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Author Topic: This is burning a hole in my head  (Read 2285 times)

contrarian

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This is burning a hole in my head
« on: December 27, 2007, 08:30:42 PM »
I applied to two state public schools.  Attending either would be very affordable financially, but they are T3/T4.  But my grades/lsat I should be (and if I were 15 years younger I would be) applying to the T2/T1 level, which would be significantly more of a financial burden. 

I don't plan on going into big law (though its nice to have the opportunity), but returning to corporate work and non-traditional law opportunities.  I want the law degree because it's something I've wanted to do since i was a kid and I'm not getting any younger ... and I want an excuse to drop out of the work force for a few years. 

Even at mid-career, do you think it still pays to go to the best school for the prestige value, where I'd pay more and just be another student.  Or is it better to take the more fiscally conservative road and aim to graduate at the top of your class at a lower ranked school.  In the end, I get to practice law. 


MHLM

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2007, 09:29:04 PM »
Let me preface my reply by saying that I'm not a nontrad, so I can't offer first-hand insight. As a "trad", however, I am curious in peoples' reactions to your post.

If I were at the mid-career level and had made the decision to pursue law, I think one consideration in selecting a school would be to extent to which my existing career connections could benefit me as an attorney. You didn't mention your current job, but if it is something that overlaps with law, you might have some valuable contacts that would make the prestige element of your chosen school less important. If you hope to practice in a different city or are currently working in a field that is not relevant to your interest in law, though, it might make more sense to attend a school that would give you the most possible opportunities to network--not to say that this necessarily excludes T3/T4 schools. Also, if you know you really aren't interested in Biglaw and might end up with the same job regardless of whether you graduate with a T-14 JD or regional school JD, then it sounds very wise to save the extra money.

I think nontrads are often in a far better position to make this T1 v. T3/4 decision as they are more in-tune with their career goals are. I think the "trads" tend to get really caught up in the "brand name" of their law degree without really contemplating how they will use it and whether or not it will make a discernible difference in what they realistically want to do.

luke

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2007, 10:10:20 PM »
break out a spreadsheet, look at the monthly loan repayment differential, and decide for yourself whether the brand and/or the increased availability of options other than biglaw (doj, clerking, competitive public interest work, etc) are worth that differential to you.

as an aside, if your numbers are high enough you should be able to attend a T1 for free or near-free.  if they're not, i would would be careful about proceedng on the assumption that you are likely to graduate at the top of your class.

Ender Wiggin

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2007, 11:27:09 PM »
break out a spreadsheet, look at the monthly loan repayment differential, and decide for yourself whether the brand and/or the increased availability of options other than biglaw (doj, clerking, competitive public interest work, etc) are worth that differential to you.

as an aside, if your numbers are high enough you should be able to attend a T1 for free or near-free.  if they're not, i would would be careful about proceedng on the assumption that you are likely to graduate at the top of your class.

Even if the numbers are incredible, nobody should ever assume that they can score near the top of the class anywhere. 

LSN


Michigan Law Class of 2011

contrarian

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2007, 11:54:38 PM »
No kids or spouses.   

I figure some of the upper level schools will offer me some money, but certainly not full.  Even at half, half of 30K is a lot more than half of 10k.  Plus there are cost-of-living considerations of schools in the city vs. ones located in a rural small college town. 

My background is information technology, and I'm more interested in pursuing criminal, tort, constitutional issues that involve technology versus the traditional intellectual property area.  If I practice, I'll want to work for a firm that specializes in eDiscovery and computer forensics.  Rather than specializing in these off the bat, I was considering getting a general J.D. (since I have interests enough to fill out my credit hours in security & corporate law, etc.) and then do an LL.M. part time later on.

I've done some of the number crunching and - unless I'm expecting the 150k job on graduation then the T3 fiscally conservative approach makes the most sense. 

As for my statement about being in the top of my class... it's a bit of a presumptuous statement I made and I won't defend my reasoning for it. 

I guess I'm just finding myself buying into the whole rankings system far more than I probably should be and normally would.

luke

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 10:27:03 AM »
I guess I'm just finding myself buying into the whole rankings system far more than I probably should be and normally would.

Here's a post i found that might be of interest to you
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,89853.msg2299219.html#msg2299219

aerynn

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2007, 11:01:53 PM »
Apply to schools in the region where you want to practice and don't get too focused on Tiers or money, initially.  Emory ended up costing the same as (state school) William and Mary.  UGA is a T1, and is under $10K a year.  There are a lot of cheap T1s and expensive T4s.
Here's how it went for me for Fall 2006 admission:
168/3.67
In: Emory($$), UGA ($), W&M ($$), GW($)
Waitlisted:American(W), UVA (W)
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/display.php?user=aerynn

SER1906

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2007, 10:02:03 PM »
Do you plan on relocating, or are the two publics in your area?

To answer your question...Sounds like you've got a successful career, and just want to get the JD because it's something you've always wanted to do. (However, once you're done, you won't mind taking advantage of the oppotunities the degree might bring.)

With this in mind, and the fact that you're not set on biglaw (although again, you would take advantage if the opportunity presented itself), I wouldn't be too hung up on the rankings stuff. Law school doesn't sound like it'll be the 'bet-the-farm' decision it will be for many others.

I'm a nontrad starting at a T2 public next year.

contrarian

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2007, 03:42:33 AM »
I guess I'm just finding myself buying into the whole rankings system far more than I probably should be and normally would.

Here's a post i found that might be of interest to you
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,89853.msg2299219.html#msg2299219

I didn't say it before, but thank you.  This post was pretty illuminating. 

luke

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Re: This is burning a hole in my head
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2008, 02:05:02 PM »

Here's a post i found that might be of interest to you
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,89853.msg2299219.html#msg2299219

I didn't say it before, but thank you.  This post was pretty illuminating. 

you're v. welcome