Law School Discussion

USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI

USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« on: April 08, 2015, 03:59:29 AM »
Currently, I'm trying to decide which school  is the better choice between Hastings and University of San Diego. Hastings has offered around $20k annually with pretty do-able stipulations. USD offered me $24k per year with a top 50 percent stipulation. However, they are really generous with scholarships for students in the top ten percent. Nonetheless, I'm not going to assume I'll be the unicorn in the top of the class, so I'm taking this all at face value.

Finances are a big deal to me and living in SF for Hastings would be a huge financial strain. Also, the quality of life and more relaxed atmosphere of San Diego appeal to me more than the atmosphere at Hastings.

I am also looking into applying for the MBA program after 1L. Frankly, I'm not a math person and I know my GMAT score won't be stellar enough to get me into Berkeley or Davis' MBA programs to get my JD/MBA at Hastings. At USD I have a decent shot at being able to get a JD/MBA.

Ultimately, I want to practice law in Southern California and (hopefully) someday work as general counsel somewhere in SoCal.

All things considered which is the better option of the two?

I am also still waiting to hear back from UCI. Without any grants from them I probably won't be attending, but if I get a similar deal at UCI then I'll be adding that to my list of options as well. UCI's MBA program is also pretty rigorous, but a UCI JD/MBA may be more feasible than a Hastings/Berkeley JD/MBA.

I realize that's a lot of information to take in, but any input is extremely helpful!

loki13

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Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 07:40:02 AM »
This is an important decision, but do not over-complicate it.

If I were in your shoes, the first factor for these two schools would be money, the second would be location. As of right now, I would not consider the joint MBA program a major factor- I have known a few joint MBAs, and they have been very driven, focused, and had specific goals in mind. No offense, but ... you are not striking me in that category. I may be wrong, but I would focus, right now, on the JD. Especially since you seem uncertain what benefit you would be deriving from that degree.

Although you would presumably qualify for in-state at Hastings, the tuition (without scholarships) is still higher than USD. The rankings differences do not really matter. If you want to practice in SoCal, you should go to USD, especially if your costs will be lower.

In short, everything you've written makes it sound like you should go to USD. The cost will be lower. The cost of living will be lower. It is closer to the market you want to practice in. IMO, it is the better option, given what you've written.

Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 10:07:19 AM »
Loki makes great points and in all honesty if your goal is to end up in Socal attend law school in Socal.

If your goal is to be in San Diego attend USD, Cal Western or Thomas Jefferson.

If your goal is to be in L.A. attend Loyola, Southwestern, Chapman, UCI etc.

I am an attorney in San Francisco and from L.A.  I left L.A., because it is not my scene, but it sounds like it is where you want to be and more power to you. Hastings is a solid school, but it is in the heart of the Tenderloin and kind of a crazy place.

I tell any incoming law student to consider the following five factors in this order (1) location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal feelings about the school; (4) understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News rankings. This article does a great job summing it up. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

Also, in regards to grant money be wary of scholarship conditions and be sure you have a full understanding of what they are.

I also want to second Loki's point regarding the MBA. I know when I was a 0L I thought it sounded cool to get an MBA as well, but I had no real direction on what I would be doing with it. In all honesty I think an MBA is kind of a waste unless as Loki says you have a specific goal in mind, but if your not a math person adding an extra year of school and $10,000's more in educational debt is probably not a good idea and should not be a major factor in what school you choose.




Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 01:44:04 PM »
Loki makes great points and in all honesty if your goal is to end up in Socal attend law school in Socal.

If your goal is to be in San Diego attend USD, Cal Western or Thomas Jefferson.

If your goal is to be in L.A. attend Loyola, Southwestern, Chapman, UCI etc.

I am an attorney in San Francisco and from L.A.  I left L.A., because it is not my scene, but it sounds like it is where you want to be and more power to you. Hastings is a solid school, but it is in the heart of the Tenderloin and kind of a crazy place.

I tell any incoming law student to consider the following five factors in this order (1) location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal feelings about the school; (4) understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News rankings. This article does a great job summing it up. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

Also, in regards to grant money be wary of scholarship conditions and be sure you have a full understanding of what they are.

