Law School Discussion

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Where Should I go???

University of Oregon
 1 (25%)
University of Denver
 3 (75%)

Total Members Voted: 4

Author Topic: University of Denver v. University of Oregon  (Read 4782 times)

sunshine09

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University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« on: March 19, 2011, 06:40:13 PM »
Where would be better DU or UO?  Taking the tuition difference out what would be the better option? I am interested in criminal, family, workplace and international law.  I know they are ranked very similar UO 79 and DU 77 this year after a few years of being tied.  The law firms have rated UO higher, the job placement and bar passage seem pretty close.   I have never been to Oregon and only been in Denver once a long time ago. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

bigs5068

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2011, 09:57:17 PM »
In all honestly the ranking for schools outside of the T14 schools are pointless. University of Denver will get you a job in Denver and University of Oregon will get you a job in Oregon. The U.S. News formula literally makes no sense and should not be taken seriously by the time you graduate it will be something completely different. This is literally the U.S. News system Judges/Lawyers across the country fill out a scan tron of Excellet, Very Good, Good, or Marginal. So a judge in Nebraska marks a scantron to rank University of Oregon yet this person will likely have never been to Oregon or meet anyone that attended or works at the law school. These scantrons make up 60% of U.S. News Rankings.

20% is employment within 9 months of graduation, which would make sense except U.S. News does not take the time to follow up with that the jobs are. For U.S. News purposes being a fry cook at McDonald's or Managing Partner at White & Case counts equally for employment purposes. Obviously all schools report people are employed even if they are working at unpaid internships at graduations. This website at least gives some numbers that define actual salaries of graduates which is worth checking out. Lawschooltransparency.com

Then 15% of the rankings are legitamite and based on LSAT Score and UGPA, but UGPA is manipulated as well, because a 4.0 in religous carries more weight for U.S. News purposes than a 3.2 in Molecular Biology though a 3.2 in molecular biology is much harder to achieve.

Selectivity is counted for 2.5.%, but yes even this is manipulated because schools will throw out fee waivers to anyone and everyone just so they can reject people.

The two things that literally cannot be manipulated by the schools and have some correlation to law school success the LSAT & Bar Passage make up 7% of the ranking. As a result of this idiotic ranking system put into place schools change drastically year to year. See University of San Francisco, which in 5 five years has gone from 72nd, to Tier 3, to 86, and is now in a 14 way tie for 93rd place. Nothing and I mean absolutley nothing improved or got worse over this 5 year period, but some judge in Maine check good instead of very good on the scantron one year.  For all these reasons the ABA and AALS adamantly tell you to disregard U.S. News rankings which is a for profit magazine offering a subjective opinion without any facts to back it up.

The point of that whole rant is to not take the rankings seriously at all, unless of course you are going to an ELITE school. Harvard is a GREAT school I knew that when I was 5 years old and I imagine you did as well. There is really no difference between Denver or Oregon they are both solid school and they will open doors locally. If you have no desire to live in Denver or Oregon then you should go to a school in the location you want to work in.

When choosing a law school these are the things to consider unless you are going to an ELITE school, which is T14. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, NYU, etc.

1. Location wherever attend school is where you are going to end up.
2. Cost law school is ridiculously expensive and if you are attending a mid-level school odds are you are not going to get a Big Law job at graduation and you can expect a starting salary of 60-70k, but you will be paying of 100K + of debt the more you can minimize that number the better.
3. If there is a specific area of law you are interested in check the school's course schedule to see what offerings they have. If you are interested in IP law and you do not see any courses in the schedule that have to do with this then it might not be a good fit.
4. Also visit the schools and see how you feel about them, each school has a very different feel and you are going to spend 3 years there and pay 100k plus to be there. It is a huge and I mean huge decision determining where you want to go to law.  If you have not visited either of these schools I highly recommend you do and e-mail students that have attended each school. If you go to the Nevada Bar website you can look up lawyers by the law school they went to and you can probably get some first hand feedback from people that actually attended the school.

http://www.nvbar.org/findalawyer.asp  You will really want to get first hand knowledge from people that actually attended the school. Most things on the internet regarding law school are written by people who have never taken the LSAT yet alone have any first hand knowledge regarding a particular school. I know nothing about either school other than University of Oregon has a good football team. This is why you should contact graduates and current students from both schools and most importantly of all visit them. Also please do not give any consideration to the U.S. News rankings if you are not going to attend an elite school.

