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Author Topic: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?  (Read 20225 times)

marsius

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Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« on: August 03, 2009, 06:19:55 PM »
(I'm passing this question along for a friend)

A friend of mine is a 1L at Cooley and has okay, but not great, stats all around (Decent LSAT and UGPA, lured to Cooley by a scholarship, top 22%). With her numbers right now she's got a presumptive invite to Cooley's law review prereq (they make students take an additional writing class before they get on LR) and an invite to the moot court class. She was also admitted as a transfer to Michigan State University (T3).

MSU apparently isn't super nice to transfers. To do law review you need to participate in the write-on competition in the spring, and you can't even participate in that unless you have their two writing classes or get a waiver (which, if I understood her right, isn't available until after you're accepted). She's missed this year's competition, and apparently she can't do next year's because she'll only have a year left. She says that moot court is basically closed off as well.

She doesn't care where she gets a job, as long as she gets one. Cooley with law review would apparently do okay within Michigan, but, as I think we all are aware, the school isn't really respected outside of the Midwest.

What would you guys do if you were in her situation?

I tried breaking it down into a pro/con.

Staying at Cooley
Pros: Law review. Moot court. Decent placement in Michigan. So many people transfer out that her GPA (and rank) will probably shoot up next year.
Cons: It's probably the most derided T4 in the country. Little employment prospects outside of Michigan and almost zero outside of the midwest. Having to hide your diploma in shame.

Transferring to MSU
Pros: It's not Cooley. Has been on the rise since merging with MSU (I think it'll probably settle as a low T2, somewhere near DePaul). National name recognition.

Do you guys have any other thoughts? What would you do if you were in her situation? ???

big - fat - box

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2009, 06:44:51 PM »
Your friend should have applied to more schools. Class rank and 1L gpa are everything in the transfer process, it has nothing to do pre-law stats.

How much is the scholarship at Cooley for ?

As far as the law review/moot court thing at Cooley, do these classes mean your are automatically on LR or moot court afterwards? Or do they mean that you have to THEN write on/compete after you take the classes?

MSU is known for it's sports teams but that's not the same as being known for it's law school. MSU doesn't have good job prospects outside of MI and the midwest either.

Cooley isn't that respected in MI. Law review at Cooley might push her ahead of some other candidates for jobs in the midwest but I wouldn't think it would be a lock for anything b/c the economy is so bad in MI and the midwest right now. To top it off, top 22% is good, but really not that impressive to a lot of employers who are inundated with a ton of apps for what little positions are available. Don't forget we're talking Cooley here.

Your "friend" is in a really tough spot here. I don't think transferring to MSU would be a good idea unless the scholarship she has at Cooley is very small.

Here's what I would do:

1) See if there is a way to take a 1 year leave of absence from Cooley, then apply for transfer status at several other schools well in advance of the deadline. She'll have to call several schools and ask if they would go for this. Where does your friend have residency? If she has residency in a state that has a decent in-state law school(s), she needs to find out if she would be competitive for admission there. During her time off from school she should get a legal job of some sort, even if that means working as a paralegal or working in retail and doing an unpaid internship on the side.

2) Visit at another school during her final year of law school. This might be difficult. I do not know what Cooley's policy on visiting students is and she'd have to apply to visit. It isn't that hard to get accepted as a visiting student SOMEWHERE, the problem is always trying to coordinate it with your "home" law school. The goal should be to visit her third year at a reputable law school in an area of the country where the economy isn't as bad as in the midwest, where she could try to network for a post-grad job. A downside is that she would have to pay full sticker price for her third year. If Cooley does agree to it, she'd have to find some way to do her law review duties off site (assuming she gets on and Cooley allows that). Moot court would be out.

vansondon

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2009, 06:47:53 PM »
I would transfer to MSU.

marsius

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2009, 08:12:46 PM »
I would transfer to MSU.

I think I'd do MSU too (meant to put that in the original post).

Your friend should have applied to more schools. Class rank and 1L gpa are everything in the transfer process, it has nothing to do pre-law stats.

How much is the scholarship at Cooley for ?

As far as the law review/moot court thing at Cooley, do these classes mean your are automatically on LR or moot court afterwards? Or do they mean that you have to THEN write on/compete after you take the classes?

MSU is known for it's sports teams but that's not the same as being known for it's law school. MSU doesn't have good job prospects outside of MI and the midwest either.

Cooley isn't that respected in MI. Law review at Cooley might push her ahead of some other candidates for jobs in the midwest but I wouldn't think it would be a lock for anything b/c the economy is so bad in MI and the midwest right now. To top it off, top 22% is good, but really not that impressive to a lot of employers who are inundated with a ton of apps for what little positions are available. Don't forget we're talking Cooley here.

Your "friend" is in a really tough spot here. I don't think transferring to MSU would be a good idea unless the scholarship she has at Cooley is very small.

