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Author Topic: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?  (Read 7787 times)

Susan B. Anthony

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #50 on: March 15, 2009, 11:17:59 PM »
I just looked up the Lawyer/Judge assessment score on USNWR rankings:

St. Thomas 2.7
Hamline 2.3
WM 2.1

Interesting...ALl the talk about the superiority of a T4 school, yet what lawyers and judges actually say echoes usnews

Well...those scores are a part of the USNWR rankings, so...

I also wouldn't put all that much stock in assessment scores that come from people outside of the Minnesota market - from everything I've seen it is a rather unique and somewhat isolated market, and WM is very highly regarded locally.

I mean, ultimately, you have to do very well at any of the schools to have a shot at the larger firms. Beyond that, they all have strengths and weaknesses, and no one should completely disregard WM just because of the USNRW rankings.

Good luck, NMUZ.

MSP1

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #51 on: March 20, 2009, 12:06:41 PM »
From reading this thread, it is clear to me that William Mitchell alums/students feel the need to argue out their superiority, while their school has been around for 100 years, compared to UST's 10 or whatever.  What surprises me is that after 100 years of teaching law, they stuck in the 4th tier (while brand new UST law has surpassed them in rankings)

The University of St. Thomas, itself, is very well respected in the Twin Cities.  That school has a ton of resources to invest in developing their law program.  So, while the statistics certainly fall in favor of WM today, what about 10 years from now?  I predict that UST will have left WM and Hamline in the dust...

These are interesting points to consider.  My earlier posts were a little tongue-in-cheek, but I'll try to answer this one more seriously. 

Regarding whether I personally "feel the need" to argue about William Mitchell's "superiority," I would say that yes, I am interested in presenting to others on this forum the school's admirable characteristics.  It has many of them.  (As do St. Thomas and Hamline, for that matter.  I've worked with students and attorneys from both schools and had generally good experiences.)  I try not to sound too partisan, but in my short time on this and other boards, I've sometimes noticed that St. Thomas cheerleading goes hand-in-hand with William Mitchell bashing.  Turnabout is fair play.  However, I think everyone would agree that the lawyerly thing to do would be to temper rhetoric with facts, which is precisely what I want for this forum.  The point-counterpoint is great, but conclusory statements alone don't help OLs much.       

To your second point--you rightly noted that William Mitchell (in one form or another) has been around for nearly 110 years, while St. Thomas reopened its law school in 1999 and graduated its first new class in 2005 (somebody correct me if I'm wrong).  As everyone also knows, William Mitchell lies in the fourth tier while St. Thomas is in the third.  With those two facts in mind, it's not unreasonable to think, "Hey, WTF with Mitchell?" and conversely, "St. Thomas--impressive."  But for that thought to be true, we have to assume that the U.S. News rankings are an objective and completely accurate representation of a law school's quality.  As they said when we all were studying for the LSAT, "That's a big leap in logic."

40% of the U.S. News rankings, the lawyer/judge peer assessment, are inherently subjective.  If I understand the process correctly, a randomly-selected attorney in Ohio could be asked to rate the quality of the U of M, William Mitchell, St. Thomas, and Hamline on a scale of 1 to 5.  You can see how numbers might not reflect reality ("The U of M?  Well, Walter Mondale went there.  I know one or two other lawyers who went there, and they work in decent NLJ firms.  The U must have a pretty good law school.  I'd say they're a 3.75.")  The other 60% of the rankings, quite frankly, can be "gamed" to some extent by the school in question.  For example, law schools can report 100% employment nine months after graduation by hiring their jobless students at the library.   

Another thing to consider is that the U.S. News rankings have only been in existence since 1989.  Someone at the magazine sat down one day and came up with what he or she believed to be some appropriate measure of a law school's worth, when the vast majority of ABA-approved law schools had already been functioning for decades, and in some cases, for over a century.  The rankings ain't perfect; that's why the ABA doesn't endorse them.  (One could argue that schools coming into existence in the post-U.S. News rankings era have a vastly different set of priorities from the get-go.)

