Law School Discussion

chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist

Hello all, first post and i could really use some help

a bit about me

27 years old and a successful business owner
160 LSAT

i applied to southwestern, loyola, chapman, pepperdine, and cal western

i got into southwestern, chapman, and cal western
i got wait listed on pepperdine, at this point pepperdine is a no brainer if i get in over the next coming months

cal western is out of the picture thanks to the fact that i live in LA and would like to keep it local, i just bought a condo in glendale

if you had to choose between southwestern and chapman, which school would you go with?

as of this year, chapman is now a tier 2 school.. i have done my research on it.. my worry with chapman is that there isn't enough alumni around because its relatively new and i know how important it is to network.. southwestern has been around for a while...

There is also another factor involved.. chapman is paying 80% of my first year, with a promise of grants every year for good grades.. i have not received anything like that for southwestern, which kinda pisses me off seeing how they are ranked worse and have a worse bar passing rate then chapman..

i live in LA, glendale specifically.. and i will not be moving.. so the drive to chapman is dreadfull.. but the possibility of saving nearly 80k over the next 3 years is enticing....

but lets put the money aside... per the communities opinion i would love to know which school is thought to be better to attend?

Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 11:05:43 AM »
What sort of money did you get from these schools?  None are worth anything close to sticker price (pepperdine included).  At this point, you should be focusing on minimizing your debt rather than on the rankings, since they don't really matter so much when you get down to the lower Tiers. 

Given the information you've provided, go Chapman, as an 80% scholly will allow you to leave law school with a serviceable amount of debt for the job you're likely to receive.  Just make sure they don't have any nasty stipulations attached. 

Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 12:10:24 PM »
chapman is the only school giving me a scholarship... they are giving me 80% about 32000 a year as long as i keep a 3.0 gpa

Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 12:47:44 PM »
With a scholarship tied to a specific GPA, it's always good to check out the grading policy of the school to see if the requirement is achievable.

I looked through Chapman's website and found their Student Handbook that outlines their grading policy (see below). Whether a 3.0 is achievable there, I can't say. You might want to talk to some current students to get their take. There might be some floating around, on this board.

Just something else to take into consideration when making your decision.


Section 4.1.4 (B)

A faculty member shall not assign grades in a course with a median average in
excess of the following standards, except as otherwise provided in the “Application of
Standards in Special Circumstances.” Faculty members may and are encouraged to
assign grades below the maximum median when appropriate in any course.

All courses required to be taken by full-time students in the first year are
subject to a 2.8 maximum median, subject to the following mandatory and
appropriate grade distribution:

Grades Required Range of Grades
3.7 – 4.0 0 – 15%
0.0 – 1.9 At least 10%

For all other courses, the mandatory maximum median grade is a 3.0; exam courses with
twenty (20) or more students require a cumulative 20% of grades to be a 2.4 or lower and
10% to be a 2.2 or lower.


Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2012, 05:36:10 PM »
chapman is the only school giving me a scholarship... they are giving me 80% about 32000 a year as long as i keep a 3.0 gpa

Either get that stip removed or go into it with the knowledge that if you lose your scholly, you should drop out.


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Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2012, 07:39:55 PM »
First and foremost do not take anything you read on the internet from anonymous posters myself included very seriously. Law school is a highly personal decision and you are the only who truly knows what is best for you. I know nothing about you, your situation, your likes, dislikes, and neither does anyone that posted above or posts on any other discussion board. Realistically each individual at every single law school has a different experience some love their time and others hate it. I enjoyed my time at my tier 2 school and have had a pretty good legal career. There are other people from my school that hated law school, hate being a lawyer, and some that never passed the bar.  I have met people that went to Harvard who hate their lives as attorneys and others that love every minute of it. I know people that went to Tier 4 schools that loved their experience and their careers and I know other T4 grads that never passed the bar and regret their decision. Point being what you make out of your school experience is much more dependent on you as an individual than the school you attend. Therefore, what some anonymous internet poster says myself included should be heavily scrutinized.

With that said I want to try and answer the original question, but take what I say with a major grain of salt my advice will be more things to think about than any concrete advice because this is your decision.

When choosing a law school the following are the factors to consider in my opinion.
1) Location
2) How you personally feel about the school
3) Cost
 4) If you have any specialty your interested in i.e. trial advocacy do these schools offer opportunities for that.
5) Then as a tie-breaker consider U.S. News rankings. I will break down each of these individually for you.

It looks like you have this locked down if you want to be in L.A. going to law school in L.A. is a good decision. The commute is something to think about law school in the first year is very difficult and battling L.A. traffic will be a big distractor and you want to do well if you are going to have a 4 hour commute then that is really something to think about. I don't know much about L.A. or the schools listed, but be wary of that. 

Again I don't know L.A, but some schools where I attended were far away from the courthouses, law firms, and getting any experience while in school was difficult. I was under the impression Southwestern was in the Heart of L.A. so you would be able to extern for a judge/district attorney/so and so on while in school. No matter what school you attend getting extern/intern experience is not that difficult they will hire you while in law school because it is often unpaid work, but you get some bullets on the resume which you need. Just think practically about that it sounds like you from L.A. and you would be able to see where the courthouses, government agencies, law firms  are located. 

