Law School Discussion

Drexel or Loyola LA

Drexel or Loyola LA
« on: March 17, 2013, 08:52:00 AM »
I was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, so I applied to almost all of those area schools (temple, Villanova, Penn, Drexel). I have not heard back from Penn yet, but I got into the other three and got more money than I can reasonably turn down from Drexel. I know that Drexel is a TTT school and is new, but I have several family connections to the Philadelphia Biglaw community and one of them is saying that Drexel is doing all the right things to be a serious contender in the Philadelphia market. I went to admitted students day and liked the school and the people I talked to.

As I am writing this, I am in Los Angeles looking at a few schools. It is my first time visiting the area and the only time I will have to visit before I have to make a decision. I have acceptances from Chapman (with comparable money to what I got from Drexel) and Loyola (with less money) and am waiting to hear back from Pepperdine. I was hoping that I would not like the city so that this would be an easier decision, but I really do like it. I am considering the area because I am interested in entertainment law. I know that this is a changing field and is not about representing celebrities anymore, and I am more than okay with that because I am genuinely interested in the entertainment industry and have taken some related pre-law courses, so I feel like I know as much about what I'm getting into as anyone in my position could. I don't really have any personal or business connections in California; the only person who I would know out there is my boyfriend, who lives in the same city as I do now and would move with me. I don't think I can negotiate a whole lot more from Loyola without getting more money from Pepperdine. My uncle in Philadelphia Biglaw tells me that going to Drexel does not necessarily mean that I can never, ever leave the Philadelphia market later in my career if I do well enough, but I feel like being here during law school will open more doors for me into that industry.

I have less than a month left to make this decision and it's so difficult. Can anyone offer any advice?

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2013, 10:06:47 AM »
I can't really tell you what to do, per se, because where you choose to attend law school is a highly personal choice. Nonetheless, I live in LA, went to law school here, and worked in the entertainment industry for a while. Perhaps I can offer some insight on the local market.

Generally, you should go to law school in the area in which you want to live, unless you have the opportunity to  attend a highly prestigious national school. It is much easier to obtain internships, clerkships, and other positions locally. If you have the reputation of an elite national school behind you, like Harvard, well, that's different. But if you attend a local/regional school like Drexel it might be very tough to land entertainment related internships in LA. Conversely, if you want to live in Philly, it might be difficult to make connections if you attend an LA school. 

Even in a big metropolitan areas like LA and Philly, law can be a very local, insular business. I've seen tons of examples of students from small, locally reputable (but not nationally known) schools easily beating out applicants from higher ranked out of state schools. The ability to make connections and to network is highly valuable, and it's tough to do that from three thousand miles away.

Loyola and Pepperdine both have good reputations in CA, with an advantage to Loyola, in my opinion. Lots of attorneys in the entertainment field are Loyola and Southwestern grads, as well as UCLA/USC and Pepperdine. All of these schools offer various internship opportunities and alumni connections with the studios or firms, and offer courses in entertainment law. If you attend school in Philly, you will have to find a way to compete against the local talent from these schools, which may be difficult.

Your uncle is right, in that attending Drexel will by no means permanently prevent you from practicing elsewhere. Drexel is ABA approved, and qualifies you to take the bar in any state. The question is simply one of difficulty. No matter what city we're talking about, whether its LA, Philly, Dallas, whatever, it is very difficult to show up after graduation in a new city in which you have no connections and to compete for jobs against local students who have had three years to develop a network and gain experience. This is especially true if you are not graduating from a prestigious national school, as you won't be able to rely on your pedigree alone to open doors. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but be realistic about the obstacles you may face.   

Additionally, if you really are interested in entertainment, you will need to pass the CA bar exam. This is no small task, as it's considered the toughest in the nation. Take a look at the CA bar pass rates from out of state schools, and take that into account.   

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2013, 11:10:25 AM »
Drexel has abysmal employment data - 43% of C/O 2011 found work as a lawyer.  Additionally, it's lack of an alumni base is very troubling.  Be very skeptical when people tell you it is "doing the right things" to be a major player, because its employment data certainly does not reflect this.

Loyola is actually worse.  42% of C/O 2011 got laywer jobs.  Additionally, the CA legal market is in absolute shambles, and the thought of targeting CA without ties is terrifying.

