Law School Discussion

Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul

loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2015, 02:11:00 PM »
"Just a huge John Grisham fan and he is doing quite well for himself coming out of Mississippi Law School a non-top 100 school."

Also wanted to note this- no, Ole Miss is not Harvard. But the undergrad is pretty good (for the South). And it is a Top 100 law school (albeit barely). It's also the top law school in Mississippi, it's the top state school in Mississippi (sorry, state), and it's an incredible value if you're paying in-state tuition.

If you're going to practice in Mississippi, it is definitely the school to go to. Period. In fact, it's one of the reasons that ranking (outside of the T14) are of limited value. The top state school for a state, in many areas, is often one of the best schools to choose if you're going to practice in that state, and is a bona-fide requirement if you're going into politics or, heck, just need the networking.

So, Ole Miss and Whittier are not really comparable.

loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2015, 02:37:45 PM »
Heck, let's do the comparison of Whittier v. Ole Miss.

Ole Miss (assuming in state tuition)-
Tuition and fees: $14.6k a year
Cost of living: $19.1k a year
28.5% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
More than 63% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
More than 80% of grads were employed in full-time jobs.

Whittier:
Tuition and fees: $42.4k
Cost of living: $28.8k
3.8% of grads secured jobs by graduation.
26.7% of grads had jobs that required a JD.
42.9% of grads were employed in full time jobs (some had part time- nearly 1/2 of grads were unemployed in the long run).

So, comparing the two, and without taking into account inflation:
Ole Miss will cost you ~$101,100 to graduate all told. That's new debt. In exchange, you'll probably work in Mississippi (bad), but you stand a very good shot of being employed in the legal field, and a pretty decent shot at having a good job by graduation. Heck, even though it's Mississippi, you can make pretty good money.

Whittier will cost $213,600 to graduate all told. In exchange, you have a darn good shot at being unemployed. And if you get a job (which may be hard) you'll be making less money, with more debt, than a grad from Ole Miss. Admittedly, the Mississippi factor is huge.

But this illustration is why state schools can be such a bargain if you know you want to practice in that state. By the way- many of the politicians, judges, and other power players in Mississippi will have Ole Miss connections. You can repeat this exercise with many states. This is an example of why ranking aren't everything. Sure, if I wanted to practice BigLaw in NYC, I wouldn't want to to law school at Ole Miss... that would be a difficult jump (although easier than Whittier). But if I knew I would be happy practicing in Mississippi, that would be an attractive option.

Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2015, 03:21:11 PM »
Again I think we agree in principal, but I think you are greatly exaggerating how bad other schools are. 

You keep using the statistics, but they are not a good guide. You literally cannot be employed as an attorney at graduation from law school. (The exception being Wisconsin or Marquette, because the State of Wisconsin offers these two schools the degree privilege.)

However, whether you attend Stanford or Whittier and graduate in May of 2010 neither of these graduates can be employed as a lawyer until Mid-November when the California Bar Results are released. 

The reality is whether you attend Whittier or any of these schools the real challenge will be passing the bar. If you pass the bar from these schools you will have options, but many of the lower level schools have low bar passage rate and very few if any employers will offer you a job until you pass the bar.

Nobody is saying Whittier is some great academic institution, but you can certainly become a licensed and employed lawyer. However, you need to have realistic expectations.

loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2015, 03:49:36 PM »
Gah!

Statistics are a great guide, and they are much better than anecdotes or glossies from an admissions office. Heck, they are better than any testimonials, so long as you understand how to use them. But quickly-

The jobs on graduation statistics refers to graduates who have a job when they graduate. It was extremely common (now, less so) for a firm or other organization to hire law graduates, and pay them while they were preparing to take the bar. That's what happened with me, and with many other grads. You get acclimated to the firm and the work. There's a lot you can do before you have to start signing your own pleadings. So I'm not sure what your point is- many attorneys, including me, were employed in their jobs the second they graduated, and worked at their firms while they 1) took the bar, and 2) waited for the results. It's a lot better (and more lucrative) than sitting on your butt.

As for passing the bar? FWIW, Whittier had the lowest passage rate of any California school, for the California bar. So the one thing they should do, they can't. 42%, baby!

I will repeat this- there's a difference between realistic expectations, and stupid ones. Realistic is saying, "I would like to be an attorney in Maine. Maybe UMaine law school, despite the rankings, is a good bet if I can establish in-state tuition!" Stupid expectations are, "Going to Whittier is likely to be a positive experience, as opposed to an exercise in three years of drudgery, followed by a mountain of student debt and no career in the law."

Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2015, 03:57:21 PM »
Again, Whittier does not have great bar pass rates, but my point is you attend law school and pass the bar you will have opportunities.

Whittier has a 42% bar pass rate and you are saying 50% of Whittier Grads 9months out of graduation have jobs. So again my point is if you graduate from an ABA law school and pass the bar odds are you will get a job as an attorney.

If you are attending Whittier the odds of you passing the bar are less, but 100's of Whittier Law School Grads pass each year. The honest truth is no law school outside of Wisconsin guarantees bar passage and no law school guarantees a job.