I also want to second Loki's point regarding the MBA. I know when I was a 0L I thought it sounded cool to get an MBA as well, but I had no real direction on what I would be doing with it. In all honesty I think an MBA is kind of a waste unless as Loki says you have a specific goal in mind, but if your not a math person adding an extra year of school and $10,000's more in educational debt is probably not a good idea and should not be a major factor in what school you choose.
I understand what you're saying about the MBA. After university, I actually started my own company and have a great deal of entrepreneurship experience-thus my interest in the MBA. I will most likely continue looking into that.

However, your mentioning Chapman is also interesting. I received a full scholarship to Chapman and am planning on potentially turning it down because I'm worried about the possibility of it being unranked in the years to follow. However, I have spent the last five years of my life living in downtown Los Angeles and would like to remain there. Is Chapman (in Orange County, a decent commute from DTLA) a better choice to remain in LA after law school than USD?

Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 02:37:32 PM »
Please do not make a decision on where to attend law school based on U.S. Rankings.

Nobody cares about the rank difference between USD, Hastings, or Chapman.

Additionally, the rankings change drastically year by year. See this chart from 2009-2014 showing law school rankings. http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html

Hastings for example was 39th 5 years ago and now they are in a multipe way tie for 54th. Nothing has changed at that school I have been in the SF legal market since 2009 and Hastings is a well respected school in San Francisco. People that make hiring decisions don't look at the U.S. News Rankings.

If you were talking Harvard or Yale then yes the rank makes a difference, but none of these schools are amazing.

I cannot stress enough how many bad decisions are made based on U.S. News rankings. Remember it is a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion nothing more nothing less. According to U.S. News Alberqueue, New Mexico is the #1 place to live. See link http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009 . However,  I imagine you are not going to move to Albuquerque because U.S. News says it is #1 . It would be crazy to make a life altering decision based on a magazine right?

Same thing applies to making the 3 year, $100,000 +, career altering decision don't let a magazine make this decision for you.

In conclusion if you want to be in L.A. attend law school in L.A. Again, Southwestern, Chapman, Loyola would be solid options.

If you ultimately want to end up in L.A. you will have more job opportunities if you attend law school in L.A. Your professors will be in L.A. you will get internships in L.A. there will be more alumni in L.A.

If you want to be in San Diego attend law school in San Diego.

Any ABA law school will provide you with a quality legal education, but none guarantee you a job. Rankings mean very little and simply apply common sense when choosing your school don't listen to magazines or even anonymous internet posters such as myself.

If you want to be a lawyer in L.A. my two cents is going to law school in L.A.  You also preferably like to pay less for the same thing. Any of these schools will provide you with a J.D. and the opportunity to sit for the California Bar Exam you can pay $100,000 more at X school or $100,000 less to be in the same spot.

Of course if you were attending a school known nationwide this might be a different conversation, but Hastings, USD, Chapman, etc are fine schools, but nobody in L.A. is going to go out of their way to recruit a San Diego student there are already 7 or 8 law schools in L.A.


Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 03:01:36 PM »
To sum up your original if I wanted to live in L.A. post graduation and was offered a full scholarship at Chapman I would take that over any of the school listed in the caption. My post above explains why and I cannot stress enough how UNIMPORTANT RANKINGS are.

loki13

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Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 03:09:53 PM »
I'm going to add a statement that largely agrees with Citylaw.

If you want to practice in LA/SoCal, and you have a free ride at Chapman (and check those scholarship conditions), then why not go there? Especially if the scholarship conditions are less onerous than other schools.

Look, USD and Hastings are better schools, but not by much. All things being equal, I would go to USD or Hastings. But they are not. If the difference is a full ride, plus you know you want to practice in LA, then go to Chapman. Just have very realistic expectations coming out of it.

Re: USD v. UC Hastings v. (Maybe) UCI
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 03:38:39 PM »
Excellent summary and agreed I think Hastings is "better" than Chapman not sure if USD is much better, but certainly not so much better that you should move to SF and pay $150,000 more. Also, Hastings is "better" in the Bay area not L.A. necessarily. Honestly, if your goal is to end up in L.A. then Chapman is probably than Hastings for that purpose.

Also, as Lodi mentions pay very close attention to scholarship conditions. This New York Times Article does a great job explaining them. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?_r=0 . If you ask for more favorable condtions odds are you will get them, but if you don't ask they won't give them to you.

Good luck.