Law School Discussion

GGU Law vs. USF Law

GGU Law vs. USF Law
« on: June 12, 2013, 10:24:57 PM »
Hi guys,
So I am in a somewhat awkward situation. I was admitted to USF & GGU, and I thought it was a no brainer I would attend USF due to the "prestige" it supposedly had over GGU. But after endless research and speaking to current and former students, I have learned that those in or who have attended law school find it is more of what you make it over the so called rankings.

Anyways, GGU offered me their standard scholarships they dish out of half of my tuition each semester for the first year, and if I can maintain in the top 15-30% I can keep a portion or entire scholarship, maybe even more.

USF offered me very little, and I figured I would enjoy the feel and community more, even though I would have to pay more.

I contacted GGU to let them know that I would not be attending, but someone in admissions contacted me today, and wants to double the scholarship, making my first year almost free and giving me more consideration for my 2L when they put me up for scholarship review the next year, in order for me to enroll with them.

I guess my question is more, "What's more important, the name of the school, or the cost?" I've good money set aside for law school, and I have my undergrad loans down, so taking out another loan is not out of the question for me, as I feel comfortable money-wise.

I just wanted to see what other people who may have been in my position think.

Another fact is, I'm wait listed at SCU, and I will drop both USF and GGU if I get in.

Thanks for any advice!

Re: GGU Law vs. USF Law
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2013, 09:39:35 AM »
First off realize anything you read from anonymous internet posters myself included should be taken with a grain of salt. With that said I am a bay area attorney and am very familiar with all of these schools and I believe you are making the very common 0L mistake of placing far to much emphasis on rankings. I tell any 0L to consider the following factors when choosing their law school and thankfully an attorney told me these factors when I was a 0L before I made a life altering decision based on a  a for-profit, unregulated, magazine offering an opinion.

The factors are these and in this order (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) last and certainly lease U.S. News rankings. Then you also need to understand the reality of legal eduation and I will analyze all these factors below.

1. Location
This is by far the most important factor in your decision, but it sounds like you understand that to some extent as all your school are located in the Bay Area. However, there is a big difference between going to law school in Santa Clara oppoesd to San Francisco I went to a law school located in San Francisco and I never interned with Santa Clara grads in S.F. simply because the 1 hour commute to the City and Back was to much and I never took a job in the South Bay for the same reasons. On top of that Santa Clara is a little more isolated than USF or GGU and you will be spending three years of your life at these schools if you want more of a University environment then USF or Santa Clara are much more isolated while GGU and Hastings are in the heart of a City what you prefer is your choice.

Thankfully you are at least looking in the Bay Area I see plenty of posters and talk to OL's who are considering a school in Michigan or California and they don't seem to understand law school does not exist in a vacuum and sub-zero temperatures, midwest mentality and so forth are very different from California. Neither is right or wrong, but they are certainly different.

(2) Cost
A nearly full scholarship is something to consider, but check the conditions GGU like almost ever other school requires you to maintain a 3.0 GPA, which sounds like a breeze to every 0L and you were accepted to USF and waitlisted at Santa Clara so I'm sure in your mind you expect everyone at GGU will not be able to compete with you. However, I will tell you at GGU, USF, or Santa Clara or any ABA school everyone is smart, hard-working, motivated and sincerely believes they will be in the top 10% of the class, but 100% of people cannot be in the top 10%.

Also I am sure you got a 3.0 with ease in undergrad, but every law school has a curve and I believe GGU has the typical curve where only 35% of the 1L class can have a 3.0. This means there is a 65% chance you will not keep your scholarship for years 2 and 3. However, I would encourage you to negotiate for better conditions if you can get a guaranteed scholarship for all three years or make the requirement that you not finish in the bottom 25% of the class GGU can be a great option at that cost. Don't be scared to negotiate as you saw GGU changed their offer as soon as you rejected them and all the schools will. You are a paying customer and you have all the leverage as a 0L, but when you enroll they don't have to do you anymore favors. I would highly recommend you negotiate favorable terms for yourself it is something I did not do a great job of as OL.

Paying full price for any of these schools will be tough combined with San Francisco cost of living you will probably end up with over $200,000k in debt accruing interest at a rate between 5-8%. If GGU can get you out a lot lower then that may be a better option I personally don't think paying an extra $100,000 to say you went to the 86th best school instead of the 114th best school is worth it.

3. Personal Feelings About the School
This is also a major consideration each school has a vibe and I have been on the campus of all three schools and they are all different. I honestly did not like Santa Clara at all everybody felt stuck up and the campus was isolated and it was just not for me. Plenty of people love Santa Clara, but I am not one of them.

USF has a beautiful campus and it is pretty cool part of San Francisco, but I still get somewhat of stuck up vibe from that school.

GGU the campus is in the heart of downtown SF, which is a fun place to be, but the campus is ugly. However, I feel like the professors and students are all very down to earth and I enjoy interacting with most people there.

