Looking back at the school you decided on...

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pelkin000
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Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby pelkin000 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:16 pm

So recently I've been considering a LOT of factors in trying to decide between law schools. I have a feeling, however, that much of what I am considering really won't amount to much of a reason to decide one school over another. So, my question is geared towards people who have completed law school (but those in law school feel free to post as well, and 0Ls, well, I don't really need any speculations...).

Looking back after 3 years, what were the factors you wish you had used to choose a school, and which were the factors that really just amounted to noise?

I really appreciate any feedback and I hope this helps me sort through all of the information. As a side note, I'd love to hear from people who had relationships heading into law school and whether they chose to consider that relationship, how it turned out, etc. I've already heard the whole issue of relationships dying (1/3 married law students end up in divorce). Again, not interested in overarching claims, I'd like to hear personal accounts from people about their own lives (or lives of close family/friends).

Thanks!

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BarbellDreams
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby BarbellDreams » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:32 pm

Currently in law school:

The 4 most important factors in deciding law school in my opinion are:

1. Debt.
2. Is this a region you want to work in for possibly the rest of your life? (Assuming not t14 school)
3. How much competition does your school realistically get in that region?
4. How is the legal market in that region?

Basically, rankings are truly meaningless, and thats something you find out when you go to law school. There are TTT schools out there which, if you wanted to live in their region, would give you a better shot at jobs than a bunch of T2's and maybe even some T1's. If you want to live in Mississippi for example, why on earth wouldn't you go to Ole Miss? Yeah its a TTT school, but it has no competition, you want to live in the area, though jobs aren't abundant there your school gets ALL of them, and the debt will likely be minimal.

Another thing is, unless you have serious connections (not you have a friend who has a cousin who's dad knows a partner, but real connections), dont underestimate regional schools. Schools really are truly regional. UC Davis is a great school, but if you want to practice in NY wit simply wont help you. Same thing with UIUC if you want to go to CA to practice. Be sure that you truly are fine with living in the state where your school is located (in some cases for the rest of your life) before making a decision. Don't think "I'm going to make it out, I'll be the anomaly", chances are you wont.

This post can probably be like 10 pages long with all the different factors I considered when choosing law school and which I think were and weren't important so I'll stop here. Just remember, debt is scary and the market is bad, unless you have a T14 future seriously consider the 4 factors I mentioned.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby Kiersten1985 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:40 pm

BarbellDreams wrote:Currently in law school:

The 4 most important factors in deciding law school in my opinion are:

1. Debt.
2. Is this a region you want to work in for possibly the rest of your life? (Assuming not t14 school)
3. How much competition does your school realistically get in that region?
4. How is the legal market in that region?



I would also add that it depends on what your career goals are. The factors most important to you will vary somewhat if you want to work in NYC BigLaw vs. small town PI work vs. West Coast IP.

Edit: I'm also a 1L in a LTR. I moved to Boston for LS, he's in NYC still. It's certainly sucked for both of us, but I chose Boston over a higher ranked school in the Midwest. My SO wasn't THE deciding factor, but it certainly made a difference. I'm glad I ended up where I am. I can't imagine having been a plane ride away from him. It definitely would have added to my stress. We're going strong (together for 3 years going into LS, lived together for 2 years in NYC). We're now working on being in the same city next year, either Boston or NYC.

So if you're SURE about your SO, you can get through just about anything. :P And don't discount how having their support/being close will make a difference to you in LS. It will.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:55 pm

Possibly the most important factor is which law schools offered an acceptance.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby gwuorbust » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:06 pm

1L. I think the most important factors are:

1. Debt
2. Jobs
3. Quality of Life

There are any number of threads that talk about debt/jobs. Obv, say you want to work in FL then going to UF is by far the best choice. Just because Emory is ranked better doesn't mean shit.

For Quality of Life, however, this is something you will have to figure out on your own. I couldn't have lived in a small town. I am confident I would have dropped out. I need weekly engagement with new things. Here in New Orleans (I go to Tulane) it is a lot of live shows, concerts, dive-bars, etc. I would pull my hair out if the town I lived in only have 5 options of places to go. But that is me. My only point is that you should figure out where you want to be. Don't go and be miserable because one school is ranked 3 spots higher than another. Figure out what is best for you.

And, for all that is good and right in the world, please to don't take out 200k in debt to attend a non-t-14 school.
Last edited by gwuorbust on Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mick Haller
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby Mick Haller » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:06 pm

I chose a higher ranked school with more debt, and having struck out at OCI, I now think a lower ranked school with a large scholarship would have been a wiser decision.

gator6589
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby gator6589 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:30 pm

Mick Haller wrote:I chose a higher ranked school with more debt, and having struck out at OCI, I now think a lower ranked school with a large scholarship would have been a wiser decision.

Sorry Im new to this what does OCI stand for?

