Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

Who should I pay the next few yrs

SMU Part-Time ($82K)
5
42%
Miami ($114K)
3
25%
LSU ($55K)
1
8%
Texas Tech ($41K)
2
17%
Stetson ($100K)
0
No votes
South Texas ($36K)
1
8%
 
Total votes: 12

havana daydreamin
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:36 pm

Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby havana daydreamin » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:24 pm

Ok, so I have lurked a lot on these forums, using a bunch of the resources/advice. I know they're no T14s, but I'd like to hear some thoughts as decision time approaches. Here's the hard facts...

-161/3.0
-No geographic preference other than being somewhat warm. Would like to practice in decent sized city after school. Could probably stand Lubbock for a few yrs, but after that I'm out of there.
-Leaning towards business law now, but that could always change once I actually start taking classes
-Been out of undergrad for a few years and excited to get back to school. Retaking the LSAT isn't really a realistic option.
-If SMU, probably apply to full-time after the first year. Going to try to find a part-time gig at a firm while going to night classes during 1L.

I'm still waiting to hear from...

Florida State (Held)
San Diego
UNLV
Houston (waitlist)
Georgia State (2nd review pending, whatever that means)

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Justathought
Posts: 977
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:16 pm

Re: Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby Justathought » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:32 pm

So I'm also considering SMU; I've been told by a current student that its not wise to try and accelerate graduation unless you are doing poorly in school. On the surface that makes no sense, but here is the reasoning: If you're doing well, you can probably land a job via OCI. The problem is that you won't have enough credits to participate in OCI with the rising 2L class after your first year of part time (1E as its called). So you'll be doing your OCI at the start of your third year. Most firms that interview you will be expecting to offer a summer associate position, and then hire you in 21 months. The problem is that since you accelerated graduation, you would be graduating in 9 months. Thus, you're kind of in a tough situation.

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zanda
Posts: 526
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Re: Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby zanda » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:37 pm

Justathought wrote:So I'm also considering SMU; I've been told by a current student that its not wise to try and accelerate graduation unless you are doing poorly in school. On the surface that makes no sense, but here is the reasoning: If you're doing well, you can probably land a job via OCI. The problem is that you won't have enough credits to participate in OCI with the rising 2L class after your first year of part time (1E as its called). So you'll be doing your OCI at the start of your third year. Most firms that interview you will be expecting to offer a summer associate position, and then hire you in 21 months. The problem is that since you accelerated graduation, you would be graduating in 9 months. Thus, you're kind of in a tough situation.

The school won't let a rising part to full time transfer take part in OCI? I have a friend at a different school who did part time his first year, took classes over the summer (in addition to the job he maintained during the rest of 1L), did fall OCI and got a firm job, then proceeded as a normal 2L. That's pretty awful if SMU doesn't allow something similar.

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Justathought
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Re: Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby Justathought » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:39 pm

In fact, I asked some questions in the SMU thread about the part time program. Here is the amazingly helpful response I received:
Justathought wrote:
1. One class per evening? 4 nights per week?


"1L classes" are the 12 core courses that everybody takes. FT students take those classes exclusively during their 1L year. PT students spread them out over their 1E and 2E years.

As a 1E you will have two classes per evening, Monday thru Thursday for ~66% of the semester. No evening classes on Friday nights. It breaks down to roughly a three hour nightly class schedule. Two classes MW, two classes T/Th. About 2/3 of the way through the semester your Legal Writing paper will be assigned and you'll have five weeks to complete it. Your Legal Writing class stops meeting once the final paper is assigned. While your class time drops by three hours a week, you are still busy with the paper. First semester you turn in the paper about three weeks before finals start and you are done with Legal Writing. Second semester is slightly different due to moot court, but the time frame is roughly the same and Legal Writing wraps up about three weeks before finals start.

You'll take 1L classes throughout the first two years on campus and you must take those at night so that you stay with your section (FT 1L's are broken down into Section 1 or 2; the PT section is always Section 3).

Once you hit your 2E year and beyond, subject to some minor restrictions and the required evening 1L classes, you are free to take whatever classes you want whenever you want. I have classmates that have front loaded their schedules and only take classes M-W. Others only take classes M and W. I've learned that for purposes of finals I prefer to take three class a semester and limit myself to three final exams. Currently, I have two classes on M/W (6:00-9:05) and one class T/Th (6:00-7:40).

Justathought wrote:
3. Could you discuss potential job opportunities through OCS? I understand they likely won't be of help until November, but once you can use OCS, are the helpful in finding you a solid job that will work with your studies?



