottom of the page: http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-graduate-schools/2008/03/26/law-methodology.html

"In the case of... legal writing, the nominations were made by directors or members of the... legal writing programs."

It's the difference in methodologies used to create the specialty rankings and the normal rankings which accounts for the disparity between Mercer's national ranking and Mercer's legal writing ranking.  The school is well-known among legal writing academics.  However, the school is not well-known by people outside the Southeast because judges/practitioners/scholars have 1) not heard much, if anything, about the school and/or 2) probably not worked with any graduates personally.  Mercer doesn't have a "bad" reputation.  It's just a small private school in a part of the country where most graduates want to remain.  The national rankings, which survey judges, practitioners, and academics across the country, are not an accurate barometer for any school's ability to teach a particular skill.  USNWR weights the survey of judges, practitioners, and academics at 40% of the total ranking score. 

They are not based on the perceived quality of academic programs.
Right. Whether that makes a lick of sense is up to you to decide.

Also, I believe I've read that the way they do the specialty rankings is they send a survey to certain professors at various schools and ask them to list the top programs in (whatever). Then they're ranked based on who gets the most nominations. Some schools send out fancy brochures touting their excellence in Specialty X, and so if you're a voter, trying to think of who has a good program in some random area (when you likely spend most of your time dealing with your program at your school), it's plausible you might think, hey, I heard all about Mercer's LW program somewhere, I'll put them.

I'm a Mercer student.  I don't know if Mercer sends out any materials, but I highly doubt that directors or members of School A's legal writing program would vote for Mercer over School A simply because Mercer sent a nice, shiny brochure.  I think directors or members of School A have significant incentive to vote for School A and would not be persuaded by a brochure.  I think Mercer's legal writing program is great.  It prepared me very well for my 1L summer work.  Mercer students take a minimum of 8 hours (7 graded) of legal research and writing courses (some schools require as little as 2 hours).  All of the writing courses are taught by full-time faculty (some schools have TA's teach writing).  More info here: http://www.law.mercer.edu/academics/legal_writing/approach.cfm

That said, I have NO idea whether Mercer plays that game or not, nor would I judge them for it, but that's why the specialty rankings (to me) have always seemed a little... let's say less than scientifically accurate. (Not that the main rankings are much better!)

Quote
As for Mercer, search this site and TLS for Mercer threads and then duck...
This is true, though I don't know how deserved/accurate those threads are. I'm from Macon originally and know and worked for some very successful Mercer Law grads. But it's one of those things where, if you want to work in Macon or South Georgia or thereabouts, Mercer is probably a good choice (maybe UGA or even GSU would be better, I don't know, but MU would be fine given that the vast majority of the Macon legal market is their people). But there are no doubt people who want to go biglaw in Atlanta or DC or NYC or somewhere, go to Mercer, then find out that it's not all that accessible to them... and those people get on message boards and leave a steaming pile of feces behind.

As is often (always?) the case with lower T2 type schools, you have to know what you're getting into, and it's too bad people don't.

I agree with most everything said here.  Just to add my $0.02, though.  First, I think the "mercer 1L" bashing Mercer might not even have been a student and might have been "Loyola 2L" or "wiimote" (who go on all sorts of message boards and blogs and zealously posts their message against taking on debt).  The tone seemed very familiar.  Second, I think if you already have connections outside GA, then it's not that difficult to find work outside GA.  I met numerous 3Ls who had jobs lined up in states where they had connections and several who obtained jobs in states in which the graduates had no connections.  None of them were top 10% or on law review.

Ninja1

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2008, 05:09:49 AM »
If I remember OP's numbers right, he shouldn't even be considering Mercer...

Specialty rankings mean a whole lot of nothing.
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Netopalis

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2008, 08:53:46 AM »
163, 3.86, need scholarships, and I'm not convinced that U of Tenn, Case and Ohio State will come through with them...
Mercer University School of Law '12

Ninja1

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2008, 03:35:56 PM »
163, 3.86, need scholarships, and I'm not convinced that U of Tenn, Case and Ohio State will come through with them...

How much of a scholarship do you need? I can see needing a scholarship if you're applying to private schools, but Tennessee's resident tuition is dirt cheap.
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Netopalis

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Re: Mercer questions
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2008, 12:39:38 AM »
Yeah, their *resident* tuition is cheap.  Unfortunately, I am not a resident of TN, and I wouldn't be able to qualify for residency in time to make a difference in tuition. 
Mercer University School of Law '12