Law School Discussion

Belmont.... Risky?

Belmont.... Risky?
« on: November 10, 2011, 06:36:17 AM »
I am a TN resident and I would love to stay in state. My numbers aren't that great. I am 153 and 3.6. UT is a long shot and Vandy is out of the question. Nashville Law School isn't accredited and doesn't want to be. LMU is starting out and does't have any promising connections. Memphis is a big option for me right now. I am toying with the idea of Belmont. With the strong foundation of Belmont University it seems like the law school is going to go up. I was just wanting to get other opinions. This would be their 2nd class (I am applying for fall 2012) and they are applying for provisional in fall of 2012.
It seems like I am either going to get lucky and get in on the ground level of a successful law school or I am screwing myself over and limiting my options after graduation.
Anyone have any thoughts?

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2011, 06:06:08 PM »
I'm not sure going to Belmont would be screwing yourself.  What I've heard is they are tapping the music industry in Nashville- focusing on entertainment, copyright and the like.  Will their strat be successful?  Only time will tell that.  The tuition is horrifying, isn't it pushing 50k per year?

For such a big state there really aren't too many places to go for med or law, I feel your pain.  I've heard  bad things about LMU, btw.  I don't think they even have a market in Knoxville.  Will it be like Florida Coastal- rejected by its own town and a refuge for people from the mid Atlantic who don't do so well on the LSAT? Idk.

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 05:32:26 PM »
Belmont might be a decent choice. Having been to all their prospective-student-get-togethers last year, I was impressed with the dean and the other staff members that were hired, they seemed to be pretty sharp cookies. Forum posts tend to hold any start-up law school in pretty low esteem, but I think the difference with Belmont is the strength of their existing university...Belmont seems to know how to do things that are successful.

I was told their pioneer class had an average of 154 LSAT, and tuition is in the $32,000 range.

Having said all that (and no I'm not a staff member, but I have considered attending there), any start-up school is a risk: no guarantees of ABA approval, no law school alumni base to pull from. Not to mention that there may be a tendency to make classes harder just to prove to the ABA that they are worthy of approval. But of all the start-up or provisionally-approved law schools, and even some schools that have been around awhile, I think you could do a lot worse than Belmont.

Just my two-cents worth.

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2011, 07:52:54 AM »
Personally, I think it's a horrifically bad idea.

First, they're APPLYING for provisional.  They may not get it.  Your degree might not be worth the paper it's printed on.  "We're applying for accreditation" is the battle cry for pretty much every worthless school in America.  Many of them know darned well that they're not going to be accredited, but "we're applying" sounds a heck of a lot better than "we're not".

Second, newly accredited schools have to go a LOOOOONG time before they climb out of the cohort of schools that are considered the absolute worst in the country.  If you're lucky, 10 or 20 years after they get their actual accreditation, they'll be 3rd or 4th tier.  See if you can ring up some Texas Wesleyan grads and find out if they are glad they went there during the past 10 or 20 years while the school went through newly-accredited growing pains.

Now, I'm not saying that this means, necessarily, that the education you get will be bad.  Just explaining some realities, here.

I would look elsewhere.  Seriously.

Also, your GPA is awesome!  Why not re-take the LSAT?  There are a lot of fully accredited schools you could attend RIGHT NOW, and with a higher LSAT, the doors would be opened much wider.  Tennessee is a big ass place, and if you're willing to consider schools from the east tip to the west tip, including private schools, you could get to Chicago in the amount of time it takes you to drive from Memphis to Knoxville.  Pretty much everything from Ohio to MO to TX is within a day's drive of Memphis.  Why limit yourself to a very, very sketchy school in Memphis?

If you were my son, I'd go beyond advising you not to go to Belmont.  I'd tell you it's a genuinely bad idea and that if you do, it's going to be a huge mistake.  Go to one of the dozens of other schools that would have no problem accepting you.

Just my two cents.

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2011, 09:07:12 AM »
Jimmy, the only school in Memphis is Memphis.  Belmont is in Nashville, the diff is Memphis is horrible and Nashville is pretty cool.  If a regional school is what you can get, there are worse places than Nashville.  There aren't too many worse places then Memphis.

I see your points and I don't totally disagree, but there is a difference between a major university like Belmont and a sole start up like Florida Coastal (I didn't use Texas Wesleyan because I know nothing about that school).  If he/she wants to practice in TN, he/she is better off going to a school in state.  What I know of the Tn legal market is that they are, ironically (there are only 3 schools in such a big state and one of them is Vandy), unusually hostile to out of state grads.

