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jajamoo

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Worth Going to Law School If...
« on: May 04, 2011, 03:04:45 PM »
Looking for some advice to see if it's worth the plunge. Any advice would be helpful.

Because of not giving a bunnies the first few years of Undergrad, I ended up with a 2.61 UGPA (from a pretty small liberal arts university as a History major) and my LSAT score was just plain mediocre (150s). I applied to a bunch of law schools but due to my pretty awful GPA and very average LSAT score, I have a choice: I can go to either Appalachian School of Law or Florida Coastal School of Law. Now, the thing is, my dad put aside over $200k for my education before he passed away, so I will be pretty much debt free if I go to law school, wherever or if I go.

But is it worth it? I have heard some awful things about FCSL and I know Appalachian is down there, too. So, should I go get a law degree, even if it is in a bad place, if I"ll be debt free? If I do go, should I go in thinking of transferring? What are the chances of going from T4 to a good T1 school (or T14 even). I've heard that you shouldn't go into law school expecting to transfer out. I've been reading that it's crazy difficult (have to be top %5 or better coming from a T4) to get to a T1 school but I would be willing to put in the time and effort.

Any advice would be great, thanks.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2011, 03:13:35 PM »
Depends.  Do you really, really want to be an attorney?  If so, then you just have to go to law school.

If you do well, you can transfer.  I would be ready to stay where you are, though.  So, if you can live with your school, you can have transfer as a goal.  Just be aware that a lot of things can happen that will make transfer difficult or impossible.

If you're not sure you want to be an attorney, use that education money to pursue something you really like.

That's pretty much all there is to this story.

bigs5068

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2011, 03:53:21 PM »
Well in regards to transferring it probably won't happen. This is not an insult to you, but every student at any ABA school is pretty smart and motivated and on the first day everyone is certain they will put in the work and be in the top 10%. When 100% of people think they will be in the top 10% you don't need to be a math major to understand 90% will be incorrect.

FCSL & Appalachian are not phenomenal schools, but they are ABA approved institutions and if you graduate and pass the bar you are a lawyer. I think the main issue with Appalachian is that it is literally in the middle of nowhere. FCSL is in Jacksonville and there are no law schools in Jacksonville, but is a larger town so there might be some opportunities.

Also realize that at every ABA law school you learn literally the same thing. You read supreme court cases and the Supreme Court does not real special editions for T14 students to study. No matter what ABA school you attend you will take Civil Procedure, Torts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Property, Contracts, and LR&W in your first year. In Civil Procedure whether you go to Harvard or Appalachian you will read International Shoe, Pennoyer v. Neff learn about personal & subject matter jurisdiction etc. In Torts you will read the firecracker subway case I think Pelsgraff is the name of it and learn negligence, intentional torts, etc.  In Criminal Law you learn the McNaughten Rule for insanity and the list goes on and on. These famous cases are written the same no matter what law school you attend and all ABA law schools are required to have a nearly identical first year curriculum.

Don't listen to the rankings they are written by a for-profit magaizne that the ABA, AALS, LSAC, and every legal organization discredits. The reason for this is their methodology consists of this. They send out scantrons to judges & lawyers across the country who check a scantron of 1-5. A judge in L.A. who has never been to Jacksonville or met anyone from FCSL decides they are a 2 and that is your ranking. Then based on this ranking schools become tied for 84th place in the most recent ranking everything is at least in a 5 way tie and my personal favorite was a 12 way tie for 84th place. You can see the absurdity directly from U.S. news and the 12 way ties etc. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4.  This article from LSAC does a pretty good of explaining the whole system. http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf

So bottom line don't worry about the rankings or what a "good: school is. FCSL is not Harvard and I am sure you already knew that. Now as FalconJimmy said the real question is whether or not you want to be a lawyer. If the answer to that basic question is yes then go to law school. ABA schools are all accredited by the ABA, which is not a perfect system itself, but whether or not you pass the bar & and are in good standing with the bar is much more important to your legal career than what a private, unregulated, magazine thinks of a particular school. If you attend FCSL or Appalachian you will have an ABA law degree and you can be a lawyer. You have a 0% chance of being a lawyer without going to law school.

There are worse ways to spend 200k than getting a law degree. There can also be better ways to spend it, but as FalconJimmy said the real question is whether or not you want to be a lawyer. If the answer to that question is yes and you have 200k and been accepted then I would say go for it. If the answer is I am not sure if I want to be a lawyer then you should work as a paralegal in a law firm somewhere and see if it really appeals to you.