Nonetheless, it would be foolish for any OL, law student, alumnus/a, legal educator, etc. to claim that the rankings don't matter.  Clearly they do, imperfect as they are.  I would simply argue that considering William Mitchell, the quality of its faculty, and the quality of its graduates, U.S. News has it wrong.  If anything, it's a Tier "2" school, somewhere in the 85-100 range.  And IMHO the culprit, surprisingly enough, is the 40% "reputation" portion of the rankings.  Consider this: from 1980 to 2010, the Minnesota Supreme Court will have had six chief justices.  Three were from William Mitchell, two were from the U of M, and one was from YLS.  Let's go back further: from 1960 to 2010, the court will have had nine chief justices; still, the numbers don't change much.  Four were from William Mitchell, four were from the U of M, and then we have the one lone Yalie.  You can argue that political appointments like these are based partly upon luck, but an attorney wouldn't get the nod if his or her skills (and accordingly, his or her legal education) weren't up to snuff.  And if we looked at any other state high court, would you find another "Tier 4" school with similar numbers?  Would you find another "Tier 4" law school with graduates placed in the same position as a T-25 and a T-2 law school, consistently, over the course of many decades?  I guess anything is possible.  If someone wants to dig up the actual numbers, they certainly could, but I think my point is a valid one: William Mitchell doesn't get as much respect as it deserves. 

It's my opinion that the school simply needs to learn, as an institution, how to better market itself.  Under the current ranking regime, it's just a matter of taking additional steps to reflect what Minnesotans and Midwesterners already know: it's an excellent law school that has trained scores of successful graduates.

(Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Mitchell_College_of_Law for a verifiable list.) 

If indeed St. Thomas plans to leave it in the dust in the next decade--and that's their goal--then that gives William Mitchell ten years to prove them wrong.  That's a discussion I look forward to seeing.       

MSP1

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #52 on: March 20, 2009, 12:13:46 PM »
Hey, I'll admit it, I set you up on that one pretty well.  You could logically argue that if the USNWR assessments were true, then St. Thomas is producing first, second, and third-year uber-attorneys. 

Nonetheless, here's some food for thought: a state publication, Minnesota Laywer, puts out an annual list of "Up and Coming Attorneys," those people identified as some of the best and brightest in the state that have been admitted to practice less than ten years.  Twenty-five were chosen in 2009, eight of whom went to William Mitchell and one of whom went to Hamline.  Zero were from St. Thomas, although a St. Thomas fellow/adjunct faculty person was selected.

http://minnlawyerblog.com/2009/03/11/minnesota-lawyer-announces-its-2009-up-and-coming-attorneys/

I'd respectfully submit that a Minnesota publication would know more about the quality of Minnesota lawyers than random lawyers and judges from far-flung parts of the country.  Plus, a few posters have already noted just how wacky those USNWR rankings can be... 

Also, if you look at when the lawyers  on this list who graduated from William Mitchell:  As far as I can tell, only 1 graduated after St. Thomas' first graduating class.  That means that the other 7 listed have had more time in the field than any UST grads.  Would you agree with this statement  MSP1?

Some of the William Mitchell graduates have had more time in the industry, but it's something of a hollow argument.  Nominations are open to any attorney practicing for less than ten years.  Therefore, any St. Thomas graduate from 2005 to 2009 was eligible to be nominated.  Caveat: it doesn't mean that those people aren't good attorneys; it simply means they weren't nominated for this award.

An interesting point--the law school with the next largest group of Minnesota "Up and Comers" is UW-Madison. 

ihateusernames

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #53 on: March 25, 2009, 10:27:55 PM »
I agree w/NMUZ that this has been very helpful for me as a 0L trying to choose a law school.  I have a couple questions and would be interested to know what people think....

1) We have heard a lot of back and forth concerning whether UST will definitively be the 2nd best law school in the State in 10/20/30 years.  I think there is a very good possibility that UST will pass up both Hamline and WM by a substantial amount eventually.  However, assuming that I care about getting a job upon graduation in 2012, will UST have made a big enough move by then to make a difference? 

2) If your answer to question one was "no," can you think of any GOOD reason (not prettier facilities or better TC location) that I'd want to pay about 21k more over three years to go to UST over WM?  Or 38k for UST over Hamline?

3) Does anybody think that hiring a new dean (Donald Lewis) and Hamline's recent rise in the rankings, means they are moving up in stature? 

4) People have obviously shown that WM grads take up a majority of the position in the large TC firms.  However, does anybody think that, with new hiring managers replacing those that started when Hamline was the "new" law school, that we'll see firms looking more to the rankings rather than just taking it for granted that Mitchell is better?  The same goes for alumni... on paper WM has 15k versus Hamline's 5k and UST's 600, but how many of those WM alumni in Minnesota are older... meaning going to be replaced/retire soon.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the schools report anybody that is still alive, not just those still practicing... so how many are over 65 and already retired. 

5)  Right now, w/out living expenses, my options are Hamline at 0k, WM at 17K, and UST at 38k, over three years.  Does anybody want to fight for Hamline with those numbers?  If so, please explain.  If you think WM or UST, no need to reply to this question. 

Again, thanks for all the advice and thoughts thus far. 

