Law School Discussion

Help a sister out?

Help a sister out?
« on: April 05, 2013, 06:08:26 AM »
So right now my future is a little murky. I was accepted to Pitt with no scholarship (but in-state tuition), and Drexel and St. John's. Both Drexel and St. John's have offered me $30,000 merit scholarships. I was also waitlisted at Temple, Cardozo, and Maryland. As of now, I think I'd like to study either environmental or constitutional law. I'm not into wealth so working for a large law firm upon graduation isn't a big deal to me, but I'd like to be able to function as a competent lawyer. My GPA is 3.75 and my LSAT was a 157.
Two questions:
Which do you think is my best option of the three schools that I was accepted to (scholarships in mind)?
Any specific strategies for how to increase my chances of getting off the waitlists I was put on?

Thank you!

Re: Help a sister out?
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 04:41:06 PM »
First off realize that I or anyone posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster and whether to attend law school and where you will be attending is a life altering decision so please take any advice your receive from anonymous sources on the internet my post included with a major grain of salt.

I have gone through law school and am a practicing lawyer, but there was a time when I was a 0L that didn't quite think things through and was extremely confused, scared, and nervous about the decision. Looking back on it and knowing what I know now I think any OL should consider the following factors in this order when choosing a law school. (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feeling about the school (4) Understanding the reality of legal education (5) Then use U.S. News Ranking LAST NOT FIRST when choosing a law school. I will analyze these factors in more detail below and apply them to your situation.

1. Location
It is very important to realize that law school does not exist in a vacuum and more importantly where you attend law school is likely the location where you will spend the rest of your life. You have listed schools in New York (Manhattan) New York (Queens), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Maryland. These are all very different cities even Cardozo and St. Johns the locations are very different. Then Pittsburgh a large enough city is really nothing like Manhattan and whereeve you attend law school is a place you will be living for three years.

Are you someone that will be able to focus with all the distractions that NY City has to offer or would you be better suited to study law in Pittsburgh? I certainly don't know since I have never met you, but you have been living with yourself for over 20 years so you can probably make a guess.

On top of that you are unlikely to leave the location you attend law school three years in the prime of your life is generally where you end up. Odds are during law school you will enter into a romantic relatonship, get an apartment, make friends, etc, etc on top of that you will likely take the State Bar in the state you attended law school. If you take NY you are unlikely to ever taken the Pennsyvlania Bar maybe you will, but most people only get licensed in one state. Therefore, I highly recommend choosing a school in the state you want to live in after graduation.

One additional point is I am assuming your from Pennsylvania based on your in-state tuition. Now if you are from Pittsburgh and have friends, family, and a whole support structre in Pittsburgh this is something to consider. If you move to NY and don't know a soul there and have to deal with the stress of finding an apartment, not knowing anyone, etc combined with the stress of 1L it may not go well for you. Conversely, you may be someoen that will thrive in that scenario, but consider those realities if your really close to family Pittsburgh NY is not that far, but it is far enough that you will not be able to just stop by.

2. Cost
These scholarship are great, but what are the CONDITIONS generally schools will require you to maintain a 3.0 to keep your scholarship for 2L and 3L. I imagine you got a 3.0 in undergrad without breaking a sweat, but law school is much different typically only 35% of the class can have a 3.0 in law school. However, I am certain like 100% of law student at any ABA school you are completely confident you will easily be in the top 35% of the class. However, 100% of students at ABA schools are smart, hard working, and motivated and there is a 65% chance you will lose the scholarship and then St. John's for example is 44,000 per year, which you will be stuck paying 2L and 3L.

St. Johns Example

14,000 x 3=42,000 tuition assuming you keep scholarship all three years 35% chance of this happening assuming typical conditions, BUT EACH SCHOOL IS UNIQUE CHECK ST. JOHN'S AND DREXEL'S CONDITIONS

14,00+44,000,+44,000=102,000 in tuition assuming you lose the scholarship for 2L and 3L there is a 65% chance of this happening assuming typical conditions, but EACH SCHOOL IS UNIQUE

Pitt with in-state tuition is 26,000 per year so 78,000 that is the tuition rate.

Here is a NY times article explaining it in more detail.

Also be wary of living expenses if your family is in Pittsburgh and they will give you a place to stay, take you out to meals, help with groceries, etc this will save thousands in living expenses. NY you may not have that option and this goes back to location as well just think of anyone who might be willing to help you.

3. Your Personal Feelings About Each School

Each school has a culture to it and some you may like and others you may not. I know when I was OL there were some schools that rubbed me the wrong way and others I hated, but that was me you have your own opinions. I highly recommend visiting the schools, meeting career services, talking to some professors, meeting the dean, etc and see what you think of these people that you will be paying to provide you with a legal education. If these people cannot put on a good show for someone considering paying them 100,000 then imagine what they will be like after your locked in.

Just visit each school and listen to your gut it is a powerful tool.

4. Reality of Legal Education

I know there is all this discussion of "better" schools, but the reality is at every ABA school you learn the same exact thing. Your first year you will take Torts, Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, and then they generally mix up Con Law, Crim Law, and Criminal Procedure between 1L and 2L, but you will take those courses.

For Contracts you will likely read the Epstein Book and then Epstein himself will be your BarBri Instructor when you graduate no matter what law school you attend. In Contracts you will read the Hadley v. Baxendale Decision and other Supreme Court decisions and believe it or not the Supreme Court does not write seperate opinions for different law schools the law is the same.

In Torts you will read Palsgraff to learn about proximate cause and Justice Cardozo in 1930 did not write 200 different opinions for every law school there is only one.

Pennoyver v. Neff in Civil Procedure again the Supreme Court in 1800 wrote one opinion and that is what you will read whether you attend South Carolina or Harvard.

After you graduate you will then take Barbri or Kaplan to pass the bar and if you graduate from an ABA school and pass the bar your a lawyer period.

5. Rankings
When I was a OL I though this was the gospel and should be the basis of any decision I made, but now I realize this is nothing more than an a for profit, unregulated magazine offering an opinion. This should not be something you base a life altering decision on you can use it as a factor, but it is literally a magazine nothing more.

To illustrate this point realize U.S. News ranks more than law schools for example New Mexico is the best place to live according to U.S. News

South Dakota is one of the best places to retire in 2032 One of the factors in making this decision is access to dental visits. Really read the formula U.S. News used to make this determination and you can realize how little research goes into their rankings.

I imagine U.S. News saying New Mexico is the best place to live is not going to inspire you to pack your bags and move there or even apply to New Mexico Law School. Furthermore, I think you would question anyone who opened a retirement account in South Dakota based on this magazine alone. Are their legitimate points made by U.S. News sure, but where you attend law school will impact the rest of your life what some magazine thinks should play a very minor role in your decision and not be the basis of it.

There is no RIGHT ANSWER to what law school you should attend I am sure all of them will provide you with the basic tools to learn the law and obtain a law license, but there is a lot more factors that will determine whether you will have a good law school experience and you know better than anyone else the personal factors that will impact your law school and legal career.

You also can analyze these factors until the end of time eventually you will just have to choose one and it may go horrilby wrong or be a wonderful experience it is a life altering decision, but if you want to be a lawyer one that has to be made.

If I was you, which I am not and assuming you actually live in Pittsburgh I would probably stay there for the in-state tuition and fact that Pittsburgh is the best law school in Pittsburgh, but I am just some random guy on the internet who could be a crackhead in a public library for all you know. Hopefully some of this is helpful and I wish you good luck in your legal career.