That is my opinion and you may think the USF campus is tacky and people at GGU are a-holes so I highly recommend you visit each school and see how you feel. This is going to be 3 years of your life, 100k of your money, and your legal education make sure you choose a school that works for you.

(4) U.S. News Rankings
When I was a OL I thought this was what you used to make your decision and if you were debating between Harvard and USF then use it. However, the rankings for schools outside of the top 10 or so do not matter particulary in San Francisco. You will be competing with Stanford and Berkeley grads locally not to mention plenty of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and NYU grads want to move to San Francisco. If an employer really cares about prestige and rankings they will not hire you from Santa Clara, USF, or GGU for the firms like Cravath or O'Melveny & Meyers etc that truly care about rankings none of the schools you are looking at are even on their radar.

Not to mention U.S. News is a for-profit, unregulatd, magazine offering an opinion. They also rank more than law schools New Mexico is the best place to live according ot them here is the cite the reason is access to Golf Courses and Hot-Air Balloon Festivals etc. This is what the raters at U.S. News found to be important, but those things do not appeal to me and I am not going to move to New Mexico because U.S. News said to. I imagine you would not either so I highly recommend you use the same common sense when choosing your law school.

I see the mistake of putting rankings first and foremost far to often and I did it myself as a OL, but you will realize that not only are the rankings irrelevant, but they change year to year. For example when I was applying to law school USF was a top 100 school and U.S. News did not even rank past 100 then two years ago they started ranking to 145. USF in only a few years has dropped 50 spots, but nothing changed there and it has also gone up 50 spots.

Here is a graph to show how much these rankings change and remember they are based on nothing. Richmond for example went from 53 to 77 up down up down over 5 years. Nothing changes, but the rankings are based on people nationwide filling out a scantron that is it so please do not make a life altering decision particularly for schools of this caliber based on rankings.

5) Reality of Legal Education
My final point is this at GGU, USF, or Santa Clara you will recieve a quality legal education. Every ABA school teaches you the same exact thing your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Criminal Law or Con Law. You will read supreme court cases Palsgraf in Torts for Example Pennoyer v. Neff in Civil Procedure and believe it or not the Supreme Court does not write seperate opinons for different caliber law schools and the law does not change if you attended a tier 4 or tier 2 school.

When you graduate from any of these schools you will then sign up for a bar review class either BarBri or Kaplan and study alongside GGU, USF, Hastings, and Santa Clara Studnets and all of these schoosl have approximatley the same bar passage rate. If you pass you get a bar card if you don't whether your from Harvard or Golden Gate you don't and the bar is anonymously graded so they have no idea what school you went to.

Once you get a bar card your a lawyer plain and simple with the ability to represent clients and there are plenty of great lawyers from Santa Clara, GGU, and USF along with plenty of bad ones. So I highly recommend you visit the schools see what is a fit and really do your best to minimize your debt because the debt collectors won't care that you attended a Tier 2 instead of Tier 3 law school.

Hopefully some of that helps and congrats on your acceptances any of these schools can lead you to a successful legal career, but how it turns out depends much more on you than the name on your diploma.

Re: GGU Law vs. USF Law
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2013, 11:40:16 AM »
Livinglegend's reply is excellent, I just want to elaborate on a couple of points.

USF may enjoy a slight reputational advantage over GGU, but you need to be realistic about how much benefit you will derive from such an advantage. Think of it this way: firms that will hire from USF will probably hire from GGU too, but firms that want Boalt/Stanford/Harvard grads will likely hire from neither. (I'm sure that a few top students from USF/GGU that go into biglaw and federal jobs, but I'm speaking in generalities).

Law students and 0Ls tend to get caught up in the subtle nuances between schools ("Ah, this school is ranked #113 but it has the #5 ranked Elder Law program in the country! That must be better than the school ranked #114!). After you graduate you'll find that most employers look at law schools in much broader terms. Some are considered elite, some have great local reputations, and most won't really help or hurt you.

If you attend either of these schools (or SCU for that matter), you won't be relying on your pedigree to get a job anyway. What you accomplish during law school (getting good grades, getting internships, and above all making positive connections) will be your ticket to employment.

Consider the cost, the location, and your personal goals. What do you want to do after law school? Will one of these schools better help you achieve that goal? Let those criteria steer your decision making process.

Good luck!   

Re: GGU Law vs. USF Law
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2013, 08:06:08 AM »
Thanks so much. You guys hit it on the money for me. Just wanted to get some input if I am in the right state of mind going into this.

That being said, you both helped me greatly.


Re: GGU Law vs. USF Law
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2013, 05:49:49 PM »
Happy to help if you want to know more about either school feel free to PM message me and I can put you into contact with current students or alumni from either school. Or keep posting on this board to share the info with others. There is no wrong decision here, but law school is a huge life change and it could go great or terribly, but if being a lawyer is the path you want to pursue either of these schools will get you a ticket to the bar exam and  law license. What you do after that will be up to you.