Law School Discussion

Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.

Accepted: Stanford, UCLA, Boalt, USD

Pending: USC, Loyola

Question: How do I select?  I am expecting close to $100K this year from my business. Is that worth giving up for a Tier 1 law degree (since no Tier 1 school I applied to has a night program)?

Note: some Tier 1 schools on the East Coast do -- Fordham, GW , and Georgetown.  On the West Coast, nada. 

Logical conditions:  If foregoing $100k per year income is not worth the Tier 1 prestige, then I only have Loyola and USD as choices.  Else, what criteria is best for choosing amongst Tier 1 schools.

My Selection Theory:  Applying to both logical conditions, selecting the best school should be based on the following preference criteria or school statistic (by order of importance): 1. employment at graduation; 2. average starting salary; 3. atmosphere; 4. quality of interested law specialty; 5. quality of life on campus as well as with living arrangement; 6. Bar pass rate relative to state average.

What I found out so far:  1.  Stanford, UCLA, and Boalt are at the top nationally when it comes to bar pass rate; 2. All Tier 1 schools have a graduation employment rate of over 90%, while USC has a 9 month employment rate of 100%; 3. Loyola has a dismal graduation employment rate of 57.x%, while Southwestern (where I did not apply) has a rather high one at 84.4%; 4. USD has average employment stats (73.1% at grad/94.4% after 9 months)

Check this link for 2003 raw law school acceptance data:

As far as starting salary is concerned, I don't know where to get that info.  I never considered it before because I don't intend on working for a law firm.  My law education is supposed to help me with my business interests -- present or future. But as selection factors, I figured that employment and salary statistics are solid quantifiable measures of school value and educational repute. 

Kind responses would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2004, 03:15:47 AM »
The simple answer is that you make more money now than most tier 1 grads will make for a while. Your tier one education will cost you $300K more than everyone else.  I would look at the return on investment to you.  ROI is as real a number as you can get.

I have classmates in my night classes in similar situations to yours. For example, one classmate is a cardiologist with a Harvard medical degree.  Although he could have gone anywhere on his numbers, He chose a night program at Birmingham School of Law.  He wanted a legal education but he does not plan to give up his lucrative day job to practice law.

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2004, 09:55:56 AM »
if your legal education is solely intended to help with your business, then why would you give up your business while going to law school? so you can throw out any school with no evening option. that leaves you with usd and loyola, which are both fine schools. so you should go with the one that will be most convenient for you.

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2004, 11:45:27 AM »
Thanks for the reply guys, it helps.  I still have to think this one through.

For clarification, my legal education is for my business interests -- present or future.  Obviously, if it were solely for my current business, I wouldn't have an issue and could have saved the hundreds of dollars on application fees. 

fyi:  I currently sell real estate and would like to develop and branch out into more lucrative and sophisticated aspects of the market.  As it is right now though, it's pretty straight-forward -- comb the market, show homes, close the deal, cash the commission, hope for referrals.  If I dropped out of the market, the only one that will miss me or complain will be my checking account. And the real estate market is still going to be there when I decide to reenter it in 3 years. 

Choices, choices.  Thank goodness I majored in Economics.  Opportunity costs....hmmmmmm.  It still doesn't make the choice any easier.

Thanks again for your inputs Habeaus Dorkus and Lawschoolafterdark.   

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2004, 12:07:57 PM »
Here is a third option for you.  It may sound far fetched but since we are just discussing ideas it can't hurt.

Two schools that I can think of have weekend programs.  Cooley and Washburn.  I am not an expert on either but I am sure someone can fill you in on those. 

You could keep your day job, work all week and fly to one of these schools on the weekend.  Added expense and I know the weekends are important in the residential real estate.

Just bouncing a few random thoughts your way.  I really should be reading for Torts........


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Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2004, 03:27:47 PM »
where did you see that Loyola has a 57% employment rate.  I have seen it at 95-97%???


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Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2004, 06:08:28 AM »
ILRG has the average income for those graduates. Someone can correct me but Stanford/Boalt/UCLA I remember as being all 100k+ starting average. If you go to those schools are top 3rd or so I'm sure you can meet or beat what your making now.

U. San Diego has pretty good $$ if I remember correctly. Run the numbers and remember that if you're top 5% at USD you can probably beat that six-figure mark too.

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2004, 11:14:45 AM »

I am in a similar position as you as I am active in real-estate investment.  If you are a real-estate guru, why don't you just buy an investment property and let that pay for your law school and not worry so much about "losing money" as it were?  Get your top-notch education, let the property pay for itself and your education and you'll have all of the options post-graduation.  (If you can afford) This is my plan as I've invested in real estate and I intend to be in a good finacial situation following graduation so I don't have slave to pay off a loan.  You have access to MLS, you should take advantage, especially given your income statement.  Since it sounds like you will be in business for yourself at some point (like myself), go somewhere you'll meet a lot of good contacts that is interested in the same thing as you down the road.  It will be the most help to your business aspirations.

One thing to think about (to all):  a 100K+ salary is really useful to have for someone uninvested and a lot of loan.  There is a lot of sacrifice involved with that too, mentally, socially, basically have work like a dog for many years.  For those with good luck, having an investment that can make you 30-50K yr. on top of a decent salary can be the ticket to a fair piece of mind.

Re: Tiers of Joy: Serious question -- need advice. No more preaching.
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2004, 11:46:06 AM »

I am a beginning Real Estate investor learning the ropes now. I have an MBA in Finance and hope to go to law school the in a year or two. When doing my research on getting a legal education and some real estate (finance) knowledge, I have found great real estate programs at Berkeley and Stanford, as you may know, that are run out of their business schools. If you are trying to be The Donald (Trump) in the future and decide that law is a way to go, those law schools would be great in allowing you to take some real estate courses in the top two commercial RE programs in the country.

I agree with trying to use investment property to help pay for school as someone has said. Losing your earning from real estate is an opportunity costs, but the educations and connections that are possibly waiting for you at these schools for large deals in the future should be something that you think about as well.

I hope I get into the quality of schools that you have come my application round. I plan to take the LSAT in June! :) or :( who knows