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Author Topic: Student v. School  (Read 3440 times)

Thane Messinger

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 05:33:57 PM »
I'm pretty sure I spent about 250k+ to go to law school.  Some was loans, some was earnings, some savings.  I didn't live well at all.  Figure $50k/yr for tuition+ fees, 21,000/yr for a crappy, tiny apartment near school, $6k/yr for a crappy, tiny apartment near the summer job, $3k/yr for travel expenses (flying to interviews, going from school city to job city etc) and you are up to ~$80k x 3 = $240,000 before you buy any food, books, local transport, clothes, etc.


And to think I was criticized for bringing up "a quarter of a million dollars!" as the wake-up prior to deciding whether or not to embark on law school and a legal career.   = :   )

Is it worth it?  Usually . . . for the right person and with the right approach in law school and then in practice.  It can be hugely lurative, whether or not one is a star (to start), but with the wrong (and distressingly common) approach it can also be depressingly bad, even without the inane qualities mentioned in the article.

Can it be done for less?  Sure.  But even then, with opportunity costs and the many risks, this is well worth pondering.

bigs5068

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2011, 07:23:10 PM »
If you are going to an ELITE school you worrying about the debt probably does not matter much. If you are going to a the 98th best school or something the odds of a Biglaw coming your way are minimal. I believe for those who actually get hired the average salary might be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70k. That 70k is going to get taxed and you are going to have bills to pay rent, food, transportation, etc. If you have a 160k loan hovering over your head that is accruing 8% interest you are going to be paying for a piece of paper the same way you would a house. It might take you 25 years to pay off and if you are going through all that to go the 98th best school instead of the 112th then it probably is not a smart decision. At a T14 school the opportunities for Big Law and getting a lucrative job are much higher and maybe the extra cost is worth it.

You went to UT, BikePilot Harvard, Morten Lund Yale, Nearlic Georgetown. Those are OUTSTANDING where the job prospects are much better. There are roughly 200 ABA schools and if my math is right only 7% can be in the T14. The rest of the 93% of schools do not have outstanding prospects granted tier 1 still does better than tier 4, but outside of that paying all that extra money to go to Santa Clara or USF opposed to GGU at half the cost just seems silly to me. Or going to Stetson instead of FIU. Attending New York Law School opposed to CUNY. The list could go on and if you can get a tier 4 degree for 50k opposed to a tier 2 degree for 150k in my opinion it is worth it.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 11:39:59 PM »
If you are going to an ELITE school you worrying about the debt probably does not matter much. If you are going to a the 98th best school or something the odds of a Biglaw coming your way are minimal. I believe for those who actually get hired the average salary might be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70k. That 70k is going to get taxed and you are going to have bills to pay rent, food, transportation, etc. If you have a 160k loan hovering over your head that is accruing 8% interest you are going to be paying for a piece of paper the same way you would a house. It might take you 25 years to pay off and if you are going through all that to go the 98th best school instead of the 112th then it probably is not a smart decision. At a T14 school the opportunities for Big Law and getting a lucrative job are much higher and maybe the extra cost is worth it.


Bigs & All -

The caution is not whether school x is good or bad, right or wrong, cheap or not. As you state, there are a number of variables to cost-effectiveness, the school and first-year performance chief among them.  The danger is that we don't often truly focus on the "cost" part of that equation, especially in the unreal world of student loans.

The caution is that nearly all law schools are expensive, and going to any law school is extremely so.  This calculus applies to all.  Not that we shouldn't go--as most of us should--but there are many for whom law school is a default "choice."  If mom and dad are paying (which was certainly not the case for me), congratulations!  But it can still be the wrong choice.

The options for an inexpensive education pretty much involve a state school or scholarships (which often involve a trade-off itself), plus free housing and maybe even free food.  (See "mom and dad," above.)  Even a relative bargain such as UT, in-state, is now at a cost that I could not then have afforded, were the rates today (even adjusted for inflation) applied then. 

The University of Michigan led the way, discovering that setting its tuition at the rate of its Ivy-covered brethren and plowing that money into building a world-class program . . . worked.  Everyone else learned this lesson too, which with ABA mandates has raised the tuition bar everywhere.

So, it seems a bit dangerous to assume that the option is between Top 14 at a very high cost or somewhere below at a modest cost.  There really isn't any such thing.  Even the economical MSL is more expensive than I paid (again even adjusting for inflation).  I wonder whether I would have considered my options differently had I not had the option of a nearly-free education (with scholarships in years 2-3).

