Law School Discussion

Taking test in LosAng/SantaMon/LongBeach area. Which test centers are better?

Need your advice.
I'll be moving to CA, and I'll need to register for LSAT before actually getting there. I'll end up somewhere in Los Angeles / Santa Monica / Long Beach area.
Could you advise me which test places/centers of that area are better? The only two criteria to keep in mind are ample personal space in an airy room and easy morning access by public transportation (basically, the second condition is not as important as the first one, since I can use taxi; however, if it's within 5-10 minute walk from a stop, it's better than a taxi)
Thanks

loki13

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It may be a bit outdated, but check out this thread:

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=156860
or
http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=156860

It appears that the consensus is Southwestern, although some like USC (but not during football season).

I didn't take the LSAT in LA, but I lived there for a while. Southwestern is near the Wilshire/Vermont subway (for mass transit). Not the most scenic area, but still.

loki13

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I should add something- you don't seem very positive on the "where" you're going to move to part. LA is NOT Santa Monica is NOT Long Beach. And, um, you might have heard that LA occasionally has traffic issues.

RE: public transportation, LA has a great bus system, and a very limited subway. Once you understand the bus systems (differences between express and local, for instance) it is extremely easy to use and pretty reliable.

That said, LA is definitely a car city. I can't add anything about taxis, since I never took one when I lived there (it was recently, but pre-Uber).

Good luck. And don't stress too much. I took the LSAT in a place that was an hour and a half from where I was living, and it was no big deal.

The bar, on the other hand...

You might want to take your LSAT in a small California town like Chico or Monterey. I actually took mine at Cal Northern Law School in Chico and there were only 18 people in the room. I am from L.A. and did not want hundreds of people around me and to be fighting traffic etc.

Here is the list of test centers.

http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/testing-locations/regular

I would say Santa Rosa, Humboldt, Chico, Sonoma would be low key areas. I imagine Chico and Humboldt would be the best.

LA has a great bus system... That said, LA is definitely a car city.

And don't stress too much.

I don't stress about the test at all. However, the score is the separate issue:)

Also, somewhat off-topic, if you don't mind. Internet is filled with remarks that it's close to impossible to have a distinct life in LA without a car. But you see some greatness in its bus system. What do you mean by "great?" (you can insert other web links if don't want to waste your time on explanations).

loki13

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Here's the thing- LA is a completely, totally, bizarre city. I lived near the LACMA(technically, West Hollywood area). If you talk to most people in Los Angeles, they'll tell you that it is a car city, and they won't be wrong. But it is also one of the most amazingly walkable cities I have ever lived in.

Okay, let me explain. "LA" isn't so much a single city, but a bunch of sprawling, urban neighborhoods. With the (usually) wonderful weather, and the sidewalks that are everywhere, it can be a much more walkable city than many others (such as cites in the South, which are gawdawful hot and often don't have sidewalks in many areas, or the NE, which have that whole Winter thing). But very few people walk, because it's not in the zeitgeist. When I worked downtown, people would (seriously) drive if it was more than a five minute walk. It was crazy to me.

LA also has a great subway system. Unfortunately, it doesn't go very far. But I loved it.

Finally, when I was there, I often took advantage of the buses. You have to understand the differences (the express v. the locals) but they could take you everywhere. Clearly, they weren't as convenient as a car, but the system was amazing! And a TAP card (for public transit) was so cheap.

So... here's the thing. It really was a cultural thing there. Poor people took the public transit. My firm reimbursed the cost of parking / public transit. AFAIK, I was the *only* attorney to take the public trasit reimbursement. Repeat- the only one. I had a car, I just didn't feel like driving it unless I had a court date somewhere out of the city.

But to answer your question- LA's public transit was, IMO, pretty amazing. The only reason I had even considered it is because I had previously lived in NE cities and used public transit (subways). If you keep your smartphone and google maps with you, and/or the LA Transit website loaded (maybe they have an app now?) it can take you where you need to go. That said, if you are taking a bus, remember that they also go on the roads, just like cars. Occasionally they get delayed. Try and make sure to be near an express stop (those are the big red buses)- the locals can, sometimes, take forever. Get a TAP card first thing. The subway system there is pretty awesome as well, but very limited; it also shut down early, and very occasionally would shut down at weird hours or at weird stations to shoot a film (look closely at many films and you'll see that the subway station in question is, in fact, LA's subway).

Finally, while you didn't ask it- neighborhoods really matter in LA. It's not a homogenous city.... at all. I loved where I lived. I could walk one way and end up at the Chinese Theater and the Grove. I could walk the other way and end up in Little Ethiopia for a great meal.

Hope this helps.

I grew up in LA, went to law school in LA, and currently live and work in LA.

Regarding the need for a car, you have to understand that people refer to all of the greater Los Angeles basin simply as "LA". Thus, the area that folks are referring to includes pretty much everything from Long Beach to Malibu, and from Santa Monica inland all the way to the Inland Empire. It's a huge, flat, sprawling area. So when people say "You need a car" it's because they're assuming that you'll be commuting 30 miles a day or more.

Downtown and the Westside are more compact. You can definitely get around on public transportation. If, however, you ended up living in Long Beach and going to law school in Westwood you would probably need a car. Just my two cents.

LSAT test centers
I don't know anything about ones in the areas you mentioned, but I took the LSAT at the University of La Verne and it was great. Nice big room, probably sat around 150, but only had 20-30 taking the test. I had a whole table to myself. It was definitely worth the drive.

Incidentally, I took the bar nearby at the Ontario Convention Center and that was a good move too. Parking was easy, there was more than ample space, there were places to get breakfast and lunch on site. It just seemed a little less crazy than you might expect. My classmates who took the bar in downtown LA had to deal with terrible parking issues, overcrowding, etc. Something to consider.

loki13

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Maintain,

I took the CalBar in Ontario as well. When I learned I was taking it there, I was pretty pissed (as in, wtf, Ontario?) but I completely second your comments.

I also stayed on-site. Which is something I have recommended to every person taking the Bar, in every state. Always, always, always get a hotel room. The price you pay (IMO) is completely made up for in peace of mind.

That said, I disagree with one thing you wrote about LA. No one lives in Long Beach. ;)

Let's be precise: no one voluntarily lives in Long Beach.

And yes, get a room as close as possible to the test center! The few hundred bucks you spend are nothing compared to the $100k you just spent on law school, and the reduction in stress is huge. You don't want to be commuting through traffic for and hour before either the bar or LSAT.