Law School Discussion

UW v UC Davis v BC v Fordham

UW v UC Davis v BC v Fordham
« on: March 26, 2014, 07:20:41 AM »
Hi, so I have heard back from all schools as well as scholarship information, and I am having a hard time deciding..

Background: I want to practice public interest law, eventually in California (where I am from) or the west coast. I will be taking out loans to cover tuition not covered by scholarships. My main concern for choosing a school is obviously employment opportunities and LRAP and other public interest funding.

I am deciding between:

University of Washington: this was my top choice, but only received $10k/year in merit aid (tuition is $43k) emailed and asked for more aid, was told none would be available until maybe** after the deposit deadline

UC Davis: received $25k a year in merit aid (tuition is $47k), a little hesitant about living in a rural area, but in California so good for jobs

Boston College: received $22k/year in aid (tuition is $45k a year). I live in Boston now and went to BC for undergrad, it has a lot of programs I am interested in, but I am worried about trying to find a job on the west coast

Fordham: received $15k a year in merit aid, tuition is $48 k a year, emailed and asked for more money, have not hear back. I have lived in NYC and love it there, a lot of great PI law opportunities, but the school's employment rates are not great and again, worried about jobs on the west coast.

Any input on these schools and advice would be great!

Re: UW v UC Davis v BC v Fordham
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2014, 06:29:22 PM »
Before I say anything realize that anything you read on this board or others is nothing more than advice from anonymous internet posters. Therefore, it should be taken with a grain of salt my post included.

With that said I am a Public Interest Lawyer in California and I have a little insight to offer. As for the actual schools the only one I am familiar with is Davis.

With that said I want to break down a few factors that any incoming law student should consider when choosing a law school and offer a few suggestions, but take them or leave them it is nothing more than anonymous internet advice.

Factors to consider when choosing a school

I believe any 0L should consider the following factors in this order when choosing a law school. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) last and least U.S. News.

Below is an analysis of why the factors are important applied to your specific situation.

(1) Location:

It appears you made one of the potential pitfalls I did as 0L and did applied to schools all over the country. It is important to understand how important the location of your school is particularly if you want to end up in a particular area.  If I am reading your post correctly you want to end up in California and therefore, should attend a California school.

There are several reasons the location is important first law school does not exist in vacuum. Davis, Boston, Manhattan, and Seattle are very different places. No matter school you attend you will be there for a minimum of three years and although law school is stressful you will have a life outside of school. If you are someone that hates small towns Davis will not be a good experience and if your someone that hates living in the big city Fordham will not be a good experience.

You are also likely to stay wherever you attend law school. The three years you are in law school are generally the prime of your life I assume you are in your early to mid 20's like most law students. Therefore, wherever you attend law school is really where you will become more of an adult. You will likely enter into a serious romantic relationship, make friends, get an apartment you like, and the more of a life you build in X city during law school the harder it will be to leave merely on a social level.

It will also be difficult to leave on a professional level, particularly if you are interest in public interest law. This is true for the following three reasons (1) State Bar; (2) Internships during school; (3) Public Interest recruiting practices these factors will be analyzed below.

State Bar
Whether you attend Davis, Boston, Washington, or Fordham there will be four seperate state bars each with their own nuances. If you want to take the California Bar it will be easier to have a life setup in California and have studied some of the nuances of California law. If you want to be in Washington the same factors apply to the Washington bar so and so on.

Many people think they will eventually take 2-3 bars, but trust me after one most people never want to deal with it again. The bar exam is a horrible experience and once is enough for most people assuming you pass the first time.

(2) Internships during school:
If you attend law school in Fordham, Washington, or Boston it will literally be impossible 9 months of the year to do an internship at a firm in California. You simply cannot fly across the country to work at a non-profit or government agency during law school.  You are also not going to make connections in California if you are in New York or Boston. Instead you will make connections in New York and Boston.

(3) Public Interest and Recruiting Generally:
Piggy backing on to number two law firms in California are not going to recruit outside of California. Law firms in NY are not going to recruit outside of NY. There are exceptions, but there are a number of schools in their backyard why bother flying someone out or worrying that they will not actually commit to moving out when there are plenty of people already established in California they could interview. If you are a Harvard, Yale, Stanford, grad maybe exceptions will be made for some of the big firms.

If you want to be a public interest lawyer however, they all have tight budgets. They will certainly not fly you out or most public interest law firms are very community based and want someone local. In a town like Davis for example the public interest firms in the Bay Area or Northern California are going to want people that are local to attend community meetings not somebody from Manhattan. Conversely, Manhattan is not going to want some Davis Farm Kid organizing their community efforts. Just the reality of public interest/government work.

