Law School Discussion

Need help making a decision

Need help making a decision
« on: March 23, 2015, 07:14:24 PM »
Washington University St. Louis
Wake Forest
Colorado Boulder
Penn State Dickinson [Full Ride]
University of Houston
-George Washington

Went to U of H for undergrad. I like their energy program. But they offered me almost no scholarship money compared to other universities.

Penn state is a full ride, but eventually I want to practice in Texas.

Washington University is the highest ranked school I got into.

Looking for advice

Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 10:08:39 PM »
This depends on how committed you are to working in Texas. If that is where you really want to live/work in afterwards... go to the best/least expensive school you can in that region. With exception of UH, none of these schools are going to do much of anything for you (and maybe even hinder you) getting a job in TX. I'm not knocking the other schools... just saying that you will be fighting an uphill battle trying to find a job in TX while going to law school in Penn State.

When it comes to law school, you can't look at ranking as an absolute spectrum. The T14 are going to have national pull, T100ish will have regional pull, T100+ will have city pull. Even that is not firm, but a general guide. In other words, a school ranked 75 in TX is going to be way better for you than a school ranked 40 in New York. That that range, you are going to find a job by your networking and alumni base, not so much by your school's inherent clout.

All that said, if TX is where you are going to be living... the answer is pretty clear on a TX school (only UH and Baylor for you). I would just go to the least expensive of the two.

Have you negotiated for more $ with the schools?


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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2015, 07:34:20 AM »
What Miami88 said was exactly correct. However, I might add a little twist. Most people (such as yourself) do not provide enough information to allow others to give truly informed advice, and, by the same token, appear to rely too much on rankings.

So, with that said, *if I was in your shoes*, and I couldn't get money from the Texas schools, then I would go to Dickinson (assuming it's not a severely limited scholarship- check the terms). Why? Because you haven't stated the following, "I am going to practice in Texas." If, like many people, you just aren't sure yet about your life, your future, what may happen... then *don't take on a ton of law school debt, and go for the free ride.* None of these schools guarantees the type of job that will repay the debt you will be incurring. Period.

Dickinson will make it extremely hard to practice in Texas. Their OCI office *will not help you*. You will have to do it all yourself. Your degree will not travel. You will have to a) do well, and b) make your own connections (use the connection you already have in Texas, contact the very few Dickinson grads that are practicing in Texas, and work your butt off to try and find a position).... and even then, you might get stuck in the mid-Atlantic/Philly or Pitt area to start off with. But there are worse things in life, like crippling debt and no job in Texas.

Now is the time for a little self-reflection, and some accounting. Do you live with parents/others close to one of the schools in Texas (in other words, save on living costs). What is your total cost of attendance and living at UH/Baylor v. Dickinson? Why do you want to practice in Texas eventually (is it just familiarity with living in Texas or is it because you already have connections)? These are questions only you can answer.

But, yeah, if your only goal in life is to practice in Texas, go to a Texas school.

Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 02:52:49 PM »
What Miami88 said makes sense.

loki13 you make a good point. I will elaborate further. 

Wherever I go for my first year, the plan is to try and transfer to UT (university of Texas). I don't know how realistic the possibility of that is. Washington University is ranked 18, so I assumed it might be easier to transfer to UT.

I have no connection to Penn State. But the scholarship is appealing.

I am not sure what loki13 meant by connections. I know people in the Houston area, and I have friends who have graduated from UH law school. The advantages to Uh are
-know the city
-Have family and friends
-One of my best friends just finished her L1 at UH and has offered me text books and guidance.

Yeah I am concerned with rank, should I not be?

Any thoughts?

Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 04:55:33 PM »
You should not be that concerned with rank. Remember U.S. News is a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion and should not be the basis of a life altering decision.

If you want to work in Texas University of Texas is a far better choice than University of Washington. If you want to be in Washington attend law school in Washington.

Also, do not go to a law school expecting to transfer.  Transferring is very difficult to do and even if you end up finishing in the top 20% of your class, which there is an 80% chance you will not. The friendships and connections you make during 1L are very important and many people do not handle transferring well.


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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 05:47:59 PM »
I completely agree with Citylaw regarding the last point- do not, whatever you do, go to a particular law school thinking you will transfer. There are two reasons for this:
1) You do not know how you will do. Everyone goes in thinking they will be above average, the star of the class. Now, most people go to law school because they're not good math. But you have to be pretty terrible at math to not understand why everyone can't finish in the top 10%.
2) If you do finish at the top of your class, so that you can transfer, you probably did well enough to get on law review and/or moot court. And you're likely giving that up. Maybe a scholarship too. And your network of 1Ls that you bonded with (and will be your friends for the rest of your life). This is no small thing. Transferring is almost always better in theory than it is practice, when it's even a possibility.

TLDR- do not base your decision on the possibility of a transfer to UT.

Do not be concerned with rank, at all. Outside of the T14, rank doesn't matter. None of the schools you have listed matters, other than the location. None of them are national. None of those names will carry you outside of their region.

If you ave your heart set on Texas, if that is where you want to live, where you want to practice, if you would be unhappy anywhere else... then go to UH. Personally, I would take the free ride, but (as an attorney) I am a little more risk averse, and I don't care much for Texas. ;)

Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2015, 10:05:11 AM »
Please keep in mind that my comments are based on your statement that you want to work in TX.

None of the schools were discussing are what I'd call elite. Wash U is the highest ranked, but I have no idea what kind of pull it has in TX. My guess is that it would be viewed as a good school, but not the kind of place where you can rely on pedigree alone to open doors in TX. The same would go for the other schools on your list. I'm not sure that it would necessarily carry any more weight than Baylor or UH.

Once you get away from the elite schools, you really need to consider location and cost. In my opinion, you would be far better off attending a TX school if you want to practice in TX.

Don't base your decision on this. It probably won't happen.

A huge factor. I know that you are probably eager to start school, but here is a thought. What about reapplying to schools like SMU, Texas Tech, Texas Wesleyan, St. Mary's, etc., and seeking a big scholarship? A free (or at least significantly discounted) degree from one of these schools may be more beneficial than huge debt from UH. Just a thought.

Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2015, 11:50:42 AM »
Good advice all around and I think you are making one of the most common 0L mistakes one I myself made and thinking to much about rankings.  You are looking at schools all over the place  L.A, Washington, Texas, St. Louis, Colorado etc.

If you attend Houston I am assuming you are from Texas and your goal is to be in Texas, but that is just an assumption. However, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a law school is it's location. L.A. and Boulder Colorado are very different places and the reality is wherever you attend law school is likely where you will end up living. Colorado will not open many doors in Texas and Houston will not open many doors in Colorado.

One school I was always impressed with in Mock Trial Competitions was South Texas Law School in Houston. If you want to be a litigator it really is a good school and you probably get substantial scholarship money there. That is something to consider, but as everyone says don't plan on transferring and choose a school in the area you want to live in. If you want to live in Texas after graduation there are about 10 schools there and go to school in Texas.

This is a pretty good article explaining how to choose a law school.