Law School Discussion

South Florida law schools

Re: South Florida law schools
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2014, 10:19:37 PM »
Hi Tampadave,

First off, I'm not a Florida lawyer and I don't have any personal experience with the market, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

That said, if I were in your daughter's position I would seriously consider the FIU at a discount over UM at full price. UM does have a reputational advantage over FIU, but it's not exactly an elite school, either. So the question is, does the reputational advantage justify the additional cost?

My guess is that a top student from UM (law review, etc.) probably has a better shot at big firms in Miami than a top student from FIU, but that mid-low ranked students from both schools probably face similar job prospects. If your daughter ends up competing for jobs at small and midsized firms, the lower debt from FIU can allow more flexibility.

Best of Luck to her!

Re: South Florida law schools
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2014, 08:06:37 AM »
It really depends on what your daughter wants to do with her degree. If she is committed to private practice or is not sure what she wants to do with her degree after graduating, FIU is the safer bet because she won't rack up a lot of debt in the process. Be advised however, that almost every midsized and small firms will almost always take a UM  grad over any grad from another local school because the alumni base down here is that strong for UM. Like your daughter, I got in at both UM and FIU but will be attending UM at full price because I am committed to working in the public sector (I work at my local state attorneys office and have already been offered an internship after 1L) and plan to take advantage of pslf/ibr. FIU is too new of a law school to really have a strong alumni base that will get her a quality job. As a South Florida resident, I can tell you that networking is in some ways more important than grades and going to the king kahuna (UM) down here IS going to make a difference. But again, it all depends on what she wants to do with her degree
"I do not shy away from responsibility, I embrace it"- JFK

Re: South Florida law schools
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2014, 11:32:34 AM »
From my experience down here in Miami (speaking with managing partners at big law firms, smaller law firms, businesses, and even ancillary legal organizations)....

1) The top top top top top kids from UM (think valedictorian) will have a (slight) shot at big law. Big law is not going to happen for any fiu kid (unless they already had the connections to begin with, i.e. their parents are hiring partners of the firm).

2) Generally speaking, UM has a slight edge in terms of reputation - however, almost every hiring lawyer has said that they are extremely impressed with FIU's program (even UM alum attorneys are saying this!). My bet is that within 10 years, FIU's program will at least be neck and neck in ranking with UM if not better.

3) From my impression, it seems that the only people who are really saying UM 100% are recent UM grads (within the past 10 years). The older folks down here (the ones actually hiring) are much more positive either way - and if anything are telling kids to strongly consider FIU given the cost.

If the costs are about the same (also factor in their loan repayment programs), I'd certainly go UM. If you are more than likely going to be the top of the class, I'd go UM (which, if you were a strong contender for the top of the class, you would have a serious scholarship and the prior consideration would take hold). In almost every other case, though, UM's slight ranking advantage does not make up for the cost difference. At some point, a law degree is a law degree is a law degree. If the employment stats were gravely different, then ok - but they aren't.

In sum, then...

Job Prospects: Both UM and FIU are about the same for the majority of students with maybe a slight edge given to UM
Bar Passage Rate: FIU's 90% beats UM's 80%
Employment Stats: FIU's 57% is statistically the same as UM's 59%
Reputation: UM nominally beats FIU, however, tides may be turning...
Location: Subjective... UM is in a posh neighborhood and the students tend to be from white middle and upper-class families. FIU is far from anything and the students tend to be from hispanic middle/low-middle class families. But both are in the greater Miami area! <3 Miami
Campus: I must admit, UM's general campus is far prettier, however, UM's law school is both old looking and feeling. FIU has an okay general campus, however, the law facilities are amazing (and new).
Cost of Attendance: FIU's 120k beats UM's 210k. This disparity is worse given you have scholarships from FIU and not from UM. So its more like FIU 70k and UM 210k...

So the big question... Is UM's nominal boost in reputation and lesser bar passage rate worth over $140,000 of extra debt?

Re: South Florida law schools
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2014, 08:30:35 PM »
I think the reality is that the law school you attend is given a lot more attention than it deserves. Miami is a fine school as is FIU and another ABA school. When I was in law school I was caught up in rankings, etc, but once I entered the real world I realized how trivial it all is. Obviously Harvard, Yale, Stanford etc will open doors, but I cannot imagine to many firms or agencies in Miami will simply a hand job to a someone from Miami instead of FIU.

The legal profession is a pretty much like anything else results matter. If you finish in the bottom of 25% of the class at Miami, have no internship experience, didn't participate in any activities, no professor relationships employers will not be knocking your door down. That same fact pattern goes for any law school.

If you finish in the top 10%, were a mock trial champion, law review, great relationships with professors, etc you will have a lot of doors open for you no matter what law school you attend.

However, even if you are top of the class etc you will have to open the doors and that means applying to jobs, dealing with some rejection etc. Very few firms or agencies simply say he went to X school hire him. Cravath and some of the major firms do that with Ivy League Gradus, but the Miami District Attorney will not say oh Miami Law School hire him/her.

I really think any student is better off getting out with as little debt as possible unless they are going to attend Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia or a school of that caliber that is nationally known. Otherwise don't pay $100,000 dollars more to attend the 47th opposed to the 74th best school nobody really cares.

Just some advice from an anonymous internet poster so take it for what it is worth.