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Author Topic: I can't decide!  (Read 1673 times)

Jonp713

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I can't decide!
« on: February 07, 2013, 06:28:58 PM »
I went a bit crazy and applied to basically every ranked school that gave me a free app. The end result is I have 23 acceptances. I have narrowed it down to 3-5 schools right now but can't make a decision!

Here's a little about me. I'm 28 years old, will have a Masters when I enter Law School. I had a 3.33UGPA but a 3.8 GGPA. My LSAT was 166. I Live in Pennsylvania, but don't mind moving for school. One if my issues is I don't know HOW far I want to move. My major interest is in Intellectual Property, on the side of working either in Copyright or Academia. So here are my options:

Drexel: Unranked, buy there is a LONG family history there, and my Uncle is on the Board. Also, they have a high bar passage rate and placement rate in my home city of Philadelphia. They have a concentration in my area, and require co-op placements. Also, they gave me a full ride.

Alabama: The Best ranked of my choices. Cost of living is so cheap there that after my scholarship, I would pay the same as going to Drexel and paying only for living expenses. They have been VERY friendly to me, and I went to visit and liked it a lot. I don't know, however, if I could live so far away for 3 years. Also, they have no concentration or special certificates in my area.

Richmond I like the admissions staff there a lot. They are extremely friendly and helpful. They accepted me into their John Marshall Scholars program which is a huge honor, and cost of attendance is only slightly higher than Alabama. They have a concentration in my area and are closer to home than Alabama. They are lower ranked than Alabama, but still have a high job placement and bar passage rate.

Maryland MAYBE: I have a Scholarship interview with them so I don't know about financial aid. I love Baltimore, and the school has a great reputation. It is highly ranked, and has a concentration in my area. It is close to home, but cost of living is higher than any of my other choices.

Temple: I have a HUGE family connection here. I am an Alum, my parents were both Alums, and my sister is a professor. Its comfortable, I could stay in my house which is 5 minutes away. Their overall tuition is low, under $20k a year, but the scholarship offer they made me was a bit insulting when compared with similarly ranked schools. They are re-evaluating that now.

In my heart I think it will come down to Richmond and Alabama, with Richmond having a slight advantage, but im having a heck of a time deciding!

jack24

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 07:13:54 PM »
What degrees do you have?   Are you sure you can sit for the patent bar?


livinglegend

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 12:37:00 AM »
You are the classic example of someone I think needs to be reached out to regarding rankings. I am a lawyer and can tell you the rank of all the schools you mentioned means very little. There are a few schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, that if you have the chance to get into go for it. However, the rest simply don't matter remember that U.S. News is nothing more than a for profit magazine offering an opinion and it is not something you should make a life altering decision on.

What any OL should consider are the following in this order (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) The realities of legal education and (5) Iif all else fails use the rankings as a tie breaker do not put what a magazine thinks number one when making a life altering decision.

Analysis of these Factors:

1) Location
This should be the NUMBER 1 PRIORITY first of realize that law school does not exist in a vacuum if your from Philadelphia which I am assuming is the case if you live 5 minutes away then Alabama is going to be a huge culture shock.

Also it sounds like Temple has your family which you appear close to if your in Alabama it will drastically effect these relationships.  I can tell you during 1L you will not want to be all alone in a new city it is a very stressful time.

So from my impression, which shouldn't mean that much since I am anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you I predict Alabama will be a bad fit based on a big city kid going away from his family who he is close to in a small country town where you don't know anyone while dealing with the stress of 1L. I don't think it is a good combination despite what a private magazine says.

Furthermore, wherever you go to school is where you are likely going to spend the rest of your life. If you attend Alabama you will get an apartment there, possibly enter into a relationship, have your internships, etc. If you want to in Philadelphia you will not be able to work internships in Philadelphia 9 months out of the year if you are in Alabama.

2) Cost & Scholarship Conditions
Cost is real and it sounds like you are getting scholarships, which is great. However, most law school scholarships attach conditions that are hard to maintain. The common condition is you must maintain a 3.0 to maintain your scholarship as someone who got into law school a 3.0 sounds very easy, but law school is graded on a curve and only 35% of people can get a 3.0.  100% of 1L's are convinced they will be in the top 35%, but you don't need to be a math major to see how that goes. Here is an article from the NY times that explains the conditions in a little more detail http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Just CHECK THE CONDITIONS before making a decision based on the scholarships there is a strong chance you will not have it for years 2 & 3.

