Law School Discussion

SLU or KU?

SLU or KU?
« on: May 06, 2013, 04:56:52 PM »
similar scholarship offers. Biochemistry BS, interested in pursuing IP. KU ranked higher but STL area is more prominent in biotech. If i pick SLU I'm aware I'll be competing with WUSTL grads. Are the difference in rankings large enough to be a significant factor in my decision? Thoughts/ other factors I should consider? Thanks guys

Re: SLU or KU?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2013, 07:05:30 PM »
First off please realize advice from anonymous internet posters on boards such as this mine included should be taken with a major grain of salt.

With that said I have gone through law school and can tell you some very important things to consider when choosing a law school and one of the LEAST important considerations is what "U.S. News" a for profit-unregulated magazine thinks.

In my opinion these are the factors any 0L should consider in this order. (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feeling about the school (4) Understanding the reality of legal education (5) Last AND Least U.S. News Ranking. I will analyze why this factors are important below.

1) Location:
This is far and away the most important factor when choosing a law school. Whether you attend law school in Lawrence Kansas or St. Louis, Missouri will change your life. You will spend a minimum of three years in either of these places and make friends, get an apartment, find restaurants, likely enter into a romantic relationship, etc. On top of that if you go to law school in Kasnas you will likely take the Kansas bar if you go to school in Missouri you will take the Missouri Bar so your career will be in that state. On top of that if you attend law school in Kansas 9 months of the year you will be located in Kansas and only able to do internships in Kansas so all your legal connections will be in Kansas.

I have never been to either Lawrence or St. Louis, but I am guessing Kansas is much more of a college town and St. Louis is a bigger city, which will make for a different experience over three years. Just really understand the importance of location in this decision you may also want to consider any personal connections you have if your from Kansas leaving your friends, family, etc during law school will be tough.

I also emphasize that while law school is difficult you will still have free-time so live in a location that suits you.

2. Cost & Scholarship Offers
Next thing to consider is cost whatever school you attend you will leave and whether you attended Harvard or Cooley the creditors will want their money make this number as small as possible. With that there are two factors to consider in your decision.

A) Scholarship conditions
I noticed you stated you had "similar" scholarships at both schools, but pay attention to the CONDITIONS of the scholarship. Typically it will say something along the lines of maintaining a 3.0 GPA. As a 0L this sounds like a piece of cake, but typically schools require you to be in the top 35% of the class you have a 3.0 GPA that is the "curve" you will hear so much about. The reality is everyone at an ABA school is smart, hard working, and motivated and 100% of them are sure they will be in the top 35%, but 65% won't be, which means there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship for years 2 & 3.

Every schools conditions differ, but ASK what they are and negotiate for better terms this NY times article does a better job explaining the scholarship conditions than I can

B) Tuition differences between KU & STL
I noticed that Kansas offers in-state tutiion of 15k per year. I don't know if you have residency or can obtain it, but this will be significant savings with or without the scholarship over STL, which charges 35k per year.  That is a savings of 60k over three years in tuition so if you can obtain in-state tuition and you don't mind living in Kansas that may be the better option.

3) Personal Feeling About the School
When I was a OL I visited many schools and as a law student I participated in mock trial competitions. I can tell you some schools I liked others I hated, but that was my opinion. It is very possible you will like what I hated and love what I hated. To determine YOUR personal feelings I highly encourage you to visit both campuses, interact with students, talk to professors, admins, etc. You will get a gut feeling about each and maybe you will like both schools equally, but you may also hate one and love the other, but really listen to that gut feeling where you attend law school is three years of YOUR life, $100,000 of YOUR money, and YOUR legal career and don't let a magazine or anonymous internet poster overrule your gut feeling.

4) Reality of Legal Education
The realty is what you learn at an ABA school is pretty much identical. Your first year will consist of torts, civil procedure, property, contracts, and criminal law. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and they do write separate opinions for different schools. You will read Palsgraff in Torts for proximate cause, Pennoyer v. Neff in civ pro to learn about notice etc .

You might have a few electives here and there, but the majority of your legal education will be identical no matter where you go. As for your IP courses I know in the Bay Area where IP is everything schools over a few IP courses, but realistically you can only take 4-5 specialized law school courses based on availability, scheduling, etc.

On top of that you can't really know what you want to do until you start law school. I honestly though IP was what I wanted when I started, but after the one course I dropped it and really liked trial advocacy, which all schools offer.

Bottom line is at any ABA school you will learn the same thing.

5) U.S. News Ranking
You are making the common mistake that many 0L's myself included make by basing a life altering decision on a magazine. It is very important to realize that U.S. News is a for-profit, unregulated, magazine offering an opinion. Furthermore, their opinion changes from year to year

As you can see from 2009 until 2013 Kansas has gone from 65 to 86th and if you had been a 1L in 2009 you would have been attending the 65th best school, but somehow by the time you graduated in 2012 it became the 86th best. There is no rhyme or reason for this and review this chart to see how drastically schools change from year to year . You can see Depaul is 80th then in the 90s, then back to 80's and this year in the 100's nothing has changed there over the last few years.

To further illustrate this point U.S. News ranks more than law schools New Mexico is the best place to live . Are you going to move there because U.S. News says so? I imagine not surely there is something good about New Mexico, but I would not alter my life because U.S. News says New Mexico is a great place to live. Similarly I would recommend not making the life altering decision on where to attend law school based on this magazine.

You can certainly use it as a tiebreaker and if you were debating Harvard or St. Louis then it might be a different story, but truly nobody cares about the ranking difference between the 65th or 80th best school especially since it is very possibly St. Louis could be ranked higher than Kansas by the time you graduate.

I cannot possibly tell you what is best and neither can anyone else on this board. However, your main question is the difference in rank worth it I really do not think so. Really consider the location, cost, and your personal feelings about each school. It will be a life altering decision and some magazine writers in Pennsylvania should not be the basis of it.

Congrats on getting into law school and good luck in your legal career.