Do not attend either of these schools for any less than a full-ride scholarship.  It is more likely than not you will never work as a laywer coming out of either school.  Your best option is to retake the LSAT and try to get into Temple on a full ride.

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2013, 12:33:08 PM »
It is more likely than not you will never work as a laywer coming out of either school. 

What an utterly absurd claim. Either your lack of critical thinking is appalling, or you find it necessary to exaggerate to make your point. Either way it diminishes your credibility.   

Your statement is based solely on LST's data, which is nothing more than a regurgitation of LSAC's data for the most recent year available (2011). This data was collected nine months after graduation and has not been updated.

Most LLS students will graduate in May and pass the bar in November. The employment data is collected in February, only three months after bar results are released. At that point, 42.7% were employed in fulltime, long term legal jobs, and something like 56% overall. There is no data available for the subsequent months and years. 

Think about it: if only an additional 7.4% of the LLS class of 2011 gains long term legal employment, then the number becomes 50.1%. At that point it is in fact more likely than not that a LLS grad will work as an attorney, and your claim is refuted. I think common sense dictates that far more than an additional 7.4% will eventually find legal employment.

Can you provide data which proves that more than 50% of LLS grads will never be employed as attorneys? Of course not.

Does any of this mean that the LA market is in great shape, or that people won't struggle? No, not at all. It's a difficult market and it's tough to find your first job.

This is, however, a great example of how people misunderstand employment statistics. You can't use such scant data to extrapolate years into the future and support your claim that most LLS will "never" work as attorneys. It's an unsubstantiated claim, at best.   

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013, 03:20:12 PM »
Oh right, I forgot that 40% employment 9 months after graduation is totally acceptable.  OP, I retract my statement - feel free to attend either of these top notch legal institutions.

The nature of legal hiring is such that if you do not find work within one year, the chances that you ever will drop off dramatically.  This is not an absurd claim, it's common sense.  Would you, as an employer, be tempted to hire someone who was not able to obtain gainful employment after looking for an entire year?  There is likely a reason they have not been employed yet - poor grades, interviewing skills, etc.  That is not going to change 9 months, one year, or ten years after graduation.  The longer you are out of the job market, the less relevant your degree becomes, and the less likely it is an employer is willing to take a chance on you.

Even if, as you (baselessly) claim, 7% of grads manage to find work after those 9 months, that doesn't change the fact that the employment data from Drexel and Loyola is absolutely abysmal.  You have no more data than I do; you just simply assume that some of these students must find work, eventually, they just have to.  Obviously, I cannot definitively "prove" that they will never find work, since proving a negative (particularly concerning the future) is impossible.  But, by the same token, you have offered no data to suggest that these unemployed grads will ever find legal work - that data simply doesn't exist (to my knowledge), so we must draw inferences from the data we have.

The only difference between you and me is that you prefer to attach undeserved optimism to the employment outcomes at these schools, while I prefer to take a conservative (and in my opinion, much more realistic) approach.  Less than half of the legal class of 2011 found legal employment, a trend that shows no signs of reversing.   Given that these schools cost hundreds of thousands of dollars which, if financed by loans, is never dischargeable, I'd prefer to be on the safe side.  If you have no reservations about dropping $200k+ on a school with a 40%, 50%, or 50.1% chance of employment, that's your prerogative.  But it is still an objectively risky decision, financially and professionally, that will end in abject failure for a significant portion (if not the majority) of the class.

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2013, 04:41:55 PM »
Oh right, I forgot that 40% employment 9 months after graduation is totally acceptable.  OP, I retract my statement - feel free to attend either of these top notch legal institutions.

You're attempting to obfuscate the argument by attributing to me a point that I never made. I am making no claims whatsoever about the acceptability of employment trends for either school. I think we'd both agree that 42.7% is low.

I am simply pointing out that a very specific claim made by you (that it is more likely than not that a LLS grad will never work as an attorney) is unsupportable. The raw data required to substantiate such a claim does not exist. Unless you can provide at least some evidence to support your claim, it makes more sense not to believe you than to believe you. 

You're correct that some inferences can be drawn from the existing data. Clearly, the job market is bad, and people are having a hard time finding work. This data has to viewed in context, however. Most people, especially from non-elite schools, are not truly competitive in the job market until they pass the bar. This means that many grads have only been seriously competing for three months when the employment data is collected. In this market, that's nothing.