3) Personal Feelings about the School
It sounds like you are doing this properly visit the schools and get a vibe from them. It appears you have a good feeling about some schools and go with your gut instinct here. I know when I was a OL I visited multiple schools and during school I did a lot of mock trial competitions so I saw a lot more. Some schools I really liked others were not my cup of tea and that is my own personal opinion and you will have your own. So take these feelings of where you comfortable very seriously the law school you attend will be three years of the prime of your life make sure it is a good fit for YOU.

4) Reality of Legal Education
One thing I don't think OL's realize is that the education at any ABA school is the same. Your first yer will consist of Torts, Civil Procedure, Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, and Con Law. A few schools might put Criminal Procedure in 1L and Con Law in 2L or vice versa, but you will take those courses. In those courses you will read Supreme Court Cases usually the first case you read is Pennoyer v. Neff in Civil Procedure and probably the Hairy Hand case in Contracts I forgot the name. Then Marbury v. Madison in Con Law. The Supreme Court did not sit down and write separate opinions for different ranked schools you will literally be reading the same cases no matter what school you attend.

As for specializations this usually is not a big deal in law school. Your first year will consist of the courses I mentioned above and then you will take Evidence, Wills & Trusts, Corporations, Remedies, and a few other courses that will be in the bar. You might take 4-5 courses in a specialty area assuming class schedule works right and that is assuming you keep the specialty interest. When I was a OL I really thought IP law sounded great, but I had 0 experience in it and after taking 1L class I knew IP law was not for me. Now if you have some undying passion for this subject area then maybe consider it, but if it is just an area of law you think sounds cool don't make a life altering decision based on it.

5
U.S. News Ranking

Now I may have been to harsh consider it, but remember it is nothing more than a magazine that ranks more than law schools. According to U.S. News New Mexico is the best place to live right and South Dakota will be the best place to live in 2032.

Not making this up either http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDYQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmoney.usnews.com%2Fmoney%2Fpersonal-finance%2Fslideshows%2Fbest-places-to-live&ei=2o0UUc0IsdmKAoe3gYgL&usg=AFQjCNGK6xJtfB_hioG9fOauleV13BPcTg&bvm=bv.42080656,d.cGE   and http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2012/08/07/here-are-the-best-places-to-livein-2032

I imagine you are not planning on moving to Albuquerque because U.S. News says it is the best or setting up a retirement home in South Dakota because U.S. News says so. There is some research into these rankings, but I am not packing my bags based on what some magazine says, which to me makes sense, but somehow 0L's lose their common sense when it comes to this. Use the rankings, but do not make a life altering decision.

Conclusion:

My opinion as an anonymous internet poster who knows nothing about you and has never met you is you should attend Temple. Your parents are Alums, it is five minutes from your house which will save you money on food etc, and you have sister that works there. You will be comfortable in that environment and be setup in the location you want to live assuming Philly is where you want to be.

I would also really discourage you from going to Alabama, but again I am anonymous person on the internet who for all you know could be high on crack in a public library or I could be the Valedictorian of Harvard.

Well enough of that and I apologize for the typos don't feel like editing this. Congrats on the acceptance and good luck in your legal career!

jack24

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2013, 12:37:29 PM »
Living Legend:

I've read your posts about this several times, and you don't address the real question:  Do employers care about the rankings?

That's the question.  If employers do care, then all your argument about the best place to live is completely bogus.  I agree that location and debt load are the two primary considerations every candidate should make, but that doesn't mean you should disregard rankings.  If you want to work in New Mexico, it's probably better to go to UNM than anywhere other than the top few schools in the country.  BUT, if you don't get into new mexico, it's probably better to go to the University of Arizona than to Cooley or Florida Coastal. But it depends on the firm.

You make a good point, but you need to finish it.  Here's an example.
This guy is considering Alabama.  Let's assume he wants to work in Alabama.  I just googled "Birmingham law firms"  and clicked on this one. 

They appear to have 12 attorneys.