You can also retake the LSAT if you want and if you are in Florida getting into FIU is much cheaper than FCSL and the admission requirements are not that much higher. It is a tough decision, but disregard the ridiculous things you read on the internet. Sites like JDunderground etc are so off base it is not even funny. When someone takes the time to b***h about how unfair everything is the reason everything is so unfair is because they would b***h about anything. There are people that will complain all day and all night and sadly many law students fall into this category, but if you put the work in and can handle a few rejections along the way you can have a successful legal career no matter what ABA school you go to.

Sorry for the long rant, but hopefully something in there was helpful.




jajamoo

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2011, 04:18:51 PM »
Well in regards to transferring it probably won't happen. This is not an insult to you, but every student at any ABA school is pretty smart and motivated and on the first day everyone is certain they will put in the work and be in the top 10%. When 100% of people think they will be in the top 10% you don't need to be a math major to understand 90% will be incorrect.

FCSL & Appalachian are not phenomenal schools, but they are ABA approved institutions and if you graduate and pass the bar you are a lawyer. I think the main issue with Appalachian is that it is literally in the middle of nowhere. FCSL is in Jacksonville and there are no law schools in Jacksonville, but is a larger town so there might be some opportunities.

Also realize that at every ABA law school you learn literally the same thing. You read supreme court cases and the Supreme Court does not real special editions for T14 students to study. No matter what ABA school you attend you will take Civil Procedure, Torts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Property, Contracts, and LR&W in your first year. In Civil Procedure whether you go to Harvard or Appalachian you will read International Shoe, Pennoyer v. Neff learn about personal & subject matter jurisdiction etc. In Torts you will read the firecracker subway case I think Pelsgraff is the name of it and learn negligence, intentional torts, etc.  In Criminal Law you learn the McNaughten Rule for insanity and the list goes on and on. These famous cases are written the same no matter what law school you attend and all ABA law schools are required to have a nearly identical first year curriculum.

Don't listen to the rankings they are written by a for-profit magaizne that the ABA, AALS, LSAC, and every legal organization discredits. The reason for this is their methodology consists of this. They send out scantrons to judges & lawyers across the country who check a scantron of 1-5. A judge in L.A. who has never been to Jacksonville or met anyone from FCSL decides they are a 2 and that is your ranking. Then based on this ranking schools become tied for 84th place in the most recent ranking everything is at least in a 5 way tie and my personal favorite was a 12 way tie for 84th place. You can see the absurdity directly from U.S. news and the 12 way ties etc. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4.  This article from LSAC does a pretty good of explaining the whole system. http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf

So bottom line don't worry about the rankings or what a "good: school is. FCSL is not Harvard and I am sure you already knew that. Now as FalconJimmy said the real question is whether or not you want to be a lawyer. If the answer to that basic question is yes then go to law school. ABA schools are all accredited by the ABA, which is not a perfect system itself, but whether or not you pass the bar & and are in good standing with the bar is much more important to your legal career than what a private, unregulated, magazine thinks of a particular school. If you attend FCSL or Appalachian you will have an ABA law degree and you can be a lawyer. You have a 0% chance of being a lawyer without going to law school.

There are worse ways to spend 200k than getting a law degree. There can also be better ways to spend it, but as FalconJimmy said the real question is whether or not you want to be a lawyer. If the answer to that question is yes and you have 200k and been accepted then I would say go for it. If the answer is I am not sure if I want to be a lawyer then you should work as a paralegal in a law firm somewhere and see if it really appeals to you.

You can also retake the LSAT if you want and if you are in Florida getting into FIU is much cheaper than FCSL and the admission requirements are not that much higher. It is a tough decision, but disregard the ridiculous things you read on the internet. Sites like JDunderground etc are so off base it is not even funny. When someone takes the time to b***h about how unfair everything is the reason everything is so unfair is because they would b***h about anything. There are people that will complain all day and all night and sadly many law students fall into this category, but if you put the work in and can handle a few rejections along the way you can have a successful legal career no matter what ABA school you go to.

Sorry for the long rant, but hopefully something in there was helpful.