If the OP attends any of these schools and passes the bar they will have opportunities. If they attend law school and fail out they will not get a job. If they attend law school and half ass it finishing in the bottom 25% of the class and half assing it their first time around and the bar and failing. Not many job opportunities will be available.





loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2015, 04:33:48 PM »
"Whittier has a 42% bar pass rate and you are saying 50% of Whittier Grads 9months out of graduation have jobs. So again my point is if you graduate from an ABA law school and pass the bar odds are you will get a job as an attorney. "

I agree that statistics are useless if you do not use them properly. In the longer term (9 months), approximately 50% of Whittier grads had any type of employment- full time or part time.

The relevant statistic you wanted was the approximately 1/4 of Whittier grads that find employment in jobs that require a JD. The better translation is that 1/4 of all Whittier grads become attorneys of some kind. So, again, you're paying Harvard money to have a less than 50% chance of passing the bar, and a 25% chance of becoming an attorney. This is before getting into other factors (wasted years, the fact that having a JD can make people undesirable for non-attorney jobs). And the jobs you get out of Whittier, largely, do not let you pay back the student loans you took out EVEN IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW THAT GET A JOB AS AN ATTORNEY.

This isn't about half-assing it. Or finishing in the bottom of your class. You have to finish at the top of your class, at Whittier, to be considered for a public defender's position. I'm not a snob- I will defend the Ole Misses and UMaines of the word against rankings zealots. But schools like Whittier are the problem- not the solution.

Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2015, 05:21:21 PM »
Again, I disagree if you pass the bar from an ABA school you are a licensed attorney and if work at you will find a job.

You can be the number #1 student at Whittier if you don't pass the bar your not working as a lawyer. However, even if you graduate #1 at Whittier and pass the bar you will still have to apply for jobs and nothing will be handed to you. However, it is and can be done.

I think most of your points are valid and I am in no way saying Whittier is a fantastic school and anyone enrolling should go in with realistic expectations, but I think you are making it sound way worse than it actually is. The truth is to get into an ABA school you need to obtain a bachelors degree and typically have obtained at least a 3.0. Then you need at least a 150 on the LSAT. The majority of the population is not capable of doing either of those things and getting into an ABA school is an accomplishment.

I will draw an analogy to basketball with March Madness going on. If you are 6'6 you are in the top of population in height and probably have a chance to play college basketball. However,  there are thousands of other 6'6 guys out there and you will have to succeed. Being 6'6 is like going to Whittier or some low school you are smart, but it is not that impressive.

If you are 7'2 you are in the elite of height and have an extremely strong chance at playing college basketball and drawing NBA scouts. Being 7'2 is like going to Harvard the doors will be more open.

However, there are plenty of 7'2 guys that don't make the NBA and plenty of 6'6 ones that do.

However, I feel like you are making it sound like Whittier is like being 5'1 and there being almost no chance of success and that is where I disagree, but again there is no argument that Whittier is not a top school, but if you go in with the right expectations it can be a good choice.

loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2015, 07:18:27 AM »
CityLaw,

Here's where I disagree with you. Your advice, re: Whittier, is similar to telling random high school basketball players that they will play in the NBA if they just want it bad enough. If anything in the last ten years should have taught us a lesson, it is this- going to law school can be a terrible choice for many people. It needs to be viewed critically. Telling people that just getting into law school is an accomplishment is doing them a disservice, because for too many people, they believe that.

I believe that every single person who goes to Whittier believes, in their heart, that they will finish #1, or at least at the top 5% of the class. Chances are, based on pure math, they won't. The reality is that it is 75% likely that even if you make it through Whittier (which is far from guaranteed due to attrition, loss of scholarship, etc.), you will never get a job as an attorney. And you will still have that debt. That's the reality.

Put another way- if your *best* option is Whittier, it is likely that you will never work as an attorney. Because there will be people that attend Whittier who have what it takes, and who were attracted there for other reasons. Those individuals should seriously consider another option instead of going into massive debt and coming out the other side with no job prospects in the law.

I will say this again- I am not a ratings whore. There are many fine schools outside of the T14. Cost is a major factor, and if you go to those schools with realistic expectations (and, especially, a scholarship that doesn't have major conditions and/or in-state tuition), you can get a job as an attorney with a low debt load. But there are some schools, among them Whittier, that any reasonable person should be exceptionally leery of. There's a reason that Whittier is almost always dead last in CalBar passage rates, despite teaching to the CalBar. There's a reason they had issues with their ABA accreditation. There's a reason that their grads have trouble getting jobs. For you to keep repeating, "Have realistic expectations" without really informing people what's going on is doing them a disservice. You need to be really explicit- if you go to Whittier, it is exceptionally likely that you will not work as an attorney, and you will have a ton of debt that you will struggle for the rest of your life to work off. Because student debt is like herpes- it stays with you forever.


Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2015, 10:51:00 PM »
I think the difference between us is I give people more credit than you do.

