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Author Topic: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice  (Read 1920 times)

NValk

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Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« on: August 23, 2009, 06:06:59 AM »
I am interested in becoming a public defender and was wondering what importance does the law school's ranking have in getting a job as a public defender. I am comparing a school that is #39 and #85. Will going to the #85 school (Santa Clara) hamper my chances in getting a job?

dischord

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 11:12:11 AM »
Go to the one in the region where you want to practice.

FWIW I interned at an urban PD office this summer and the attorneys were half split between people with ties to the area who went to T10 schools, and people who came from the various local schools (of which there were a number).  There was no one who went to a lower-ranked school outside the region.
At least I can f-ing think.

Remarq

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 11:34:52 AM »
Focus on keeping your debt down, PD's dont make jack. The new federal loan repayment helps a lot, but you still want to have as little debt as possible when you're thinking about a job that pays 30K.

Changed Name

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2009, 11:45:38 AM »
I am interested in becoming a public defender and was wondering what importance does the law school's ranking have in getting a job as a public defender. I am comparing a school that is #39 and #85. Will going to the #85 school (Santa Clara) hamper my chances in getting a job?


On the flip-side, you may want to consider the possibility that once you get to law school that you may change your mind or realize that you do NOT want to be a PD.  I can't tell you the number of law students who enter law school with the idea that they are going to be X-type of lawyer, but after being there a short time, they either realize that (1) the work is nothing like they imagined or (2) that they find something more interesting.

If this were to be the case (that you change your mind), you'd probably want to be at a school that would open more possibilities to you than not.  I mean, for instance, what if you realize in law school that you don't want to be a PD but want to work for a big law firm?  At that point, it probably would have been better to go the higher-ranked school.

Just something to consider...

big - fat - box

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 08:15:23 PM »
There isn't going to be a substantial difference in job prospects from a school like Hastings vs. Santa Clara. Neither is going to place that many grads from each class in big firms or any kind of job that is very competitive to get. The only difference in placement will be among the very top students, like those in the top 10-15% of the class. What I'm saying is especially true given the state of the economy and big firm hiring for the foreseeable future.

PD jobs in California are very competitive to get. And they pay a lot more than $30K. California DAs and PDs are among the highest paid in the country.

If you are pondering taking a scholarship at Santa Clara, vs. paying CA resident tuition consider this: if the Santa Clara scholarship is tied to 1L performance, there is a very good chance you won't keep it after 1L. So when comparing debt load between the schools you should compare it as if you'll lose the scholarship after 1L.

Maybe is right in that you need ties to the area + top national school or a degree from a school in the same state in order to get a PD job. Exceptions exist, but they are rare.


gzl

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2009, 11:20:33 PM »
There isn't going to be a substantial difference in job prospects from a school like Hastings vs. Santa Clara. Neither is going to place that many grads from each class in big firms or any kind of job that is very competitive to get. The only difference in placement will be among the very top students, like those in the top 10-15% of the class. What I'm saying is especially true given the state of the economy and big firm hiring for the foreseeable future.

PD jobs in California are very competitive to get. And they pay a lot more than $30K. California DAs and PDs are among the highest paid in the country.

If you are pondering taking a scholarship at Santa Clara, vs. paying CA resident tuition consider this: if the Santa Clara scholarship is tied to 1L performance, there is a very good chance you won't keep it after 1L. So when comparing debt load between the schools you should compare it as if you'll lose the scholarship after 1L.

Maybe is right in that you need ties to the area + top national school or a degree from a school in the same state in order to get a PD job. Exceptions exist, but they are rare.



This is a perfect example of why you need to look beyond rankings.  Santa Clara has a very close-knit alumni community, and they more than look out for their own.  Within silicon valley especially Santa Clara grads get placed in positions they have no "business" being in, if you're going by the school's ranking alone.  If you're looking at firm law within northern california, S.C. isn't a bad choice.  Not quite as good for PD work though, as that's not where their alumni connections are.  Hastings, on the other hand, has a local reputation for graduating kick-a@@ trial attourneys, largely because of their VERY good moot court teams and training.  Both can get you into positions that anyone looking at their raw rankings alone would be surprised by.

big - fat - box

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 09:19:25 AM »
Gonzo, are you aware that moot court teams compete against each other by going through mock appellate cases? There is no trial in an appellate case. Everything is argued from the record that the trial court made, there are NO witnesses, etc. Moot court isn't going to help you become a trial lawyer.

Also, trial lawyers learn to be trial lawyers on the job, not in law school. There are "mock trial" teams but what they do is usually pretty overdramatic and removed from reality. Like I said, you learn on the job, not in law school.

Alchemy Prep

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2009, 05:42:57 PM »
I agree in-part and disagree in-part with what has been written above. 

Generally speaking, if you finish in the top half of your class at Hastings, your chances for obtaining a decent job will be substantially greater than coming from Santa Clara.

That said, in this market, jobs will be scarce regardless.  If you are able to trim the debt load as much as posisble by choosing one school over the other, take that into slightly greater consideraiton than you might ordinarily.

Best,

Kris
www.alchemyprep.com

gzl

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Re: Importance of Law School Ranking for Criminal Justice
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2009, 02:50:55 AM »
Gonzo, are you aware that moot court teams compete against each other by going through mock appellate cases? There is no trial in an appellate case. Everything is argued from the record that the trial court made, there are NO witnesses, etc. Moot court isn't going to help you become a trial lawyer.

Also, trial lawyers learn to be trial lawyers on the job, not in law school. There are "mock trial" teams but what they do is usually pretty overdramatic and removed from reality. Like I said, you learn on the job, not in law school.

Yes, I am aware of such.  I also am aware that they do have a local reputation for graduating very good trial attourneys,and for better or worse it's related to their moot court rep.  Thanks for the wonderful mix of condescension and pedantry though... been away from law classes just long enough that I'd almost lost that bad aftertaste in my mouth left by the lackwits.