They have JD's from the following:  (Obviously, this particular firm doesn't care about ranking)

Cumberland School of Law of Samford University (Rank 142)
University of Virginia (Rank 7)
University of Alabama (Rank 29)
Cumberland  (Rank 142)
Birmingham (State Accredidation only. Unranked.  Night School)
Birmingham  (State Accredidation only. Unranked.  Night School)
Birmingham  (State Accredidation only. Unranked.  Night School)
University of Alabama  (Rank 29)
Cumberland (Rank 142)
Cumberland (Rank 142)
Birmingham (State Accredidation only. Unranked.  Night School)


So I believe you are correct that the US news rankings should not be the biggest factor in a law school choice, but don't dismiss it completely.  This firm above is an example of a firm that doesn't care about rankings, but I know that there are a TON of firms in my city that will hire from two local schools or a top 14 before even considering any other graduates.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2013, 03:19:04 PM »
Living Legend:

I've read your posts about this several times, and you don't address the real question:  Do employers care about the rankings?

That's the question.  If employers do care, then all your argument about the best place to live is completely bogus.

I think the point here is that none of the schools the OP mentioned are nationally prestigious, but most probably have decent local reputations. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on the region in which the OP intends to live, and to pick a school that will offer the best opportunities within that region.

I completely agree that if you want to work in NM it makes more sense to attend Arizona than Cooley. Arizona has a better reputation and better alumni connections in the Southwest. That doesn't seem to be analogous to the OP's situation, though. The schools he mentioned are located in very different parts of the country, and I doubt if any one of them carries significant reputational weight outside of it's immediate locale. In that case, rankings matter very little.

For example, I live in Los Angeles, and I can safely say that a degree from any one of the schools mentioned by the OP would be viewed as roughly equal by most LA firms. At the big LA firms (where rankings definitely matter) none of those schools would be considered prestigious enough to get the OP an interview based on pedigree alone.

Therefore, if the OP wanted to live in LA, he could attend the highest ranked school on that list and realize little or no benefit. Of course, in Birmingham or Philadelphia, it's going to be a different story.

jack24

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2013, 04:58:57 PM »

For example, I live in Los Angeles, and I can safely say that a degree from any one of the schools mentioned by the OP would be viewed as roughly equal by most LA firms. At the big LA firms (where rankings definitely matter) none of those schools would be considered prestigious enough to get the OP an interview based on pedigree alone.


I do understand your point, but even in LA, Alabama would have a distinct advantage in name recognition and ranking over several of the other schools OP mentioned.    A top 30 school with the best football program in the Nation may not land you a job by itself, but some employers will recognize that the average student at Alabama has a significantly higher LSAT and GPA than many of the students at those other schools.

I know this because I went to a big sports school and moved out of state after law school.   My school isn't ranked that high, but everyone thinks I went to a "great school".

Really, the OP should be trying to network with potential employers he would be interested in, and asking them which school he should choose.

I just pulled up the Gibson Dunn website and did a random sampling of 10 lawyers who work in LA.  Their JDs were earned at the following Universities

Tulane
Boalt (Berkeley)
Yale
Columbia
Boalt
Duke
Yale
Chicago
USC
BYU


They have
0 attorneys from Drexel
1 from Alabama (Works in NY)
1 From Richmond (Works in NY)
2 From Maryland (They work in DC)
1 from Temple (works in NY)

So four out of those five schools have the *potential* of getting you into a huge law firm.

By contrast, 
They have 16 lawyers from the University of Texas
6 from Southern Methodist
36 from the University of Virginia
5 From Vanderbilt
5 From Emory

As opposed to
1 From Texas Tech
2 from the University of Houston
1 From Richmond
0 From the University of Tennessee
0 in any other school in Georgia other than Emory.

If Biglaw or Midlaw is your goal, it's stupid not to consider ranking.   Should it be considered above location or cost?  No.  But many employers do care about it.




Maintain FL 350

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 07:00:03 PM »
If Biglaw or Midlaw is your goal, it's stupid not to consider ranking.   Should it be considered above location or cost?  No.  But many employers do care about it.

Yes, I completely agree. Especially at big firms, prestige and national rank matter greatly. As you've shown, most attorneys at big firms went to prestigious law schools, and they like to hire from peer institutions.

