Law School Discussion
Deciding Where to Go
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings
November 16, 2012, 10:30:32 PM »
I just got accepted to Baltimore law school and it is not my number 1 school but as I am waiting for other responses I am wondering if maybe I should reconsider. Are there any positive or negative things about the school that ya'll have heard of? I have read the statistics so I don't need bashers on the school based on that. Just REAL feedback please!
Reply #1 on:
November 19, 2012, 06:56:30 PM »
First off Congrats on getting into law school. I can't tell you how many people I have known who said they would take the LSAT or want to go to law school etc, etc, but very few people actually follow through with it and you did. Baltimore is not Harvard as I'm sure you are aware, but it is still an ABA approved school and Baltimore rejects thousands of applicants each year.
With that sure I'm sure Baltimore is a perfectly fine school if you are realistic with your expectations. Also remember when your reading things on the internet including my post it is coming from anonymous internet posters and whatever you read on this board or others should be taken with a grain of salt.
With that said I will give some things to consider that any OL should consider before making the life altering decision to attend law school. Consider these factors 1) Location 2) Cost 3) Reality of Legal Education 4) What you hope to accomplish with a law degree 5) How you personally feel about the school 6)Specialty Programs (if applicable to you) and 6) You can consider the rankings as a final factor.
When choosing a law school the location is the most important thing for the majority of people. If you attend law school in Baltimore you are going to live in Baltimore for 3 years at a minimum and likely the rest of your life. During your law school experience you will get an apartment, make friends, probably start a romantic relationship, get internships in the area, and Baltimore will prepare you more for the Maryland Bar than other states. So if you want to live in Baltimore then Baltimore is a good place to go to school.
If you have never been to Baltimore and know nothing about it I would highly recommend visiting the area before moving there for 3 years. Remember that law school does not exist in a vaccum you will be have a life deal with commuting, living in a city, east coast weather, etc none of that stuff stops for law students. Simply put if Baltimore is where you want to be then Baltimore law school could be a good fit.
This is a really big concern I took scholarship money and attended a "lower ranked" school which I am happy about, because the law school rankings change year to year your student loan debt stays with you period.
Baltimore actually allows for in-state tuition at 25k a year which isn't terrible for an ABA school a lot of places are charging 40-50k per year so that is a plus for Baltimore and that money is guaranteed you can't lose the tuition rate like you can with law school merit scholarships. That is a pro to the school.
3) Reality of Legal Education
It may surprise you to hear, but every ABA law school essentially teaches you the same exact thing. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Property, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Procedure or some variation on that. You will also take Evidence and all of these are bar tested subjects that every school requires there students to take. In Torts you will read the Palsgraff case and Justice Cardozo did not write different opinions for the top schools it is literally the same case whether you read it at Harvard or in Baltimore.
Almost every school uses the same textbooks and the law is the same no matter you learn it so there really isn't a "better" school. There is no question the people at Harvard Law School are probably more intelligent as a whole than those at Baltimore, but if you want to learn the law Baltimore will teach you the law and realistically whether your a good lawyer or not will depend a lot more on you than anything your school does.
4) Personal Feelings About the School
This is a very important factor everyone gets so caught up in the rankings, but they are a for-profit magazine that knows nothing about you or what you like. I visited a lot of law schools back when I was applying and when I was a law student participated in a few mock trial competitions so I have seen and interacted with a number of law schools and I can tell you each one has their own culture to it.
The school I eventually ended up attending made me feel comfortable it simply fit my personality, but it wouldn't be for everyone. There are some schools I simply did not like and others I did, but you may love the schools I hated and hate the ones I loved you are your own person with your own experiences and nobody will know better if a law school is that fit for YOU than YOURSELF. Never lose sight of that don't listen to what some magazine or anonymous poster on the internet says because they know nothing about you.
I.E. If you are a hardcore conservative do not go to law school in San Francisco it probably won't go well or if you are an ultra-left wing, gay activist, etc do not go to law school in Alabama or an extremely christian school like Regent it just won't work out. Odds you probably don't fit into either of those categories, but you may want to attend a school that is in a college town or go to a school that is in the heart of city different people like different things and you know what you like better than anyone so visit Baltimore see how you feel about it.