I presume you are talking about work during the school year? Although there are OCS counselors dedicated to the PT program, there aren't extensive job opportunities created exclusively for PT students during the school year. OCS generally sends out a daily email of job opportunities that specify what classification of students an employer is targeting. However, employers will specifically target jobs for PT students. So a job opportunity that might show up in your in box will read something like: "Small firm seeks PT student who can work 30 hours per week." Occasionally, a non-legal employer will seek a PT job applicant. My general impression is that most PT students who needed a job hustled for it themselves.

Justathought wrote:
5. Could you provide a little more insight into the full-time transfer process? What are the drawbacks in terms of OCI and Law Review? Is it possible to graduate in 3 years without forgoing summer employment options?


tl;dr version: If you are at the top of the class (say top 33%), accelerating graduation seems to be a bad idea b/c you can't accelerate graduation until after 1E year.

OCI - After your 1E year you will have 21 credit hours while the full time students who just finished 1L (and are a class year ahead of you; current 1L's are c/o 2013, current 1E's are c/o 2014) have 31 credit hours. It is important to note that the bulk of OCI hiring is done for 2L jobs that take place during the summer immediately preceding graduation. You are not allowed to participate in OCI with 21 credit hours. Say you accelerate graduation; now you are trying to participate in OCI after the summer immediately preceding your graduation. It will be hard to land an OCI job b/c you are graduating in 9 months and OCI employers are typically looking for people that graduate in 21 months.

The time frame looks like this:

FT student that enters as c/o 2013:

End of Summer 2011 - 2L participate in OCI
Summer 2012 - Work OCI job

PT student that enters as c/o of 2014 and accelerates into c/o 2013:

End of Summer 2011 - short on credit hours and can't participate in OCI (to my knowledge, there is is no way to make up the 10 credit hour shortfall in one summer)
Summer of 2012 - No OCI job
End of Summer 2012 - Go through OCI but with graduation 9 months away, most OCI employers not interested in hiring you

Law Review (I'm using "Law Review" as a catch all for both Law Review and Journals):

Same song, slightly different story, slightly different impact. There are two ways to make LR. The first method is to have the grades necessary for LR (or a particular journal) and make a passing score on the write on competition ("grade-on"). The other is to perform exceptionally well on the write-on competition ("write-on"). Full details here: http://smu.edu/lra/About.asp

You aren't eligible until you complete all of your 1L courses. PT students (including those accelerating graduation) don't complete their 1L courses until after their second year on campus. The impact of this is that you aren't eligible for LR until your final year of school. For whatever reason, OCS seems to think that one year of LR is a detriment to law students as you are expected to complete two years on LR. It seems like LR would be a good credential to have on your resume. It would probably be tougher to job hunt during your second year on campus without it if you are planning on only spending three years on campus.

Here's the rub: if you aren't at least above median it is going to be very hard to land something at OCI & and it is very hard to write-on to LR. IMHO, accelerating graduation won't hurt everybody, just those that were going to get something out of OCI and/or make LR anyways.

I think it is possible to graduate without forgoing summer employment but it would be tough. Note, as a PT student you are locked into the first two semesters in terms of credit hours. You need 87 hours to graduate and need special permission to take more than 17 hours. What you want to do would look something like this:

1st Semester: 11 hours
2nd: 10 hours
3rd: 17
4th: 17
5th: 16
6th: 16

Assuming you can stay in Dallas for that first summer and want to do LR your final year, I would spread the pain out to make it look like this:

1st: 11 hours
2nd: 10 hours
SUMMER after 1E: 4 hours (Everybody takes Business Enterprise, it is always offered in the summer and rumor is that it is easier in the summer).
3rd: 16 hours
4th: 16 hours
5th: 15 hours
6th: 15 hours

Finally, there is also a problem with applying for jobs and listing your anticipated graduation date. I don't know the exact cutoff but I believe that OCS won't allow you to move up the anticipated graduation date on your resume until you are within ~30 credit hours of graduation. This means that your resume and cover letter during your second year on campus would have to read "JD Candidate, May 2015" but you would have to explain to employers in your cover letter or interviews that you are trying to accelerate graduation to 2014.

Justathought wrote:
6. How happy are you in the evening program at SMU? Does the Dallas legal community really view SMU as highly as is often cited?



Personally, I'm really happy with the evening program. It has allowed me to keep my pre-LS career, which allows me to attend school without taking on any debt. It is much harder holding down a FT job in a professional field while attending school but it is worth removing the stress of student loans.