NMUZ

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #54 on: March 26, 2009, 10:34:17 AM »
I will start by saying that those scholarships while being nice, they do not say go to Hamline no matter what.  They area all close and a case could be made for each school, at least in your situation for me.  I have a friend that is going to Hamline on a full ride and she is very happy with her decision.

As for William Mitchell.  We all know that WM grads are all over the state and have a huge advantage numbers wise in the twin cities.  I think that a lot of the grads that people on here are taking credit for are partners that are late in their careers.  While this will help upon graduation for placement, what does it say for people that are graduating?  Not much, their graduates of 30 years ago are doing well, but what does that mean for me?

As for St. Thomas.  They take pride in their mentorship program which is not the same as having grads that do the hiring for their firms.  However, lately there are a lot of WM grads that are participating in the program because they are buying into what St. Thomas is doing.  Also, these grads are then hiring St. Thomas grads.

For bar passage and employment.  St. Thomas and WM are both at 91% for the bar, while Hamline is at 86%.  For employment, St. Thomas is at 92.4%, Hamline at 92%, and WM at 90.5%.  Numbers wise all of the schools are comparable.

For me, the question that I have for the people on here is, St. Thomas is doing a lot to try to move up in the rankings and become the firm second best lawschool in the state by constructing a new building, hiring good profs, and getting their name out there.  What is WM or Hamline doing to compete?

JurisdDoctor33

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #55 on: March 26, 2009, 12:19:53 PM »
As for William Mitchell.  We all know that WM grads are all over the state and have a huge advantage numbers wise in the twin cities.  I think that a lot of the grads that people on here are taking credit for are partners that are late in their careers.  While this will help upon graduation for placement, what does it say for people that are graduating?  Not much, their graduates of 30 years ago are doing well, but what does that mean for me?

As for St. Thomas.  They take pride in their mentorship program which is not the same as having grads that do the hiring for their firms.  However, lately there are a lot of WM grads that are participating in the program because they are buying into what St. Thomas is doing.  Also, these grads are then hiring St. Thomas grads.

For me, the question that I have for the people on here is, St. Thomas is doing a lot to try to move up in the rankings and become the firm second best lawschool in the state by constructing a new building, hiring good profs, and getting their name out there.  What is WM or Hamline doing to compete?

I think the statistics posted earlier refute your first post.  I think that it was something like the #3,4,5, and 9 largest firms in the state that employ 108 WM grads v. 4UST grads.  You are delusional if you don't think these statistics speak volumes as to the amount of respect each of these schools get.  If you don't believe me check, the WM grads hired in these firms include both a significant amount of recent grads and more established attorneys.

Secondly, I think you should take a look at Mitchell's apprenticeship program.  Everybody touts St. Thomas' mentorship program, which is fine and dandy, but in all honesty meeting with someone for coffee is not all that beneficial.  Mitchell's apprenticeship program puts its money where its mouth is so to speak.  Those who participate in this program tell career services what area of law they want to get experience in, and then the school pairs you up with a law firm/alumnus practicing that area of law for school credit.  It does not matter what area of law you want to practice, they will find you a placement!  I'd much rather go into an interview with some real experience as opposed to a new friend, but again just my two cents. 

JurisdDoctor33

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #56 on: March 26, 2009, 12:38:10 PM »
I agree w/NMUZ that this has been very helpful for me as a 0L trying to choose a law school.  I have a couple questions and would be interested to know what people think....

1) We have heard a lot of back and forth concerning whether UST will definitively be the 2nd best law school in the State in 10/20/30 years.  I think there is a very good possibility that UST will pass up both Hamline and WM by a substantial amount eventually.  However, assuming that I care about getting a job upon graduation in 2012, will UST have made a big enough move by then to make a difference? 

2) If your answer to question one was "no," can you think of any GOOD reason (not prettier facilities or better TC location) that I'd want to pay about 21k more over three years to go to UST over WM?  Or 38k for UST over Hamline?

3) Does anybody think that hiring a new dean (Donald Lewis) and Hamline's recent rise in the rankings, means they are moving up in stature? 

4) People have obviously shown that WM grads take up a majority of the position in the large TC firms.  However, does anybody think that, with new hiring managers replacing those that started when Hamline was the "new" law school, that we'll see firms looking more to the rankings rather than just taking it for granted that Mitchell is better?  The same goes for alumni... on paper WM has 15k versus Hamline's 5k and UST's 600, but how many of those WM alumni in Minnesota are older... meaning going to be replaced/retire soon.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the schools report anybody that is still alive, not just those still practicing... so how many are over 65 and already retired. 

