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Author Topic: Can't decide, opinions wanted. (EMORY, UF, UGA)  (Read 1608 times)

Sgknightock

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Can't decide, opinions wanted. (EMORY, UF, UGA)
« on: March 12, 2012, 01:29:45 PM »
Alright so I'm having a dilemma. My narrowed options are thus

Emory with a 69,000 dollar scholarship
Uga with tuition equalization and likely instate tuition
Uf with a full ride

I'm at a loss. For a simplified model I look at the numbers (expenses) to be roughly 45,000 for Florida,
 90,000 for georgia and 120,000 for Emory. I don't know if I can justify the expense increases, I guess I'd like for y'all to.

As a side note, I was accepted to George Washington, but at full price. That seems absurd so I excluded it from the question, but if anyone thinks it a viable option, feel free to let me know.

legend

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Re: Can't decide, opinions wanted.
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 02:02:55 PM »
This is my own personal opinion from my law school experience on what to consider when making this decision. There are two main things to realize before reading anything I have to say.

1)   Anything you read on the internet from an anonymous source including myself should be heavily scrutinized. I know nothing about you, your situation, your views, your likes or dislikes. In the end it will be you that lives with the decision for at least 3 years and likely the rest of your life, but I am going to fill in some things I did consider when choosing my school along with some things I wish I would have considered.

2)   There is no right answer you your question. Many 0Lís think there is some answer out there that will tell them exactly what to do, but sadly there isnít. I personally spent months talking to people, researching so and so on hoping to come to the conclusion of knowing exactly what to do, but that day never came. I had to choose a school and I ended up being happy with it although there are days I wonder what would have happened had I gone to X, Y, Z school. I will never know the answer and neither will you. A choice has to be made and there is no right or wrong answer.

I would personally choose Florida based on the facts you have presented and below is my reasoning, but these are factors that you should consider and plug in your personal situation to see if Florida is actually the right fit.

Financing:
Law school is expensive and if you can save 100k on tuition that is a lot of money. I am still paying off my loans and remember this 100k is collecting interest usually between 6-8% depending on where your getting the money from. This means in a year you will accumulate 6,000-8,000 on interest alone. If you can save 100k then that is something to heavily consider.  If Florida let you out debt free then that is a huge plus. I also looked at the cost of living for the three schools, which is another factor consider in regards to financing.

Emory: 24k per year living expenses .http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Publications/2011OG/aba5187.pdf 

Florida: 12k per year living expenses http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Publications/2011OG/aba5813.pdf
 
Georgia:12-15k per year living expenses  http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Publications/2011OG/aba5813.pdf

Based on that you will have 72k more living expenses tacked on at Emory with 120k in tuition payments over three years=200k total and remember it is accruing interest while in school and with that a big number 16k annually for not spending a dime.

Georgia & Florida seem about equal and if your getting a full ride at Florida that is great.

Location:
This is probably the most important thing to consider when choosing a law school, yet so few 0Lís really think this through. Whatever school you end up at is where you will be for a minimum of three years. You are going to develop friends, go to parties, sporting events, concerts, and so on during these three years and your social life is important during law school. Just to set aside some fear you will have a life while in law school, and that is why location is something to consider.

On top of the social aspect law school does not exist in a vacuum. If you happen to love college football and the college town lifestyle then Florida & Georgia would provide you with welcome distractions. If you want more of a city life then Atlanta will provide you with that it is your own personal feeling, but that is a factor to consider three years is a long time. Law school years also go very slowly particularly 1L so be in an atmosphere you would enjoy.

Also remember wherever you go to school is likely where you will end up. I know there are exceptions, but you are going to have an apartment, friends, internships, and so on while in school and these will be hard to leave particularly with law school debt hanging over your head. You are probably going to hustle to find a job right out of school and few if any employers are going to come from out of area to recruit you, and as a newly minted J.D. you are not going to have the time or money to fly out to New York or Seattle for the first interview yet alone a series of interviews, which many attorney positions require. This is just the practical nature of geography, which should also play a role in your decision. 

A pro to Emory is I imagine more internship opportunities would exist in Atlanta and you could probably find work easily while in school. I know Gainesville is more of a college town and I imagine Georgia is as well so finding internships during the school year might be difficult.

C) Prestige/Ranking:

With these schools this might play a slight factor in your decision, but remember U.S. News is nothing more than a magazine offering an opinion, but some places care about ranking. Right now Emory is in a 4 way tie for 30th, Florida is in a 3 way tie for 47th, Georgia is in a 4 way tie for 35th. They seem to be pretty close and the way the rankings are any of these schools could be ahead of the other by the time you graduate. For some reason I thought Emory was in the Top 20, but I was wrong shows how fast the rankings move. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+2 .