Even at a public school, in-state with scholarships but also factoring in opportunity costs and living expenses (whether frugal or extravagant) and you're WELL over $50,000.  Opportunity costs alone--hidden but no less real--add at least another $100,000 . . . above and beyond tuition.  (Yes, that's redundant, but if I were looking at law school today I'd hope there would be someone to nag me a bit about such things.  = :  )

Thane.

bigs5068

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2011, 02:15:36 PM »


So, it seems a bit dangerous to assume that the option is between Top 14 at a very high cost or somewhere below at a modest cost.  There really isn't any such thing.  Even the economical MSL is more expensive than I paid (again even adjusting for inflation).  I wonder whether I would have considered my options differently had I not had the option of a nearly-free education (with scholarships in years 2-3).

Thane.

I agree with everything you said, but I don't think you understood my point. I think there is no question you should go to a T14 if you have the chance period. There are varying degrees of schools, but considering there are 200 ABA schools and only 25% of them are tier 1 it leaves 75% of law students in the tier 2,3,4 range. Many students will take on 80k more in debt or move across the country to go to a tier 3 instead of a tier 4. That is just not smart and 75% of incoming students will be facing this same dilemma in the next few months. I was going to go to Michigan State and pay 60k more in tuition and live in a state where I have no connections and have no desire to live. The only reason I was going to go was because it was tier 3 wow. Nobody would have cared Michigan State was tier 3. Maybe it does fine in Michigan, but I have no desire to live there and from what I understand Michigan is really not doing to hot. On the other hand I have a million friends in San Francisco and my fiance's family had a house I could live in rent free. There was no logical reason for me to go to Michigan, but in my idiotic mind I thought going to a tier 3 was worth taking on 60k more in tuition god knows how much more I would have had to take out in living expenses considering I am living rent free right now. Not to mention I would have been in freaking Michigan in subzero temperatures I am a California kid and the weather alone would have killed me.

I am not the first and I will not be the last student to make that kind of decision based on U.S. News ridiculous rankings outside of the top 25 or so schools. I see it on lawschoolnumbers.com all the time and people that want to live in Spokane will go to a tier 2 in Florida instead of attending Gonzaga, which is in Spokane. Anyways, the point of the rant is that there are some great schools, but when you start getting to the tier 2,3,4 schools you should take the things below into account first.

1) Location this is the most important if you want to live in L.A. and are choosing between 2,3,4 schools then go to school in L.A. Southwestern, Chapman, some of the other mediocre schools in L.A. Don't go off to FIU because it is tier 3 instead of Southwestern, which I believe is tier 4. You can get a job in L.A. from Southwestern you get a job in Miami from FIU. Odds are most people in L.A. have never heard of FIU and most people in Miami have never heard of Southwestern. Saying you went to a tier 3 will not impress anybody either.

2) Once you find the location you want to live in consider the cost. If you want to be in New York and you can choose between CUNY & New York Law school go to CUNY they are roughly equal in prestige and far behind Columbia, NYU, and Fordham. CUNY will be 60-70k cheaper in tuition costs. If you go to NYLS you can will have paid 70k more to say you went to a tier 3 school instead of a tier 4. Remember tier 3 or tier 4 does not impress anyone. Being the 112th or 134th will make no difference to anyone.

3) Specific Courses or Clinics: If you are the type of person that knows exactly what they want to do. If you 100% know you want to be a D.A. then look for a school that has extensive courses in criminal law. If you really want to be a corporate business type guy then it might be best to attend a school that has a J.D/MBA program.

4) After those things then you can consider rankings. If everything else is equal then yea attend a tier 3 over a tier 4 why not, but it should be one of the last considerations you have if you are not attending an elite school. If you can go to a top school then by all means go. If you are dead set on attending a tier 2 for no other reason other than it is tier 2 and you our willing to spend far more money than you want to live somewhere you do not want to live so you can say you attend a tier 2 instead of a tier 4 that makes more financial & geographical sense then don't do it at least in my opinion.

Wow that was quite a rant and I have completely derailed the original post.  :)

Thane Messinger

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2011, 03:56:44 PM »
I agree with everything you said, but I don't think you understood my point. I think there is no question you should go to a T14 if you have the chance period. There are varying degrees of schools, but considering there are 200 ABA schools and only 25% of them are tier 1 it leaves 75% of law students in the tier 2,3,4 range. Many students will take on 80k more in debt or move across the country to go to a tier 3 instead of a tier 4. That is just not smart and 75% of incoming students will be facing this same dilemma in the next few months. I was going to go to Michigan State and pay 60k more in tuition and live in a state where I have no connections and have no desire to live. The only reason I was going to go was because it was tier 3 wow. Nobody would have cared Michigan State was tier 3. Maybe it does fine in Michigan, but I have no desire to live there and from what I understand Michigan is really not doing to hot. On the other hand I have a million friends in San Francisco and my fiance's family had a house I could live in rent free. There was no logical reason for me to go to Michigan, but in my idiotic mind I thought going to a tier 3 was worth taking on 60k more in tuition god knows how much more I would have had to take out in living expenses considering I am living rent free right now. Not to mention I would have been in freaking Michigan in subzero temperatures I am a California kid and the weather alone would have killed me.


