Law School Discussion

Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2015, 10:06:42 AM »
First and foremost realize that anything you read on this board or others mine included comes from anonymous internet posters and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are some valid posts above, but the law school you choose is a highly personal decision and the reality is any ABA school will provide you with a quality legal education and the opportunity to obtain a license to practice law.  If you pass the bar and become a licensed lawyer whether you succeed or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attended.

With that intro 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 feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News ranking.  Here is a good article summarizing these factors and I rambled on about them below as well. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

Location:
It looks like you want to be in Pennsylvania so you are looking at the right schools, but I am unfamiliar with Pennsylvania and don't know if these schools are in vastly different areas. The neighborhood your school is in will be where you spend three years of your life so it is something to consider.

Cost
Getting out of law school debt free would be awesome. However, has another poster suggested be careful of the conditions it sounds like it is only a 2.0 at most schools, which is fair, but don't assume the law school will do you any favors be very certain you understand the conditions. This New York Times Article explains how law school scholarships work better than I can. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?_r=0

However, getting out of law school with little or no debt will give you more freedom down the road, which is something to consider.

Personal Feelings about School:
Each school has a culture to it and whether you like that culture is a question only you can answer.

UPenn is an Ivy League School, which is great, but maybe your not an Ivy League type person. One of my friends went to Harvard Law School, but hated every minute of it. He is from the inner city and not exactly a preppy person and would have been happier going to  a school that had more scrappy people in it. He got a Biglaw job offer, but hated that environment and then started his own firm and is a solo practitioner hustling, but he loves it. He could have had full scholarships to numerous other schools, but now the Harvard debt is impacting him. The point is he was not a fit at Harvard, but there are certainly plenty of people that are.

So the point of that story is really look at yourself and what you like and don't like. No magazine, internet poster, etc can possibly know what fits you best. I encourage you to visit each school, talk to students, alumni, professors, walk around the neighborhood and determine, which school feels right. UPenn might be the perfect fit, but it might be a terrible fit as well, but this is a question only you can answer and the only way to answer this question is by visiting the schools and talking to people in person.

4) Reality of Legal Education
Any of these schools will provide you with a great education. At any ABA school you learn the same thing. Your first year courses will consist of  Torts; Contracts; Civil Procedure; Property; Legal Writing & Research; and then Crim Law/Con Law/ or Crim Pro these switch between schools for 1L and 2L, but you will take all of those courses. In those courses you will read Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different law schools nor does the law change if you attend a different law school. 

In Torts you will read Palsgraff to learn about proximate cause; Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro to learn about notice; Hadley v. Baxendale in contracts to learn about remedies. So on and so on.

After three years at any of these schools you will then need to take the bar exam. You will sign up for either BarBri or Kaplan and then be completely stressed out for 3 months then pack yourself in a room of thousands of people where students from all of these schools will be taking the bar exam. If you pass the bar your a licensed lawyer if you don't your not. None of these schools guarantee you will pass and whether you pass the bar or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attend.

5) U.S. News Ranking:
Remember that U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. U.S. News is doing nothing wrong by offering it's opinion, but there is no science behind it. U.S. News ranks everything from hospitals to best places to live and Alberqueue, New Mexico is the #1 place to live according to U.S. News http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live

I imagine you are not going to apply to New Mexico law school, because U.S. News said New Mexico is the best place to live. Use the same logic when choosing a law school, you can certainly consider it, but a magazines opinion should not be the basis of one of the biggest decisions of your life.

Conclusion:
I know nothing about you or your situation and certainly do not know what is best for you. The only person that can really answer the question is yourself, but use the factors above to assist in your decision. I also guarantee you now matter what you choose you will wonder "what if". I was accepted to numerous schools and even paid deposits at three. Part of me always wonders what if I had chosen school X over school Y, but you can only choose one and make the best of your decision.

Good luck and congratulations on all your acceptances.


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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2015, 10:26:10 AM »
"There are some valid posts above, but the law school you choose is a highly personal decision and the reality is any ABA school will provide you with a quality legal education and the opportunity to obtain a license to practice law."