5)  Right now, w/out living expenses, my options are Hamline at 0k, WM at 17K, and UST at 38k, over three years.  Does anybody want to fight for Hamline with those numbers?  If so, please explain.  If you think WM or UST, no need to reply to this question. 

Again, thanks for all the advice and thoughts thus far. 

You have to take everything that you hear on here with a huge grain of salt.  I obviously am a huge advocate for WM, NMUZ is going to UST next fall, accordingly and understandably a UST advocate. I would really suggest calling several firms and ask to speak with their recruiting manager (all of the top 15 largest firms have one) and ask them candidly which school will give you the best shot at working in their firm someday.  I don't think you will be able to find much more reliable information anywhere.  Also check with local attorneys, and ask the same questions.  This is the same advice that many people offer every year, and most if not virtually all of the incoming students never heed it.  Don't make that same mistake!

NMUZ

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #57 on: March 26, 2009, 01:45:59 PM »
As for William Mitchell.  We all know that WM grads are all over the state and have a huge advantage numbers wise in the twin cities.  I think that a lot of the grads that people on here are taking credit for are partners that are late in their careers.  While this will help upon graduation for placement, what does it say for people that are graduating?  Not much, their graduates of 30 years ago are doing well, but what does that mean for me?

As for St. Thomas.  They take pride in their mentorship program which is not the same as having grads that do the hiring for their firms.  However, lately there are a lot of WM grads that are participating in the program because they are buying into what St. Thomas is doing.  Also, these grads are then hiring St. Thomas grads.

For me, the question that I have for the people on here is, St. Thomas is doing a lot to try to move up in the rankings and become the firm second best lawschool in the state by constructing a new building, hiring good profs, and getting their name out there.  What is WM or Hamline doing to compete?

I think the statistics posted earlier refute your first post.  I think that it was something like the #3,4,5, and 9 largest firms in the state that employ 108 WM grads v. 4UST grads.  You are delusional if you don't think these statistics speak volumes as to the amount of respect each of these schools get.  If you don't believe me check, the WM grads hired in these firms include both a significant amount of recent grads and more established attorneys.

Secondly, I think you should take a look at Mitchell's apprenticeship program.  Everybody touts St. Thomas' mentorship program, which is fine and dandy, but in all honesty meeting with someone for coffee is not all that beneficial.  Mitchell's apprenticeship program puts its money where its mouth is so to speak.  Those who participate in this program tell career services what area of law they want to get experience in, and then the school pairs you up with a law firm/alumnus practicing that area of law for school credit.  It does not matter what area of law you want to practice, they will find you a placement!  I'd much rather go into an interview with some real experience as opposed to a new friend, but again just my two cents. 

At St. Thomas, you are combined with someone in your interest area for the last two years.  And what the program is designed for is more to learn what the industry is like.  It is not designed to give you work experince they try to help you get internships to work on that aspect.  And I like having friends in the industry I plan on entering.

MSP1

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #58 on: March 26, 2009, 04:25:04 PM »
Quote
1) We have heard a lot of back and forth concerning whether UST will definitively be the 2nd best law school in the State in 10/20/30 years.  I think there is a very good possibility that UST will pass up both Hamline and WM by a substantial amount eventually.  However, assuming that I care about getting a job upon graduation in 2012, will UST have made a big enough move by then to make a difference? 

2) If your answer to question one was "no," can you think of any GOOD reason (not prettier facilities or better TC location) that I'd want to pay about 21k more over three years to go to UST over WM?  Or 38k for UST over Hamline?

3) Does anybody think that hiring a new dean (Donald Lewis) and Hamline's recent rise in the rankings, means they are moving up in stature? 

4) People have obviously shown that WM grads take up a majority of the position in the large TC firms.  However, does anybody think that, with new hiring managers replacing those that started when Hamline was the "new" law school, that we'll see firms looking more to the rankings rather than just taking it for granted that Mitchell is better?  The same goes for alumni... on paper WM has 15k versus Hamline's 5k and UST's 600, but how many of those WM alumni in Minnesota are older... meaning going to be replaced/retire soon.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the schools report anybody that is still alive, not just those still practicing... so how many are over 65 and already retired. 

5)  Right now, w/out living expenses, my options are Hamline at 0k, WM at 17K, and UST at 38k, over three years.  Does anybody want to fight for Hamline with those numbers?  If so, please explain.  If you think WM or UST, no need to reply to this question. 

I wanted to wait to answer until others chimed in.  With the caveat that I'm a little bit of a William Mitchell partisan, here's what I think.

