Law School Discussion

University of Miami vs. Stetson

University of Miami vs. Stetson
« on: April 13, 2016, 12:33:48 PM »
Hello, I am having a tough time deciding between the University of Miami and Stetson, and was hoping to receive some feedback. I am primarily interested in criminal law and as far as job prospects I am not too concerned with getting into a big law firm after graduation. I am receiving a partial scholarship from Stetson and nothing from Miami; however, what is making my decision tough is the rankings between the two and I also think that Miami's name might carry me further if I decided to move away from FL. I would love to hear opinions about the two schools and if I should go towards the money or if rankings/name would carry me further. I should also be upfront and say that I am out of state and have never visited either school (I didn't have the opportunity or time over the past few months). Again, I appreciate any feedback, I have to make the first seat deposit by the 15th.

loki13

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Re: University of Miami vs. Stetson
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 02:54:11 PM »
I think I can be of more than generic help.

Let me tell you about the pecking order of schools in Florida.

First is UF.
Second (barely) is FSU (or, UF is second barely to FSU - depends on whether you talk to a Gator or a Nole).
Third is Miami.
Fourth is Stetson.
Fifth is everything else.

But that's a generic guide. Each school has advantages and disadvantages. UF, for example, can place better regionally (Atlanta, for example) and has a slightly better name. On the other hand, because it is remote, it doesn't have great internships/jobs while schools is in session. FSU is in the state capitol - and the home of the First DCA. Miami, of course, is king of South Florida. Stetson, while generally lower-perceived, has great connections in the Tampa area and is a great school for litigation / oral advocacy.

So what does this mean for you?

Location and cost. Do not go to law school assuming you will be practicing out-of-state. Period. You are choosing between two Florida schools, you will be learning a lot of Florida law, and it is likely (if not dispositive) that you will be taking the Florida bar and practicing in Florida. To give you an idea-

Of those employed within 9 months of graudation-
Stetson, approximately 81% in Florida, less than 10% elsewhere.
UM, ~ 65% Florida, ~21% elsewhere.

(Numbers don't add up to 100% due to those that report, but are not employed).

Now, note that many of the elsewhere are people that either clerked or snagged one of the few BigLaw jobs (NY, DC) or, for UM (which is a slightly different case) have a significant and substantial presence outside of the state, and made all their connections there.

What does that mean?

Well, UM is a slightly better school, and will give you better options out-of-state. This is all true. But you shouldn't be applying to schools like this with the assumption that you will be practicing somewhere other than Florida.

So, I would take into account two factors- cost, and location. Do you like South Florida? Most people love it, or hate it. South Florida is very different than the rest of the state. If you want to practice in S. Fla., you should go to UM. Definitely. Great connections. And it gives you a better out-of-state name and rep if it comes to it. But if you don't, and the money looks good, check out Stetson. Stetson has *great* connections with prosecutor/PD offices in central and N. Florida.

And I cannot emphasize this enough. Check them out before you decide. Miami is not Tampa.

Re: University of Miami vs. Stetson
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 06:21:22 PM »
Thank you for the reply Loki! I want to note that I am planning on staying in Florida, but I want to consider my options in case I ever decided to move back home to Tennessee. You mentioned Stetson being great for litigation and oral advocacy, how does Miami compare in those areas? Also, if I chose to relocate from South FL at some point to North Florida is Miami still competitive in that region. Even with Stetson's scholarship I will more than likely be looking at six figures of debt regardless. Again, thank you for the in depth response.

Re: University of Miami vs. Stetson
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2016, 12:58:35 AM »
Worse Case Scenario I hear Cooley has a florida campus now too.............. ::)

loki13

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Re: University of Miami vs. Stetson
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2016, 07:23:40 AM »
Thank you for the reply Loki! I want to note that I am planning on staying in Florida, but I want to consider my options in case I ever decided to move back home to Tennessee. You mentioned Stetson being great for litigation and oral advocacy, how does Miami compare in those areas? Also, if I chose to relocate from South FL at some point to North Florida is Miami still competitive in that region. Even with Stetson's scholarship I will more than likely be looking at six figures of debt regardless. Again, thank you for the in depth response.

The answers to your questions are both simple, and complicated. Florida is a single legal market, in the same sense that, say, California is a single market. But the market contains multitudes.

So let's discuss, first, the out-of-state thing. I wouldn't factor that in. But, to the extent you wish to consider it, UM (Miami) travels out of state better than Stetson. Why? Because UM is a private school that attracts a lot of undergrads from out-of-state, because it has a well-known football team, and because the law school (as well) attracts a fair number of out-of-state individuals. Stetson has good reputation in Florida, but not much of one outside of it. That said, if you work in Florida and then wish to go back, you'll have to make your own connections, etc. (And remember that the Florida bar, currently, has no reciprocity with any other state).

Next, there are markets. First, there's the "urban" markets- generally delineated as South Florida (which can be further sub-divided into Miami, F. Lau., "Broward", and W. Palm Beach), Tampa Bay (Tampa/St. Pete), Orlando, Jax, and Tallahassee. Then the state can otherwise be divided into South, Central, and North (incl. panhandle, which is basically Alabama).

Either UM or ST can get you a job state-wide. But UM has much, much better connections in the South Florida market, and Stetson has much better connections in the Central Florida market (esp. Tampa Bay, and Orlando to a lesser extent when looking at urban areas). Think of it partly as a function of proximity - you tend to make your connections where you are.

Either place can get you a job anywhere - an easy example would be applying for a state judicial clerkship, or doing work in Tallahassee.

Now, all that being said; I need to reiterate that if you have not been to these two areas, you probably should visit prior to making a decision if you are torn. There's a saying in Florida that when you travel south in Florida, you're really going north. Miami (and South Florida) is a wonderful, vibrant, international city that people tend to have strong reactions to (one way or the other). Kind of like Los Angeles. Tampa, on the other hand, is a more standard southern city with a lot of northern transplants (small downtown, sprawling suburbs) that also is close to some really nice gulf beaches.

Wrapping up- cost is a heck of a thing. That should play a large factor in your decision, esp. if you're planning on going into criminal work (although you will get loan forgiveness ... um, eventually). You can always see if you can get more money! :)