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Author Topic: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?  (Read 9003 times)

StonewallJacksonFan

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2010, 10:54:50 AM »
Thanks for the input simon.  I guess it makes me feel a little better.  But Richmond, Virginia overall is not a holly-roller city as many people come to believe or perceive it to be.  Agreed, there is a lot of bigots, inbreds and old money KKK legacy, but increasingly people from the NE are immigrating to Richmond for more job opportunities, milder climate, light traffic, higher real wages and reasonable cost of living.
I went to a northern college and University of Richmond undergrad class is probably 80% students from CT, NY, PA and NJ.  While in school most of these people fall in love with what Richmond has to offer and stay here for life.  All our friends here are from the NE and they fn love it (maybe because locals dont wanna be friends with us at all, lol).

Considering local reputation, I think you might be right that I should be looking out for what local people think is good.  Interestingly, when I told our friends I was applying to UVA, W&M and University of Richmond, everyone thought that University of Richmond was the best.  When I told them I was likely turning down UofR near full ride for W&M 25% scholarship they thought I was insane. When I told people that I got into W&M they also thought I was going there because I could not get into UofR.  So even though local reputation might differ from USNWR,  I want to find a good balance that would leverage both local reputation and national acclaim, since you never know what will happen years down the road and where one will end up.

Alamo

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2010, 07:04:26 AM »
Thanks for the input simon.  I guess it makes me feel a little better.  But Richmond, Virginia overall is not a holly-roller city as many people come to believe or perceive it to be.  Agreed, there is a lot of bigots, inbreds and old money KKK legacy, but increasingly people from the NE are immigrating to Richmond for more job opportunities, milder climate, light traffic, higher real wages and reasonable cost of living.
I went to a northern college and University of Richmond undergrad class is probably 80% students from CT, NY, PA and NJ.  While in school most of these people fall in love with what Richmond has to offer and stay here for life.  All our friends here are from the NE and they fn love it (maybe because locals dont wanna be friends with us at all, lol).

Considering local reputation, I think you might be right that I should be looking out for what local people think is good.  Interestingly, when I told our friends I was applying to UVA, W&M and University of Richmond, everyone thought that University of Richmond was the best.  When I told them I was likely turning down UofR near full ride for W&M 25% scholarship they thought I was insane. When I told people that I got into W&M they also thought I was going there because I could not get into UofR.  So even though local reputation might differ from USNWR,  I want to find a good balance that would leverage both local reputation and national acclaim, since you never know what will happen years down the road and where one will end up.

Do any of "your friends" know anything about the law?  UofR has a decent rep in the city (and not much of any rep outside it), but nobody who knows anything about law schools would mention it in the same sentence with UVA or W&M (other than "UVA & W&M are clearly superior to UofR.").  Perhaps these friends went to UofR, or know one or two people who went to the law school and "got a good job" (there are a lot of UofR grads at the top Richmond firms and clerking), or simply don't know anything about W&M or UVA.  But even in the city UofR does not compare to the other two schools (especially UVA). 

Also, the commute from Richmond to Williamsburg would definitely wear on you, and would hurt your chances of doing well at W&M.  Not saying it can't be done, but your schedule would be pretty brutal.

If you're really committed to Richmond, I'd take the full ride here, but realize that not many UofR grads get good jobs outside the city -- at least probably not anywhere a yankee type such as yourself would want to live.

Also, "inbred" is not the politically correct term; we prefer "person from a close family."
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

StonewallJacksonFan

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2010, 10:13:32 AM »
Alamo,

I understand what you are saying about "my friends".  Surely they do not know anything about law school rankings, prestige or work opportunities. UofR grads they know worked for public defender for 45k a year for three years and now run an unsuccessful criminal defense firm (apparently they succumbed to the solo practice movement, lol). Opening the firm was a sign of desperation, but for non-law people it is looking like they are really moving up in the world. One of those UofR grads was on a full ride...  That is why I am going for W&M.  It is a 55 mile commute, but it is open road/no snow/no traffic kind of deal, so it will be a 50 min door-to-door commute.  Not great and it will not be easy, but do you think 1 h 40 min a day commute vs probably 1 h average commute for off-campus law students really impact my grades? I have bought textbooks used for 1L Fall classes and will start reading them immediately, along with annotated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Hopefully it will help to do better...