In the handful of cases where someone is hired from a non-prestigious school, however, I wonder how much the rank of their law school really mattered.

For example, if Gibson Dunn, a huge firm, has only a handful of lawyers from non-elite schools, then I have to think that school rank had very little to do with those people getting hired. Someone like that gets hired based on other strengths. They'd have to compete against T14 grads with impress pedigrees, which leads me to believe that they have uniquely stellar resumes, both academically and professionally. Maybe they were valedictorians, federal clerks, or have graduate STEM degrees.

Those people are so few in number that I don't know if the general rules apply. I think you can say that in the context of big firms in LA/NYC a non-elite law school grad overcomes their lack of pedigree, and gets hired despite the snootiness.

I went to a T3 in CA, and our top grads scored biglaw jobs. Even though the school isn't prestigious, the local biglaw firms have dealt with enough grads to know that the top grads are a good investment. I suspect that's the same in most cities.   

 

livinglegend

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2013, 12:13:42 AM »
I don't think I am saying rank doesn't matter I list it as a factor to consider, but the last factor. Certainly if OP was deciding between Harvard and Cooley the rank should play some factors, but Temple, Drexel, and Alabahma are not schools that have any particularly prestige to them. It really sounds like the OP could stay at home saving thousands on living costs and being in an area where he is comfortable if he choose a school in Philadelphia.  Whatever rank Alabama has well not be worth moving away from family, friends, and losing on tens of thousands of dollars for living costs.

As for your sampling of Gibson Dunn the reality is you have almost no shot at BigLaw from any of the schools OP is considering 1 person from Alabahma works there "1" and if you read his profile he was not hired right out of law school he worked in London first.

The schools you listed BYU, Boalt, Duke, Chicago, etc give you a shot at Biglaw and schools of that caliber the rank matters, but at some point nobody really cares. I honestly have no idea what any of the schools OP is considering is ranked and remember schools change drastically year by year http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html Alabahma was 38th two years ago now it is 29th. It coudl very easily be 50 or 60th by the time OP graduates or stay at 39.

It is also important to realize that LSAT/GPA make up only 12% of a law school ranking there are plenty of schools "ranked" lower with higher admissions standards than Alabama, which kind of makes you realize how absurd the rankings are.

I.E. William Mary ranked 35 3.46-3.82    161-167 (this school is 6 spots lower despite having higher GPA and LSAT standards)

BYU Ranked below Alabama at 39th their GPA & LSAT 3.51-3.87    160-167

Alabama ranked 29th 3.42-3.94 158-167

So my point is the rankings don't mean that much because they are very flawed, which is why I bring up the fact they rank New Mexico as "THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE" I mention nothing about law school there just the fact that U.S. News ranks everything and I don't agree that New Mexico is the best place to live, but whatever formula they use decided that it is.

I imagine most people are not going to move to New Mexico, because U.S. News said it is the best place to live. However, for some reason law students make life altering choices based on a magazine. It is something to consider I am more interested in New Mexico it is place I never thought of, but hell maybe I will take a vacation there now, but I am not going to make a life altering decision based on what a magazine says, which is my overall point.



Anti09

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2013, 09:15:38 PM »
Ranking is important for maybe the T25.  After that it becomes completely irrelevant.

jack24

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Re: I can't decide!
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 12:38:24 PM »
Ranking is important for maybe the T25.  After that it becomes completely irrelevant.

This is completely wrong.

Employers like the US news rankings because it helps them evaluate their potential hires.  They know how academically competitive each school's students are.   For example, in an earlier post I noted that the median LSAT at Appalachian is 148 while the median at UConn is 159.  That's a jump from around the 35th percentile up to the 75th percentile.   Going to a school ranked 50 can, in many cases, give you a much better shot at an interview than a T4 school. 

Also, the regional impact of the rankings is clear.  Maybe employers in Alabama don't care whether you went to Texas Southern or SMU, but employers in Texas sure as hell care.   If you are trying to work in Kansas City, a degree from University of Kansas is going to give you a substantial advantage over a degree from Washburn.

I'm not saying rank should be the most significant factor.  I think Location (in relation to the jobs you want) and expected debt are far more important.   But making a case that going somewhere like Florida Coastal is every bit as good as going to Florida, FSU or Miami is just stupid.