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cinephile
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby cinephile » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:32 pm

gator6589 wrote:
Mick Haller wrote:I chose a higher ranked school with more debt, and having struck out at OCI, I now think a lower ranked school with a large scholarship would have been a wiser decision.

Sorry Im new to this what does OCI stand for?


On campus interviewing

copperuptown
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby copperuptown » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:40 pm

Mick Haller wrote:I chose a higher ranked school with more debt, and having struck out at OCI, I now think a lower ranked school with a large scholarship would have been a wiser decision.



When you say higher-ranked school, can you give an approximation of which school? T14?

I think a lot of us are in this boat.

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Mick Haller
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby Mick Haller » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:00 pm

copperuptown wrote:
Mick Haller wrote:I chose a higher ranked school with more debt, and having struck out at OCI, I now think a lower ranked school with a large scholarship would have been a wiser decision.



When you say higher-ranked school, can you give an approximation of which school? T14?

I think a lot of us are in this boat.


no, I chose a T1 state school with a strong regional presence over T2 private schools with 2/3 to 3/4 scholarships. I believe that T14 schools are generally worth up to 150k debt (except maybe GULC).

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EstboundNDwn
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby EstboundNDwn » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:28 pm

BarbellDreams wrote:2. Is this a region you want to work in for possibly the rest of your life? (Assuming not t14 school)


Is that realistic though? How many people do you know have degrees or careers that restrict them from ever branching outside the state or region they went to school in?

It's one thing to be naive and think you'll find BigLaw with a T2 degree, but there are obviously T2s spread out all over over the US. They must have done something right. Aggressive Handjobs? Worked for a decade, then made connections?

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bk1
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:29 pm

EstboundNDwn wrote:
BarbellDreams wrote:2. Is this a region you want to work in for possibly the rest of your life? (Assuming not t14 school)


Is that realistic though? How many people do you know have degrees or careers that restrict them from ever branching outside the state or region they went to school in?

It's one thing to be naive and think you'll find BigLaw with a T2 degree, but there are obviously T2s spread out all over over the US. They must have done something right. Aggressive Handjobs? Worked for a decade, then made connections?


They are still the exception, not the rule. Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.

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fragged
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby fragged » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:37 pm

bk1 wrote:Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


That's some great advice. In fact, if we all subscribed to that mentality, no one would ever bother applying to any reaches - we would all just apply to targets and safeties.

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bk1
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:39 pm

fragged wrote:
bk1 wrote:Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


That's some great advice. In fact, if we all subscribed to that mentality, no one would ever bother applying to any reaches - we would all just apply to targets and safeties.


This is a fair critique (and is pointing out a fallacy in my argument). However, I would go with the approach that as cost goes up, what is probable becomes more important. So when you are spending a hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, sure shoot for the stars, but when you are spending three years and a hundred thousand dollars then the the most likely outcome should be what is used to justify the decision.

Buying a lotto ticket isn't awful, but going to a roulette wheel and putting all your money on 16 is dumb.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:41 pm

bk1 wrote:
fragged wrote:
bk1 wrote:Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


That's some great advice. In fact, if we all subscribed to that mentality, no one would ever bother applying to any reaches - we would all just apply to targets and safeties.


This is a fair critique (and is pointing out a fallacy in my argument). However, I would go with the approach that as cost goes up, what is probably becomes more important. So when you are spending a hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, sure shoot for the stars, but when you are spending three years and a hundred thousand dollars then the the most likely outcome should be what is used to justify the decision.


I'm going to +bk1 here on the general idea of not always shooting for the stars, especially when risk is high. I'm biased because my life philosophy has always been to not shoot for the stars...if I am able to do 100, i target 110 to still challenge myself...but i don't go for 200.

When you shoot for the stars and fail, you don't land on the moon. Your rocket just crashes and burns shortly after takeoff lol.

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EstboundNDwn
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby EstboundNDwn » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:55 pm

bk1 wrote:
EstboundNDwn wrote:
BarbellDreams wrote:2. Is this a region you want to work in for possibly the rest of your life? (Assuming not t14 school)


Is that realistic though? How many people do you know have degrees or careers that restrict them from ever branching outside the state or region they went to school in?

It's one thing to be naive and think you'll find BigLaw with a T2 degree, but there are obviously T2s spread out all over over the US. They must have done something right. Aggressive Handjobs? Worked for a decade, then made connections?


They are still the exception, not the rule. Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


Dude, I get it: don't be a starry-eyed 0L.

I think I have fairly realistic expectations about my T2 life, I'm just trying to learn how to make make the most of my situation. I know I'm not alone when I say this is all made difficult when the majority of opinions on this board are either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic.

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bk1
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:59 pm

EstboundNDwn wrote:Dude, I get it: don't be a starry-eyed 0L.

I think I have fairly realistic expectations about my T2 life, I'm just trying to learn how to make make the most of my situation. I know I'm not alone when I say this is all made difficult when the majority of opinions on this board are either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic.