No offense taken, Biggs, I've got thick skin. The answer is yes, I do want to be a lawyer. The only thing that really has been giving me cold feet is all the stuff I've been reading about the abysmal prospects for jobs, even for graduates of really top notch schools. I've read the different law school scam blogs and even lurked around in the JDUnderground site (those guys are really depressing) and I keep wondering that if even lawyers from great to decent schools aren't finding jobs, what hope would I have for coming out of a place like ASL or FCSL? I am indeed willing to put in time and effort to study and network, I just don't want all that effort to be for naught.

Either way, thanks for the advice,  bigs, I"ll hop on this site to see what others have to say as well.

bigs5068

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2011, 05:03:40 PM »
Getting started in any career is difficult. When you graduate with a B.A or B.S. in any field people don't generally flock to you. Even getting started in the medical field or nursing field is difficult finding a job sucks no matter what you are doing. Many law students particular ones that come straight from undergrad don't understand this. So they get a B.A. then go to law school and never hold any kind of job. Then nobody is flocking to them and they actually have to put in work to build a career. Instead of starting from the bottom up which you have to do in any profession they go and complain on an internet site and this is how sites like JDunderground get started.

Also realize a J.D. is a LONG-TERM investment. When you graduate & pass the bar you will be a lawyer for the rest of your life. No matter what school you attend if you practice law for 20 years you will know what you are doing. Getting experience is difficult, but that is true in every single profession and you will have to look for work, but it can be found.

The reason sites like JDunderground are so uncredible is that they take absolutely no accountability for themselves. They went to the 102nd best school finished in the middle of the class and nobody was at graduation dying to sign them to 100k a year contracts. So instead of going out and actually applying for jobs or taking initiative they complain about how unfair the system is. The reality is no matter what field you go into getting started is hard. Law school is no different.

I have said this on this website and in life generally, but if anyone does know of some degree that I can get that guarantees me a job at graduation where I get paid exorbitant amounts of money, my boss does not expect to do anything I don't feel like doing, and everything I do is fascinating and enjoyable every second of the day please let me know. As far as I know it doesn't exist and whether you want to be a mechanic, lawyer, doctor, teacher, psychologist, etc you will have to go pay your dues at the beginning. Many law students don't realize this and expect things to be handed to them, but that is just not going to happen. You have to put the work in to build a legal career just like anything else.

Cher1300

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 07:38:49 PM »
I have to say I agree completely biggs!  I'll be going to law school part-time evenings in the fall to a tier 4, but I don't care because I'm older and just plan on a private practice.  I've been in the working world now for over 20 years and I know how important it is to network and bring as much experience to the table as possible.

I hear many people complain about the "world" not getting them a job and sadly, these same people will never ask, "what can I do better to get that job?"   As a director of a department, I've interviewed plenty of college grads who have maintained a 4.0 blah, blah, blah, but there was no work history, intership, or any other type of experience to let me know they can handle a job.  I don't care what type of job you've had, as long as I see that you can maintain one.   Sadly, I think parents are coddling their kids a bit too much.  It's okay to work part-time while you're in school.  I did and I still found time to get good grades and party.

The other problem I've found is people aren't willing to start at entry level.  If you have no work experience, you're not going to be making six figures a year on your first job - no matter what the profession - unless you graduate from Harvard Law School.   Just get in somewhere!  If you are like what you do and have a good attitude, you will advance.   

Hamilton

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 11:06:49 AM »
With all due respect - and I have addressed this with Bigs - you falsely claim folks expect the world to hand them a job, that they are unwilling to work to find a job, or that they are unwilling to start at the bottom.  Not true.  It may give comfort to people going to a T4 and hearing these employment horror stories, but it is simply not true.  The job market is tough.  You can bang on all of the doors you want, but if the jobs are not there, or they are being filled by T1 or T2 grads, all of the persistence and hard work in the world will not get you hired.  Folks discussinig the dismal job prospects are not whining that they were not handed a job on a silver platter, they are relaying the facts of their experiences.

What do they teach in law school?  Go on facts and information or go with feelings and opinions that help your case?


I have to say I agree completely biggs!  I'll be going to law school part-time evenings in the fall to a tier 4, but I don't care because I'm older and just plan on a private practice.  I've been in the working world now for over 20 years and I know how important it is to network and bring as much experience to the table as possible.