Every school has a culture to it just like any job you ever had. When I was selecting schools there were some that just rubbed me the wrong way and others that I liked. These were my own subjective feelings and what I liked about School X you might have hated and what I loved about school Y you might have hated it is a very personal choice and you are going spend three years of your life there. Go to the open house events obviously, but also show up and sit in the student lounge one day see how students act, go talk to a professor in their office hours, setup stuff with the administration, and see how you are treated and how you like the people you interact with. This is a 3 year likely 100k commitment and if your uncomfortable with a how a few interactions go at Southwestern, Chapman, or Pepperdine go then avoid it. If you love how things are at Southwestern and don't like it Pepperdine don't go to Pepperdine because U.S. News a for profit unregulated magazine said you should. 

Main point of this is get a first hand look and let your gut decide whether you like the school or not. You will be there for 3 years and your personal opinion is what really matters not what I, a magazine, or any other anonymous internet poster thinks.

This is a very real concern and as stated above be careful of scholarship conditions. This article does a great job of explaining how many schools run their scholarship program. . It is pretty common to tell students maintain a 3.0 GPA and you will keep your scholarship. You got a 3.2 GPA from UCLA undergrad so you will clearly get a 3.0 at these schools is what they expect you to think. Most 0L's including those in the above article did and didn't ask questions. The way most law schools work is that only 35% of the class can get a 3.0. I don't know the exact conditions on your scholarship are, but those are VERY IMPORTANT.  The reason is 100% of students at any ABA school Harvard to Cooley are smart, hard working, motivated, and 100% of students on the first day truly think they will be in the top 10%. 90% of them are wrong and there is a 90% chance you won't be in the top 10%, 80% chance you wont be in the top 20% so and so on. So ask questions about the Chapman scholarship what is the curve, how many students keep their scholarship, so and so on.

After you have asked Chapman about the conditions bargain for better ones. Tell Southwestern you have a scholarship at Chapman and you want to know if they can offer you anything. Remember first and foremost that law schools are a business and you have numbers above the median at all of these schools. When you bought your Condo and spent 100,000+ on it you negotiated, bargained, and asked detailed questions. You should treat law school exactly the same way it is large financial, life, and time commitment. If Chapman or Southwestern doesn't increase your scholarship or give you better conditions worse case scenario is they say no and you haven't lost anything. I have never heard of a school taking admissions away or scholarship money away for asking for more. When I was going I got an extra 5,000 a year on top of my original scholarship it end up saving me 15,000 dollars in tuition simply by making a few phone calls. Bargain with these schools because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain and remember above all else these schools are business and your a customer get the best deal you can.

Just to clarify at the outset eduation at every single ABA law school is essentially identical. Whether you attend Harvard or Chapman you are going to take Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, LRW, Criminal Law, Con Law, Crim Pro or some slight variation on that in your first year. All law schools use the same text books and what you learn is the same. In Torts you will read Palsgraf, Civ Pro-Pennoyer, so on and so on. The professors at some schools might be more experienced, connected, entertaining, etc, but the essence of what you learn will be the same almost any professor at an ABA school particularly ones in a highly desirable area to live like Los Angeles will be phenomenal.

With that said if you have a particular interest in a certain area of law entertainment, trial advocacy, IP, whatever it may check out the course schedules of these schools. Schools do differ in their elective offerings and if you really want to be a trial lawyer you can ask how many mock trial teams the school has and see what classes they offer in litigation. Trial competitions were my main activity in law school so that is the example I use, but I imagine any of these schools based in L.A. would have a lot of entertainment law courses and have adjunct faculty that in the business and could help you out. Only consider this if you have a particular interest though many incoming 0L's and many practicing lawyers have no idea what type of law they want to do and often times you have to learn a new area everyday it is just part of the job so it is fine if you don't know what you want, but if you do check out the course schedules and reach out to the professors in charge.


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Re: chapman law vs. southwestern acceptance... pepperdine waitlist
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2012, 07:40:25 PM »
Many 0L's put far to much emphasis on this. Remember U.S. News is a for profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. They don't just rank law schools case in point . U.S. News says Albuquerque New Mexico is the best place to live. Should you move to Albuquerque because U.S. News says so? I think you can see the point I am making it certainly has some effect, but don't let it make or break your decision. 

However, there are some firms that truly care about the rankings, but they are few and far between and if a firm is going to hire someone from Chapman or Pepperdine they will hire someone from Southwestern or Cal Western I would imagine that to be the case. I don't know anything about the L.A legal market, but in my experience there are some firms like Covington that hire Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and won' t look at a resume from any of the schools you mentioned or 95% of the rest of the schools in the country. However, the majority of places are not that selective as far as schools go and care much more about law school performance, experience gained in law school, professor recommendations, and more importantly the contacts you make on your own will have a far greater impact than the name on your J.D.

This is a long post, but I hope others in your situation take some time to read it and it offers some insight. I certainly am not an authority on how the legal world works and anyone that claims to be such an authority likely has no idea what they are talking about. Remember anything you read on the internet particularly from anonymous internet posters like myself should be taken with a major grain of salt.

Entering law school and the legal profession is a big decision and this is your time, your money, and your life so make sure you are basing this decision on what is best for you. Whatever you decide if you put in the work and are an easy person to get along with odds are you can have a successful legal career. This is not an easy profession and some people simply cannot handle it while others can and whether you sink or swim in this profession is going to be much more up to you as an individual. Good luck to you on whatever you decide.

I apologize for any typos or gramatical erros just typed this stream of concscious and really don't feel like proofreading such a long post