To the extent this statement is true, this is misleading. While your post is largely correct, it is also largely the type of drivel you see from most admissions offices. The vast majority of people are going to law school to practice law, which means that they are looking to get a job. This is an outcome-oriented business, and people are paying a great deal of money (investing) for their outcome. Sure, a graduate from Tom Cooley is just as able to pass the bar as a graduate from Yale. But the likely expected outcomes are vastly different. And people rarely can get a good feel for a school just by visiting, not to mention that many of the things that people believe to be important at the outset will have little relevance when they graduate (give me a dime for every 0L who said they wanted to be either a "Constitutional Lawyer" or a "M&A Lawyer" and I wouldn't have had to do BigLaw to pay off my student debt). In short, do you really expect 0Ls who already know so little that they pay credence to the difference in 5 ranking spots in US News and World Reports to truly understand what makes law school different, especially when law schools offer a largely undifferentiated product?

This is not the complicated business you make it out to be. While the US News and Worlds Ranking are hardly a good guide, they can at least serve to alert a smart 0L to what schools are national in their ambitions (say, Cornell and up). These are schools that are "worth" full tuition in terms of likely job outcomes. *As soon as you move out of that sphere*, it becomes a much dicier proposition, and cost should be a major concern. Why? Because a 0L could take the money they would spend on law school tuition, and go to business school. Buy a house. Get started in a different career.

I agree that location is extremely important after you get out of the T14 (or so). A person should expect to practice in the region or locality that they go to school. And sometimes, there are special factors (I often cite the UMaine example- I would never go there, unless I was planning on practicing in Maine).

But I disagree about placing location over cost. Graduate with a degree in a location you want to live in, but be saddled with no job prospects and a ton of debt? Awesome! And that has happened to far too many people. We already have too many attorneys, too few jobs, and too many law schools (which the market has started to correct)- the wise person, at this point, needs to view this in terms of cost-benefit. Sure, don't go to a school with a free ride if you'd never want to practice in that area. But if that's your best option, perhaps revisiting the entire law school idea is preferable to paying full freight?

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2015, 04:30:50 PM »
Plenty of people do rely on U.S. News, but I am not one of them. Of course a Harvard degree can open doors, but not everybody wants that many choices. If someone wants to be a public defender in Lansing, Michigan then Cooley is a better choice than Harvard.

Of course you cannot know how it will go based on a visit or any amount of research. It will either work out or not and if we any of us could know how things would turn out these decisions would be pretty easy. I think the best people to talk to our alumni from schools in your area, but certainly visits are helpful.

To the OP neither I, Loki13, or any other poster really knows what is best for you. For all you know I could be a tweaker in a public library or the Dean of Harvard Law School. These boards and items such as U.S. News can be used as tools to assist in your decision, but don't make a life altering decision based on an anonymous internet posters opinion.

In my experience the name of a law school does not matter that much.  There are thousands of successful lawyers from every school and maybe in three ways the firm you really want to work at will love Penn Grads or maybe they will hate them. It is frankly a crapshoot and my anonymous internet poster opinion is that whether you succeed or not will have far more to do with you as an individual than the name of the school on your diploma. However, no matter school you attend the debt will be real and my two cents is try and avoid it, but there are plenty of reasonable people that will disagree with that advice.

However, remember this is your three year, $100,000+, life altering commitment and nobody knows what is best for you better than yourself.


loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2015, 06:40:09 PM »
I am going to write again because I strenuously disagree with what Citylaw is serving up.

"Of course a Harvard degree can open doors, but not everybody wants that many choices."

This is true. If someone states that they want to practice in Maine, and they have a job lined up post-graduation, then, by all means, go to UMaine! The vast majority of people do not have that luxury, and the reason they are asking questions is because they don't know (if they did, they wouldn't be asking).

"If someone wants to be a public defender in Lansing, Michigan then Cooley is a better choice than Harvard."

This is false. There is never a conceivable situation where Cooley is a better choice than Harvard. Even if a person believes they will be PD in Lansing. Cooley is, quite literally, the worst, and have been notorious for their terrible policies vis-a-vis students. Simply put, if Cooley is your best option, seriously reconsider going to law school.

"For all you know I could be a tweaker in a public library or the Dean of Harvard Law School."

This is true. I could have been running the "long con" by posting here starting in 2006. That would be a lot of effort! But to recap- I went to law school (so I'm familiar with that). Graduated and worked BigLaw after summering as a 2L. Now that I've done my time and made my money, I'm working the job that I've always wanted. But no, I'm not the Dean of Harvard Law School. I have been in practice for some time, and hired attorneys, and I am active with my school's alum and administration.

"In my experience the name of a law school does not matter that much."