You're looking at one snapshot in time, nine months after graduation, and assuming that it will never change. I, too, am making assumptions, but my assumptions are based on experience in the Los Angeles market. It's not far fetched to assume that some people will obtain employment more than three months after passing the bar.

Here's why:
42.7% does not represent the total percentage employed. It only represents those who have passed the bar on their first attempt, and are in fulltime, long term positions. Others who are employed in short term or part time positions are still practicing law and building up experience. Some of those positions will mature into job offers, and others will act as a platform for the new attorney to network and gain experience, thus increasing their chances of securing long term employment.

To your point regarding those who have not found employment within a year, there is a huge difference between someone whose resume has a year-long blank spot and someone who has, say, worked as a volunteer at the DA's for a year and has done a dozen trials. That person has a decent shot at getting a job, but shows up in the LSAC report as unemployed.

Since many people use part time and volunteer positions to gain experience and improve their overall marketability, it's not a stretch to assume that they will gain fulltime employment or go solo. It just may not happen within three months of passing the bar. It's a reasonable assumption based on experience, and I see it happen all the time.

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 12:37:54 AM »
Maintain just ignore Anti (somehow it always gets off point and stats get discussed, which have no bearing to the actual question being asked by the OP). Maintain you have offered good advice, which I will elaborate on

First off as I always say remember that everyone posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you so take anything you read with a grain of salt. Particularly when you consider that anyone can post on this board and claim to be whoever they want I could say I am the Dean of Harvard Law School, a Big Law Partner, a law student, etc I or anyone else can claim to be anything and whatever bad advice or lies I tell will not result in any sort of repercussion against me. Therefore I cannot stress enough the importance of taking all advice mine included on boards such as this with a major grain of salt.

With that piece of information I will give the following advice, which I think is helpful for OL's when choosing a law school. I believe any OL should base their decision on the following factors in this order (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) The Reality of Legal Education (5) Lastly and truly lastly U.S. News rankings. I will analyze these reasons below.

1. Location

(I need to go, but I will update this later)


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Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 07:40:38 AM »
While I think Anti is probably too cynical about this topic, the job market is pretty tough.  That said, if you are getting huge scholarship offers, (offers you can maintain throughout three years) then you likely have advantages over your peers and the job market stats should not be as concerning. 
Going to Drexel at full price would probably be a mistake if you had a "big-law or bust" attitude.

Your family connections probably know more about the Philadelphia market than anyone on here, but I will offer the following:

Ballard Spahr is a big law firm with an office in Philadelphia. 

They have 2 attorneys from Drexel, 44 attorneys from Penn, and 24 from Villanova.

This is anectodal, of course, but it's not a good sign for Drexel in terms of Philadelphia BigLaw.

Now, if you were planning on starting your own firm or if you had a set-in-stone job lined up, I'd say going to Drexel for free is much better than going to Penn at full price.  If your goal is big law though, Penn may be the better option.

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 08:25:36 AM »
Jack and Legend both make good points.

None of the schools discussed here are nationally elite institutions, and you won't get a job based on pedigree alone. Minimizing debt should be a major factor in your decision. Also, you should be realistic about your chances of landing a biglaw position, and be prepared to take a lower paying job. Remember, even if by some chance you get into Penn you're not guaranteed a biglaw position.

Anti did provide one good piece of advice: consider retaking the LSAT and getting a scholarship at Temple. I'd add to that, and say if you can get a full ride with reasonable stipulations at any local school (Widener, maybe some of the NY/NJ schools) it might make more sense than a huge debt from Drexel or LLS. 

Re: Drexel or Loyola LA
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 11:17:30 AM »
Maintain just ignore Anti (somehow it always gets off point and stats get discussed, which have no bearing to the actual question being asked by the OP).

You are an idiot if you think employment statistics are irrelevant to OP's decision.  They should be far and away the number one most important criteria for anyone choosing to go to law school, followed closely by cost and location.  But of course, you have all but admitted to posting on this board for the sheer purpose of shilling whatever bottom-barrel CA law school you hail from, so your opinion can be effectively discounted immediately and in its entirety.