Deciding Where to Go > Choosing the Right Law School

Is it ok to......

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Obviously this is my first time applying, so I dont know what you can and cannot do.. so please dont mind this dumb question..

If you are admitted to two schools and one is offering money, is it deemed unfavorable by admissions committee and financial office to ask your first-choice school for money if you have an offer of half the tuition from another school?


From everything I have heard it is quite common to do that. Once you are accepted its not like they are going to take away ur admission because you asked for money. Law school is extremely expensive and they understand that. Asking for money will not hurt you, I am in the process of doing the same thing myself.

Thanks for the reply. I will do that. But just in case they dont give any discount for tuition, I have another question.

Would you attend a (lower T-2, #96 USNR) school that's offering only admission over a T-3 (#125 USNR) school thats giving half tution?

Negotiating between schools is common and accepted.  Be respectful, but you are well within your rights to ask either school for more.

I see you are deciding between Syracuse (#96) and whatever #125 is (there is a 7-way tie for #119).  Based on proximity, I'm going to guess Vermont, Maine or Drexel.

Here's the thing about USNWR.  The rankings are pretty arbitrary and schools between 50-200 shift around like crazy.  Once you get into that point, rankings pretty much stop mattering.  Will going to school ranked #50 look better than school ranked #200?  Maybe, but it shouldn't be your primary concern.  If you aren't going to a school with a national name (read: the T14), you should be focusing on three primary characteristics:  Location, Employment Stats, and Cost, in that order. 

1: Location
No schools outside the T14 have a nationally portable name, so depending on the market and the school, you shouldn't expect your degree to travel further than the states surrounding yours (and lots of times, not even that far).  Go to school where you are planning to work.  That means if you go to Syracuse, you're hoping for NYC but have a real shot at being stuck in upstate NY.  If you go to Drexel, you're hoping for Philly, etc. 

2. Employment Stats
This is just as important as location.  Make sure you know your odds.  Syracuse only gave the class of 2011 a 50% chance of getting a job as a lawyer.  Look at the link below and you will see only 50.3% of the class got long-term, full-time legal jobs 9 months after graduation.  The nature of legal hiring is such that if you do not find a legal job within a year, your odds of ever working as a lawyer start dropping significantly.

It is tough to evaluate your other options, but you should assume that any school ranked at #125 will give you between a 30-60% chance of finding full-time, long-term legal work.  Look at the NALP data on to get an idea of the kind of outcomes you can expect from your options, and plan accordingly.

3. Cost
Because you stand roughly a 50% chance of finding work, it is of utmost importance that you do not take out loans for your schooling.  Legal salaries are bimodal, meaning even if you find a job, you will most likely be making between $40-60k (at MAXIMUM) upon graduation.  In general, the jobs paying $120-160k are at Biglaw firms.  No school outside of the T30 places more than a few percentage points into Biglaw, so you cannot expect that as a realistic outcome.

Ideally, you should not go to either option for more than free.  If you are taking out loans, you should pay AT MOST $60,000 including living expenses, fees, interest, tuition increases, etc.  Because of the poor job prospects coming out of T2-T3 law schools, and because of the bimodal nature of legal salaries, it is very important that you mitigate your risk. 

Additional information would also help.  Where would you like to work, and what do you want to practice?

I would like to practice in Texas. Yes, it's Syracuse, Loyola New Orleans, UMKC $, and U. Arkansas $. Waitlisted at St. Mary's, which is not nationally ranked but known regionally. Havent heard back from Vermont or Drexel. I saw from earlier post, Vermont isnt great.

As you mentioned, the top salaries are at biglaw and biglaw is not at these schools. So, I would like to get into commercial litgation, international/business law, immigration, and/or IP.

St. Mary's and UMKC are among the schools that are good on "value". I got into some backup schools like Southern Illinois and Thomas Jefferson. But never mind that, even though TJSL has an IP Fellowship.


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