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Author Topic: narrowing down my options, and question about getting off the waitlist  (Read 624 times)

mg1185

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Hello, I have recently migrated to LSD from TLS, where I have spent the past several weeks reading about how law school will surely ruin my life. I'm hoping to receive some constructive advice regarding my options and, after looking through a number of LSD threads, it seems that is a bit more likely to happen here. My goal is not to be wealthy. I am not looking for 80 hr work weeks or a huge salary. I want to be a lawyer because I feel that the law is the most practical way possible to help people in a tangible way and make a real difference in society. I love problem-solving, researching, thinking... This is something I want because I believe that the job itself will be rewarding, not because of the financial 'return on my investment'. That being said, I aim to minimize my debt as much as possible, as I do not want to be limited in my career by a need to receive a higher salary to pay back my loans.

I have applied to a number of schools in varying areas of the country. I currently live in Buffalo, NY and have family both on Long Island (my family) and in FL (my partner's family). Being closer to family would be nice, but is not a necessity. We've lived far from them for almost a decade and have been able to make it work. My partner and I are looking to relocate long term, and a large part of my application process has been guided by where we would like to live. We would like to leave Buffalo, as the economy here is in pretty bad shape and jobs are hard to come by for us both. It seems that staying here would likely be limiting, and we would both have better opportunities elsewhere. I am beginning to receive acceptance notifications from many schools, and am still awaiting scholarship details for most. Figuring out the financial aspect, then, will be the next stage in narrowing down my options, as my goal is to minimize my debt as much as possible without sacrificing opportunities.

The schools I have applied to thus far are:

American-- accepted, awaiting scholarship information
Brooklyn-- accepted, $20k per year, top 80% stipulation
SUNY Buffalo-- accepted, awaiting scholarship information
Cardozo-- pending
Chicago-Kent-- pending
DePaul-- accepted, awaiting scholarship information
Georgia State University-- accepted, awaiting scholarship information
University of Connecticut-- pending
University of Minnesota-- waitlisted
Northeastern-- accepted, $10k per year, "remain in good academic standing" is the only stipulation
University of Pittsburgh-- pending
University of Georgia-- pending

At this point, although I am very much attracted to Brooklyn for a number of reasons, I do not feel it would be a wise decision based on the debt I will incur between tuition and COL in NY, and the inevitably stiff competition I will face in NY from NYU, Columbia, and T14 students, along with Fordham, Cardozo, St. John's, CUNY... it seems that attending a middle of the road school in such a competitive market would not be a smart move. I have heard that scholarship amounts are often increased as students withdraw, so I am holding out to see what happens. As it stands, I do not plan on attending unless there is a substantial increase to my scholarship.

I also likely plan on withdrawing from Northeastern for similar reasons- Boston is also an expensive city to live in with quite a bit of competition, and because I am wary of their "no grades" system- With those reservations, and a mere $10k per year scholarship, I do not feel that it would be worth accumulating such substantial debt to attend.

I have similar reservations about my options in Chicago, in terms of competition and COL.

Firstly, then- does my assessment of the above schools seem accurate? Are there other considerations I should be taking into account? And secondly, of the remaining schools... any advice/recommendations?

I also recently received a response on my application to University of Minnesota. I have been waitlisted. My GPA is 3.38, LSAT 161. I am below both medians, and believe it is likely my work experience, personal statement, and strong LORs which kept me from being outright rejected. I have been working on a LOCI to send to them, and intend to submit it via e-mail within the next week. I am concerned, however, that being accepted from the waitlist may mean that I will not receive substantial scholarship money.

My questions, then, regarding University of Minnesota:
1) How likely is it, when being admitted off of the waitlist, that I will also be offered a scholarship?
2) Would attending University of Minnesota, even at a higher cost, be a better decision than attending a lower-ranked school for less money? (In terms of employment opportunities, education, mobility, etc.).

It is the highest ranked school to which I have applied- but what that mean enough in terms of opportunity that it would be worth spending more to attend there? I would be happy to live in Minneapolis, at least for quite a while, but would relocating from there be difficult? In looking at Law School Transparency, it does seem that graduates have had some luck in moving to a variety of areas throughout the country- is this typical?

Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

IrrX

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Re: narrowing down my options, and question about getting off the waitlist
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2013, 10:04:44 PM »
Regional focus has started to become far more evident in the last few years. Go to school where you want to work, where the cost of your education will be lowest, and network your ass off from the very first day you get there. Find a local Inn of the Court, join it, and attend meetings religiously. Get to know lawyers, and better yet, make absolutely certain they not only know you, but like you.
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livinglegend

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Re: narrowing down my options, and question about getting off the waitlist
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2013, 01:45:13 AM »
First thing to realize when reading things on this forum, TLS, or others is that everyone posting is an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you so take it with a grain of salt. With that disclaimer I will follow up on what Irrx said.

As Irrx suggessted location is the most important thing to consider particularly if you have a partner, which from your post appears you do. Not only will the area you reside in have a significant impact on your experience in law school your partner will be moving to a whole new city without any structure in place.  The reality is wherever you go to law school is where you will end up for the foreseeable future after law school there are exceptions, but all your internships will be local and schools have connections locally. If you attend Brooklyn Law School nobody outside of New York is going to go out of their way to hire you. Law firms, government agencies, etc tend to recruit locally it just makes sense. A firm in Miami is not going to fly up to interview people at Brooklyn Law School and they are not going to pay to interview you when there is Miami Law School, FIU, in Miami and Florida and Florida State it just does not make sense.

So just based on the schools you listed really think about where you want to live aside from the job aspect each city has a culture. I am also assuming you are gay based on your reference to your partner and sadly these type of relationships are not as accepted in some parts of the country as others. This goes to a bigger point that law school does not exist in a vacuum if you are going to school in the South it may be a lot difference experience for you and your partner than in San Francisco.

COST
You definitely need to pay attention to this and it appears that you are, but remember some schools offer in-state tuition. I noticed you mentioned Florida might be a place you have connections and FIU offers in-state tuition at 12k a year, CUNY does as well, and Buffalo might also. You can have a 20k scholarhsip at a school that costs 50k per year you are still going to spend 90k in tuition assuming you don't lose the scholarship money. While you would spend only 36k in tuition at FIU, CUNY, or some other school. I cannot stress to you the importance of minimizing your debt.

PERSONAL FEELING ABOUT THE SCHOOLS
Another thing that is important is for you to visit the schools and see if it is a fit for you. You will have your own personal opinions regarding this and I know I had mine. When I was a 0L I visited a number of schools some felt right others felt wrong. Visit the different schools and see what fits for you.

REALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION
I will let you in on a secret at every ABA school the education is the same. Despite U.S. News giving these b.s. rankings what you learn in law school is the exact same. Your first year will be torts, contracts, civil procedure, property, criminal law, and con law. Or some slight variation that and in these classes you will read supreme court cases where you will learn personal jurisdiction, the elements of negligence, consideration in a contract, etc etc. The Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different law schools so you learn the same thing and furthermore once you are a practicing lawyer you go into court and argue. You don't get to say I went to X school, which is ranked 9 spots higher than opposing counsels school so I win.

I strongly encourage you to go into a courtroom and see what being a lawyer really is if you haven't already. You will see the name of law schools does not come up, but some lawyers are great others are not. It often has very little to do with their school.

RANKINGS:

To many OL's take this way to seriously. Remember U.S. News is a for profit, unregulated magazine, offering an opinion nothing more. Do not make life altering decisions based on what a school is "ranked". Nobody really cares I noticed you might consider moving to Minnesota because it is the highest ranked? Do you have any desire to live in Minnesota? Does your partner want to live in Minnesota? If the answer to both of those questions is no then do not make a life altering decision by spending three years of your life and 100,000 because a magazine said to.

If you have connections in Minnesota and want to be there then Minnesota is a solid school and will open doors in Minnesota, but employers in NY or Florida are not going to heavily recruit in Minnesota it just doesn't make sense for them to do so.

One point to really drive this home is U.S. News ranks more than law schools according to the same Magazine New Mexico is the best place to live right now and South Dakota will be the best place to live in 2032. I am not making this up here are the links.

