Law School Discussion

Mercer vs FAMU


Mercer vs FAMU
« on: May 20, 2014, 09:17:49 PM »
Im having a rather tough decision between the two schools. I have a $12,000 scholarship from Mercer and a $10,000 scholarship from FAMU. FAMU's tuition is significantly cheaper than Mercer's so even though Mercer is offering more, going to FAMU would be overall cheaper.

I guess the question is do I choose the name and ranking of Mercer, or the cost and and clinical program of FAMU?

Also I have two close family members tat practice law in Orlando.

Re: Mercer vs FAMU
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 07:57:15 AM »
Personally, I would go for the least expensive option.

Mercer may be ranked higher, but it's not an elite school. Are the opportunities available to a Mercer student going to be significantly different from those available to a FAMU student? Is the Mercer "pedigree" going to open more doors?

You need to do a realistic cost/benefit analysis. If your choices were between FAMU and Duke, Emory, or even UGA it would be a tougher call. You need to do what's best for you, but seriously consider the implications of taking on a huge debt.

Re: Mercer vs FAMU
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 08:17:58 AM »
There is no right answer to this question and realize anyone posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster so take any advice you receive on this site or others with a grain of salt.

With that said I believe any incoming law student should consider the following factors in this order. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the School; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education and (5) last and least U.S. News rankings. Below is an analysis of each factor to your situation, but I know nothing about you or your situation so I would encourage you to apply your own facts and an article explaining how to choose a law school .

1) Location:
Macon Georgia and Orlando Florida are different places Orlando is a fairly large City with an NBA Team, Disneyworld etc, with beach access.

Macon Georgia is a smaller town without as many options, but many people prefer small towns what you prefer is your choice.

Also they are located in different states and odds are if you attend Mercer you will end up taking the Georgia Bar if you go to FAMU you will probably take the Florida Bar. There are exceptions and some people do end up taking two bars, but the majority of law students end up taking the bar in the state they attend law school.

You will also likely end up in Georgia or FAMU based on connections Macon and Orlando are five hours apart. Therefore, during your law school career you will hold internships in Macon or in the surrounding areas if you attend Mercer or in Orlando if you attend FAMU it is just geography.

2) Cost

You have smartly looked at the numbers basically this is how it play out financially with an additional caveat to add at the end.

FAMU 12,000 per year - $12,000 in scholarship=  0 Tuition
Mercer 36,000 per year - 10,000 scholarship= 26,000 tuition x 3=  78,000

You also have to ask what are the requirements to maintain your scholarship at each school. Many schools require you to maintain a 3.0 GPA, which like any incoming law student 100% believe you will achieve. Law school however, is unlike other forms of education due to the strict curve and typically only 35% of the first year class, which means there is only a 35% chance an incoming law student will keep their scholarship. Everyone in law school is smart, hard working, and motivated and the difference between being in the top 25% or top 45% can be a few multiple choice questions or missing one issue on the Torts exam.

Point being read the conditions on the scholarships for both schools and asked detailed questions about them. This NY times article does a far better job explaining the system than I can.

Also do not be afraid to negotiate for better terms both of these schools are impressed with you enough to accept you into their institution and offer you money. Ask FAMU for living expenses costs and ask Mercer for more money play them against each other as a 0L you have all the bargaining power, but once you enroll it is gone.

(3) Personal Feelings about each school:

Each school has it's own culture to it and whether you like it or not a particular school is a question only you can answer. Some magazine, anonymous internet poster, or guidebook cannot tell you where you are comfortable. When I was a 0L I visited many schools and some I liked others I didn't, but you might like the ones I hated and hate the ones I liked.

I strongly encourage you to visit both schools talk to professors, students, walk into the library, walk around the campus, and the surrounding neighborhood and see how each one makes you feel. One will make you feel more comfortable than the other and listen to that gut feeling it is usually a lot smarter than your brain.

(4) Reality of Legal Education:
Whether you attend FAMU, Mercer, or any ABA law school you will receive a quality education since for all intents and purposes the ABA imposes the same requirements on each school. Your first year will consist of Torts, Property, Civil Procedure, Contracts, and then schools vary on whether you take the following courses 1L or 2L Crim Law, Criminal Procedure, and Con Law.

In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different schools and the law does not change if you attend Mercer or FAMU. In Civil Procedure to learn notice you will read Pennoyer v. Neff; Palsgraf in Torts to learn proximate cause etc.

5) Last and least U.S. News Rankings:
Most incoming law students and those in the law school bubble take this very seriously, but once your out of the bubble you realize this is nothing more than a for-profit, unregulated magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News ranks everything from best places to live to best hospitals, but there is no strong basis for any of the rankings it is just their opinion, which they are entitled to have.

As an example New Mexico is the #1 best place to live according to U.S. News. Are you going to make the life altering decision to move to New Mexico because U.S. News said so? Probably not, but it might peak your interest in the City a little more, but not enough to make the life altering decision of where you are going to live.

Use the same logic when choosing a law school I do not believe either school is in the top 100, but I heard U.S. News started going up to 150 now who knows the scoring and format of the rankings is changed every year, but I guess Mercer is higher than FAMU, but I honestly don't know and most people won't. If this was Harvard or FAMU people would know, but neither of these schools are elite institutions and I wouldn't pay $78,000 more to attend one school over the other based on what a magazine thinks.

There is no right answer and I strongly encourage you to visit both schools, consider where you want to live and ask what the scholarship conditions are and negotiate for more money and better terms.

Once all that is done the decision will likely be clearer, but no matter what choice you make there will always be a question of what if I did X, but that is just part of life and one of the most important skills to have in the legal profession is making a final decision and sticking to it. As simple as it sounds it is very difficult to apply as you are learning in this process.

Finally any educational experience for all intents and purposes is what you make of it and you can have a great or terrible career coming from either of these schools and whether it is a great or terrible career will have a lot more to do with you than the name of the school on your diploma.

Good luck.