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dmadonna

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I need some help deciding
« on: March 02, 2014, 12:45:57 AM »
Hey all,
I am trying to decide where to go next fall. I have the following acceptances. The scholarship offers are next to them in parenthesis. All answers would be greatly appreciated because I am a little confused.
Widener U (accepted, $49,000)
WVU (wait-listed)
Saint Louis University (accepted)
Florida Coastal (accepted, $55,000)
Catholic U (accepted)
OK City U (accepted, $9,000)
University of South Carolina (Has not given me a decision yet)
Temple University (Has not given me a decision yet)

I am from Philadelphia but do not mind relocating.

Miami88

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Re: I need some help deciding
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 02:30:08 AM »
We really need way more information.

1) Where do you want to live/work after you graduate?

2) What kind of law are you interested in practicing?

3) What is your total debt going to be at each school? This is the ( total cost of attendance ) MINUS (Your own personal financial situation + Scholarships)


Rankings at these lower levels really don't offer much difference, and these schools are all located in different regions. So, if you don't care where you live/work, and don't care about what kind of law you practice, then I'd strongly consider the school that offers you the lowest total debt. 

Citylaw

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Re: I need some help deciding
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 01:54:11 PM »
First congrats on your acceptances it is nice to have choices. As to your question I think any incoming law student should consider the following five factors in this order when choosing a law school.
 (1) Location
(2) Cost
(3) Personal Feeling about School (
4) Understanding the Reality of Legal Education
 (5) Last and Least U.S. News Rankings.

I will analyze why each of these factors are important below, but do remember anyone on this board or others myself included are nothing more than anonymous internet posters that know nothing about you, you personal situation, or what is best for you so take it all with a grain of salt.

Factors to Consider

Location:
It is important does not exist in a vacuum and you are going to spend a minimum of three years of the prime your life in the location you attend law school. On top of that where you end up going is likely where you will end up if you go to law school in South Carolina you will likely take the South Carolina Bar. Additionally ,you are going to make friends, possible get into a romantic relationship, have an apartment, etc and you will build a place for yourself over three years that will be hard to leave. Therefore, if you cannot stand a City/State do not attend school there because you will spend three years and moving from the state/city after school will be difficult.

You should also consider your own personality and personal situation. If your from Philadalphia will you be comfortable away from your family in South Carolina? Have you left home before? A myriad of things to consider it is nice to have people around outside of law school that can support you, but if you have a personality that can easily adapt to a new environment it will not be a big deal, but only you know that about yourself.

I knew a number of people in law school that came from out of state and some adapted great others grew very homesick.

Bottom line location is very important and Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and D.C. are all very different places.

2) Cost
I see you have a number of scholarship offers, which is awesome, but two things to look at are (1) What are the actual tuition costs and (2) What conditions do you need to meet to retain your scholarship.

As for number South Carolina is only $21,000 per year if your a resident, but 42,000 per year for a non-resident. You should find out what is necessary to retain residency because $21,000 per year is actually cheaper than Oklahoma City with a scholarship.

Look up the actual tuition of each school here http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/publications/official-guide-archives

Conditions are also important to understand typically a school will require you to maintain a 3.0 to keep your scholarship or rank in the top 35% or something like that. As an incoming law student you likely got a 3.0 without trying in undergrad or are certain you will easily finish in the top 35%.

However, law school is very different everyone is smart, hard, motivated, and truly believes they will finish in the top 10%, but you do not need to be a math major to see 90% of them will be wrong. Also law school is graded on a curve and typically only 35% of first year students can have a 3.0 GPA, which means there is a 65% chance in that situation you will not keep your scholarship for years 2 and 3.

This New York Times Article does a better job explaining the system than I can http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

With that remember you can negotiate for more money, better scholarship conditions, etc remember law school is a business and your a customer. Get the best deal you can.

3) Personal Feelings About School
It is very important to visit the schools talk to professor, admin, students, get a feel for the campus, and surrounding area and see if it is a fit for you. When I was a 0L I visited a number of schools some I liked others I hated. Once I was in law school I participated in a number of mock trial competitions and visited and interacted with more schools. Again, some I liked others I hated, but you may love the places I hated and hate the places I loved.

How you personally about a school is something only you can answer so visit the schools and see what feels right. I am sure some of these schools will rub you the wrong way and others will feel right it is important to listen to those gut feelings.

4) Reality of Legal Education
It is important to realize legal education is the same at any ABA school. Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure and you will read Supreme Court Cases. The Supreme Court doesn't write separate opinions for different schools and for all intents and purposes you literally learn the same thing at every school. There are a few electives that might be different and a few state laws that differ, but BarBri and Kaplan the bar prep companies you will inevitably pay to prepare you for the bar accept anyone from an ABA school and then you learn the law of "X" state you are preparing for.

5) U.S. New Ranking
Remember U.S. News is a for profit, unregulated magazine, offering an opinion. Nothing more nothing less and this should not be the basis of a 3 year and $100,000+ commitment. Maybe if you were considering Harvard v. South Carolina the rankings might matter, but realistically all the schools are fine, but nobody is going to say wow a Catholic/South Carolina/Widener/ etc grad hire him ASAP.

It is important to realize whether you succeed in the legal profession will have a lot more to do with your drive, work ethic, and ability to get things done than the school you attend.

Conclusion:
There is no "right" answer as to what law school to attend, but you should visit each school and determine where you want to live. Also evaluate the costs and scholarship conditions to get out with as little debt as possible.

Congrats again your acceptances and good luck as you pursue a legal career.