FalconJimmy

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2011, 08:55:43 AM »
In all honestly the ranking for schools outside of the T14 schools are pointless. University of Denver will get you a job in Denver and University of Oregon will get you a job in Oregon.
 

+1 on this sentiment.  Though I don't necessarily agree on the complete dismissal of the rankings, I think the above quote is spot-on.  Your primary criteria for decision if you're talking about schools that far apart, should be where you want to live / practice.

bigs5068

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2011, 03:32:08 PM »
The rankings make some sense within the top 25 maybe top 50 schools, but outside of that nobody cares whether a school is the 89th or 102nd best. Especially when the rating system they use makes no sense. As described above. The reason the NCAA doesn't rank outside of the top 25 is because they can't even come close to making any meaningful ranking. Massive Controversy comes up when they are trying to pick 64 teams to make the NCAA tournament so they certainly couldn't distinguish between the 103rd and 114th best with any accuracy. Yet U.S. News using criteria that are nowhere near as objective as sports scores attempts to do it. The reason is they are not accountable to anyone they are not regulated, approved, or anything. They simply come up with a half ass formula and publish a magazine to make money.

Bottom line as I think we both said is if choosing between tier 2,3,4 school is go to school in the location you want to work in not what some unregulated magazine's subjective opinion is on what is the 73rd opposed to 79th best school

FalconJimmy

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2011, 04:51:05 PM »
... nobody cares whether a school is the 89th or 102nd best.

There, I agree with you.  I don't think the rankings are useful if you're using them to say, "Oh, look.  This one is #90.  This one is #70.  70 must be clearly superior."

What it does do, however, is group schools, generally.  There may be some exceptions, but the #30 ranked school probably is a better law school than the #90 ranked school. 

You can dismiss that part of the rankings are based solely on opinion, but frankly, opinion is going to play a part in the hiring process.

As for using LSAT and GPA, I can say that I have attended a few schools.  Progressively, each had a higher caliber student body than the previous.  What happens is that the classes move faster when it's clear that 90% of the class isn't lost.

Schools are businesses.  They can't afford to fail out 50% of the class, even if 50% of the class deserves to fail.  They need to keep butts in seats and collect tuition $$$.  So, the caliber of your fellow students determines, to a large degree, how fast the class can move along and how tough the curve is.

Especially when the rating system they use makes no sense.

There we can agree only to disagree.  Parts of it make less sense than other parts, but it makes sense.  It's clearly an imperfect instrument and should be treated as such. 

The reason the NCAA doesn't rank outside of the top 25 is because they can't even come close to making any meaningful ranking.

And yet, we have a perfect example of why this logic doesn't hold sway.  The NCAA basketball tournament is going on right now and bracket seeding is determining, to a large degree, the actual outcome of games.  It isn't predicting them with absolute precision, just as tne US News rankings don't determine law school rankings with absolute precision, but when ranking 64 basketball teams, most of whom have never played each other, it's not impossible to make some pretty good generalizations about them.

Massive Controversy comes up when they are trying to pick 64 teams to make the NCAA tournament

And yet, they did a pretty good job, don't you think?  The lower seeds in the tournament seldom surprise anybody.  So, arguing that some OTHER team should have taken the 66th spot really is sort of pointless don't you think?

so they certainly couldn't distinguish between the 103rd and 114th best with any accuracy. 

But could they tell you the 30 teams that are somewhere around 100th?  I think they could and their opinion would be good enough to make a decision on.

Yet U.S. News using criteria that are nowhere near as objective as sports scores attempts to do it.

GMAT?  GPA?  I mean, most schools use all the same teaching materials and have professors from all the same schools.  The only real difference is the students, don't you think?

The reason is they are not accountable to anyone they are not regulated, approved, or anything. They simply come up with a half ass formula and publish a magazine to make money.

If you're saying that they're full of crap because University of Michigan is arguably as good a law school as Stanford, I'm listening, and I think you have a point.  If you're saying they're full of crap because you think that Capital University is as good a school as University of Texas, I can only agree to disagree with you.

