Law School Discussion

Looking for insight on where to attend.

Looking for insight on where to attend.
« on: April 04, 2012, 01:00:18 PM »
Last weekend, I visited the only two schools I am considering attending. While I don't plan on working in Big Law, Texas does have the obvious advantage with all the doors the UT name can open. At Wesleyan on the other hand, I have a 22,000 dollar scholarship for the first year, and another 22,000 split between years 2 and 3, should I remain in the top 15%. I am going to assume that I will not be in the top 15% after year 1 (I like to think in worst case scenario terms.) Living with my uncle in Fort Worth, I will have zero living expenses, besides food, auto insurance, and gas. At UT, I will pay 29,000 per year in tuition, and full living expenses. Based on the loans I've been "awarded" for year 1, I'll come out with roughly $130,000 in debt. At Wesleyan, if I lose the scholarship, I will come out with no more than $60,000 in loans. On top of that, I've got $30,000 dollars in undergrad loans. Do I bite the bullet and go to UT, or do I go the less expensive route, potentially hamstringing my employment opportunities? Is the cost of graduating from UT worth the risk of getting stuck with all that debt should I not be able to find a job anyway? It should also be noted that I will most likely be working for a couple of oil and gas lawyers in South Texas, if they are still around in 3 years. If not, I would like to find a job in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Also, my uncle has a dirt bike track and a putting green in his back yard... Just sayin'. Lol/JK/Kind of... I like the DFW area so much more than Austin. I feel I would enjoy going to school there more than in Austin, but if UT is the appropriate choice (I feel it is until I get more opinions on the matter,) I can suck it up for 3 years.

I realize, under normal circumstances, UT is the "no-brainer" choice. Yet, It is hard for me to get passed the insurmountable mountain of debt I will be taking on. I appreciate any advice and input that will aid me in making this decision.

Re: Looking for insight on where to attend.
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 12:39:43 PM »


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Re: Looking for insight on where to attend.
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 05:46:29 PM »
The $70k difference is considerable. However, the real issue is what prospects you will have in practicing law in the field you desire with those schools. If you have a line on work, then going to the less expensive school is probably a better idea. It would also be a very good idea to see where your potential employer would prefer you attend. The secondary issue, which you can resolve quickly, is how much money does a starting lawyer earn, in the field you wish to practice.


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Re: Looking for insight on where to attend.
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 07:31:27 PM »
What are the conditions of the scholarship an offer from UT does give you a bit of leverage. It might be worth your time to see if Wesleyan will guarantee you anything. As a sidenote for Texas Schools I recently coached a mock trial team that competed at the South Texas law school, and I was pretty damn impressed with that little school. Don't know if litigation is your fortay, but their setup is one of the best I have ever seen as far as mock-trial litigation goes. I believe it is only 20k per year annually, and I know it is not that hard to get into with your numbers a scholarship might be possible there.

However, that was my only experience with a school in Texas so take it with a grain of salt. As for your actual question again the conditions are something you need to really pay attention to, and as you correctly noticed it is highly unlikely you will be int the top 15%. I would see if Wesleyan can guarantee you more money remember right now you have some leverage. Wesleyan wants your numbers and some of your money ask if you can keep the scholarship if your in the top 50% or just have guaranteed money. Never hurts to ask, because honestly if you can't have a guaranteed scholarship I might say UT. If you can get Wesleyan to basically give you a debt-free J.D. then it might be worth it. Just realize as a 0L you have some bargaining power don't be afraid to use it. If they don't want to give you or more solid scholarship guarantee then UT is one hell of a school.

In my experience I was able to get a couple of schools to give more money, or relax my scholarship conditions, when I was a 0L and my numbers were not good enough to get me into UT. One thing t,hat  what you and all law students need to realize is that as a 0L you have a lot of bargaining power and don't be afraid to use it. They want your money and your numbers and you can walk away pretty easily, but once your in a school they got you by the balls. However, right now you have the leverage and try to lax the conditions, get more money, or something. If they don't budge then I think the prospects UT will open up is worth an additional 70k.

Good luck to you.

Julie Fern

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Re: Looking for insight on where to attend.
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2012, 05:16:30 PM »
Nice, Julie.

The scholarship at Wesleyan is a guaranteed 22,000 for the first year. After the first year ranks are announced, I very well could lose the 11,000 for 2L and 11,000 for 3L. I would still only be paying 60,000 out of pocket (no living expenses since I will be living with family.) I have a friend in Corpus Christi that has an oil and gas law firm. He does title opinions for oil companies on land leases. His idea is that I will study estate planning and trusts, since he can teach me all I need to know as far as oil and gas law goes (he shares office space with his old partner/mentor.) He has all but guaranteed me a position, as he expects his brother (his only attorney) to leave, since he doesn't like working for his younger brother... lol. The older gentleman they share space with will most likely be retiring in the next 3 or 4 years, leaving his work to my friend. So unless something catastrophic happens to the oil industry or my friend's firm, I have a very good chance of coming out of school with a job. The only reason I'm considering paying 70k more to go UT is the "what if" factor, since three years is a long ways to project out. Good idea on the bargaining. I'll talk to Wesleyan tomorrow. Thanks for the input!