Here's what I would do:

1) See if there is a way to take a 1 year leave of absence from Cooley, then apply for transfer status at several other schools well in advance of the deadline. She'll have to call several schools and ask if they would go for this. Where does your friend have residency? If she has residency in a state that has a decent in-state law school(s), she needs to find out if she would be competitive for admission there. During her time off from school she should get a legal job of some sort, even if that means working as a paralegal or working in retail and doing an unpaid internship on the side.

2) Visit at another school during her final year of law school. This might be difficult. I do not know what Cooley's policy on visiting students is and she'd have to apply to visit. It isn't that hard to get accepted as a visiting student SOMEWHERE, the problem is always trying to coordinate it with your "home" law school. The goal should be to visit her third year at a reputable law school in an area of the country where the economy isn't as bad as in the midwest, where she could try to network for a post-grad job. A downside is that she would have to pay full sticker price for her third year. If Cooley does agree to it, she'd have to find some way to do her law review duties off site (assuming she gets on and Cooley allows that). Moot court would be out.

I included her prelaw stats because it's consistent with her 1L stats—good, not great. If I understand it correctly, being in the class is usually a guaranteed spot on LR. There's supposedly a grade requirement in that class but it sounds like just about everyone gets it.

I already suggested taking a leave of absence and visiting another school. She shot the first one down and apparently Cooley bans visiting, so the second is out too. Also, as for the residency issue—good question. She's Canadian but has dual citizenship, but I'm not sure what state she has residency in. I know that her parents are in Washington right now, but they're apparently planning to move back to the Great White North. She has made it clear, though, that she wants to work in the States.

You did, however, hit on two of my issues in trying to give her advice: 1) All things being the same, MSU likely has better job prospects, especially in a bad economy, but, in the grand scheme of things, MSU isn't really that much of a step up; and 2) though she'd be giving up a scholarship, I think it's only 25%, so MSU would only end up being about ~$10,000 more a year (she countered that her scholarship could jump to 50% depending on her grades in the next couple terms).

All the background info is just that—background. I agree that she should have applied to more schools (based on the transferapps yahoo group she could have had a decent shot at much of the lower T2), but it doesn't matter, because she is where she is.

She's made it sound like moot court and LR are a lock at Cooley and nonexistent for her at MSU. So the question is, would you stay at Cooley with LR, Moot Court, and a 25% scholarship, or would you jump ship to MSU and have none of that?

I personally lean towards transferring. MSU, no matter the quality of the school itself, doesn't have the stigma attached to its name that Cooley does. As a result, even if the early prospects suck, if she builds up a decent amount of experience, then her job prospects should pick up three years out or so. If she stays at Cooley, LR or not, she'll still always have that name on her resume, and I think that a lot of potential employers would refuse to give her a chance based solely on that. It seems like somewhat of a tossup to me, though, hence why I've brought the question to you guys.

Also, as an aside, as much as everyone loves the tongue-in-cheek "friend" routine, it's not a joke. I'm not trying to hide or pretend. I'm male, a US citizen, and am headed to a T1 in DC. She's female, has Canadian and US citizenship, and is trying to choose between East Lansing and Lansing. Sticking to that question would be nice.

big - fat - box

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2009, 09:43:36 PM »
It really is a tossup. Why is she unwilling to take a 1 year leave of absence? That would seem to be the best idea. It would give her an extra year to wait out the crap economy and also get a year of legal work experience. If she has dual citizenship, there is no work visa issue.

In a perfect world your friend would have gone to a Canadian law school, saved a load of dough, then gone to an American law school for a foreign lawyers' LLM if she wanted to work in the states.

Getting a continuing student scholarship at MSU isn't something to bank on. Especially with looming big $$$ debt and a crappy job outlook in the Midwest, MSU students are going to be really gunning for those.

No matter what your friend does, she would be wise to get out of the midwest for her 2L summer internship and make connections somewhere that will hire a fresh Cooley or MSU grad.

Ninja1

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vap

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 02:31:42 AM »
MSU easily.

http://www.law.com/img/nlj/charts/composite.pdf

I don't see how the NLJ placement stats (or the employment stats in general, excluding academic attrition and transfers) support choosing MSU.  MSU's 3% NLJ placement, compared to Cooley's 0%, doesn't justify the transfer, IMO. 

So the question is, would you stay at Cooley with LR, Moot Court, and a 25% scholarship, or would you jump ship to MSU and have none of that?

Cooley.  I think the $20K less debt, law review, and moot court turn the table on the lower reputation.  And this isn't even considering the unknown possibilities, all of which are unlikely at MSU: higher class rank due to transfers, law review editorial board, publishing note/comment, moot court board, high placement at moot court tournament, good references/letters from 1L professors, social networks gained through moot court / law review / 1L year.  Job prospects from both schools will not be great. 