D) Reality of Legal Education:

This is something many 0Lís donít realize either and that is what you learn at Yale, Georgia, Emory, Cooley, etc is basically the same. At almost every ABA law school you take the following courses during your first year. 1) Torts 2) Contracts 3) Property 4) Civil Procedure 5) Criminal Law 6) Con Law 7) Legal Writing & Research. There are some variations to this, but at any ABA law school you will take those courses at some point whether it be first or second year.

Whatever school you take these courses at you will learn the same thing. In Torts you will read Palsgraf, Contracts Hadley v. Baxendale, Civil Procedure Pennoyer v. Neff, so and so on. These are Supreme Court cases and you read what the Supreme Court wrote then your professor will explain it to you. Law school unlike Med School or Engineering does not require any special equipment. All you need our books so if Emory is ranked higher than Florida it is not because you are learning anything different or have access to better equipment. You are going to get a textbook and the majority of schools use the same exact textbook so you get the same law, same textbook, same everything from school to school.

SPECIALTY PROGRAMS:
Although there is technically not much difference in what you learn at any school some schools do specialize in certain areas. If you truly know what area of law you want to get into then the clinics, courses, professor experience might be something to consider. However, few law students and practicing attorneys really know what area of law they want to practice, but some people do.

If you really want to be litigator South Texas Law School has all kinds of opportunities for mock trial competitions. They have built their school around that and give students access to a great courtroom, fund numerous competitions, and really emphasize that. Some other schools have a Tax Clinic they run or something of that nature, and if you happen to know exactly what you want to do then this should be a factor in your decision.

If on the other hand you are like the majority of law students and lawyers that really doesnít specifically know what area you really want then it shouldnít be a big factor in your decision.

I personally know nothing specific about these school or what specialties they might have, but it is something you can look into if you know where your interests lie.

D) Reality of Legal Education:
This is something many 0Lís donít realize either and that is what you learn at Yale or Widener is basically the same. At almost every ABA law school you take the following courses during your first year. 1) Torts 2) Contracts 3) Property 4) Civil Procedure 5) Criminal Law 6) Con Law 7) Legal Writing & Research. There are some variations to this, but at any ABA law school you will take those courses at some point whether it be first or second year.

Whatever school you take these courses at you will learn the same thing. In Torts you will read Palsgraf, Contracts Hadley v. Baxendale, Civil Procedure Pennoyer v. Neff, so and so on. These are Supreme Court cases and you read what the Supreme Court wrote then your professor will explain it to you. Law school unlike Med School or Engineering does not require any special equipment. All you need our books so if Widener is ranked higher than New England it is not because you are learning anything different or have access to better equipment. You are going to get a textbook and the majority of schools use the same exact textbook so you get the same law, same textbook, same everything from school to school.















legend

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Re: Can't decide, opinions wanted.
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 02:04:00 PM »
Continuation of Above Post

SPECIALTY PROGRAMS:
Although there is technically not much difference in what you learn at any school some schools do specialize in certain areas. If you truly know what area of law you want to get into then the clinics, courses, professor experience might be something to consider. However, few law students and practicing attorneys really know what area of law they want to practice, but some people do.

If you really want to be litigator South Texas Law School has all kinds of opportunities for mock trial competitions. They have built their school around that and give students access to a great courtroom, fund numerous competitions, and really emphasize that. Some other schools have a Tax Clinic they run or something of that nature, and if you happen to know exactly what you want to do then this should be a factor in your decision.

If on the other hand you are like the majority of law students and lawyers that really doesnít specifically know what area you really want then it shouldnít be a big factor in your decision.

I personally know nothing about either school or what specialties they might have, but it is something you can look into if you know where your interests lie.

E) Personal Feeling About School
Aside from location each school has itís own feel that you are either going to like or not like. When I was visiting schools there were a few places I couldnít stand and a few others I loved. There was nothing particularly great or awful any of these school did I just had a gut feeling of liking it or not. You should visit these schools individually and see how you feel when you enter it. This is probably one of the most important things to do, because if you canít stand it in your first encounter it will probably not improve over three years.

I highly recommend visiting yourself and getting a feel for the school. Talk to any actual students at the school and see how they feel, professors, and so on. Your are making a big investment of time and money so reach out to the school, and listen to your gut.