This is 100%, verifiably false. Sure, after you've been in practice for a while and built up a book of business, you do what you want. But do you want to work BigLaw? Do you want a federal clerkship? Maybe dream of the academic track? Do you want a very powerful alum group? Yes, there are limited cases where the best option might not be a T14 school (you want to enter state politics, so the state law school could be a very good choice), but the name matters for the very top law schools. What people don't understand is that it doesn't matter after that. So, again, there are really only three groups of law schools. The T14 (or so). The next T50-100 (which are, at best, regional). And the rest (which are extremely local, sometimes even to the city).

"However, no matter school you attend the debt will be real and my two cents is try and avoid it, but there are plenty of reasonable people that will disagree with that advice. "

No. No reasonable person, at this stage, and considering the lessons learned in the last six years, disagree that a student shouldn't avoid debt. The risks are too real, and there are far too many horror stories. Outside of a very few schools that have realistic possibilities of putting large numbers of their students in top jobs, the simple fact is that most law schools do not graduate students into positions that allow them to easily pay off their debts.

"nobody knows what is best for you better than yourself."

I would agree with this, with the caveat that many people have unrealistic expectations. People listen to the advice of, inter alia, Citylaw, and believe that they can go to a school, graduate, pass the bar, and good things will happen (the "any school will give you the tools to be licensed attorney" theory). They don't, for many people. There are far too many un- and under-employed attorneys out there for this to be an accurate representation.

The two biggest shocks I had in my life were my first year of law school, and my first year of practice. My first year of law school taught me that everything I thought I knew about the law before I entered law school was either wrong or inadequate. My first year of practice taught me that law school (even my summer experience and clerking) poorly prepared me for actual practice. Which is a fancy way of saying that getting that first job in the law is so important, and, unfortunately, the *where* you went to law school (and, especially outside of the T14, how you performed, law review, moot court, etc.) can determined your career path. Definitely? No. But sometimes hard truths are better than positive generalities.

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2015, 02:39:55 PM »
But no, I'm not the Dean of Harvard Law School.

... precisely what the Dean of Harvard Law School WOULD SAY, MARTHA MINOW!!!

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 07:07:03 PM »
Feel to disagree with me.

All I can say to the OP is remember this will be one of the biggest life choices you ever make. You can listen to internet posters or go out and talk directly to real people.  There is no bad advice on this thread, but talk to people in person and you can judge their credibility first hand.

This is a very big decision and there is no absolute. There are scenarios where Cooley is better than Harvard. This is few and far between and 99% of the time not the case and if you want to go the Clerk-Big Law etc path it is 100% not true. However, not everyone wants the Big-Law clerkship path and if you want to work for a solo attorney in Lansing Michigan they will be more likely to hire someone from Lansing law school than flying a Harvard Grad out.

If you want the traditional law school path then Penn will open the most doors, but I do not know you or anything about you. If your goal is to open your own firm right out of law school get out with as little debt as possible. Frankly the possibilities are endless and having never met you or knowing the first thing about OP I will not tell him/her that X school is the absolute right choice. Use the factors I mentioned as well as the other posts on this board as preliminary info, but the best information comes from people you can talk with face to face.  You cannot do with that with myself, Miami88, or Loki13. For all you know we are all using the same screen name and hired by Law School Discussion to disagree to generate content. That is not the case, but maybe it is there is nothing wrong with saying anything you want on this board or others.




Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2015, 08:00:07 PM »
For all you know we are all using the same screen name and hired by Law School Discussion to disagree to generate content.

...exactly what a Law School Discussion employee would say.... MARTHA MINOW!!!!

loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2015, 07:49:48 AM »
"There are scenarios where Cooley is better than Harvard. This is few and far between and 99% of the time not the case and if you want to go the Clerk-Big Law etc path it is 100% not true. However, not everyone wants the Big-Law clerkship path and if you want to work for a solo attorney in Lansing Michigan they will be more likely to hire someone from Lansing law school than flying a Harvard Grad out."

I agree. Judge credibility of people. Let's take this bon mot. Cooley, for example, places less than half of its graduates in long-term employment. It places less than 1/3 (22.9%) of its graduates in employment that requires a JD... that's any job. Public defender. Sole practitioner. Anything. Combined, it places less than 1% of its class in any sort of clerkship of BigLaw job. Think about that for a second. But wait, there's more!   And the graduates of the Cooley are the lucky ones (maybe?). Because Cooley is notorious for failing out students in its first and second year, and their conditional scholarships.

Harvard graduates 87% of its students into jobs that require a JD (some, supposedly, take their Harvard JD into other positions, like my friend who then went to DC). 73% (!!??!!) go to clerkships or BigLaw. If you want it, you'll get it. And if you really want to be a PD in Lansing after Harvard- guess what, you can have that, too! Which is certainly aren't guaranteed if you decided to attend Cooley (see above).

