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Author Topic: law in southern California  (Read 1086 times)

2345

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law in southern California
« on: March 14, 2009, 12:07:03 PM »
Hey,

Just posted this in the Students and Graduates section, but would be interested in feedback from anyone...

I've written a lot because it's kind of a specific enquiry.

OK, so I applied to a bunch of schools, and have been accepted by a really wide spectrum, from big name ones in the top 10 down to smaller regional schools in the top 60, with varying amounts of financial aid. As you would expect, the higher ranked the school, the less money they have offered me.

After graduation, the only area I am interested in practicing is southern California (Orange County, San Diego, or LA), where I have close friends and family. I have not yet decided what area of law I want to specialize in, and am open to all areas. At this point, I am not really interested in pursuing big law firm jobs (with the long hours / big stress / big money that comes with them). I am much more interested in finding a balance between quality of life and financial security (I'm not bothered about being super rich or anything).

For various reasons, I have narrowed my choice of schools down to USC (small scholarship), UCLA (small scholarship), or UC Irvine (guaranteed full tuition scholarship for all three years).

Assuming I am only choosing from these options, where do you think I should go? Please do not suggest other schools.

I know UCLA and USC are the obvious answers, since they are established, have great reputations, and a huge alumni base in southern California. However, I will be taking on a massive debt if I attend either one of them (around $135,000 at each of them, including cost of living for the three years). At Irvine, I would only have to pay for my cost of living (around $55,000).

Given the state of the economy, uncertain employment prospects, and the fact that I do not want to pursue big money / big stress type law jobs... Do you think it would be a pretty good decision to attend UC Irvine?

My thinking is the huge debt I would take on at UCLA or USC is not as immediately justifiable if my goal is not a big law firm job.

For those of you not familiar with UC Irvine, it is a brand new law school, starting this year. Although I am a little nervous about this (lack of infrastructure, no alumni base, no reputation as yet), I feel there are enough positives to outweigh these: it is part of UC Irvine (a well respected institution); it has amazing faculty (all from top schools); it has a very well respected Dean (Dean Chemerinsky); it has the best student / faculty ratio of any law school (3 to 1 I believe)... and, crucially, it is in an area I would be very happy to go to school, and end up living and working in after graduation (i.e. close to Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna etc)

... and obviously they have offered me a guaranteed full tuition scholarship for all three years, with no academic stipulations, which will take a lot of the worry out of law school, and hopefully make it a more fun experience. They have also guaranteed graduate housing on campus for all three years (not free, but it's one less thing to worry about).

I guess the big question with UC Irvine is what the employment opportunities coming out of there will be like. They seem to have already established excellent connections with the local law community, and from what I hear the school will be doing everything they can to help us secure good jobs (since we are their inaugural class, and as such will kind of define the school's reputation).

So... what do you guys think? Do you think I would be mad to turn down USC or UCLA to take a chance on UC Irvine? Given that I would be very happy staying in Orange County after graduation, it seems like Irvine would be pretty safe bet, and I would have much less debt. Can't help second guessing this decision though... USC and UCLA are such big names.

Any feedback would be much appreciated. I have about a month to make my mind up, and I don't know what to do!

Also, if anyone has more info about practicing law in Orange County (particularly Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna area), I would love to hear it. What are the main firms / areas of law I should start investigating? Do you have links to any good websites that cover this?

My goal is basically to secure a decent job in Orange County / San Diego / LA, and have a decent quality of life... hopefully living not too far from the ocean!

Thanks in advance. Look forward to hearing what you think.

Matthies

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 01:42:18 PM »

I guess the big question with UC Irvine is what the employment opportunities coming out of there will be like. They seem to have already established excellent connections with the local law community, and from what I hear the school will be doing everything they can to help us secure good jobs (since we are their inaugural class, and as such will kind of define the school's reputation).



Nobody can really answer this at this point. My hunch is that it will be difficult for the school to place its first graduates having no reputation or history with firms and no alumni yet. Does that mean you wonít find a job, no, but I think its will mean the individual students will have to make connections for themselves much more so than at the other schools your in.

This means it will be up to you to find a job, likely meaning your best bet would be to heavily networking from day one and working PT 3L to make a name for yourself, as you canít rely on the school to do so. If youíre not a 100% go getter this could mean finding a job for your will be difficult, but if youíre the type of person who could on any given day sell frozen *&^% to an Eskimo, then my hunch is you will be fine.
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botbot

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2009, 03:12:58 PM »
We had an extensive article on UC Irvine at http://zerolblog.com/?p=240 .

In the article, we stated that, for a generic applicant, UCLA or USC should be chosen over UCI.

Quote
My goal is basically to secure a decent job in Orange County / San Diego

If I were in your shoes, I would attend UCLA.

sunglee

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2009, 04:06:36 AM »
As a UC,Irvine grad (for undergrad) I would say go to UCI. From what I get from you, all you really want is to be a lawyer and get the best education you can for little debt and stress, if possible. Yes, UCLA and USC are way better known and established schools. But if you want to pratice in Orange County, then in the eyes of the people in Orange County/ Irvine, UCI is at the same level as USC and UCLA. The people there, including the law firms there (which one of my professor worked at) LOVE AND I MEAN LOVEEEE UCI and anything to do with it. They know they have to support their local school because it helps them out too.

With all you have written, and your desire to stay/practice in Orange county, I would say, go to UCI. But just like how the people in Orange County LOVEeeee UCI, the people in Los Angeles (where I now live) freaking LOVEEEEEEEE UCLA and USC. So, basically, it should be down to where you want to practice, what region of Sol Cal. And if you know anything about Sol. Cal, you know these schools (UCI, UCLA, and USC) are all competitive with one another. So firms in Los Angeles, will most likely prefer a degree from UCLA or USC and likewise, Firms in Orange County, would surely welcome a degree from Irvine(their local school)
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sunglee

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2009, 04:21:17 AM »
Just to add to my above statement: When the news that a Law School was being opened at UC, Irvine, the local community basically threw a party, it made their year(s). This is just another example about how much UC, Irvine means to local law firms and practices. They know that one day, the Law School will be high-up there with the rest of them.

The only reason I refuse to go to the Law School at UCI is because, as much as I love the school, Irvine has to be the most boring city EVER. At least for someone who lived in los angeles all my life, then going to Irvine, it's a shock of boredom I never want to experience again.  But that's just me, I had friends who thought Irvine was the cat's tuxedo, but then again they were from Northern California, and well their definition of Fun is different from ours(LA)
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2345

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2009, 05:38:26 AM »
Yeah, I hear Irvine itself is kind of bland... but you've got Huntington and Newport etc near by, which should make up for this? Plus LA and San Diego are pretty close. I figure I'll be busy with law school most of the time, and there are enough distractions in the local area when I'm not.

sgrad

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Re: law in southern California
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2009, 03:30:40 PM »
I think you should pose your question on jdunderground.com, but be ready for them to call you a moron for even asking.  I'm not saying this, I just suspect I know the answer you'll get.  Between picking from two top 20 schools, almost t14 and a new law school with no reputation it's a no brainer.  Yes, not having student loan debt helps, but as you said you'll still be in 55k plus debt by the time you are done.  In this economy, when experienced lawyers can't even find jobs, without going to a reputable school (USC has a huge reputation in LA and cali for that matter) you'll be fighting an uphill battle in finding a job.  It's one thing for a city to love it's school, but business is business.  I would stick with top 20's only