F) Scholarship Conditions:
In regards to your full-ride at UF if there are conditions on the scholarship you need o be aware of ugly business side of legal education. Many law schools offer full scholarships with conditions that could be considered deceptive. Many schools will say you can have the scholarship as long as you keep a 3.0 GPA. Any law student offered a scholarship at an ABA school likely got a 3.0 in undergrad without trying and assume the same will be true in law school. Unfortunately, it isnít.

Most law schools have very stringent curves and only allow 35% of the first year class to get a 3.0 GPA. This accomplishes two things for law schools first gets rid of scholarship offers and second keeps students from transferring up. You might think you will just study harder than everyone and the other 65% arenít as hard-working as you, but again you will be wrong. About 99% of law students are smart, hard-working, and have a knack for school that is why they signed up for the madness that is law school. Almost every student does pretty well on the exams, but there is a limited number of Aís & Bís that can be handed out. The difference between an A and a C can often be a few multiple choice questions or a missed issue on an essay. It is that tight of a curve.

This article actually does a far better job explaining it than I can. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all

G) Jobs
No law school guarantees you a job, but these schools seem to be top in their respective states, which is a pro. The economy is also not great now, but then again I donít know if it ever is. (Just a sidenote) but I remember Bill Clintonís 1992 campaign ďitís the economy stupidĒ during the presidential campaign to address the recession that was going on. A lot has changed since then .   Still when looking for jobs having 100k less in debt to worry about will make the decision a lot less stressful\\

H) Conclusion:
As I stated at the beginning I am nothing more than an anonymous internet poster and my advice should be scrutinized. I am sure someone out there thinks everything I posted is complete B.S. and maybe they are right. If you go into litigation you will be amazed at how two ďexpertsĒ completely contradict eachother.

I also donít know about these schools, but a visit to both of them is certainly in order. However, Florida seems like the cheapest option and I donít know if Emory is worth 150k more of non dischargeable debt that is accruing interest. However, if youíre a city person it might be the right choice you could be miserable in a small college town that is a personal thing that only you know.

Good luck to you on this big decision and congratulations on your acceptances!


Sgknightock

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Re: Can't decide, opinions wanted.
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 02:15:23 PM »
Thank you for the swift response. For clarification purposes the expenses I predicted were a total including cost of living. With the scholarship opportunities I've been offered I'm looking at a total education cost of around 120,000 for Emory, 90,000 for georgia and 45,000 for Florida. My concern is, namely, wheter or not the relative prestige of emory would make the additional $ a worthy investment

legend

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Re: Can't decide, opinions wanted.
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 02:40:50 PM »
No problem this site is a welcome distraction for me. I think it really depends on what you want. If you want to be a Federal Clerk, Big Law Associate, Judge then you need all the prestige you can get. Even if you go to Emory odds are you still won't get those positions unless you finish in the top 10% maybe 20% although if you finish that Emory you might have a decent shot at those positions, only problem is there is a 80-90% chance you won't finish that high. If you finish in the bottom half at Emory whatever prestige the school had over Florida or Georgia really minimizes, but if your goal is really to be Federal Clerk, Big Law Associate, Judge then you should go to the most prestigious school you can get into. In your situation that would be Emory.

(Sidenote) To others who may read this the most prestigious school you can get into applies to this situation, but it doesn't really apply if your deciding between Gonzaga and Florida International University or other regional schools. These are regional schools that serve their region and the odds of getting the most prestigious jobs are basically out of the question although you can have a successful legal career from them odds are you won't go the route I listed above.

Back to your situation. If you don't want to be a Federal Clerk, Big-Law, lawyer, but instead want to be a Public Defender, Family Attorney, or start your own firm  then get out with as little debt as possible. If you want to try and start your firm or experiment with different areas of the law it will be much easier to do with no crushing debt-load hanging over your head. Another thing is since these schools are relatively close in prestige I personally don't Emory is worth 75,000 more than Florida. 30,000 at Georgia that is close I really think having less debt is the best option. 

You have some great choices and as far as financing goes I don' see Emory being worth that much more. However, remember how important location/atmosphere is for you. This likely will have a substantial effect on your academic performance if you literally hate college towns your going to be miserable in Florida and your academic performance will suffer. If you hate the hustle & bustle of city life then don't go to school in a city. How you perform academically will be far more important than going to the 35th or 30th best school. Also law school is stressful and you will be committed to whatever location you choose for three years. Law students really need to make location one of the biggest factors in their decision.

Again good luck to you. Also remember I am nothing more than an anonymous poster who has never been to Florida or Georgia and knows absolutely nothing about you so take everything I have to say with major skepticism. I am just telling you things I realized after my law school decision and many of them didn't occur to me until I started.