Bottom line as I think we both said is if choosing between tier 2,3,4 school is go to school in the location you want to work in not what some unregulated magazine's subjective opinion is on what is the 73rd opposed to 79th best school

I think we agree on far more than we disagree on.  I don't think the rankings are useful to make micro-delineations between schools.  If a person really thinks the #38 school is demonstrably better than the #33 ranked school based only on the rankings, I think a person needs to re-think.

When talking about two comparable schools, I'd say go with the one where you want to go to school.

However, I do think people at the 2T schools enjoy some advantages over people at the 3T and 4T schools.

As I've posted elsewhere, I'm a resident of Ohio.  Let's take an example of the city of Cleveland.  You have Case Western Reserve, Cleveland State, and if you stretch things a bit, you have Akron U.

Case is 2T at #61.  Akron is 3T at 127.  Cleveland State is 3T at 132.

Is Case better?  The ranking say so.  So do the OCI.  So do the placements in biglaw.  Case is monumentally more expensive, but frankly, if I had to chose and I could go to any of the 3, I'd go to Case. 

Again, does this mean Case is better than, say, #77 ranked University of Miami?  I would say, no, it isn't.  If you want to practice in Florida, or greater Miami, then Miami is the place to go.  If you want to practice in Cleveland, then Case is your choice. 

(Set aside that any no sane person would want to live in Cleveland if they could live in Miami.)

Again, I think we agree on more than we disagree on, but it appears that you think the rankings are meaningless outside the 1T.  I just disagree. 

Also, it's no secret that the school I will probably be going to is 4T, so trust me, I wish this weren't true.  I just don't believe in kidding yourself.

haus

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2011, 09:02:22 PM »
Falcon,

From reading past post by Bigs, one of his points about the ratings be of little value is based on a significant portion of the ratings being based upon reputation scores. Here we have lawyers/judges being asked to generate reputation schools off schools that they have little to know knowledge of.

Such as a judge in Oregon scoring comparing the reputation of Franklin Pierce and University of DC, when in reality he/she has likely never come across a lawyer from either school, much less be in a position to accurately compare and contrast.

bigs5068

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2011, 09:11:19 PM »
I agree with Falcon's points, and there is no doubt that the rankings can certainly distinguish between Harvard and Golden Gate. However, I did not need U.S. News to tell me that Harvard was better than Golden Gate. Is a tier 2 school much better than a tier 4? In all honesty I attend a tier 4 and could have transferred to a tier 2 Santa Clara or USFT and a tier 1 Hastings. I choose to negotiate for more scholarship money, because none of those schools including GGU can hold a candle to Stanford or Berkeley, which are the compietitors in the market. Not to mention the Bay Area is a desirable place to live and UCLA, USC, Harvard, NYU, Michigan, etc grads come here to work. What would I really get by paying 80K more to go to USF nobody is going to beg me to work for them if I attend Santa Clara, USF, Hastings, or GGU. So I might as well get out as cheaply as possible. This is particularly relevant because the basis of these rankings quite literally make no sense and the same professors teach at USF, Hastings, and GGU. Marc Greenberg, Peter Keane, Michael Zamperini, Jon Sylvester to name a few. You literally are getting the exact same education from these schools, but because some judge in Nebraska marked very good instead of good for Univeristy of San Francisco I would be paying 100k more. Had Stanford or Berkley let in I would be there, but I was only in the top 11% of the class and those two only take the top 5% for transfers or maybe they are more lenient, but they did want me in there halls. The other schools Santa Clara, USF, Hastings woudl have gladly taken my money so I could attend the 8th or 10th best school in the state.

FalconJimmy

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 11:48:41 AM »
Falcon,

From reading past post by Bigs, one of his points about the ratings be of little value is based on a significant portion of the ratings being based upon reputation scores. Here we have lawyers/judges being asked to generate reputation schools off schools that they have little to know knowledge of.

Such as a judge in Oregon scoring comparing the reputation of Franklin Pierce and University of DC, when in reality he/she has likely never come across a lawyer from either school, much less be in a position to accurately compare and contrast.

That's the part that's probably the squirreliest.  Seriously, at some point, people are saying Yale is better just because everybody says Yale is better.  There comes a point  where the logic becomes circular.