Alamo

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2010, 02:42:39 PM »
Sure, if you've got the work ethic and the right attitude, you can absolutely make it work.  It will just be brutal, particularly your first year, and it will make it harder to to extracurriculars, and harder to have a social life there, but having a social life in Richmond, you'll be fine.  And, around exam time, you'll probably be better off staying away from the chaos that envelops the 1Ls around campus. 
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

Thane Messinger

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 07:14:47 PM »
You really think so? For regular people who graduated from Bumfack State with BS in BS a JD degree is like an MD degree.  If they see a guy with JD applying for a job with a 4-year college degree requirement for them it will be like a famous neurosurgeon walking in and applying for a receptionist position.  They will be confused and likely decide it is a joke a mistake or an act of desperation from on overqualified person who will likely scram at first opportunity.  A lot of people from T2 and T3 come to realize that JD might be a huge liability when you cant find a good legal job and try to land a regular business world position.  That is why so many people actually take JD off their resume to assure a successful job search...


The responses are quite right.  As you state, the issue of "overqualification" applies when one seeks a position that wouldn't require the law license (which of course requires the law degree).   But unless that's the plan (in which case one might ask why they're going to law school in the first place), it's not likely to be a significant issue. 

The instances I've seen tend to involve JDs who cannot get law jobs, and who thus branch out to areas (often *any* area) where there's hiring.  Focusing in, say, offices dealing with contracts, etc., is likely to be a reasonably good fit, and thus there's not likely to be a major issue with overqualification.  Many seek governmental positions, which tend to accept all comers, and tend to have positions requiring a wider variety of graduate degree.  Another possibility I've seen is in academics, usually in staff positions in which a professional degree is a general plus.  Even so, the issue is often supply/demand more than qualification.

The more important question might be one that seems simplistic:  What is the *real* desire?  If it's to become an attorney, then there's the answer.  Clearly the ranking of school and performance in exams will make a big difference, especially in this market, but those are really not the right questions.  If one truly wants to go to law school, then law school is the answer.  If one is going for reasons other than a true desire, even if they hit top 5% grades in a Top 5 school, they're almost certain to be miserable.  Miserable and well-paid, perhaps, but miserable nonetheless.  If one does want to learn the law, then a far wider range of options opens up, and any number of positions can be quite comfortable.  The happiest lawyers I've known tend not to be in the jobs we lust after in law school.

The issue of debt is, for many, a deciding point, but even in your case, with an antipated nearly-debt-free graduation, that really shouldn't be the deciding factor.  After all, if one could get a degree with a full scholarship in basket-weaving, what good is that unless one really wants to weave baskets?

Likewise, trying to time markets is notoriously chancy.  Yes, it's likely that the markets will recover, but in the nearest real historical parallel (the early 1990s, into which I graduated), it took many years for hiring to correct.  Graduates in the mid-1990s still felt the effects, and the overall result was an even higher tightening of the rank/grade requirements.  (One came from a Yalie graduating in 1995, some three years after the official recession had ended.)  Also, the comment about firms' changing hiring is quite right, as the hiring model has been all-but-unsustainable for some time.  We might well thus be seeing a permanent change in the patterns employed by firms, which is likely to increase, not decrease, the pressure for grads, at least in the near term. 

In short, the question (and answers) are good--one should go into this process with eyes wide open--but the question of which school/should I go/etc. are subsidiary to the one true question of whether one absolutely, positively wants to become a lawyer.

StonewallJacksonFan

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 07:55:09 PM »
Thane,

I understand what you are saying.  I do want to go to law school and become a lawyer.  I have expensive options in T10-T30 range and much less expensive options in T70s.  The bottoms line is that I am looking to get a good legal job upon graduation.  In case I do not get a good legal job I  would like to work in accounting for a while to be able to pay my mortgage and save for my kids' college.  If I go for an average accounting job with JD on my resume, they wil lquestion my commitment for industry and qualification level (they might feel I am hard up for cash and will quit any chance I get).  That is the summary of my dillemma.  I understand that is not easy and might have many alternative solutions.

Contract2008

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2010, 11:29:25 PM »
Thane,

I understand what you are saying.  I do want to go to law school and become a lawyer.  I have expensive options in T10-T30 range and much less expensive options in T70s.  The bottoms line is that I am looking to get a good legal job upon graduation.  In case I do not get a good legal job I  would like to work in accounting for a while to be able to pay my mortgage and save for my kids' college.  If I go for an average accounting job with JD on my resume, they wil lquestion my commitment for industry and qualification level (they might feel I am hard up for cash and will quit any chance I get).  That is the summary of my dillemma.  I understand that is not easy and might have many alternative solutions.