1.  No.  We often forget the very big picture, which is that William Mitchell and St. Thomas are basically identical number-wise.  Same median LSAT, although Mitchell has a higher median GPA.  That isn't going to change much by 2012.  St. Thomas can hire more professors, but so can Mitchell.  I know Mitchell has two new profs coming next fall.  If a neutral third-party compared the two, there wouldn't be many objective differences.  St. Thomas students won't be magically shutting William Mitchell students out of jobs (and probably vice versa; if someone really wants to hire a St. Thomas alum, that's their prerogative).

2.  No. There's no good reason to spend more to go to St. Thomas than to spend less to go to William Mitchell.  In fact, I can safely say that you'd be making a big mistake if you did.  (And I'd also say it's debatable whether or not downtown Minneapolis is a better location than Summit/Grand Avenues in St. Paul.)

3.  No.  I've met Dean Lewis and he's a terrific person, intelligent and well-respected.  Still, I overheard his conversation with others after the new rankings came out putting Hamline in the third tier, and even he was shocked by the bump.  He couldn't explain it and neither could anyone else.  The CW in the Twin Cities legal community is that it was a fluke. 

4.  Other posters have pointed out that hiring partners in the Twin Cities don't take the U.S. News rankings as gospel.  In fact, it's why so many were left scratching their heads when Mitchell moved to the fourth tier and Hamline to the third in 2008.  It didn't make sense and many assumed it was just some kind of mistake.  As for Mitchell, it puts out basically the same number of graduates each year, around 300 or so.  It's been doing that for quite some time.  It also places about the same number of students in BigLaw, MidLaw, and so on each year.  This leads me to believe that even though some Mitchell graduates are indeed old and considering retirement, there are thousands more out there that aren't.  For example, the managing partners at Robins Kaplan and Fulbright & Jaworski in Minneapolis are William Mitchell grads, having graduated some twenty-odd years ago, and they're still going strong.

5.  I won't fight for Hamline with the numbers, but a free legal education ain't bad at all.  You may want to consider it.         

MSP1

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Re: Hamline or St. Thomas (MN)?
« Reply #59 on: March 26, 2009, 04:51:40 PM »
From NMUZ:

Quote
For me, the question that I have for the people on here is, St. Thomas is doing a lot to try to move up in the rankings and become the firm second best lawschool in the state by constructing a new building, hiring good profs, and getting their name out there.  What is WM or Hamline doing to compete?

This is an excellent question.  I mean really, it gets to the heart of the whole non-U of M law school debate.  I can't speak for Hamline, but I'll address your comments from a "William Mitchell" vantage point.

First, I respectfully disagree that having a newer building will help put St. Thomas on a higher plane.  For anyone that's ever seen the U of M Law School (I went to undergrad at the U), it's not a sexy building.  Maybe it's an interesting building, but certainly not an attractive one.  It's like postmodern Soviet-bloc architecture.  It's moot anyway because a school's quality has nothing to do with its appearance.  Also, please remember that at one time, all law schools had new buildings.  I would hope that St. Thomas refrains from continually constructing new facilities, or else it'll look like the Winchester House in California and your tuition will be sky-high. 

Second, how do we define a "good prof"?  Is it someone who graduated with honors from a T-14 law school?  Is it someone with lots of experience in practice?  Is it someone who's a prolific writer?  The concept of a "good prof" is very open to interpretation.  William Mitchell has had some tremendous faculty for a number of years now and they've recently hired equally accomplished ones.  Message me if you want details, simply because it would take up too much room to discuss it here.

Finally, we reach the question of marketing.  Here, I think we can readily agree that St. Thomas is working hard to raise its profile.  Even as a William Mitchell grad, I'll concede that the school doesn't do nearly as well marketing itself as it does teaching law students.  There's so much history there that I, along with other alums, feel is left untouched.  There are so many interesting, successful people who've graduated from William Mitchell, yet the only people we ever talk about are Warren Burger (no intro necessary) and Rosalie Wahl (first woman on MN Supreme Court).  Why is that?  I haven't the slightest idea.  I bug the Alumni Relations Office about it constantly, just to keep them on their toes.  If William Mitchell did more to (1) own its history and (2) promote it, most in the legal community (at large, not just Minnesota) would realize that its regional prestige places it alongside the U of M, UW, and Iowa.  (Although Drake doesn't get a lot of love, considering how many federal judges it puts on the bench.  Here's some love for the Drake law students out there.) 

Here's the final analysis: right now, St. Thomas has more money to burn than William Mitchell.  William Mitchell, however, has more prestige than St. Thomas (it's older and has a much longer list of notable grads). 

You can't buy prestige, but you can always raise more money.

Thanks for reading.