MSU's marginally better employment prospects don't justify the jump, in my opinion.  At least with law review and moot court at Cooley, your friend has some credibility.  She'll be a nobody at MSU.  Better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than just another fish in a slightly larger pond.  If your friend was transferring to some random tier 2 or tier 1 school, the move would probably be worth it.  But I don't see the move being worth $20K, law review, and moot court.

marsius

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 02:44:48 AM »
MSU easily.

http://www.law.com/img/nlj/charts/composite.pdf

I don't see how the NLJ placement stats (or the employment stats in general, excluding academic attrition and transfers) support choosing MSU.  MSU's 3% NLJ placement, compared to Cooley's 0%, doesn't justify the transfer, IMO. 

So the question is, would you stay at Cooley with LR, Moot Court, and a 25% scholarship, or would you jump ship to MSU and have none of that?

Cooley.  I think the $20K less debt, law review, and moot court turn the table on the lower reputation.  And this isn't even considering the unknown possibilities, all of which are unlikely at MSU: higher class rank due to transfers, law review editorial board, publishing note/comment, moot court board, high placement at moot court tournament, good references/letters from 1L professors, social networks gained through moot court / law review / 1L year.  Job prospects from both schools will not be great. 

MSU's marginally better employment prospects don't justify the jump, in my opinion.  At least with law review and moot court at Cooley, your friend has some credibility.  She'll be a nobody at MSU.  Better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than just another fish in a slightly larger pond.  If your friend was transferring to some random tier 2 or tier 1 school, the move would probably be worth it.  But I don't see the move being worth $20K, law review, and moot court.

After learning more from her about MSU and transfer students, I'm beginning to swing this way too. I'm not sure that I'm convinced—I still have this worry that, in five years, when experience begins to eclipse education, having Cooley on her resume could be a game breaker—but I'm definitely torn on what to recommend.

The latest things I've learned: MSU doesn't allow transfer students to earn latin honors at graduation and, if her interpretation of the student handbook is correct, they don't allow transfer students to graduate with regular honors either (I'm iffier on whether this interpretation is correct). They also don't give transfer students an official rank (something about only allowing them to have an unofficial "comparison" ranking. Not sure if it would go on a transcript or not).

She met with MSU's Dean of Academics today and didn't come away feeling good about transferring but also didn't feel like he really had much information. I've encouraged her to set up a meeting with the woman in the admissions office who oversees transfers, as I figure that she may have better info and, perhaps, might be more willing to pull strings for things like moot court (if there are any strings to pull).

I've also encouraged her to set up meetings with a couple professors at Cooley. All of the advice that she's received from people with JDs so far has come from people who graduated from Cooley. I'm not sure that they provide the most unbiased advice. She's had a few professors that she really respected there, though, who come from more reputable schools (Illinois, Michigan, etc) and who, according to her, have a reputation of being very honest and upfront with potential transfer students (two of the four she's going to try to talk to have encouraged friends of hers to leave while encouraging others to stay, and the other two have a good reputation for this kind of stuff). Here's hoping she gets some good advice . . .

big - fat - box

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2009, 06:49:37 AM »
The no latin honors thing shouldn't be an issue. I've heard of other schools doing that. Although it kind of sucks, employers, especially ones outside the midwest will do fine with a gpa.

As far as "not ranking transfers" you need to get some clarification on that. When someone transfers to a new school to start 2L in the fall, they are not usually ranked by the new school. They must use their transcript from their old school along with a statement on their resume that says they've transferred when they look for 2L summer employment. If they have a class ranking from the old school, they can use that also for employment purposes. Then you get a transcript from the new school that says what classes you've enrolled in for the fall and spring and how many transfer credits credits were accepted. This lets employers know you aren't lying about the transfer to a new school.

Ranking at the new school (if the new school ranks at all - some schools do not rank students) doesn't happen until you've completed a full year at the new school. At that point, your gpa starts from scratch and the old grades from the old school are not factored in. You are still free to use (and should use) the 1L grades from the old school as a part of your transcript. Both the old school and the new school stay on your resume (new school on top) until graduation. At that point you decide whether or not you want to list the old school.





The latest things I've learned: MSU doesn't allow transfer students to earn latin honors at graduation and, if her interpretation of the student handbook is correct, they don't allow transfer students to graduate with regular honors either (I'm iffier on whether this interpretation is correct). They also don't give transfer students an official rank (something about only allowing them to have an unofficial "comparison" ranking. Not sure if it would go on a transcript or not).


oscar1

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Re: Cooley + Law Review/Moot Court/etc. or MSU with Nothing?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2009, 05:36:34 PM »
there is no reason a person should stay at Cooley if given the chance.

People in the top 5% of Cooley transferred to U of Illinois last year and were slammed at OCI because the had that on their resumes.