When your there talk to professors, administrators, students, etc going to law school is a 3 year 100,000k commitment you should definitely make sure it fits your style. If it doesn't apply elsewhere if it does then go for it.
Reply #2 on:
November 19, 2012, 06:57:14 PM »
5) What are your expectations with a law degree
I think this is why so many people are unhappy with their law school decision they have unrealistic expectations. When you graduate law school you are not going to be recruited from every firm you are likely going to be stressing out about passing the bar exam and hopefully you get through that there are no guarantees on that no matter what school you attend. Harvard does not have a 100% passage rate.
If you get through that experience you will be a licensed lawyer, but will have little experience and will have to do some unglamorous work and pay your dues for a few years. Once your attorney with a few years of experience under your belt though some opportunities will come your way, but with a degree from Baltimore you probably will never work at the megafirms like Covington or get a Federal Judicial Clerkship. There are plenty of other jobs for lawyers though you could be a D.A, Public Defender, working in a mid-size firm, City Attorney, or simply start your own practice. There will be some doors closed, but you would need to be doing to Harvard, Yale, etc for those doors to be open in the first place and most people aren't qualifed for that.
All I can say is just be realistic with your expectations I'm sure if you put the work in Baltimore will get you a license to practice law and whether you succeed as a lawyer will be up to you. As I mentioned the beginning of your legal career will be tough, but if being a lawyer is really what you want it can be a great experience. However, if your attending law school to make a ton of money and fly on private jets to do depositions in exotic locations around the world it probably isn't going to happen. The law is not as exciting at T.V. makes it out to be.
6) Specialty Programs
This is a minor factor, but if there is some area of the law your TRULY interested in it may be worth looking at Baltimore's course schedule to see if they offer the classes. For example if you wanted to do Entertainment Law you shoudl attend law school in New York or L.A. pretty obvious why that is the case and if you wanted to do Maritime law you should not attend law school in Nebraska.
If you have some passion for a certain area of the law then see if Baltimore offers it. If you don't have a passion for a certain of the law yet that is not a major problem as most law students and lawyers still don't know the answer to that. When I started I remember thinking IP law sounded fascinating one class into it I realized it was not for me, but I ended up doing a lot of mock-trial stuff which I ended up loving I was terrified of public speaking prior to law school so it was not something expected to enjoy so much, but it just shows how unpredictable what you will really enjoy is.
7) Rankings & Anonymous Internet Posters
U.S. News rankings has created a racket that so many 0L's take so seriously myself included until I graduated. I came to realize that U.S. News is a for-profit magazine offering an opinion and you shouldn't make a life altering decision based on what they think.
For example U.S. News has ranked Alberque, New Mexico as the best place to live and in 2032 South Dakota is the best place to live because there will be easy access to dental vists. I am not making this up either
Are you going to move to Albuquerque because U.S. News said it was the best place to live? I would imagine not it would be kind of stupid to make a life altering decision based on what a magazine says. However, for some reason that same logic does not apply to OL's and they will make life altering decisions based on what a magazine says. Sure you can consider it, but most people myself included have no idea what the 48th best law school is or the 148th. I know Baltimore is not Harvard, but I wouldn't be shocked if it was the 84th best school or the 168th and realistically I wouldn't care and I don't care enough to Google it because it doesn't matter much.
If you were choosing between Harvard and Baltimore then Harvard is a school that everybody knows is amazing, but outside of the top 15-25 schools people really don't know or care. You graduate you pass the bar your a lawyer sure it would be better if Baltimore was 84th opposed to 124th, but it doesn't really make that big a difference.
I went to law school and passed the bar. I enjoyed my experience and wouldn't change it, but there are plenty of people that did not enjoy their law school experience. What I came to realize is that you play a much bigger role in how your law school experience/ career goes than anything or anyone else. If you love the law and what to be a lawyer go for it! If your not really sure what to do with your life and are just thinking this is something to do then don't make a 3 year 100k commitment there are less expensive ways to deal with a life crisis.
I know nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you, but I am sure you have some ideas and for all I know law school may be the best or worst decision of your life, but consider what I said above in your decision and good luck.
Law School Discussion
Deciding Where to Go
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings