Law School Discussion

Advice on Deciding Where to Attend

Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« on: January 16, 2013, 10:26:37 AM »
Hey everyone,

Just recently and happily ventured over here from TLS.

So here's my situation. I have been accepted to the following schools - scholarship follow the hyphen and are listed per year with stipulations.

Nova Southeastern - $18K - 2.7 GPA (Median)

Florida International - $0 (for now; I believe I will obtain the First Generation Scholarship of up to $5K) - In-state Tuition

Stetson - $12K - good academic standing 2.0 GPA

Miami - $0

Ave Maria - $35K - 3.0 GPA (Median)

St. Thomas - $28K - 2.5 GPA

DePaul - $15K - no stipulations

Michigan State - 25% Trustee's Scholarship - don't know stipulation yet

I am waiting to hear back from Emory, Saint Louis University, Indiana-Bloomington, Case Western, Ohio State, and Cincinnati. I think these schools will reject me other than SLU and Case Western. The only way I would attend SLU is with big $$$, but I doubt itll be anything more than 50%, if that.

I have a 3.1 and 156 LSAT. Not retaking

I live in South Florida, so Nova, FIU, Miami, and St. Thomas would have little to no COL.

As of now, what would you guys choose? I will update soon if I am admitted to any of these schools.

Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 11:11:36 AM »
Just for more information, here's my LSN site.

Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 04:11:57 PM »
I would suggest first deciding where you want to live, then choosing the least expensive school in that region. Most of the places you've been accepted to probably offer similar post-grad employment prospects, with a slight advantage being given to U Miami. Assuming that you're a FL resident, I'd look closely at FIU. The in-state tuition is reasonable, and (unlike a scholarship) it won't be lost after the first year. I don't have personal experience with the south FL market, but I doubt if the slight reputational advantage enjoyed by U Miami outweighs the cheap tuition at FIU.

Scholarship stipulations are tricky, and it's very common to lose all or some of your scholarship. You'll quickly find when you get to law school that it's far more difficult than undergrad, and staying at the median is not as easy as it sounds.

My analysis would apply to the midwest schools, too. If you want to live in Chicago, then DePaul might be a good choice. But if you plan to live in south Florida I'm not sure that it makes too much sense to spend three years in Bloomington or East Lansing. Also, if you go out of state you're likely to accrue debt for living expenses, whereas maybe if you stick near home you can avoid that cost.

Trust me, it's easy to take out those loans but it hard to pay them back. Coming out of one of these schools you probably won't be making $150K right out of the gate, so do what you reasonably can to minimize your debt.

Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 05:58:39 PM »
Hey thanks for the advice.

There are a couple of ways I could do this. I could stay at home in South FL and go to either Miami, FIU, or Nova, with minimal COL.

Or I could go to either Case or Ohio State, assuming I am admitted to both and resume there, as I went to undergrad at a liberal arts school near Cleveland.

Or I could go to SLU and live with my girlfriend of three years with minimal COL

Or I could just start off new in Chicago at DePaul, Lansing at MSU, or any of the other schools I plan on hearing back from.

I'm not dead set on where I want to practice. My connections and foundation are probably best in south Florida, but I also wouldn't mind moving to saint louis or Cleveland. It's just a tough decision. All of that, plus the prestige and job placement of each of these schools.

It's just a very confusing and difficult decision.


Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 08:02:52 PM »
A factor for you and all other applicants should be the attrition rate of a school.  It is telling if students  in mass transfer, quit or fail out of a law school.

You can look up,the attrition rates of the schools you listed on the below link and "hitting" "ABA Data".

IMO, all things being equal the University of Miami is the best school you listed.

Good Luck.


Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 02:06:13 PM »
I have posted on this forum many times regarding this topic and one thing to remember above all else is everyone posting on this form or others myself included is nothing more than anonyomous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you. With that said I have gone through law school so I can offer my experience and what I think is important for anyone in your position to consider, but again I am just some guy posting on the internet so take my advice with a grain of salt.

You have already recieved some solid advice above, but I am going to add onto it. I think for any 0L these factors in this order should be considered when choosing a law school. (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) Reality of Legal Education (Speciality Programs) (5) and as a final factor the least important in my opinion U.S. News I think many 0L's mistakenly put this at the top of the list when it should be at the bottom.

Here is some analysis regarding the factors I mentioned.

(1) Location
It looks like your options right now are the Midwest and Florida, which are two different places entirely as I imagine you know. Whereever you end up going to school in all likelihood is where you will end up living. Furthermore, I noticed you have a girlfriend living near SLU I don't know how serious that is or not, but I would beat a significant amount of money that if you attend law school in a different city than her that relationship is ending. If you attend FIU while she is in St. Louis you will not see eachother you will be extremly busy and broke throughout law school, which is not a good combination for a long distance relationship.

Aside from that Miami is going to have far different weather & culture than Michigan State. I personally went to law school in a place that has pretty cloudly weather and it made studying a lot easier. Studying the Rule Against Perpetuities when it is 90 degrees and a beach with a bunch of beautiful girls on it would have made me drop the book and likely fail out. I know myself and how I would have handled a town like Miami or a school like Pepperdine in L.A. it would have ended with me rarely crackign a book. So that was a factor for me, but you might be entirely different.

Aside from that Michigan State (East Lansign) is a lot different than Miami as I am sure you are aware and law school does not exist in a vaccuum. There is not a whole hell of a lot to do in East Lansing if your not into the Frat Party, College Football, College Basketball, etc scene. Again something to consider I went to law school in a pretty metropolitan area which was good for some extra activities and making connections during law school.

Furthermore, three years is a long time you will get an apartment, make friends, etc and that will be difficult. Also whatever school you attend will have connections locally and you will only be able to intern at places near the school during the academic year. If you want to work for the Miami D.A. you cannot do that from August until May when if your in Michigan. If you wan to work for the Lansing D.A. you can't do that if your in Miami. So I really cannot stress the importance of location.

(2) Cost
This is a huge factor and it looks like you are considering it. There are a few schools like FIU that offer in-state tuition which is awesome. CUNY, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, and a few others offer tuition which is about 10-15k per year, which is very reasonable for an ABA education. Many schools even with a half-tuition schoalrship will be more expensive than those schools. Many people see a 25,000 scholarship and think damn that is amazing, but if the law school is 50k per year you are still paying 25k per year while FIU or one of the other state schools is 10-15k per year over 3 years that adds up to 30k of savings.

You also seem aware of the scholarship conditions, which many people don't understand. These are of the utmost importance 100% of incoming 1L's are certain they will be in the top 10% of the class and maintain their scholarship, but 90% of people can't be in the top 10%. Once that is not achieved you lose your scholarship for years 2 & 3 then your paying 50k a year opposed to the guaranteed 15k per year at FIU or the other state schools I mentioned.

3) Personal Feelings About the School

Every school has a culture to it when I was a 0L I visited multiple schools and also did mock trial competitions so I interacted with even more. Many of the schools had a fell to them and there were some schools I loved others I hated. However, just because I didn't like one school doesn't mean you won't like it either. My reasoning was very subjective as I mentioned Pepperdie is a beautiful campus and it seemed great, but it was a little religious or that was my impression and I coudln't hanlde the beach, beautiful weather, etc while studying Torts. That might sound ideal for you and that is your personal opinion. So visit these schools interact with professors, talk to students, etc. At the end see what feels right for you remember this is a 3 year 100k commitment make sure it fits your style because nobody knows what is better for you than yourself.

4) Reality of Legal Education

In reality every ABA school teaches you the same exact thing. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and likely Con Law in 1L. They might mix in Criminal Procedure or Con Law in 2L, but you will take those courses. What you will do is read Supreme Court Cases like Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro, Palsgraff in Torts, etc. These cases are exactly the same whether you read them in Michigan or Miami. Some professors are more engaging than others, but at every school you will have good and bad ones.

At the end of your three years you will pay BarBri or Kaplan to help you study for the bar and once you pass that with an ABA law degree you are a licensed lawyer and can take the bar in any other state.

However, if there is a speciality your are interested in which very few 0L's seriously are then you might want to look at a school's course schedule and again consider location. For example if you want to work for the  Miami Dolphins then go to law school in Miami. Or if you want to do entertainment law go to law school in L.A., but if you want to help farmers patent corn or something then go to Nebraska. Just apply common sense there and also look to see if they offer what your interested in. Even if htey do specialities are not that big of a factor, because in reality you will take Evidence, Wills & Trusts, Coroprations, a writing course, trial advoacy, LRW to round out the rest of your 2L & 3L to prepare for the bar. You might get between 3-5 courses that will help focus on a specific area, but they will only give you an overview.

(5) U.S. News
If after all those factors are considered you can't decide then look to the rankings as a tiebreaker, but remember it is nothing more than a for-profit magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News has also ranked New Mexico the best state to live, but I don't see you applying to University of New Mexico to live there. I certainly would not make a life altering decision such as moving to Alberque because some magainze said to so use the same logic when deciding where to attend. Don't go to a school because it was ranked 84th opposed to 99th nobody cares. If you were deciding between Harvard and FIU then the rankings might be the number one factor and you should attend Harvard, but nobody cares about whatever difference exists between Depaul and FIU the factors above will be much more important.

In the end I am nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you. For all you know I am a bum in a public library strung out on H rambling on the internet with all the typos I have made rushing through this post you might be right : ) , but I can't stress enough consider location and your personal feelings when making this life altering decision. Good luck.

Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 03:32:22 PM »

First off, we are ALL waiting for Emory!!

Secondly, Miami isn't worth it! I went there for Grad School, and I met with their law school people and HATED IT!! The facilities weren't up to par with others, and frankly there was a sense of backstabbing and competitiveness above its ranking.

I have found as a whole that UMiami students, no matter their discipline, have this idea that their school is way better than it is. Granted its a good school, but its not T14, and the law students act like it is.

I too am considering DePaul but its not in my top 5 right now.

I would suggest looking into the specific area of law that interests you and see where is the strongest.

Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2013, 08:40:35 PM »
I think your post is exactly why so many people end up disappointed with their law schools when they look at rankings. Miami is not Harvard and I am sure it is a fine school as any other ABA school is. At every school you learn the same exact thing, but the culture & location of the school will make a major impact on your experience.

From what I read you saw Miami and didn't like it. I am sure there are plenty of people that love the Miami Law School, but it doesn't fit your personal preference. To the OP don't let a magazine make a life altering decision for you visit the schools and make sure first hand it is the right fit for you.