Law School Discussion

U of A vs. Pepperdine

U of A vs. Pepperdine
« on: April 29, 2012, 03:35:52 PM »
Hey guys,

I am trying to make the decision between University of Arizona law and Pepperdine.

I have never gone to school in Arizona, but since my family is from here, I am qualified for Arizona residency (so in-state tuition). I know I would love life by the beach at Pepperdine, but I don't know whether the costs of living and the high tuition costs are worth it.

Was wondering what your thoughts on this are? I am still not sure where I would like to practice, but I am open to anywhere including both Arizona and California.

Thanks for the help!

Re: U of A vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 12:04:44 AM »
Congratulations, you have two good schools to choose from!

You'll get a solid legal education at either school, and they've both got good regional reputations. To some extent it really comes down to where you would prefer to spend three years: Tucson or LA? (Notice I didn't say Malibu? Unless you're independently wealthy, you won't be living in Malibu.)

If you don't care where you end up after law school, I'd say that the scales tip in favor of Arizona. AZ is $23,000 per year, Pepperdine is $41,000. Over three years that's $54,000 extra to attend Pepperdine in tuition alone. I can tell you from personal experience that the cost of living is much higher in LA. Assume another $10,000 per year in living expenses as compared to AZ and you're at $84,000. Those loans are easy to take out, but much harder to pay back.

In terms of post law school employment, I think you'd have decent opportunities coming from either school. AZ may have an advantage, though. AZ is the top law school in the state. I imagine that AZ students have a good shot at internships/clerkships/summer associate/judicial clerkships throughout the state. Also, AZ has a solid reputation throughout the southwest. You could probably score summer positions in LA, Las Vegas, etc if you put some time into developing contacts.

The California market is more saturated. If your goal is biglaw or the more competitive government positions, you'll be facing some serious competition.

Here a few things to consider:

1) What are your goals after law school? Don't limit yourself to focusing only on which school to choose, but think about what you want to do with your degree. Biglaw, government, solo practice? The answer to that question will guide you ultimate choice.

2) Be realistic about your goals. The people I know who graduated happy and with job offers started law school with clear, achievable goals. You don't need to be valedictorian at Harvard to get a great job, but if your goal is to clerk at SCOTUS you better be valedictorian at Harvard. 

3) Money. The vast majority of 0Ls don't seem to think about the cost of a legal education and how that debt can cripple you later. Generally, I think you're almost always better off minimizing your debt. It will allow you greater flexibility when you start to look for a job, a huge advantage. Remember, no matter where you go to school there is no guarantee that you'll land a high-paying job.

4) Rankings. Don't obsess over them. Very few schools have national reputations so strong that the pedigree alone will get you an interview. Often students choose to go deeply into debt to finance a legal education based on a school's ranking, when they could have obtained scholarships at lower ranked schools. Unless we're talking about truly prestigious law schools, this is a bad idea.

5) Network, hustle, and make connections from day one. the market is very competitive right now and you can't rely on OCI and mass resume drops to get you a job. You need to make connections. The people I know who have job offers at graduation are not necessarily law review, top ranked etc. They are, however, great at marketing themselves and working hard.

Good Luck! 


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Re: U of A vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 12:44:04 PM »
Above is good advice just want to elaborate. Also realize this is your decision and you will live with it any anonymous internet advice on any internet board including mine should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't know anything about you, your likes/dislikes, relationships, family, etc the variables that go into choosing what law school is best for you is a highly personal decision. With that said I will give some general commentary.

The in-state tuition is a great deal at AZ and also remember interest is accruing on these loans. If your 100k+ in debt at graduation the interest payments alone will be about 8,000 a year annually and you won't even be attacking the principal balance.

Money is not everything and location is realistically one of the most important things. I don't know where your from, but if you have a lot of friends in L.A, family support system, and love the beach Pepperdine might be worth the extra money. Odds are at graduation when your in debt etc trying to start your legal career anytime of move will be difficult and your first job will be in the location where your at. Furthermore, over 3 years of law school your going to get an apartment, start a relationship, make friends, etc and your roots will be dug in somewhere over 3 years. If you want roots in Arizona or L.A. is a personal decision and if you love the beach, L.A. etc then you should probably build your roots in L.A. If it truly doesn't matter to you because you have no connection to either one then save money at AZ.

Also I imagine these schools have very different atmospheres Tucson Arizona and Malibu, California aren't exactly the same place. I have been to Malibu never Tucson, but I imagine Tucson being a college town with college sports, frats, etc and whether you would enjoy that or not is personal. I know Pepperdine is a college as well, but Malibu and L.A. is not necessarily a college town and you could get away from that easier. You also have the beach and if your someone that can relax by surfing all that stuff related to the beach Pepperdine might be the better choice again. I don't know what you like, but those are some factors to consider.

Aside from the general location every law school has a kind of culture to it. Some places have very competitive atmospheres, others are more friendly, and some schools might attract a very liberal student body/professors, others more conservative. Each school is truly different in their culture and whether you like a certain culture or not again is a personal feeling. When I was choosing I visited several schools and just got a bad feeling about some and a great feeling about others. Again there was nothing particularly awful about the schools I didn't like or great about the ones I did I just had a personal feeling of liking some places more than others. What I hated you might have loved who knows so visit both these places talk to students, professors, admin, sit it on a class and see what things are like. If you really can't stand a place for a visit it will be a long haul for three years. If you really enjoy the visit it will probably be a good three years.

Again these are just things to think about and the reality is there is no right answer to what law school to choose. No matter what you decide you will always wonder "what if" I went to the other place. The fact is you will never know and no amount of internet research, conversations, etc will result in you making an absolute right decision. You simply cannot know what the right answer is. My advice above are just things to think about and as you can see whether you like surfing for example is something you either like or don't care about it is a personal decision. Remember this is 3 years of your life and 100k of your money being spent and nobody can make a better informed decision about what is best for them than you. Trust your gut when making the decision and things should work out ok.

Good luck to you and congrats on the acceptances.