Law School Discussion

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

loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2015, 09:23:57 AM »
"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."

I completely agree with this. At this point, I'm continuing the thread because it's better than Russian spam. :)

A few points I would like to emphasize- when I worked in BigLaw, I looked at my incoming class of associates. In all the offices, there were four (four!) associates from outside the T14. One from UCLA (in the LA office). One from George Washington. Two (including myself) from other top 50 schools.

There were 14 Harvard grads. That means that Harvard, alone, placed more than three times as many graduates into my BigLaw firm as associates as did every other school from 15 on.

Next, regarding the City Attorney position raised by CityLaw; I agree that know local government will fly you out to interview; on the other hand, your chances of getting hired increase exponentially if you are Harvard grad. One of my friends (Harvard Grad) couldn't hack BigLaw, and left after a year. She went on to work cases in the local city government. Her pedigree, as opposed to accomplishments to date, got her the job. That's neither right nor wrong, but rather a fact of life. Sure, once you have proven yourself in practice, your law school will fade away (except for the academic track if you want to be a professor). But that takes a while. A T14 degree will open a lot of doors.

I am not sure what to make of the transvestite/gay comment re: HYS, as it appears based on somewhat outdated stereotypes. Harvard, to use one example, is among the most progressive schools in the nation, with an active LGBT community (at least, it was according to the people I knew who were a part of it).

I do agree with the second career bit from Citylaw; if you're much past the age of 30, it will be much harder to get the type of job to help you pay down the debt that a T14 school will give you. That goes to the question of whether it's a sound investment, but I would also question why someone would want to attend law school at 44 unless they are already financially secure  and this is more of an intellectual exploration / desire to explore a second career that they can take or leave.

Finally, I would ask that Citylaw post some more thoughts about hanging out the shingle (becoming a sole practitioner). One of the ongoing issues in legal practice is how difficult it is for new attorneys to begin practice without experience, as law school is not a great way to gain experience... this has been an ongoing topic of conversation in my state bar. Simply put, absent a close network of people that you can rely on for advice, as well as community connections that you have prior to law school (clients!), and an entrepreneurial spirit, I would never recommend hanging out your shingle to begin with, but instead working, for at least a year or two, with a small practice or as a prosecutor/PD (litigation experience). Had I hung out my shingle to start with, I know I would have been committing malpractice. But, again, I am risk adverse, and I know that various state bars are trying to help with this problem.

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2015, 11:17:46 AM »
Solid post Loki.

The Transvestite post was not towards Harvard, I imagine Boston and Harvard to be very accepting places. I was mentioning a situation such as a Transvestite student at BYU not being a good fit or a bible thumping Christian from Alabama struggling to fit in at Berkeley. Those are extreme scenarios, but although Boalt is a great school I would not recommend someone that is highly conservative attending school in the Bay Area. I would also not recommend a highly liberal transvestite attending a Mormon school. Not to say either school would deliberatley do anything bad, but I think it would be very difficult for either of those students to fit in.

As for the hanging out your own shingle again for the typical straight out of undergrad to law school student hanging out your own shingle would be a bad idea. However, to go back to the age aspect if someone has 10 years of business experience before going to law school they could probably handle operating their own law firm right out of law school. However, I imagine both you and I had similar paths with minimal work experience prior to law school. I would have been a disaster hanging out my own shingle right out of law school as well, but I was 27 years old with some minor paralegal experience.

I had classmates older classmates that had started their own businesses before law school and business backgrounds and started their own firms out of law school that did quite well.






loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2015, 11:36:37 AM »
Citylaw,

Well, I was a non-trad in law school (and the oldest person in my associate class). My concern was not just the business side of starting your own firm (which is considerable, and is fraught with not only the typical concerns of starting a going concern, but also perils that only exist for law firms, such as client accounts), but also the more mundane issue of experience.

Which is to say, even having clerked, worked before, worked as a RA in law school, summered for a BigLaw firm, *and* worked for a local firm while in law school, I was still woefully underprepared for actual practice. Law school lays down a great foundation, but I would have had no idea how to the following straight out of law school:
1) Prepare a will (really) that was anything beyond the most simple of wills.
2) Draft a contact that was solid.
3) Prepare a trust (actually, I still can't do that).
4) Litigate in state court.
5) Litigate in federal court. Well, now I'm an old hand at this one, but I know a lot of practicing attorneys that are still terrified to litigate in federal court.
...and so on. There are so many small intricacies that are either formal rules (does your state have a specialized system or requirements for certain types of suits that you waive if you don't comply?) or are norms (how do you really conduct discovery) that are learned through practice, and it can be very hard to pick those things up on your own.

I know that some people can start practices out of law school, but in the last two decades or so, it has been my experience that this avenue has become much harder. Thoughts?

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2015, 12:01:14 PM »
Agreed and it certainly is not easy to start your own firm out of law school and for most recent graduates it is not likely. However, there certainly are graduates that have enough confidence right out of law school to do the things you mentioned, but it is rare. As you know most of the law is simply having the confidence to think your right, but that is not easy to obtain. Some people are born with that decisiveness and confidence while others are not.  The confidence and decisiveness can also backfire if it is wrong, but having clerked etc I imagine you saw many lawyers that you could have done better than.


loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2015, 12:06:29 PM »
"The confidence and decisiveness can also backfire if it is wrong, but having clerked etc I imagine you saw many lawyers that you could have done better than. "

Heh. Maybe that's the problem. I've gradually gained confidence from seeing so much terrible, terrible lawyering. So I know that at least I'm not as bad as what I'm usually litigating against.