Its very unlikely a school like Belmont wouldn't pass the accreditation protocol. UMass comes to mind as a comparison, it will be accredited almost certainly.  Students aren't taking as much of a risk as with, say a start-up sole law school like American Justice in KY (a for profit sole law school tragedy).

The law school infrequency in TN makes the decision more difficult.  I knew a guy from TN with a 162 and a 3.6 and he couldn't get into a single TN school, not any of the 3.  Belmont might be a better choice than an out of state school.  Too bad the OP can't do too much research into Belmont, which of course, is much of your point.

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 12:03:16 PM »
If he/she wants to practice in TN, he/she is better off going to a school in state.  What I know of the Tn legal market is that they are, ironically (there are only 3 schools in such a big state and one of them is Vandy), unusually hostile to out of state grads.

Yeah, very true.  That's always the big kicker, here.  Plus, if the school, itself, has a good reputation, then the law school, newly accredited or not, will get some of the benefit of the school's general reputation. 

It's just that so many of the reasons why you attend a school in an area you want to practice doesn't apply, here.  For example, let's take schools like Akron or Toledo.  If you're applying for a job in Los Angeles, it's hard to do worse.  Really.  However, if you're applying for a job in either Akron or Toledo, enough judges, senior partners, prosecutors, etc., have Akron and Toledo on their resumes that it isn't a hindrance at all.  Not sure if it's an advantage, versus, say, coming from Michigan or Penn, but it's not a disadvantage in those markets.

However, in the case of a newly accredited school, there AREN'T any senior partners, judges, prosecutors.  You're really building something out of whole cloth.  Being on the ground floor here is NOT good.  There is no advantage to being one of the first to graduate from a school and a whole lot of disadvantages.

If that's the only school he can get into in TN, then yeah, you're right.  However, I have to believe that there are other paths to practicing in TN.  Maybe folks from schools like Ole Miss do well in the TN market.  Not sure if that's true, but if there's a need for lawyers, they have to come from somewhere.

Anyway, sorry, I thought he said the school was in Memphis which, personally, I think is one of the most awesome cities in the country.  I'd live there in a heartbeat, but then I really love music.  (Which is also a great reason to live in Nashville as well.)  I don't think either place is a decision a person would regret.  Though, I do get the impression that Nashville is a lot more Jesus-ey.  If you're not a born again evangelical, you might find it a bit uncomfortable there.

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 03:38:10 PM »
Isn't Alberto Gonzales going to teach there next year?

I think retaking the LSAT is good advise. You have an excellent GPA and if you retake the LSAT you could go to Vandy or certainly east tenn.   If you just kind of reviewed a study guide before taking it like most people do, consider a full LSAT course, then you'll probably rock 160's easy. I can assure you that most people who are at tier 1 law schools didn't just wake up and make 170 on the LSAT, they put in several months of work. The LSAT isn't a difficult test, and if you put in the time to prepare you can do really well.

As for Belmont, I have heard good things about the university as a whole.  They are sick rich.  They are building a new building for the law school for a few million dollars etc.  They have a pretty rich alumni network also.  I don't think there is any real question that they will obtain ABA accreditation.  I think it is a fine option, not much more risky than east tenn probably.  But don't sell yourself short, if you want to go to a more prestigious university, put the work in and get there!

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2011, 06:19:46 PM »
I'm also in TN.  TN will allow Belmont students, like those from Nashville Law and LMU (not ABA-approved, but state accredited) sit for the TN bar.  I've also read "tales" that they are more likely to get the ABA nod than LMU was. 

I am considering going the CA bar route though, because I'm likely older than you are, have a family and must work fulltime.  Although, I am working in the legal field already, so I hope that will help.

If you have doubts about Belmont, and don't want to retake the LSAT, look into Applachian School of Law (though their tuition is 30k a year). 

Re: Belmont.... Risky?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2011, 01:19:51 PM »
Appalachian might be a little more risky, oddly.  Don't they have employment numbers under 50%?  What ABA school has the lowest employment numbers?  Appalachian or Liberty, would be my first guesses.  Are there Appalachian grads from five years ago who still don't have a job? Idk, but even LMU might be a better choice than Appalachian.

Appalachian is one of say ten schools whose numbers are so low they should be shut down.  Students can't possible know what they are getting into going to a school like that.