You specifically asked if that (that meaning not being able to go elsewhere) was realistic and it generally is realistic.

It might be very possible for you to escape the area you work in eventually, but that is something you will be able to figure out fairly easily once you are in that position. The problem is that right now you don't know if you will be in that position so it is foolish to plan for what is a very small contingency.

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EstboundNDwn
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby EstboundNDwn » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:02 pm

bk1 wrote:
EstboundNDwn wrote:Dude, I get it: don't be a starry-eyed 0L.

I think I have fairly realistic expectations about my T2 life, I'm just trying to learn how to make make the most of my situation. I know I'm not alone when I say this is all made difficult when the majority of opinions on this board are either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic.


You specifically asked if that (that meaning not being able to go elsewhere) was realistic and it generally is realistic.

It might be very possible for you to escape the area you work in eventually, but that is something you will be able to figure out fairly easily once you are in that position. The problem is that right now you don't know if you will be in that position so it is foolish to plan for what is a very small contingency.


Ok, fair enough.

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BarbellDreams
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby BarbellDreams » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:06 pm

The T2 degrees spread out around the country you speak of happened before the economy hit. Assuming no connections it is VERY difficult to get anything across the country from a regional school.Possible? Sure, but not terribly realistic.

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swc65
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby swc65 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:06 pm

fragged wrote:
bk1 wrote:Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


That's some great advice. In fact, if we all subscribed to that mentality, no one would ever bother applying to any reaches - we would all just apply to targets and safeties.



That's a big mischaracterization. You can try to reach for the stars as long you prepare for what's most likely to happen. In other words don't quit your job because you bought a lottery ticket. Buy tickets, if you want, but plan by what is most likely to happen- like going to work tomorrow.

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EstboundNDwn
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby EstboundNDwn » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:20 pm

swc65 wrote:
fragged wrote:
bk1 wrote:Don't act on what is possible, act on what is probable.


That's some great advice. In fact, if we all subscribed to that mentality, no one would ever bother applying to any reaches - we would all just apply to targets and safeties.



That's a big mischaracterization. You can try to reach for the stars as long you prepare for what's most likely to happen. In other words don't quit your job because you bought a lottery ticket. Buy tickets, if you want, but plan by what is most likely to happen- like going to work tomorrow.


And that's just the opposite extreme. Life is rarely about deciding between lottery tickets and hamster wheels.

Moral of the story: figure it out for yourself

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bk1
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:28 pm

EstboundNDwn wrote:And that's just the opposite extreme. Life is rarely about deciding between lottery tickets and hamster wheels.

Moral of the story: figure it out for yourself


Most people are going overestimate their actual chances of obtaining a given outcome that they prefer considering the fact that they think they are a unique little snowflake.

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fragged
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby fragged » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:33 pm

I'm not disagreeing that most people will fall into the normal distribution - but I would also disagree that going to a regional school and then moving somewhere out of your region many years later to practice should be considered "shooting for the stars."

Banking on going to a regional TTT in California and then moving to a NLJ250 firm in New York is probably a stupid idea, but moving to a mid-size firm in New York after practicing for many years and making connections is very possible.

If you poke around the internet and look at the rosters for several small/medium firms, there are often attorneys there from T2/T3 schools out of the region.

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bk1
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:37 pm

fragged wrote:I'm not disagreeing that most people will fall into the normal distribution - but I would also disagree that going to a regional school and then moving somewhere out of your region many years later to practice should be considered "shooting for the stars."

Banking on going to a regional TTT in California and then moving to a NLJ250 firm in New York is probably a stupid idea, but moving to a mid-size firm in New York after practicing for many years and making connections is very possible.

If you poke around the internet and look at the rosters for several small/medium firms, there are often attorneys there from T2/T3 schools out of the region.


It is still such a small fraction of the attorneys that graduate from that school though. The other problem is that you don't even know whether you will be in a position where you want to move down the line. Since you can't predict how you will be in X years, looking at the path of the average kid from a given school is about the best thing you can do to decide whether that school is a good idea.

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swc65
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Re: Looking back at the school you decided on...

Postby swc65 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:50 pm

fragged wrote:I'm not disagreeing that most people will fall into the normal distribution - but I would also disagree that going to a regional school and then moving somewhere out of your region many years later to practice should be considered "shooting for the stars."

Banking on going to a regional TTT in California and then moving to a NLJ250 firm in New York is probably a stupid idea, but moving to a mid-size firm in New York after practicing for many years and making connections is very possible.

If you poke around the internet and look at the rosters for several small/medium firms, there are often attorneys there from T2/T3 schools out of the region.



I made no assertions about how frequently people from T2s go on to practice out of region. I was just backing up BK's general proposition that you should plan on what is most likely to happen while rejecting your point that planning on what is most likely to happen is analogous to not trying to get the best possible outcome.




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