It is hard to get employers to be honest with you about the PT program. Everybody will tell you that they welcome PT students. On the other hand, you hear enough anecdotes to understand that some employers aren't interested in hiring out of the PT program. My solution is to look for employers that have actually hired out of the PT program. SMU does a good job of selling the program to employers; recruiters and attorneys on hiring committees at local firms are very familiar with it. The PT program has graduated enough students now that you meet graduates of the program when interacting with the legal community. None of those graduates are partners yet so occasionally you find yourself explaining the program to some partners who don't happen to sit on the firm's hiring committee. I've found the best way to explain the program is explain that you are simply a member of the class of 201X that happened to get a year early start on the rest of your classmates. You'll be eligible for LR when they are eligible. SMU rotates all professors through evening classes, etc.... On a recent callback at a firm, two of the associates that interviewed me graduated from the PT program. I bring this up to show that PT grads are starting to establish themselves in the community and dispel any concerns that might exist with the program.

Whatever minor hostility I've perceived towards the PT program has actually come from mid-level and senior associates. It used to be that USNWR did not require schools to report LSAT's/GPA's of PT students. Some schools took advantage of this loophole and hid their weaker admits in the PT program. In the past, this created a hostility with FT students who thought the PT program was easier/dragging down a school's reputation. Those students are now mid-level and senior associates at law firms. I'm not suggesting an overt or outright hostility to the PT program. Just that whatever hostility I have perceived has been from that class of people.

Of the interviews I've had, employers were very receptive towards my work experience. They especially liked that I could show a clear career progression in my pre-LS career. They seem to use it as a signal for stability/commitment.

BTW, I'll be in a much better position to answer this question in the fall, after OCI. 1L hiring seems to be rather arbitrary.

Justathought wrote:
Edit: I searched your post history and found that great part-time description you wrote. It answered a few of my questions, but made me add one more: What type of and what estimated percentage of employers are not interested in hiring from the PT program?



I don't know that there is a specific type. One of the firms that brought me in for a 1L interview last month is a huge international firm with over 150 attorneys in their Dallas office (I know they interviewed at least one other SMU PT student as well). Another firm would be classified as mid-law and the third would be classified as a boutique. I've heard enough anecdotes to believe that at least some firms stay away from PT students but I think it is a minority and it can't really be classified by type.

The school hosts mixers for students and law firms and you'll be invited to other meet and greet events hosted by individual firms. As long as you introduce yourself to enough attorneys, you'll meet people that have graduated from the PT program that work at particular firms. While this does not identify which employers shy away from PT students, it still allows you to identify some of the employers that do hire PT students. That's where I focused my efforts.

Justathought wrote:
4. How do students who work deal with summer associate positions? If I want a prime associate position, and its lucky enough to be offered, would I essentially be quitting a current job for a 10 week position and employment after graduation?



Essentially, yes. However, I want to point out to you that in Texas, virtually all law firm summer associate positions last six weeks. Generally, Biglaw expects you to work for them the first half of the summer and you are free to do something else the second half of the summer. This may provide some flexibility with an employer.

Edit: for clarity.


I hope you find this as useful as I did. Despite some reservations, SMU does seem really awesome.

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Justathought
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Re: Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby Justathought » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:40 pm

zanda wrote:
Justathought wrote:So I'm also considering SMU; I've been told by a current student that its not wise to try and accelerate graduation unless you are doing poorly in school. On the surface that makes no sense, but here is the reasoning: If you're doing well, you can probably land a job via OCI. The problem is that you won't have enough credits to participate in OCI with the rising 2L class after your first year of part time (1E as its called). So you'll be doing your OCI at the start of your third year. Most firms that interview you will be expecting to offer a summer associate position, and then hire you in 21 months. The problem is that since you accelerated graduation, you would be graduating in 9 months. Thus, you're kind of in a tough situation.

The school won't let a rising part to full time transfer take part in OCI? I have a friend at a different school who did part time his first year, took classes over the summer (in addition to the job he maintained during the rest of 1L), did fall OCI and got a firm job, then proceeded as a normal 2L. That's pretty awful if SMU doesn't allow something similar.


Read the above post. Apparently you need 30 credits to partake in OCI, and there is no way to earn that many prior to 2L year as a PT student. :|

Edit: its the third question he responded to.

Edit 2: After rereading briefly, it guess its 31 credit hours for OCI, and you would have 21 after 1E year. Still, SMU is a very strong school and 4 years there doesn't strike me as a bad deal at all! :wink:

havana daydreamin
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:36 pm

Re: Battle b/w low Ts & TTTs

Postby havana daydreamin » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:14 pm

great post, justathought. Gave me some good insight on the pros and cons of the SMU PT program.

The one thing I am worried about if I do go the SMU route is trying to scrounge up a job before I go up there. The position I'm at now isn't transferable (I'm in Austin), so it sounds like I would have to hit the pavement looking for jobs w/firms up there until SMU starts emailing the available positions. Don't really have any contacts up there, so that portion is slightly daunting.




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