I agree if someone thinks they are going to attend Whittier and be in the top 5% because they are special and expect to Transfer to UCLA and get a BigLaw job then there is a 99% chance that student will be disappointed.

I think the issue that you are addressing and is legitimate is that to many students have unrealistic expectations. However, Whittier or any other ABA law school can be a great fit for a student that goes in with the right expectations. I will also strongly disagree with your statement that if you attend Whittier you will likely not be an attorney. By definition if you graduate from law school and pass the bar your attorney and there will always be firms at the very least looking for appearance attorneys. If your expecting to be arguing in front of the Supreme Court from Whittier then the odds are low, but there is plenty of legal work out there. Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, Foreclosure Defense, Litigation, etc our typical things a Whittier Grad might do. If a Whittier Grad is expecting to be doing tax reform legislation right out of law school it is unlikely.

Again, to draw a basketball analogy going to Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. Let's use Robert Morris University as an example.  Robert Morris was a 16 seed in this year's NBA tournament, which is awesome for those players. However, I would be substantial sums of money that nobody on Robert Morris will be playing in the NBA. Many of these Robert Morris players however, can make a living playing basketball. If they really wanted to pursue basketball as a career they could play in Europe or become high school or junior college coaches. Maybe one might even make his way to becoming a Division 1 basketball coach somewhere, but the odds of that happening are low. So you can make a living off basketball, but the odds of making a living through the NBA are highly unlikely. The players at Robert Morris are aware of this, but love the game of basketball enough to pursue it despite knowing they will not be going to the NBA. They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome.

Whittier is like playing at a low division 1 school. You can make a living as a lawyer, but it is highly unlikely biglaw will be an option. However, as I mentioned above there are plenty of legal opportunities, but these are not the glamorous positions, but if you really want to be a lawyer it can be a great opportunity.

So basically go to law school with realistic expectations. Do anything in life with realistic expectations that is really where the issue is with law school and all education really. Many law students enroll thinking they will be millionaires and that society owes them something, because they went to law school. That is not the case you have to work your ass off to succeed in the legal profession and if your going to a school like Whittier you are going to have to work even harder, but it can be done.


loki13

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Re: Southwestern vs. Kent vs. Depaul
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2015, 06:57:33 AM »
"They will likely not even make as much money as they could in other professions, but they love the game and if they can make a living off it awesome."

And this is where we get to our fundamental disagreement. Yes, I went to law school because I loved the law. Luckily, it worked out for me. Here's the thing, though- people, generally, go to law school because it's an investment in their future. Because they expect, at the end, that they will have bettered themselves, and that all that time and money will have been worth it. They did not go to law school simply because they "love the game" and hope that they can participate in a moot court at the Y with some friends in the future while flipping burgers. I might even add that the vast majority of people that go into law school have little to no idea what working as an actual attorney is like, and therefore have no conception as to whether they will "love the game," moreover, they won't even know when the finish law school (since law school is not the same as practice... it also works the other way; I had a friend who hated law school, did okay, and loved working as a PD and transitioned to work in private practice / criminal defense).

So that's what we get to- if you view law school as an investment, which you should, the question is whether or not it pays off at the end. Because you're not just paying the tuition. You're not just paying the fees. You're not just paying the living costs. You're not just paying the interest on that student debt. You're also paying the opportunity cost of three years where you could have been doing something else (and sometimes more if you received a JD and then spend a year or two or three trying, and failing, to get a job in the law). Therefore, for you to tell people to have "realistic expectations" without being a bit more explicit about the endgame does them a disservice. We have now had almost a decade of experience with this issue- too many schools, graduating too many attorneys, with not enough work. The statistics are out there. Simply put, unless you're getting a free ride to a school like Whittier (with a scholarship without strings, other than good standing), you shouldn't go. And I would probably look elsewhere even if I received that scholarship. The data is out there. Some schools just aren't very good.

Finally, you are far too encouraging about "other options." I am plugged into my alum group, and try to help grads from my law school (which, while not T14, secures more than 1/3 of it students jobs before graduation and 70% of its students jobs in legal fields). It's still hard out there. I agree that the things you list (foreclosure defense, criminal defense) are the types of things a Whittier grad might do, especially considering that their salary numbers are so low, but you posit that as a fallback option. No. These are some of the best case scenarios. When your school has such terrible bar passage rates, and 1/4 of their grads go into law jobs, those are the jobs they are getting.

And that's the issue. If you attend one of a number of non-T14 schools (such as a state school, or another private school), you have a decent shot at a law job, and if you do really well, you might (just might) get a really good job in the law. If you do really well at Whittier, you might pass the bar. And you will pay through the nose for it. Not warning students about this does them a disservice.

All that said, 0Ls can make their own choices. Whittier accepts students who cannot get in elsewhere. The 50th percentile of their LSAT/GPA is 146 and 2.9.  I'll let you think about that for a while. So, yes, if a person was terrible in undergrad, can't do the LSAT, and still believes they have what it takes to be an attorney, then the choice is theirs. But that choice has proven disastrous for the vast majority of individuals that have taken it.