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2012/08/07/here-are-the-best-places-to-livein-2032

I highly doubt you and your partner are going to pack your bags and move to New Mexico because U.S. News ranked it #1 or plan on retiring in South Dakota because U.S. News said so. I am sure there are valid points to the ranking of these areas, but making a life altering decision based on these reports would not make a lot of sense. Apply the same logic when choosing a law school I cannot tell you how many 0L's make the mistake of putting rankings first and foremost in their decision process and it is 100% the wrong thing to do.

CONCLUSION:
My response is a little scattered, but I think it is important to understand that you know better than anyone else what is best for you. Furthermore, if you go to law school and pass the bar you will probably succeed. It will be difficult and none of these schools will result in employers begging you to work for them, but with some perservancer & dedication you can succeed as a lawyer.

I went to a mediocre school and found a job I love as lawyer right after getting bar results. However, for three years of law school and 4 months waiting for results I was scared sh**less it was stressful and these are generally the people who post online when they are scared, but after they move on to succeed they never rescind their posts so it often scares 0L's like yourself.

Just bottom line if you want to be a lawyer go to law school. The best choice in my opinion is to attend law school in a location you want to live in that works for your partner and minimizes your debt. Good luck to you .

Anti09

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Re: narrowing down my options, and question about getting off the waitlist
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2013, 09:13:33 PM »
Go to school in the market you want to work, and pay as little as possible.  Ranking means almost nothing once you get past the T20, so you should focus on employment statistics and keeping your debt load as close to zero as you can.  Realize that many of the schools you listed give you less than a 50% chance of securing work as a lawyer, and you will be making $40-60k MAXIMUM.  The general rule of thumb is not to take out more debt that you expect to make your first year, so you should be paying AT MOST $60k for the total COA (including living expenses) for any school you attend.  Re-taking would give you access to more schools and to better scholarships at the schools you are in.  Good luck.

livinglegend

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Re: narrowing down my options, and question about getting off the waitlist
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 10:53:16 PM »
I will have to rebut Anit's statement and remember law school transparency is not exactly gospel. Furthermore, it only reports attorney salaries right after graduation and although it is true most lawyers start out making 40-60k,  after a few years of experience this number jumps significantly.

As for the 50% chance of working as a lawyer there are number of reasons for these numbers. One being not everyone reports all their info to their school when I graduated, passed the bar, and was working I simply never filled out the survey. I should have filled it out and meant to do it, but I didn't. There is no penalty for not submitting your paperwork it is completely voluntary and I think I like many people I didn't feel like spending my free time filing out an employment survey.

On top of that there are a number of people who do not pass the bar, which often has a lot more to do with the individual than anything related to the school. If you don't pass the bar you can't work as a lawyer and even schools like Harvard do not have 100% bar passage rates. Even further still there a number of people who won't get hired because of their personality or other issues. For example I knew a guy in law school who got hired as a D.A, but he failed his drug test. The guy had a cocaine problem, which not the school's fault he. The guy graduated, passed the bar, but had a substance abuse problem. He couldn't get a job because of his personal cocaine problem and it was noting related to the school. Further still there are number of people who go to law school and simply don't want to be lawyers. Some people are extremely wealth and just want the intellectual challenge or want to go into business etc.

Bottom line is these employment numbers should be considered, but  you have realize there are far from full-proof. I went to a mediocre school and was offered a job right the day after getting bar results. This was not that long ago and I know plenty of people that also got jobs. However, I can tell you I was stressed out for 3 years about finding a job during law school and  in California you wait 4 months for bar results so after graduation I went 3 months of studying for the bar and another 4 months of waiting for results before I could work. Not to mention you get your results the week of Thanksgiving and realistically most employers do not hire around the Holiday season and the majority of my classmates did not get jobs until January. This was more than 9 months after graduation, but you can see why this 9 month number is flawed, because almost jobs depend on bar results, which you don't have until 7-8 months after graduation. Once you receive those results it will generally take a month or two to find a job.

I could go on and on, but the reality is many people do find legal jobs, but like any profession finding a job is difficult & stressful. If you really want to be a lawyer then go to law school, but realize it is not a guarantee of success, but the numbers you see from a lot of these places have a major agenda and are very skewed. I would highly recommend going to these different schools and contacting recent alumni. Many alumni are happy to talk about their experiences and you can gauge the credibility of the individuals yourself.

Good luck on your legal career should you choose that path.