Still, if you're applying for a job, especially outside your region, those opinions matter.  Right or wrong, a person making a hiring decision is likely to think a certain way about a school just because most people think that way. 

Is there an element of unfairness to include opinion in the rankings?  Sure.  There's also an element of reality to it.

I think we all realize that getting a job in the law is highly competitive.  That means that for every position you apply for, there will be maybe dozens of other candidates who are nearly indistiguishable from you.  At that point, you need every advantage you can get.  Law review?  If you have a 4.0 from a 2T school and somebody else has a 3.0 from a 2T school, I don't see how law review is going to make a difference.

If you have a 3.4 from a 2T school and somebody else has a 3.3 and law review, that might put them over the top.

Schools?  We all know that students from some schools have advantages over students from other schools.  Where we disagree is that the advantage extends much beyond 1T.  Personally, I think it applies (to a lesser, but still significant degree) at the 2Ts. 

Though this conversation has me thinking and I am sort of leaning towards the belief that differentiating between 3T and 4T is probably sorta pointless.  Instead of ranking the 3T, it might be more realistic to just put everything below the 2T in one big alphabetized pool.  Really, I can't see a 3T student doing all that much better than a 4T student (though there are some 4T schools that have such a generally bad reputation that they're sort of in a world all to themselves.)

Also, if there's only one law school in your market, it's likely to be the dominant law school in terms of lawyers holding down important positions.  However, if there's more than one, I would say that a 2T is likely to have an advantage over 3Ts in the area.  (See Cleveland example above.)  There is one major caveat here, though:  that I doubt 3Ts and 4Ts are necessarily automatically excluded from the same opportunties as the 2T grads.  They just might need a higher class rank to qualify for the same jobs.  Ultimately, though, the same amount of work that would get you a top 20% rank at a 2T might be comparable to the amount of work it takes to get a top 10% at a 3T.  So, in a way, the school is utterly unimportant.    I'm starting to come around to the view that below a certain point, the choice of school absolutely doesn't matter.  Seems like the only difference is that I'm thinking this happens below somewhere near the 2t / 3t horizon.  Whereas big is thinking it happens below the 1t/2t horizon.  Again, we agree on far more than we disagree on.

jack24

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2011, 12:18:42 PM »
Yale is the best largely because Yale gets the best students.  If you look at U.S. News' criteria, it's nearly all at least partially driven by the quality of students they attract.  The system is circular because the "best" schools attract the best students, and the best students make it the best school.

I think it's funny how so many people discount the U.S. news rankings because they believe there isn't a real difference in the material the school's teach or the quality of education.  The top schools are the best place to find the best candidates because those law schools have already done most of the work to filter out the best candidates. 
Sure, there might be a brilliant student at Hofstra that could have excelled at NYU or Columbia, but most of the students at Hofstra are not as hard working or intelligent as the students at NYU or Columbia.  Employers know this so they recruit more heavily at those higher ranked schools.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard legal employers say,  "Your Resume looks great and you have all of the boxes checked, but the market is just so different now.  I get a ton of resumes every month and a lot of them are from IVY schools.  Unless you've clerked for us, there's no way we can chose someone from (my T2) over a top school.

I suppose that advantage is not consistent across the ranks.  The example above of Colorado vs. Denver is probably a good one.  That choice likely comes down to the market and the personal opinion of whoever is hiring.   I know for a fact though that T4s are at a huge disadvantage to just about everyone else.  I'm sure posters like Bigs will say that it all comes down to who you are and how hard/smart you work to get a good job, but that only holds true for exceptional workers. Everyone else is labeled as "people who whine instead of going out and finding a job."

I go to the top school in my market and only half of last years class had a job at graduation. 

FalconJimmy

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Re: University of Denver v. University of Oregon
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2011, 01:57:55 PM »
I go to the top school in my market and only half of last years class had a job at graduation.

Do you think this has something to do with the economy, though?  I mean, new grads of all stripes (both law and non-law) are having trouble finding jobs.  I wonder if perhaps the situation you describe has more to do with the economy than your school.

Totally agree with your post, though.

