Law School Discussion

Massachusetts School of Law

Massachusetts School of Law
« on: December 13, 2011, 05:36:38 PM »
Does any one here have any information on this law school? I know that it is not ABA approved but it seems to have a good reputation for producing quality and successful attornys. Its costs is less than half the price of other MA law schools and is very close to my home. You are also allowed to take the bar exam at 20+ other states after practicing for some time. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks


Re: Massachusetts School of Law
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2011, 09:17:28 AM »
Attending a non-ABA accredited school is never a good idea.  You'll be able to sit for the bar in only Mass and NH.  You will eventually be able to be admitted into 20 other states, but in light of the fact that so can anyone else that attended any other law school ABA accredited or not, and some who attended an ABA accredited school can be admitted to any of the 50 states plus DC, I think it is more accurate to say there is no way you can be admitted to practice in 30 states.  And not only are they not ABA accredited, they applied, were denied, sued the ABA and lost, and have been very adamant that they have no intention with meeting ABA standards.  So it is safe to say, they probably never will be ABA accredited.

Then there is the question of what you intend to do with your degree.  Your options will be very limited.  You can only sit for MA or NH.  The job market in NH is very small, and you will lose out to a UNH grad at every turn.  In Mass you're competing with the grads of 10 other law schools, that cover the spectrum of ABA accredited schools, from Harvard that depending on the year is either ranked 1, 2, or 3, to your lower tiered schools like Western NE, and everything in between.  So there is no shortage of local schools that a hiring firm can pick from, so there really is no local advantage.  And who exactly did you speak to in determining they have a "good reputation for producing quality and successful attorneys"?  The school's admissions recruiters?  Every school will have someone they can point to that has been successful despite the disadvantage of graduating from a school with poor credentials.  More important than those few grads that they display on their website as being successful is how are the 100 other grads that graduated with those people doing?  What percentage of grads are working attorneys 5 years after graduation?  The chances of getting a job with any law firm, of any size will be pretty slim.  With the number of schools in Mass at every tier of quality, there's a good chance that even for an entry level attorney position at a 3 attorney firm, starting pay at $30k, there will be someone from a better school trying for that same job.

Then there is the cost factor that you mentioned.  At least, unlike most T4 law schools that think they can charge you virtually the same prices as a top 14 school, at $15k a year, you're not paying BMW prices to drive a Yugo.  The top 14 schools charge around $40 to $50k a year.  Some T4 schools charge up to $40k a year in tuition.  How a law school whose graduates don't any prayer at biglaw, can justifying charging the same amount as the best schools, whose graduates at least have a reasonable shot at the six figure income that can pay that debt, is just unconscionable.  So you graduate with the same debt after 3 years that most JDs have after just their first year (not to mention since they don't even require the LSAT, you save a couple grand in LSAT fees and test prep).  I don't know what their bar passage rate is, but I believe that anyone who vaguely pays attention in law school, and spends the money for a bar prep course, and studies their back side off, can pass the bar (and from what friends have told me, the Mass bar isn't that hard).  So at less than $50k of law school debt, starting out on your own, or with a friend, doing basic legal work (wills, power of attorney, minor criminal cases), and building a practice from the ground up is at least possible.  Heck, even taking contract positions doing document review should be able to pay that debt down.  Not an easy or glamorous career path by any stretch of the imagination, and if you're bringing $30k your first few years, you'll be doing well.  But at least if you can't make a career of it, the debt won't so oppressive where you're in a position where you can't even make the interest payments, and your debt is actually increasing.  You'll at least be able to walk away from the legal field and move on without having to have to pay for it for the rest of your life.

Re: Massachusetts School of Law
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2011, 07:14:27 PM »
Thanks for the reply, you brought up some very good points. I am currently in the Law Enforcement field and I am looking for a change. A former colleague of mine attending Mass School of Law and he had great things to say about it. He is currently working as a prosecutor for one of the bigger counties here in Mass.

I plan on continuing to work full time while attending law school. Mass School of law seems like the right choice for me. The price and the location are perfect for my situation. I am currently about half way done paying off my undergrad loans ( I owe about 25K more). I took the LSATs 8 years ago while I was a senior in college and I scored something horrible around a 145.  I didn't take a prep course at that time, all I did for preparation was look over an LSAT book for a couple weeks before the test. My undergraduate GPA was a 3.5 and I have worked in law enforcement for the past few years. Even if I could bump that score up a few points I could probably only get into the much lower ranked schools here in boston and I would be paying almost triple the price. Am I making the right choice attending Mass Law?

I was speaking to a current student and she said that in the future many more states will most likely allow Mass School of Law grads to take the bar. Is there any truth to that statement?

MSLAW students are eligible to take the Bar immediately upon graduation in Massachusetts and in Connecticut. After passing Massachusetts they are immediately eligible to take the bar exam in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, California, West Virginia and Maryland. In addition, there are a number of jurisdictions where MSLAW graduates are eligible to take the bar after practicing for the period of time listed below.

