Deciding Where to Go > Choosing the Right Law School

Where should I go?

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Deciding where to go next fall. I didn't do as well as I liked on the LSATs, but it is what it is. I've been accepted at Widener PA, Duquesne, Suffolk, U Baltimore, and Syracuse so far. Still waiting from Maine, UNH, and Drexel (all 3 I should get in)

My dilemma is this, I've got full rides at Widener and Duquesne. Haven't received scholarship info from Suffolk or Syracuse but I feel I will receive some money. I have money saved up for law school, I probably won't graduate from any law school with any debt, even at sticker price. But since none of the schools are nationally reputable, I've been thinking of taking one of my full rides and keeping my saved $ for myself. I'm aware neither of my full rides are to prestigious schools, but having the flexibility to graduate from law school without any debt and having money saved is tempting.

Is it worth it to save the money to go TTTT or should I look to my other schools?

Any idea what you want to do after law school?

Work at a medium firm in ______ city?   Start your own practice?  Work for the government?    At this point, I think you evaluate location first, and then cost.    If location isn't an issue, go to the school with the lowest end-cost and try your best to dominate there. 

I have a general idea of what I'd like to do, either government, criminal law, or intellectual property. I'm not too interested in Big Law; I've lived in rural PA my whole life and would be comfortable working in a small to mid-sized firm. Honestly, I applied to each one of the schools based on their location. New England, PA, and MD are all places I could see myself. Working in NYC or a major metro area is just something I'm not looking for

First off everyone on this board and others myself included is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster and whatever is said here or by other anonymous internet posters should be taken with a major grain of salt. I could be valedictorian of Harvard Law School or some crackhead in a public library with a heroin needle stuck in my arm I could say anything about myself I want as could anyone else on this site so take it all with a grain of salt.

With that said Jack makes some good points and I would like to add a few more.

I really think there are a few things any potential law student should seriously consider when choosing a school. (1) Location (2) Cost & Scholarship Conditions (3) Personal Feeling About the School (4) Speciality Programs if applicable & Reality of Legal Education (5) If those fail then use U.S. News as a tiebreaker, but don't let a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion make a life altering decision for you.

This factors applied to your circumstance.

1) Location
You are considering a school in Northern New York, Pittsburgh,  and Boston to name a few. These are very different areas and different legal markets. They are all East Coast so at least your not looking all over the country, but the reality is if you go to school in Pittsburgh you will make friends in Pittsburgh, get a girlfriend in Pittsburgh, an apartment you like in Pittsburgh, etc etc. Very few people particularly from schools of the caliber you are mentioning leave the geographic area the school is located in.

There are several reasons for this first off every internship you get in law school will likely be in the school you attend just because of practical circumstances if your attending Duquesne commuting to New York during the school year to do an internship would be impossible, but interning at the Pittsburgh D.A. is very possible. Furthermore, the schools have connections locally so that is probably where you will end up.

You state you want to live in PA so you should really be considering Widener, Duquesne, or Pittsburgh go to school in PA you will have to take the PA bar to pratice in PA and you can intern etc in PA if you attend school in PA.

2) Cost
Having a full ride there are very few schools that have the type of pedigree that will give you instant credibility i.e. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc going to the 84th best school opposed to the 118th doesn't matter nobody cares. So if you can pay 20,000 less for the 118th best you probably should.

A) Actual Cost of Tuition
However, there are few things to be wary of one is look at the cost of tuition I know Syracuse is one of the most expensive law schools at approximately 50k a year in tuition. Then there are some schools like Florida International that is only 12,000 per year so even if you had a 50% scholarship at Syracuse you would still be paying twice the amount there then at FIU. Go to LSAC and look at the tuition costs of each one.

B) Scholarship Conditions
Then also look at the conditions of any scholarship you are offered. Oftentimes it will say something to the effect of you will maintain your scholarship if you have a 3.0 at the end of first year, or finish in the top 35% of the class etc. As someone who was accepted into an ABA school you assume a 3.0 will be easy to get as it likely was in undergrad. However, law school grading is very different and only about 35% of people can have a 3.0 at the end of first year. Still like 100% of people who attend law school you are certain you will be in the top 35%, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what happens when 100% of people think they will be in the top 35%. If your not in that top 35% then you lose your scholarship for years 2 & 3 which could add up to 80k in tuition lost so CHECK THE CONDITIONS AND ASK QUESTIONS REGARDING THEM!