If you really want to be a public interest lawyer in California attend law school in California.

(2) Cost:
It is great you received scholarship money from a few schools, and that you are asking for money. Keep doing that worse they will say is no.

Another thing to careful of with scholarships are the conditions. Most schools will say something along the lines of you need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to keep your scholarship. Your a smart kid you were accepted into ABA schools with scholarships and I imagine getting a 3.0 in undergrad was a breeze.

That will not be the case in law school. Everyone in your class will be smart, motivated, and hard working. 100% of your classmates will sincerely think they will be in the top 10% the first day of class, but 90% of them will not simple math.

This is relevant, because law school is graded on a curve and typically only 35% of the class can have a 3.0 GPA at the end of first year. This mean there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship for years two and three. This NY times article does a good job explaining the system.

Really ask detailed questions about the scholarship conditions.

Also consider cost of living Fordham is estimated at 25K per year Davis is 15k per year. That is a 30k difference and realistically I think your going to spend more than 25 per year living in Manhattan unless you are living in a tiny studio in a less than safe neighborhood.

I don't know if it is to late, but you might want to apply to some of the other California Schools if you got into these schools you can likely get a full-ride scholarship at several schools. If you get a full-ride it will be a lot easier to go into public interest law. A few schools that come to mind in socal that you get full rides from are Chapman, Southwestern, and Pepperdine (maybe). In the Bay Area Golden Gate (full ride); Hastings has a good LRAP program; McGeorge you could probably obtain a full-ride as well. 

Something to think about.

(3) Personal feelings about school:
I was accepted to a number of school as a 0L and visited almost all of them. I also competed in national mock trial competitions and visited a number campuses and interacted with students from various schools. I can tell you each school has a culture to it some schools I hated and others I loved, but those were my personal feelings.

You should visit any school you are interested in talk to students, professors, admins, walk around the campus, the neighborhood, and see how you feel. Each school will give you a different reaction some will be positive others negative, but that initial interaction is crucial. Your gut will know if it is a fit or not and nobody knows better than you what a good fit is. So I encourage you to visit all the schools you have been accepted to and if there is time some of the schools you might be interested in applying to.

(4) Understanding the Reality of Legal Education:
Any ABA school will provide you with an excellent legal education. The first year at any school you will take (1) Torts; (2) Civil Procedure; (3) Property; (4) Contracts; and (5) Crim law; Crim pro; or Con Law 1L. They switch those final three up between 1L and 2L. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and these will all be the same. You will read Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro to learn notice; Palsgraff in Torts to learn proximate cause; the hairy hand case in contracts;

There might some slight variations state by state i.e. in California almost every school offers community property, which is a California body of law routinely on the bar exam. New York does not have community property so they will not teach that, but that is a nuance issue. The reality is Davis, Fordham, BC, Seattle will all provide you with a quality legal education.


Re: UW v UC Davis v BC v Fordham
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2014, 06:30:12 PM »

(5) U.S. News Rankings:

I am not sure if you are taking this seriously or not, but if you are stop now. Remember U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit, unregulated magazine, offering an opinion. That should not be a huge factor on deciding where you are going to spend three years of the prime of your life; $100,000+; and set the course of your legal career.

Remember U.S. News ranks for than law schools. The #1 place to live according to U.S. News is Albuquerque, New Mexico . I imagine you are not going to move to New Mexico because U.S. News said it is the #1 place to live. Use the same logic when choosing a law school, I nearly choose my law school based solely on rankings, but people took the time to tell me how stupid that would have been and I am very thankful everyday they did, which is one of the main reasons I enjoy posting on this forum and responding to questions such as yours.

Hopefully, you are not as naive as I was and are not basing your decision on this magazine, but if you are stop now.

Neither I or any other anonymous internet poster or magazine can possibly tell you what school is "right" for you.

If you want to be a public interest lawyer in California I strongly encourage you to attend law school in California and preferably as close to the location as you want to live in as possible. If you want to be in Southern California attend law school in Southern California.

If you want to be in the Bay area attend law school in the Bay Area.

Nor Cal Davis or McGeorge.

I also encourage you to try and apply to a few more schools to obtain significant scholarship money there might still be time. Even if you never intent to enroll you can use other scholarships as a negotiation tool with Davis or UW. Remember if a school accepts you they want you and if you have bargaining power until you enroll. Once you enroll though your bargaining power is gone.

Feel free to PM me if you want to ask any follow-up questions. Or just continue posting on this board there are a lot of great posters here.