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Author Topic: What can you tell me about Mercer?  (Read 1173 times)

kingofcool

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What can you tell me about Mercer?
« on: May 05, 2009, 10:58:16 AM »
Seems great fit for me, lower gpa, 65th percentile gpa, want to practice in ga.  It is a t3 school though.  How competitive will I be for summer associate programs at the big firms in Atlanta?


I've read law school confidential but obviously a ivy league experience is going to be totally different.  Is there any books written by those who went to non-ivy league schools?  Dumb question. 

lawness

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009, 08:57:33 AM »
Mercer is a good school. I will be attending this fall. Mercer has great connections in Atlanta. I have spoken to several students who have SA in Atlanta this summer and who are working for big firms after graduation. The employment stats are impressive as are the bar passage rates.

We had a meet and great at King and Spalding about a month ago. We wined and dined with K&S partners and associates, current students and prospective students. Mercer and K&S have a long history because of Griffin Bell, the former Attorney General and partner at K&S. He went to Mercer. They have a good OCI program with most of the big Atlanta firms coming to campus.

The faculty is outstanding. They are very accomodating and helpful. They want to see you succeed and this shows in the way they act and treat students. I met several student who chose Mercer over GSU because of the way they were treated during campus tours.

Mercer also has the second best legal writting program in the country. They have been first in 6 out of the last 7 years. This aspect does carry national recognition and is impressive to employers. You have to take legal writting courses all three years and then you will end up with a certificate.

I think as long as you want to stay in GA, Mercer is a good choice. If you venture outside of the state, you might have a harder time because Mercer does not carry national name recognition.

kingofcool

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2009, 09:20:15 AM »
How'd you hear about that meet and greet?

lawness

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2009, 09:25:10 AM »
I was a prospective student at the time (well actually I already sent in my deposit) and I got the invite from the admissions office. It was at the K&S highrise in Midtown Atlanta. We talked with current and former partners and actually heard from a former partner who was hired by Griffen Bell. He was really old, but it was cool hearing about the history and relationship between the school and the firm.

kingofcool

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2009, 12:11:26 PM »
Sounds awesome, I worked right across from K&S in colony square.  Hopefully we can cross paths in Macon. 

vap

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2009, 01:02:34 PM »
Hi.  I'm a 2L at Mercer and would be happy to answer any questions you have about the school.  I have a "taking questions" thread here: http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,4017048.0.html.

Or feel free to PM me.

Summer associate positions in big firms are relatively competitive.  My best guess is that about 12-15% of the class was able to get a summer associate gig with full-time pay over $100K.  But a few summer offers were rescinded due to the economy (and almost all of the 3Ls headed to large firms in Atlanta have had their start dates delayed).  Smaller and mid-sized firms have fared much better in this economy.  From what I can tell, all the 2Ls and 3Ls with those jobs are secure.

The grade cutoff for interviews at most large firms is 25%, but realistically top 15% is a better "true" cutoff unless you have a background in hard sciences / engineering (and want to do IP work), or unless you CALI-ed (top grade in class) in a legal writing class, or unless you wrote-on to the Mercer Law Review.

Also, it's unfortunate that Mercer dropped into the third tier this year.  But we've been ranked in the top 100 ever since U.S. News began ranking the top 100 schools in 2003. http://www.prelawhandbook.com/law_school_rankings__2000_present.  I am confident that Mercer will be back in the top 100 within a few years.  Almost all data reported for the 2011 rankings is already "set" (surveys, LSAT, GPA, acceptance rate, employment #s, etc.), but the Dean has established a faculty-student committee to evaluate which ranking categories are lacking at Mercer and which can be improved.  Regardless, I wouldn't worry too much about yearly fluctuations in U.S. News rank--Mercer will still enjoy the same reputation in Georgia.  U.S. News rank is more important if the employer it far from Georgia and does not have a prior relationship with the school.

kingofcool

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2009, 02:12:17 PM »
Any reason why mercer dropped to t3?  I was pretty surprised to see that.

vap

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Re: What can you tell me about Mercer?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2009, 07:11:06 PM »
Any reason why mercer dropped to t3?  I was pretty surprised to see that.