I hear many people complain about the "world" not getting them a job and sadly, these same people will never ask, "what can I do better to get that job?"   As a director of a department, I've interviewed plenty of college grads who have maintained a 4.0 blah, blah, blah, but there was no work history, intership, or any other type of experience to let me know they can handle a job.  I don't care what type of job you've had, as long as I see that you can maintain one.   Sadly, I think parents are coddling their kids a bit too much.  It's okay to work part-time while you're in school.  I did and I still found time to get good grades and party.

The other problem I've found is people aren't willing to start at entry level.  If you have no work experience, you're not going to be making six figures a year on your first job - no matter what the profession - unless you graduate from Harvard Law School.   Just get in somewhere!  If you are like what you do and have a good attitude, you will advance.

Cher1300

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 07:33:47 PM »
Hamilton, I absolutely agree that the job market is tough.  I'm not saying it's not and this is not a feeling.  What I have found in the working world is people are not willing to take a job for less than a certain amount of money no matter how long they have been out of work.   People will ask me all the time if there is a position available where I work.  When I tell them yes, and they find out it pays, say $14 per hour, they are not interested.  Even if they've been out of work for over two years, and had move back in with their parents, they can't see past the $14 an hour.  They just don't see it as an opportunity to get their foot in the door somewhere.  I'll typically hear, "I was making $40,000 at my old job" when they don't realize that companies are cutting back salaries in addition to jobs!!  Instead they'll stay unemployed and complain and keep telling me how much they need a job.

As far as the legal profession, I'm also very aware that the market is dismal especially if you are a tier 3 or tier 4 grad, but everyone has individual goals.  As an attorney, you can start working out of your home and put yourself on the public defenders list if you can't find a job.  It may not be what you want to do and it may not pay much in the beginning, but what else can you do?  At least you'll be out there meeting and working with other attorneys who may help you get a job in the future.   In addition, you can volunteer time or intern at other firms to learn what you need to learn.  That's what happened to my attorney friend who lost her job in Ohio as a real estate attorney in 2008.  She was let go after only six months because the market was about to take a dive.   What seemed like a horror story has turned into a successful solo practice.  She didn't make much money in the beginning, but when she decided to go to law school, there was no recession in sight. 

My point is, you never know what's going to happen when you graduate.  You could have a job for a year and be let go.  There is no such thing as job security no matter where you graduate from.  If I had to wait tables and work a few hours for free at a firm to get experience to help support my solo practice because I couldn't find a job to help pay my student loans, then I would do it. 

bigs5068

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Re: Worth Going to Law School If...
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 08:56:26 PM »
There are jobs everywhere just look at Craigslist the most basic of searches and you will find employment opportunities in fact hundreds of opportunities posted everyday. Now does it suck to look for a job? Yes. Will you get rejected multiple times while looking for a job? Yes. Can you find a job? Yes.

I attend a tier 4 school and a lot of my classmates do not have jobs for their 2L summer and a lot do. This goes to show that finding employment especially from a tier 4 has a lot more to do with the individual than the school. For my part I applied to roughly 1,000 jobs over the course of the year and had 30 interviews so that is 970 flat out rejections on paper, but still 30 interviews. I went on 30 interviews and ended up with 8 job offers 22 more rejections. So that means 992 of my 1,000 applications were for nothing, but I ended up with 8 job offers. I spent a lot of time doing this and getting rejected sucks, but it happens and you have to deal with it when finding a job. This type of success rate does not only apply to law school when I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice & a Paralegal Certificate from a no-name state school to my shock employers were not all over me. When I was 22 I really did think employers would be all over me at graduation, but as it turns out there are millions of people with Bachelor's degrees and I had to find work. As a broke unemployed recent college graduate I looked for jobs 8 weeks straight and was in a coffee shop from 9am-7pm at a coffee shop applying for jobs. I was rejected numerous times, but I again ended up with several job offers.

Point being finding work sucks it always has and always will it is just part of life. Now with that whole rant Hamilton if I recall you attended Cooley, which is in Michigan and although I have never been there as I understand it the economy for everything in Michigan is DISMAL. The GLOBAL recession hit Michigan hard and it did not only impact lawyers it impacted everyone.  So in your situation because of your location your points may be valid and their might not be any jobs, but maybe it is because Michigan is doing terribly and not because of Cooley's low ranking.

Just to continue my rant I imagine Michigan and the entire Countries economy will turn around and the legal market as well as everything other market will improve. When that happens your J.D. & bar passage will open doors for you. That is the beauty of education it is a life-long investment and if you passed the bar & have a J.D. you can be a lawyer 10 years down the road.