Jurisdictions where MSLAW graduates may be admitted to the bar:

Alabama: By petition to the Alabama Supreme Court

Alaska: 5 years

Arizona: 5 years

California: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction

Colorado: 5 Years

Connecticut: Immediately

Florida: 10 Years

Hawaii: 5 Years

Kentucky: 3 Years

Maine: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction

Maryland: MSLAW students have received individual permission after admission in MA Massachusetts Immediately

Minnesota: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction
Missouri: 5 Years

Nevada: By individual petition to the “Substantially equivalent committee”

New Hampshire: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction

New Mexico: 4 Years

New York: 5 Years

Oregon: 3 Years

Pennsylvania: 5 Years

Rhode Island: 5 Years

Texas: 3 Years

Vermont: Immediately

Washington: 3 Years

West Virginia: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction

Wisconsin: Immediately after passing bar of primary jurisdiction


Re: Massachusetts School of Law
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 08:20:00 AM »
If I were you, I would still consider the possiblity of taking an LSAT prep course, and taking the LSAT again.  I kicked my score up a full 10 points after a prep class.  I knew other people that increased even more.  With a 3.5 undergrad gpa, and if you can bring up your LSAT score, you might not end up at Harvard, but you may be surprised were you can get into.  You would really being doing yourself a disservice by not at least trying to see what a prep course can get you.  Another thing to keep in mind when speaking to alums is that the legal market has change greatly in the past 3 years (even for Harvard grads, although for them, it just means fewer biglaw job offers).  Where as before 2009, if you graduated from any tier 1 school in roughly the top 50% of your class you had a decent chance at biglaw, and those that did well in tier 2 had a decent shot as well, now the biglaw jobs are far and fewer, and even people that more tier 1 grads are taking goverment jobs, and even the top of tier 2 schools are taking jobs they would never have considered before the economy went belly up.  There is far more competition for far fewer jobs today, and the lower you are on the list, the better chances you will feel the squeeze the worst.  And remember, your job prospects will forever be limited by that list below.  Those are the only states you even have a possiblity of being able to practice in (and even some of those are conditional...Maryland, for example, does require an applicant attend an ABA accredited school, but can waive that requirment if an applicant shows equivalent education or experience or both...note "may").  You don't have those same limitations with an ABA accredited JD.

I can see your point about the difference between a fourth tier school and MSL.  I really don't see the point of paying $30k a year for a T4 eduation.  Your job prospects will be hugely limited at even an ABA accredited T4 school, but you'd be paying BMW prices to drive a Yugo.  However, I think it should be very possible for you to get into a T2 or T1 school with your grades (and if the prep course boosts your LSAT).  A prep course will cost you probably a couple grand.  Sure, it's a good amount of money in a tight economy, but we're talking about a career here.  Don't sell yourself short.    You're going to be spending at least $50k even at MSL, might as well spend a little more on the front end to boost your LSAT score, and a couple more in applications to see just how good a school you might possibly get into.  Your JD will stay with you for your career, and no matter what anyone will tell you, even well into your career, potential employers will still look at your school and GPA.   You should really find out what is possible before writing off options.   

Re: Massachusetts School of Law
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 04:20:02 PM »
Another thing you need to think about is reciprocity. Although you can practice law in any of the states you listed, in order to do so, you may have to retake the bar exam (I know for sure you have to with Florida and Arizona). I am not sure if reciprocity differs between ABA and Non-ABA schools, but I graduated from an ABA school, and my score on the MBE (160+) means I can practice law in the state I took the bar exam, I can waive into North Dakota, and I can waive into D.C.  I can also waive into a number of other states after practicing for a few years without retaking the bar exam.  After taking one bar exam, I know I am not going to want to take another one in 5 or 10 years.  Reciprocity will definitely help me out in the future if I want to waive into a different jurisdiction.

I also echo the same sentiments about paying ridiculously high tuition for a T4.  Go to a T4 only if it is a state school with cheap in-state tuition (such as Florida A&M in Florida), or if you have a scholly that isn't contingent on anything.  Otherwise, you are paying the same amount you would to go to Harvard, but your options after law school are severely limited.

And, in the big scheme of things, no one should be considering law school right now. You already have a job, and it most likely pays better than the starting salary for an attorney right now.  Most firms are starting attorneys at 45K-50K per year.  They can do this because the market is absolutely flooded and there is no end in sight.  Keep your job where you get benefits and a stable salary. I have been looking for a job since May and after sending out 250+ resumes and interviewing at a handful of places, I am heading into the New Year jobless.  It's not good out there.  Right now, law school should be considered if you can take on little-to-no debt, don't currently have a stable job, and you know someone who can hire you/mentor you right out of law school.