What about costs and fees? Harvard costs 10k more per year. So that's 30k over three years. That's called an investment. In not getting totally screwed by a nearly worthless degree.

Go to websites like lawschooltransparency, and see what the real numbers are. Treating this as some sort of mystical decision does students a disservice. Like any investment in your future, this is a decision that should be fact-based, not made up because you liked one admission department's dog and pony show better than another's, or because you talked to a grumpy 2L at one place who was editing a cruddy law review article on a non-bagel day and a sunny 3L at another place who was blowing off their "Law & Pottery" class.

And this gets to the heart of my disagreement with Citylaw. It's not that his advice is necessarily bad (yes, location and cost are the two most important factors, and USNWR ranking are, mostly, useless, other than identifying the general groupings of schools). It's that it's so general as to be both useless and misleading.


Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2015, 10:49:50 AM »
I have a lot of respect for the above posters, both offer good advice.

However, when the discussion devolves into Cooley vs. Harvard we enter the theater of the absurd. How many students are actually faced with such a stark choice? Is anyone who has been accepted to Harvard actually contemplating Cooley, or any other school outside of the T14? Surely there are a handful of such cases, but it seems rather pointless to make such comparisons.

Personally, I think anyone who gets accepted to Harvard would be crazy to turn down the opportunity unless it was to take advantage of a full ride at another well known school. If you've read any of my previous posts then you know that I am VERY skeptical of the rankings and encourage people to examine all facets of their available options.

Nonetheless, a degree from Harvard/Yale/Stanford is so instantly recognizable as badass that it will be a boon to the job applicant regardless of geographic location. Even if your goal is to be a PD in Maine or Lansing, the Harvard degree will help. The debt is another issue.

A far more realistic scenario (and one which has the potential to adversely affect many more prospective students), is when someone is debating between Low Ranked School at Discount vs. Mid-Ranked School at Full Price. This is where the rubber hits the road.

How many of us know people who wanted to work as attorneys in say, California, but turned down a scholarship to the local T4 in order to attend a non-elite, out of state school because it was ranked higher? Huge mistake, IMO.

So, do rankings matter? Yes, especially at the top. But as others have stated, once you get into the great blurry mass of the other 190 or so schools that are not elite, you better prioritize cost and location over rankings.

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2015, 12:16:44 PM »
Solid posts above, but my overall advice is for each individual person to take their own feelings into account. All four people that have chimed in on this thread attended law school and are working as lawyers, and none of us are in complete agreement. In all likelihood the four of us have very little common with the OP.

For all I know OP is a Transvestite and a Transvestite student might have a harder time fitting in at Harvard or Yale than a school in San Francisco.  Although, BYU is a great school I would not recommend Provo, Utah. There can be a lot more to choosing a school than prestige. For the typical white male/female straight out of undergrad sure Harvard, Yale, Stanford if those doors are open go for it.

Another example would be if we are talking about a 44 year old non-traditional student with a family. That person should not attend Harvard, Yale, or Stanford.  First making your family move to attend law school is probably not a good idea. Even if there is no family consideration very few big law firms are hiring 47 year old associates and that student would be better off going to a regional school getting out with as little debt as possible and opening their own firm.

Again, location does matter as well. I am a City Attorney and we have had Harvard, Yale, graduates apply for positions with us, but we are in California and government agencies don't have budgets to fly people across the country for interviews nor are we going to offer someone a job that doesn't live locally.  In politics, which attorney work many cities want people from the area not some person out of nowhere.

Would I as a typical white male with few family connections chosen  Harvard, Yale, Stanford over any other school? Yes I would have, but there are plenty of people with different goals, expectations and wants. Of course use common sense, but each persons law school experience is highly personal and I strongly believe whether someone succeeds as a lawyer has a lot more to do with them than the school they attended. However, there are plenty of lawyers out there that believe credentials are the most important.

To the original question it looks like OP wants to be in Pennsylvania, and I strongly believe any of these schools will give you the opportunity to succeed. If you are not that entrepreneurial and want the clerkship/big law route then Penn will open the most doors for jobs.

If you are more of a hustler and really just want to start your own firm then getting out with as little debt as possible is a good option.

Also, if possible try to negotiate a scholarship with Penn tell them you are very impressed, but X school is offering you a full ride they might throw $5,000-$10,000 a year your way. Worst thing they say is  no and your in the same position your in now.

Good luck.