Quite right, bigs, and an important point for anyone considering law school.  Below the top schools (top 14 really, more than just top tier), for most employers anything outside their normal hiring pattern (i.e., their feeder schools) becomes a blob. 

Thus, it is crucial to consider factors beyond the rankings.  (I do disagree, somewhat, with the on-going criticisms of rankings.  They...the rankings...are valid.  But they're not useful in the way many use them.)  Ah, humans.

= :   )

PS:  Juan Doria made just this point in his at-times hilarious book, Slacker's Guide to Law School.  I believe it was someone from Alabama going to Iowa, 'cause they had sent him a pretty brochure.  (Before anyone gets mad, Iowa has an excellent program.)

bigs5068

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2011, 04:24:16 PM »
I agree with you and I have no problem with the rankings up to 25 maybe 50. 60% of it is based on lawyers/judges nationwide checking a box of Excellent, Very Good, Good, marginal. I imagine most lawyers judges have experience with people from the top 25 maybe 50 schools. They can be objective on this and determine that what Georgetown did in this year is better than what Penn did. They are on the radar and these schools are worried about innovation really not so much their ranking.

Schools like GGU, Gonzaga, FIU, Southwestern, Stetson, Williamette, I could go on forever have no national recognition. I imagine most people reading this list of schools have no idea where they are located. So how can these judges/lawyers objectively rank them? They are not elite and there is no way any of those schools will be on the same level as the Ivy Leagues. Unfortunately, these schools put more emphasis on doing things to boost their ranking opposed to properly educating their students. The one low ranked school that does not do this is Valpraiso and I have met 4 law graduates from there and they are all awesome. Not to mention one of the top sports agents in America went there. This is because it seems like they focus on educating their students and could care less about U.S. News. This is because they are never going to impress them so why waste the time.

I will throw in the sports analogy again and the NCAA ranks the top 25 teams in all big-time sports. This makes sense there are elite programs, but if two teams outside of the top 25 play eachother it is anybody's guess who will win or who really has the better team. If San Jose State was ranked 73rd and they played University of Idaho ranked 54 I would not bet my life savings on Idaho. If U.S. News made it honor to be ranked and capped it at the top 25 like the NCAA I would have no problem with it. The system makes no sense when you really get down look at it there is a 13 way tie for 93rd place does that make any sense? In my mind it doesn't. Make it an honor to make the list and within the top 25 maybe 50 you can objectively move from within there. The rest of the schools are just not going to get to that level anytime soon. They are still good schools, but as I stated over 75% of students cannot go to the top 50 schools. This is based on 200 schools and only 50 tier 1 schools. The students at the other 150 schools are concerned about rankings. We hired our dean in hopes that she could get us to tier 3. People in my class about that all the time and it is like who the f***k cares. Tier 3 or tier 4 or tier 2 whatever nobody should be fighting and making huge decisions to hopefully be in 112th place. Especially when the rating system really does not make any sense outside of the top 50 schools. There are 13 way ties for 93rd place. I think there is a 7 way tie for 73 or something it is just based on nothing. This is because a lawyer or judge in Miami can make no objective decision about Chapman in L.A. They will check the box and 60% of the school's ranking will be based on that.

So bottom line is I have no problem with the rankings going up to 25 maybe 50, but after that just get rid of it. I remember when I was applying Chapman made it from tier 4 to tier 3. It was plastered over their website they had achieved it 112th place! It was not our graduates have gone on to do so and so. It was not we have created a strong clinical program or created some type of new course. It  was not even we had the highest bar passage rate in the state. Instead top thing on their site was we moved from 136th place to 112th. That was their big achievement and I honestly don't know where Chapman is now. I would not be shocked if it was tier 2 or tier 4 because the system makes no sense in two years a school can go from tier 2 to tier 4 or vice versa. Again, this is because the ranking system for schools outside of the top 50 makes no sense.

However, as you said Humans  :)

barond

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2011, 01:17:45 PM »
Back to the loan issue, remember for a moment that lawyers represent clients all the time that are indigent claimants who feel somehow cheated by the big, bad corporation.  Such as unemployed person who is getting forclosed for not paying his mortgage.  The lawyer takes the case and brings an action against the bank for lender liability, fraud, conspiracy, distress, etc.  Or an injured person who was negligent in the car accident, but still wants to be a claimant against the insurance company.