If your options with T10-T30 include Top 14 such as Duke and Cornell, you should definately go to one of those.

Thane Messinger

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2010, 02:26:17 AM »
Thane,

I understand what you are saying.  I do want to go to law school and become a lawyer.  I have expensive options in T10-T30 range and much less expensive options in T70s.  The bottoms line is that I am looking to get a good legal job upon graduation.  In case I do not get a good legal job I  would like to work in accounting for a while to be able to pay my mortgage and save for my kids' college.  If I go for an average accounting job with JD on my resume, they wil lquestion my commitment for industry and qualification level (they might feel I am hard up for cash and will quit any chance I get).  That is the summary of my dillemma.  I understand that is not easy and might have many alternative solutions.

Stonewall -

Indeed it is a dilemma, as there's no easy calculus.  While some will protest that there's no question but to go to the best law school one can get into, the very real issue of cost makes that a dicey proposition, depending upon other factors and especially depending upon personal factors.

Disclaimer:  what follows ia a bit of heresy, as what most think of as a ranking system (in the form of a linear assginment of prestige, value, job-getting-ability, etc.) is that only in the most superficial sense.  If that's the way ranking is used in a personal decision, it's likely to lead to a bad decision if that's all that's used and if other factors should be of significant importance.

Among those factors is a consideration of where one wants to live.  (As in live for the rest of one's life, or at least for most of one's life.)  If one is certain to want to live in, say, the mid-Atlantic, then what is nominally a difference between a West Coast #20 and a mid-Atlantic #50 is almost a wash.  Indeed, it can be easier in some ways from the lower-ranked school, especially if one is a top-placed student there as compared to the higher-ranked school.  (While hardly a certainty, there is a modest chance that that's what will happen.)  If, conversely, one wants to "get outta' Dodge," then numbers take on a greater importance--but are *still* likely to determine one's initial (and final) resting place, except at the top schools.

Grades are, without question, a prime determinant.  A top-5%'er is likely to have opportunities anywhere, while a top-15%'er will likely have *far* more opportunities at the higher-ranked school.  The dropoff, especially now, can be dizzying.

Also to money:  the higher the school, the better the chances to recoup money in school and after.  This ties directly with grades, of course, but the key is twofold: the grade requirements rise *steeply* with each notch lower in ranking.  And they disappear pretty quickly except for the top handful of students (in numbers, not percentages) at all but the top schools.

State schools are, as a whole, a much better deal, although state schools have become rather more expensive of late.  (When I write "better deal," this means as between public/private schools within a few notches of each other.  Do NOT believe that a private school is "better" just because it's private.)  Also, while Duke and Cornell are certainly schools to consider, they're not schools to consider because of their names (or at least not just because of their names).  Any school in the top 14 or thereabouts is going to provide a significant boost to a larger percentage of its student body, and one Hell of a morale boost when getting that Yes letter.  So, don't look at School #11 as different from School #14--or at least not based on ranking.  That's not the way it works.  Within a half-dozen places, other factors are more important.

I hope this helps,

Thane.

StonewallJacksonFan

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2010, 11:34:20 PM »
Gotcha - I am still pending in Duke btw - bad fn sign, but right now my real choices are University of Richmond and College of William and Mary, of which I am planning to pick W&M.

reez

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Re: T1 non T20 Law Schools - Worth it?
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2010, 06:44:36 AM »
If one is certain to want to live in, say, the mid-Atlantic, then what is nominally a difference between a West Coast #20 and a mid-Atlantic #50 is almost a wash.  Indeed, it can be easier in some ways from the lower-ranked school, especially if one is a top-placed student there as compared to the higher-ranked school.  (While hardly a certainty, there is a modest chance that that's what will happen.) 

I had thoughts about pretty much everything you said, but I'll just respond to this:   no.

I go to a T20, and I know a number of people who had 170s, and a number of people who had 164s.  Six points on the LSAT is a lot, right?  That's the difference between #20 and #50, in your case.

Anyway, trust me on this:  just, no.  You could probably say "modest chance" if you decided to go to a Tier 4.  You can't say "modest chance" with anything less than a 15 point LSAT swing.  1) The LSAT is mostly horseshit; 2) four months of studying for an exam, plus all the little vagaries on law school tests, levels the playing field in spades.

I'm not saying don't go to the #50.  I'm just saying don't go there thinking you have any variety of a leg up on anybody.