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Should I attend U of A's law school?

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Arizona Law

Arizona Law
« on: May 06, 2015, 08:53:24 PM »
I was recently accepted to U of Arizona Law (ranked 42) and I have no idea how former graduates feel about their alma mater. I attended Arizona State for undergrad and heard nothing but great things about it's law school (ranked 26). I was also accepted into UC Hastings (59) and received plenty of input on their school's ROI (return on interest). I am currently waitlisted at UC Davis (31) and George Washington (20), but would prefer Arizona's 24k a year tuition. I regret not applying to ASU Law but if anyone has a clue what the ROI is for U of A Law, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

Re: Arizona Law
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2015, 10:41:30 PM »
Congrats on your acceptances that is a great accomplishment.

Before I say anything realize that anyone this board or any other is nothing more than anonymous internet poster my post included and should be taken with a major grain of salt.

With that intro it seems you are making the number one mistake incoming law students make and looking to the unregulated, for profit magazine of U.S. News to make a life altering decision. You should realize that the law school rankings change drastically year by year, because the rankings on based on nothing other than a few professors and lawyers filling out scantrons based on 1-5 and obviously these lawyers and professors do not visit or even know what is happening at all 202 ABA law schools every year.  However, they are certainly entitled to give their opinion as is U.S. News. However, it is up to you to decide whether making a life altering commitment based on a magazine is a good idea.

Here is a chart showing how drastically these schools "rankings" have changed year by year. http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html

UC Hastings in 2009 was 39th now it is 59th. I have been a lawyer in the Bay Area since 2009 and nothing has changed at Hastings it is a fine school and well respected in San Francisco, but it is in a horrible location.

Arizona was 55th in 2009 and now it is 26th and In 2018 when you graduate I would not be shocked if Hastings is ranked higher than Arizona there really is no rhyme or reason to the rankings and it should NOT be a major factor in your decison.

U.S. News ranked New Mexico the #1 place to live. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live . I imagine you are not going to move to New Mexico, because U.S. News says it is #1. Or maybe that will inspire you to apply to University of New Mexico it is completely up to you, but don't leave common sense at the door.

As for choosing a law school any incoming law student should consider the following factors in this order. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) if all else fails then use U.S. News, but do not use it first.

Below is a brief analysis of these factors to your situation.

1) Location:

You are looking at attending law school in San Francisco, Tucson, Davis and Washington D.C. These cities are all drastically different and will result in a completely different experience. I can tell you that Hastings is located in the heart of the Tenderloin one of the worst areas of San Francisco I play lawyer league basketball there every Tuesday and I am 6'7 250 pounds and scared to walk around there at night. It is one the one school in the Bay Area I would not attend, but plenty of people love it.

Davis is basically a college town like Tucson and if your into that feel great. Conversely, Washington D.C. is a whole other experience.  I am assuming you have connections in Arizona since you went to ASU and the reality is that wherever you attend law school is likely the state bar you will take. If you want to be in Arizona attend Arizona. California Hastings or Davis or Washington D.C. George Washington.  Almost every law student ends up within 300 miles of their law school.

Also, if you don't like the hustle and bustle of a City do not attend Hastings. If you like the college town feel Davis or Tucson will be good fits. Just realize that no employer in Arizona is going to recruit you out of any school other than Arizona or Arizona State. No firm or government agency in San Francisco is going to recruit from Arizona or George Washington etc.

2) Cost:
I believe of U of A has in-state tuition, which is very reasonable and UC Hastings and UC Davis charge out-of-state Tuition, which is astronomical. Look into the actual tuition of these schools and the residency requiremetns I believe out-of-state tuition at Hastings or Davis is around $60,000 per year so you will have $180,000 in tuition costs alone combined with another $100k in living expenses particularly if you choose Hastings, which is San Francisco one of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S.

3) Personal Feelings about School:
Something that is important is visiting the schools and seeing if it is a fit for you. I know Hastings is not for me I can't stand it there, but you might love it. Visit all the schools you are interested in and get a feel for them it is where you will be spending three years of your life and spending $100,000+ you might as well enjoy it.

4) Reality of Legal Education:

At Arizona, Hastings, Davis or George Washington or any ABA school you will get a solid legal education. For all intents and purposes you learn the same things at any school. Law school consists of reading Supreme Court Cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for different schools nor does the law change if you went to the 42nd or 84th best school . 

5) U.S. News
I already ranted about it, but I cannot stress enough how little this matters particularly for non-elite schools such as the ones you listed. If it were Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown or some school known around the world then ranking means something, but I honestly had no idea what any of the schools you mentioned were ranked nor did I care.

Conclusion:
Use common sense when choosing a law school. You are making a common mistake, which I myself made as a 0L and completely over thinking it. Go to school in the location you want to live and get out with as little debt as possible.

A school being ranked 42nd or 28th doesn't mean anything and you should not move to a City you hate and spend $100,000 more dollars, because a few scantrons decided X school was 28th instead of 36th in 2015.








loki13

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Re: Arizona Law
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 06:54:30 AM »
abdre,

I agree with what CityLaw wrote. A few additions. I personally think that lawschooltransparency.com has good stats for job placement from the NALP database in easily accessible numbers. Go to the main page and look under the tab "What We Do" and then NALP Report Database- it's sorted by school.

But this is relatively simple. Once you get past the very top schools, and you avoid the very bottom schools, it doesn't matter a great deal. All that should matter is cost and location. Personally, I would put cost first (assuming location is acceptable). You might want to check those NALP reports I mentioned and see the geographic locations that those schools place their grads at- U Ariz. places 63% of their grads in Arizona. The next biggest state, unsurprisingly, is California... at 5%. That said, if you want to practice in Arizona, that is a great school. Seriously. But if you don't want to live in Arizona, if you don't want to practice there, don't go there.

More so than almost any other profession, where you go to law school will have a giant impact on where you want to practice (outside of the T14). It isn't necessarily your destiny- for example, I went to random state law school on the East Coast, and I first practiced in California. But for most people, it is.

Cost (minimize) and location (where you want to practice). Don't overthink. No one cares if you went to the #32 school or the #62 school.

Re: Arizona Law
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2015, 11:53:24 AM »
Perfect summary by Loki.

If you want to live in Arizona after graduation there is no better school to attend than Arizona.

If you want to in Washington D.C. then George Washington is your best option.

Since you went to ASU and I assume you qualify as a resident of Arizona, which entitles you to $27k a year tuition and a substantially less cost of living opposed to Hastings at $52k per year or Davis at 58K per year out of state.  GW also has out of state Tuition, which is 47k per year.

You are looking at paying $81k in tuition at U of A v. $156k at Hastings (plus astronomical living expenses in SF) or 174k in tuition at Davis (but slightly more reasonable living expenses) or $141K per year at GW (plus higher living expenses than Tucson.)

The rankings may chance drastically year by year, but your law school debt is very real. 

Get out of school as cheaply as possible in a location you want to live in.

Do not spend an 100k to move to a more expensive place you have no desire to live in, because some scan-trons said X school was 24th instead of 42nd that year.

Most incoming law students and new lawyers over think everything and make bad decisions, but law school teaches you to simplify things, which is the primary skill you learn.

As Einstein said any fool can complicate things, but it takes a genius to simplify them.

I was a OL at one point and nearly moved to the Midwest from L.A. to pay $100,000s more to live in bitter cold where I didn't know anyone to attend what was the 64th best school at the time. However, I talked to real lawyers and told them my goal was to be a lawyer in San Francisco and they said if that is your goal go to law school in San Francisco. I fought that in my head for nearly a month, but it was absolutely the right decision.