On the other hand, part of being semi-smart is worrying that you're not right, because there's always more law, more issues, and more things to look at.

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2015, 01:48:20 PM »
Exactly, but there is always more research that can be done, but at some point you also have to pull the trigger and do a tangible task. Where that balance is of doing to much or to little research is a difficult thing to learn.  I know personally they have been times when I made something simple very complicated and other times I should have done more research.

I also wanted to make one comment about the number of Harvard associates in Biglaw.  Again, if Biglaw/Clerkship is the goal then there is no question that choosing a T14 school is the way to go.  Biglaw cares about credentials, but outside of that 1-5% of the legal market it matters much less.  There are many people that simply want to be D.A.'s or Public Defenders. If that is the goal do not go to Harvard or Yale get out with as little debt as possible.

Again, good posting it is nice to not have spammers on here.










loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2015, 02:09:26 PM »
Citylaw,

The reason I take issue with your goal-based analysis is that, unfortunately, the vast majority of incoming 0Ls don't have a clear idea of what it is they want to do. I often joke about the 0L that wants to be a "Constitutional Lawyer" or an "M&A Attorney." In addition, most have an extremely unrealistic picture of what attorney's earn (average salary not being the same as the median salary, for instance). Simply put, there are a few high salary jobs, a few mid salary jobs, and a larger number of "starter" jobs. And if you're not certain, your best option is a T14. In addition to the BigLaw jobs, many offer various types of loan forgiveness that you just can't get at other schools if you go into public service-y type jobs (they can afford to, since so many of their grads are making money).

The factor I think you are ignoring is that many schools outside of the T14 can't place their students into jobs. They just can't. I know the market has improved somewhat, but I have seen the decimation that occurred from 2008 onwards. People in my class couldn't get jobs- and this from a well-respected school. People in the next year's class, top students, struggling. So many unemployed and never getting jobs. Let's take an example- Temple. Good school. Ranked #52. In the last three years, they have never been able to graduate even 60% (from 52-59%, including school-funded jobs) into a position that requires a JD.

And that's the difference. I am *not* a T14 snob, as my experience shows that you don't need a T14 degree to succeed. But I'm also quite aware that the cost/benefit ratio is very different when you leave the T14. I could not, in good conscience, recommend that anyone pay full freight to go to a law school outside of the T14, unless it was a state school (lower tuition) or their parents were paying for it. It's just not worth it from a cost/benefit analysis.

I do agree with you that if someone is comparing a T14 school with a free ride (and no onerous conditions on the scholarship) at a T50 school, then perhaps, depending on circumstances, they might choose otherwise. But if a poster does not provide circumstances otherwise, I can't, in good conscience, tell them to pursue their dream at a lower ranked school.

loki13

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Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2015, 02:22:22 PM »
(By the way, I'm not picking on Temple- I was using it as an example of *good* employment numbers. Bad numbers are at schools like Ave Maria, which place 30% of their grads in positions that require a JD. Something to think about. Good schools are in the 45% (Penn State) 60% (Temple), 66% (UF), 75% (UCLA) range. Great schools are in the 87% + range. Penn has a 90%+ rate.)

Re: Where to go: psu Dickinson, temple, drexel, villanova, U Penn
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2015, 11:33:13 PM »
First I agree very few OL's have any idea what they want.

However, any law school can and does place students in jobs, but it is a long road. The 9 months after graduation stats are highly flawed. First off you honestly cannot even be employed as a lawyer until 7 months after graduation at least in California where bar results are released in November and very few firms will hire in November or December so realistically it is not until that January when you even have a chance of getting hired, which is 9 months after graduation and odds are many lawyers will do some b.s. thing the first year or two out of law school.

Education however, is a long term investment as you have mentioned in your post you just landed your dream job, but I imagine there was a lot of stress and uncertainty going down that path. Most lawyers however that have practiced that have been licensed for 5 or more years do pretty well for themselves, but getting that first job is a pain in the ass.

However, this is not uncommon to law school.

College grads not finding jobs.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/half-of-college-grads-cant-find-full-time-jobs/

MBA's a bad choice
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/top-5-reasons-an-mba-is-a-bad-investment/

Nursing grads can't find jobs
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/top-5-reasons-an-mba-is-a-bad-investment/

I could go on and on with articles saying X education is a bad investment. However, the truth is starting out in any profession is difficult. To the best of my knowledge I am not aware of some guaranteed $200k a year cush job waiting for 100% of graduates in any profession. If that exists let me please let me know.

Basically anything is a challenge and there is no easy route. Therefore, if you want to be a lawyer go to school and use common sense when choosing the school you choose.

Law school is a great investment for thousands of students and terrible one for thousands of others.  Then these blanket employment stats from schools have little merit to me.  Frankly, if your in the bottom 25% of your class at any school, no internships, no mock trial, no nothing then it will be hard to get a job out of law school and probably to even pass the bar.

At the same school another student can finish in the top  25%, have numerous internships, participates in mock trial, heads law review etc likely will find a job, which goes to my overall point that whether you succeed in the legal profession will have a lot more to do with the individual than the school.

I interview people and schools are great, but I look at references, experience, etc. If someone attended Berkeley and had a 2.6, never interned, participated in nothing and showed up 20 minutes late to the interview I am not hiring them.

If another student from Santa Clara comes in with a 3.6, numerous professor references, internship experience, participated in mock trial, comes prepared to the interview etc I am hiring them.

So that goes to the overall crux of OP's question choose the school that fits them best, but if Biglaw is their main goal then sure Penn opens more doors, but is it worth the cost? Maybe, that is for OP to decide, but don't choose anything without thinking of yourself first and foremost.