The answer to this question is complicated and, at least in part, unknowable.  I know that sounds strange, but the U.S. News ranking methodology is a curious beast.  If you're interested, this is a really good article that explains the ins and outs of the U.S. News ranking: Theodore P. Seto, Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings, 60 SMU L. Rev. 493 (2007), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=937017.

Professor Seto's article is very thorough; excluding appendices, it's 77 pages.  I say that the cause for Mercer's drop is "unknowable" because the ranking of one school depends heavily on what other schools report.  And it's not as simple as comparing the numbers reported by School A and every other school.  One minute change to one school's numbers can greatly affect how other schools are ranked, with no control by the re-ranked school.  Thus, although a school can do everything within its power to increase its numbers, some things are out of the school's hands. 

Consider this excerpt from Professor Seto's article:

     I begin with my conclusions. First, U.S. News’ law school “ranks” are unreliable – that is, they are subject to significant random error. . . .
 
     The first conclusion can be illustrated by a simple example involving a change in the numbers of U.S. News's lowest-ranked school--which I will call the “bottom anchor” but otherwise leave unnamed. Assume that the reported nine-month employment rate for graduates of the bottom anchor falls by just one percentage point and nothing else changes at any school in the country. . . .

     As one might expect, nothing happens to the bottom anchor's overall score (by definition, zero) or rank (180th). But this tiny change wreaks havoc on the relative ranking of the top one hundred law schools. Seattle and San Francisco jump six ranks, Fordham jumps from 32nd to 27th, and Rutgers Camden, San Diego, and Indiana Indianapolis each jump four. Houston, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oregon, by contrast, each drop three ranks. Overall, forty-one of the top one hundred schools change rank. Fordham's dean gets a bonus. Fingers are pointed and voices raised at Houston. All because of a trivial change in the employment statistics of a single school far away in the spreadsheet. Stranger still, if the bottom anchor's nine-month employment rate falls an additional four percentage points (that is, a total of five percentage points)--and nothing else changes at any school in the country--most of these effects disappear, but the reordering moves into the Top Ten. University of California (UC) Berkeley and Virginia both drop from 8th to 9th place. At the other schools named above, it is as if nothing had ever happened.

     Prospective students, employers, and faculty members, reading that UC Berkeley and Virginia have dropped to 9th place, may decide to go elsewhere. Regents, trustees, and university presidents, reading that Seattle, San Francisco, and Fordham have advanced dramatically in the rankings, may record this accomplishment in the apparently responsible deans' performance evaluations. What the foregoing example suggests, however, is that basing decisions on this kind of difference or change in U.S. News ranks is unwarranted.

Id. at 509-10 (citations omitted) (emphasis added).


Although it's impossible to tell for sure why Mercer dropped out of the top 100 this year, one thing that probably had a negative impact was reporting the at-graduation employment rate.  Because of the bizarre way that this number fits into the rankings, many schools get a "boost" in the rankings by not reporting it.  To put it simply, a school benefits in the rankings by not reporting if it's at-graduation employment rates are more than 30% lower than it's 9-month employment rates.  To be exact, 64 schools (quite of few of which are in the top 100, including Georgia State), did not report at-graduation employment rates.  Mercer was one of 23 schools reporting the employment rate that may have been "hurt."  http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/05/rankings-malpractice.html.  There is, of course, a legitimate argument that schools should respond to the U.S. News survey as truthfully as possible, but many schools "game" the rankings in every imaginable way (I won't go into it right now, but trust me--there are many ways).  Mercer has attempted to report as truthfully as possible, but this reporting may have caused a dip in the rankings.  Maybe this will change, but maybe not.  Time will tell.