My anectdotal evidence may be grossly out of date, too.  In the 90s, I knew two women who ended up as biglaw associates at a big firm.  One of them was a gunner from day 1.  I knew her when she was in law school. 

The following is based on my limited universe of the cleveland market, but I think it could apply elsewhere.

She'd say things like, "You can only work biglaw if you go to case and do really well.  Otherwise, maybe they'll look at you if you go to Akron, but only if you're #1 in your class."

So, even then, she was acknowledging that there was a path to biglaw from 4T schools.  (Akron was 4T at the time.)

Once she worked for a while, though, she really changed her tune.  She indicated that her firm also picked up people from Cleveland State (which was either 3T or 4T.  I really don't remember.)  I think they still picked up the bulk of their new associates from Case, but there were enough people from "lesser" schools that she thought it was noteworthy.  At one point, I think she even said it wouldn't have mattered if she'd gone to CSU.

The overall impression I got was that yeah, you could get a job there from CSU, but that you'd better place really high in your class.

Again, somewhat validated by what you said, generally speaking the students at CWRU are better than the students at CSU.  If you take the same guy and put him at CWRU, maybe he is top 20%, but put him at CSU and he's maybe top 10%.  If you're the #1 student at CSU, there's a fair to middlin' chance that you might have been #1 at CWRU, too.  At a minimum, you probably would have been near the top.

I think firms that are hiring take this into account.  They aren't going to treat all schools equally, but they do look at people from most sorts of schools.  You just have to do a little better if your school is not as highly regarded.

These days, things are pretty bad all over, but I know that when I went to my school's preview day, they had some recent grads who had pretty good jobs.  I presume these people were the very top of the class.  Class sizes are small (maybe 100 students, maybe a few more), so to be in the top 10%, you pretty much have to be one of the 10 best students. 

However, there are jobs for those very top folks.  It's where folks are, say, down lower in rank that I think they're really, really struggling to find work.    Supply and demand.  Lots of grads, very few jobs.  So, the people with jobs can be very, very picky.

I also maybe am looking at this differently.  If the top 10% are getting good jobs (and by that, I mean six figure jobs), then that's pretty darned good.  If you took a typical guy who got a bachelor's degree, it's pretty unlikely they'll get a six figure job 3 years after graduation.  Chances are they'll be schlubbing around at something less than $50,000.  So, at a disparity that great, law school makes sense.

For those who graduate at the bottom of their class?  Yeah, I admit, I believe it when folks say that they're totally ****ed.  However, most degree programs are that way.  Some aren't, but most are.  If you graduate in the bottom of your class, your career isn't over, but you're going to have trouble finding a job and it probably won't pay well.

That's not law school's fault.  That's just the way things are.

Though, as an attorney, you can put up a web-site (I mean, how much does that cost, really?), open  up a family law practice and who knows.  Maybe after a few years, you'll be pulling down six figures, too.  Not hard to do if you're billing $150 an hour and $150 an hour isn't that high of a billing rate.

You might have to work long hours, but frankly, folks who make six figures usually do. 

I also think there's 4T and there's 4T.  Looking at Ohio schools, honestly, I mean no disrespect to anybody, but I don't think anybody thinks there's a whit of difference between CSU, U of Toledo and U of Akron Law.  I think they're all regarded as competent, not particularly remarkable, and just solid, state-supported law schools with rather forgiving admissions policies. 

I don't think anybody thinks of them as “great”, but I don't think anybody thinks of them as “bad” either.  They're “good”, solid, they teach you the law and get you ready to practice if you're willing to put in the work and you have some potential.  The top of the classes probably do very well.  The bottom of the classes probably not so much.

They all move around a lot between 3T and 4T.  Once in a while, one of them will crack the lower part of 2T.  (Toledo has been there a couple of times this century).  There seems to be a lot of movement and jockeying in the 3 and 4T. 

That tells me the rankings are highly imprecise when drawing distinctions between these schools.  You just can't take them too seriously if it's possible to be #98 one year, and in the hoard below #143 three years later.  Contrast to the T14, where the schools are the same every year. 

Now, some schools are in the 4T, always have been, and never will get out.  It's almost like they need a special 5T category, but really, what purpose would that serve?  Only a very naïve person would go to those schools thinking it was a great school, anyway.