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Author Topic: Best Law school or best school for you  (Read 1226 times)

smartandunique

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Best Law school or best school for you
« on: September 10, 2010, 08:07:48 PM »
Just curious-I live in a state that has 2 law schools.One school is a tier one and the other is a tier 3. For the tier 3 school I   would be in the 75th percentile- if accepted to the tier one school I'd barely be in the 25th percentile. I plan to stay in Iowa and was thinking even though U of Iowa is considered a better school I would be better off at Drake if accepted at both.
 Wouldn't it be better for me to attend a school where my numbers are stronger then attend a school where I'm already at a disadvantage?
I would appreciate all opinions

bigs5068

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 09:29:15 PM »
The LSAT score will mean absolutely nothing when you start school. People with 160's at my school were not in the top and people with 150's were. You should go to the best law school you can in the Location you want to live in. Unless there is significant scholarship money involved, I would imagine if you got into Iowa Drake is offering you a ton of money and that might be something to consider, but if you want to live in Iowa you should probably go to the best school you can in Iowa, which would be Iowa.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 06:39:21 AM »
Just curious-I live in a state that has 2 law schools.One school is a tier one and the other is a tier 3. For the tier 3 school I   would be in the 75th percentile- if accepted to the tier one school I'd barely be in the 25th percentile. I plan to stay in Iowa and was thinking even though U of Iowa is considered a better school I would be better off at Drake if accepted at both.
 Wouldn't it be better for me to attend a school where my numbers are stronger then attend a school where I'm already at a disadvantage?
I would appreciate all opinions

Dear Unique -

The right answer for you will be based in a number of conflicting factors, informed by your interests.  (This is not an empty statement.  Your "interests" can include family, financial, prestige, and so on.)  Yes, your chances at a top firm are likely to be much stronger at the Tier 1 school, Iowa.  On the other hand, personal and debt considerations shouldn't be completely discounted (as they too easily are). 

As to your point about competition once in law school, bigs is quite right . . . LSAT doesn't factor in (directly).  Still, your question is one not often raised . . . and it's a fair one.  The answer to this is more a question:  if you go to Iowa, are you prepared to work harder?

Hamilton

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 08:31:31 AM »
As i have said before, school ranking matters when it comes to landing interviews and getting a job - and that is not just for biglaw, it is for anylaw.  If you must go to law school, go to the higher tier and work your tail off.  Personally, I think the top 30-40% at any T3/4 would do just fine at a T1.  The real distinction for the T1s are that they do not admit the lower percentiles that the T3/4s do.  GENERALLY speaking.

bigs5068

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 11:55:06 AM »
The tier argument makes sense if OP wants to be in Iowa, which he does so Iowa would probably be the right choice. If he wanted to work in L.A. Loyola Marymount or Pepperdine would be better choices than Iowa despite it's higher ranking. Even with that said there is no way to know how it will turn out, it turns out differently for different people. I also think debt is a huge factor to consider. I would never give up my scholarship money at GGU to go to Santa Clara or USF. Those schools are 4th, 5th, and 6th in their own market. So why would I pay 60,000 more dollars to go to the 5th best school opposed to the 6th best in their own region. Stanford or Berkley I would give up my scholarship in a heartbeat, but as I said a million times once you go outside of the top 25 and maybe top 50 schools the U.S. News Ranking means basically nothing. That is based on my limited experience up this point though.


Hamilton

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 12:50:06 PM »
I'm not sure that is true regionally.  Folks still look at how LS stack against one another in a region, so by proxy those rankings matter.  I am in MI where there is clearly a pecking order observed when looking at the schools: obviously U of M stands alone at the top, next you have MSU, U of Detroit, and Wayne State running as a pack and generally seen as equivalent by firms, then you have Cooley which clearly stands alone as the bottom of the pecking order.  Fewer law schools in a state or region - matters less, but there is still a pecking order based on the tiers and rankings.  So to one extent, whether Wayne State ranks higher or lower than Michigan State matters less; however, comparing Wayne State to Cooley definitely matters.

BTW... what the heck is MI doing with 5 (8 counting Cooley's other campuses) law schools?  Declining population and one of nations top unemployment rates... madness

... but as I said a million times once you go outside of the top 25 and maybe top 50 schools the U.S. News Ranking means basically nothing. That is based on my limited experience up this point though.

jack24

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 01:22:33 PM »
Just curious-I live in a state that has 2 law schools.One school is a tier one and the other is a tier 3. For the tier 3 school I   would be in the 75th percentile- if accepted to the tier one school I'd barely be in the 25th percentile. I plan to stay in Iowa and was thinking even though U of Iowa is considered a better school I would be better off at Drake if accepted at both.
 Wouldn't it be better for me to attend a school where my numbers are stronger then attend a school where I'm already at a disadvantage?
I would appreciate all opinions

I faced a similar situation to yours a few years ago.  I don't know much about you, but all I can say is that if I could go back in time, I would have chosen a full scholarship at a T3 over basically no scholarship to a school ranked around 50.
Iowa is more respected than my school, but I'm sure there are some similarities.  If you are outside of the top 25% or so at my school, you have to do the majority of the job hunting on your own.  On campus interviews don't offer enough jobs for even the top half.  You are going to have to meet people and impress them with your personality and your resume.  Iowa will look better to most firms, no question, but the Iowa degree isn't a lock. 
Also, are you sure you want to work for a firm?  Maybe you'd rather work as a prosecutor or something else with a salary range of around 40,000-50,000 a year.  You may be able to accomplish a goal like that from a T3 and you wouldn't have any debt.

That being said, if a scholarship is not on the table, I would go to Iowa.  Your law school grades will be determined by a lot of things.  Raw intelligence isn't always the best indicator for future success.  If you are willing to work very hard, it's likely that you are smart enough to get a great class ranking at either school.

bigs5068

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2010, 02:00:03 PM »


I faced a similar situation to yours a few years ago.  I don't know much about you, but all I can say is that if I could go back in time, I would have chosen a full scholarship at a T3 over basically no scholarship to a school ranked around 50.
Iowa is more respected than my school, but I'm sure there are some similarities.  If you are outside of the top 25% or so at my school, you have to do the majority of the job hunting on your own.  On campus interviews don't offer enough jobs for even the top half.  You are going to have to meet people and impress them with your personality and your resume.  Iowa will look better to most firms, no question, but the Iowa degree isn't a lock. 

[/quote]

That seems to be the consensus I mean if you go to the 50th best school and finish in the top 10% you probably will have a great shot at a job through OCI or something, but there is a 90% chance you won't finish in the top 10%. There is a 50% chance you will finish in the bottom 50% of your class and nobody is going to jump through hoops to get the 272nd best student from the 48th best law school. It is a lot of times better to go to a lower ranked school and get out with less debt. That is my whole issue with the rankings is that it fools people into going to average schools in locations they do not want to live and paying a lot more to a school based on what some magazine's unregulated opinion is.

Hamilton your thing about Michigan does raise concern. I know usually defend tier 3's and 4's, but I think it is ridiculous that two mammoth law schools MSU and Cooley are in Lansing Michigan a town of about 100,000 people. Granted it is the capital, but it is the capital of a state that is dying and I thank god everyday that I ended up using my common sense and didn't go to a tier 3-maybe tier 2 now not sure MSU out there opposed to a tier 4 in a location that I wanted to live in. Anyways, I think the ABA should step in there, because there just should not be that many law students in Lansing.

I also noticed FCSL has 1,500 students, which seems a little outrageous for Jacksonville. For a lowly ranked school to be pumping out that many graduates raises some concern. My graduating class is only going to be about 200 people, which is a manageable number granted we are lower ranked, but it is not just handing out as many JD's as possible and flooding the market. I really the main thing the ABA should do is set a cap on how many student's a school can have and then a lot of the problems will stop. It will get more competitive for admissions, but I just saw some schools on this list-great foundation I laid there, but there were some schools that I was shocked by how many students they had. Particularly, considering they were in small towns and not highly regarded schools.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2010, 04:17:55 PM »
I'm not sure that is true regionally.  Folks still look at how LS stack against one another in a region, so by proxy those rankings matter.  I am in MI where there is clearly a pecking order observed when looking at the schools: obviously U of M stands alone at the top, next you have MSU, U of Detroit, and Wayne State running as a pack and generally seen as equivalent by firms, then you have Cooley which clearly stands alone as the bottom of the pecking order.  Fewer law schools in a state or region - matters less, but there is still a pecking order based on the tiers and rankings.  So to one extent, whether Wayne State ranks higher or lower than Michigan State matters less; however, comparing Wayne State to Cooley definitely matters.

There is merit in many of these (on-going) discussions, and given how severe the job market is now, these are hardly just academic concerns.

One way to rethink this is to reject the notion that rankings are linear, as they clearly appear to be when we talk of number 1 to number xx (much less, number xxx). 

Instead, think of rankings as extending above and across the nation.  With that in mind, think about how important locale is to you.  If you're comfortable and committed to an area, it hardly matters that y law school will get you more easily to the other side of the country.  (This doesn't mean you don't go to y.  Only that you don't go there for that reason.)

We'll never solve this rankings debate, and, yes, it does matter.  A lot.  Lawyers and firms are aware of rankings, often acutely so; they pay attention to those numbers that mean something to them.  (i.e., for a national firm, national rankings; for a regional firm, national + regional; etc.) 

Along the lines of teh adage that one cannot be too thin or too rich, it's foolish to reject.  But, as with anorexia, it is too possible to be too thin.  (Too rich? . . . we'll have many empirical takers to test the proposition.)   It can be equally foolish to put too much faith in numbers that might not mean what we think they do, to us.  While this is necessarily a numbers game, it is also very much a choice for each of us, individually.

Thane.

smartandunique

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Re: Best Law school or best school for you
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2010, 05:30:03 PM »
thanks for all the replies..I think I'd better off at Drake I just know that Iowa has a better reputation. I like living in DSM and I plan to either work for legal aid or the local govt in Des Moines. I just want to make the right choice for me.
I intend to work hard at any school I'm accepted to.