3) Personal Feelings About School
I was accepted to numerous schools and also participated in a lot of mock trial competitions and can tell you each school has a culture to it. You should visit these schools, meet with professors, talk directly to students who attended or attend the school, and just get a sense for the place. Whether you like it or not will be your own personal opinion there were several schools I visited that I loved and others that I hated, but it is very possible you will hate what I loved and loved what I hated.

After all I am a Yankees fan, Notre Dame Fan, etc you may hate those organizations or love them nothing wrong with it just my opinion and whatever law school you attend will be 3 years of your life make sure it fits your style.

4) Speciality Programs & Reality of Legal Education
I don't see any particular area of interest from your post and it doesn't generally matter, but if for example you wanted to be in entertainmetn law then you should attend law school in NY or L.A. that is where movie studios etc are.

If you wanted Maritime law then be close to the water don't go to school in Nebraska since there is no ocean near it just common sense stuff like that. If you don't have a particular interest then it is not a problem most lawyers and law students don't really know exactly what they want to do.

A) Reality of Legal Education
I will let you in a big secret at every ABA school it is all the same. Your first year will consist of Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, and Criminal law they may also fit in Criminal Procedure & Constitutional Law into first year or require you to take some of those courses in second year. You will be reading supreme court cases like Palsgraff in Torts, Hadley v. Baxendale in contracts, Filburn cae in Con Law, Miranda in Criminal Procedure etc. Whether you read these cases at Harvard or Suffolk you are literally reading the same thing the Supreme Court doesn't write individaul opinions for each school.

Some professors may be better at explaining it etc, but genreally speakign you will be using outlines, the textbook, barbri lectures, etc you will be doing the same thing.

5) U.S. News Ranking
So many 0L's put so much stock into this, but it is such a bad idea. Remember it is a for-profit unregulated magainze offering an opinion. Schools jump 50 spots in 3 years for no particular reason. Many schools I considered when I was a OL jumped 30 spots by 2L or fell 30 spots there is no rhyme or reason.

To illustrate the point further U.S. News ranks more than law schools and they said Alberqueue, New Mexico was the best place to live and South Dakota is the best place to live in 2032. Do they have reasons for rating these cities to live in I"m sure there are some solid reasons, but I certanily am not planning on making a life altering decision such as moving to Alberqueue because U.S. News said to.  I imagine that makes sense to everybody, but somehow when U.S. News says this school is Kansas is 84th a kid born and raised in NYC will turn down the 99th best school to move to Kansas that makes no sense and rarely works out.

Point being use U.S. News as a factor, but the things I mentioned above such as location, cost, personal feelings about the school, etc should be considered because after all this is your life and nobody knows what is better for you than yourself.

Since you state you have been born and raised in rural PA and want to live in PA it seems like Duquesne or Widener would be ideal getting out debt free in the location you want to live in makes a lot of sense. I would like at the conditions on the scholarships and visit the schools to see which you like more, but based on the few facts you presented I think you should narrow it down to those two choices, but I am just some guy on the internet who has never even been to PA so make the choice that suits you best. There is simply no right answer.

Maintain FL 350:

--- Quote from: shoreman2 on January 07, 2013, 06:41:08 AM ---Is it worth it to save the money to go TTTT or should I look to my other schools?

--- End quote ---

In my opinion, saving money is your best option. If you were comparing local schools like Widener to Yale or Penn, I'd say it's probably worth racking up the student loan debt in order to accrue the benefits of attending a nationally recognized elite school. If, however, your goal is to practice in rural PA, MD, etc., I think you'll be better served by not having an huge loan payment each month.

Among the schools you're considering some may be ranked higher than others, but don't let this mislead you. In reality, they will all offer similar employment and networking options within their immediate geographic regions. Each school probably offers an advantage within it's specific neck of the woods, so that may be something to consider if you prefer to eventually live in one area over another.

The reason I'd focus on minimizing debt is simply because  graduating from one of these schools you'll likely work at a small-mid sized firm, or in local government. When you start, it's likely you won't be raking in a six figure salary. Hence, you probably don't want a six figure debt. 


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