So, why should the schools immunize students and be bulletproof when a law student wants to be a claimant against his former higher learning institution for misrepresentation, duress, fraudulent concealment, etc?

bigs5068

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2011, 04:30:23 PM »
I don't think law students count as indigents. At any ABA school the student when they come in have a college degree and did reasonably well. Then they got LOR's from bosses and professors saying they are competent people. Then the incoming student writes a personal statement about how competent, motivated, and essentially great they are. Often these statements talk about how they can overcome adversity blah blah. The school allows a few of these people in and then gives them an education. It might be overpriced, but nobody has a gun to anyone's head to attend law school. They choose to take the loans out and many students simply do not work at all during law school and do nothing to minimize their debt. They live someway decently for three years without working for one day. Living on borrowed money catches up to you.

To top it off not every single graduate does not find a job. In fact I would say roughly 60% at any ABA school even tier 4's find something and maybe 40% at tier 4's do not. If 60% of people in the same exact situation are figuring it out maybe it is a problem with the student and not the school. When people sit around and complain when there is a remedy to their situation "FIND A JOB" I get frustrated. I know plenty of graduates from even my tier 4 that are working and plenty that are not. From what I know of the ones that have found jobs I am not surprised and the ones that would sit on the internet all class and f***k around did not find jobs. Law is a competitive industry and if you are the type of person that sits around and complains about how unfair it is well then you would be doing that no matter what happens.

The schools are overcharging and I would love it if Congress passed something that required school's to explain their expenditures. The ABA does require schools to publish the total amount spent on their libraries so that is a step in the right direction. You can see it on any school's ABA law school data website. Majority of them spent roughly 1,000,000 annually. However, they make way more than that in tuition. 30,000 x 500 annually = 15 million dollars. If 1/15 is spent on library resources where does the rest go?  I would love it if school's were required to explain their expenditures and disclose professor's and adminstrator salaries. Just a detailed account of where the money goes especially when a school like mine calls themselves "non-profit". If they are collecting 15 million annually the floors should be made of 24k gold. However, students including myself agree to these terms and my reason was I want to be a lawyer. I took scholarship money and keep my debt down and I am paying roughly 9k a year, which I think is fair for what I am getting.

The bottom line for this guys original suit is that he is wasting his time by doing this. First by filing a lawsuit against your school you are pissing people off and employers are going to think I am not going to hire a guy that sues his school, because odds are he will sue us for something. Not to mention the amount of time, money, etc he is taking away from finding a job by taking no accountability for himself. The reality is he entered into a contract and to get into whatever school it was he did all kinds of things to prove he was competent. It sounds like he even passed the bar so he is not a moron, but his behavior indicates immaturity and lack of accountability, which is probably the real reason he does could not find a job.

.Chuck

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2011, 06:47:43 PM »

So bottom line is I have no problem with the rankings going up to 25 maybe 50, but after that just get rid of it.


Unfortunately US News doesn't agree with your position and is contemplating stirring the already scalding pot even more by expanding the numerical rankings deeper into the low tiers.

Statement made two days ago by the US News guy in charge of the rankings:

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-rankings-blog/2011/01/13/us-news-challenges-aba-on-law-school-employment-data-standards.html

Quote
In another very important law school rankings issue, at my AALS  convention session, "U.S.  News Rankings: An Inside Look into the U.S. News Law  School Rankings," I said that U.S. News   is considering  expanding the number of law schools we numerically rank   for the new Best  Law Schools rankings coming out in mid-March 2011. We   are contemplating  numerically ranking the top 75 percent of all the   law schools, or  around the top 150 law schools. Currently, we   numerically rank around  the top 50 percent of law schools, or top 100.   This would mean the  current schools that are in Tier 3 would be   numerically ranked, instead  of being  listed alphabetically as they are   now.
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bigs5068

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Re: Student v. School
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2011, 07:12:17 PM »
That is a great article I love their reasoning. ABA statistics are really done poorly and we are are going to continue using those stats.  To remedy the poor stats the ABA uses we are going to rank the top 150 schools. We have bogus data that these schools are providing and do not want to go into more any depth regarding actual numbers. Instead everything will be better if by using these inflated stats we arbitrarily place numbers on schools the people making the rankings have never heard of. This will really be a great way for schools to really manipulate their stats and not focus on education to obtain the stellar honor of being ranked 149th! This will get more incoming and current students to buy the magazine so that students from 150 law schools can say see look our school is not that bad. A private and unregulated magazine that in this article expressly said they used bad statistics says we are not as bad as those other schools. U.S. News sure knows how to generate revenue without doing any work so I got to respect them for that.