LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
Johnathanrs
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 5:23 pm

LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby Johnathanrs » Mon May 23, 2011 7:06 am

Hello, I am getting ready to take the LSAT and am currently reviewing which law schools to apply for once I finish. The main two factors I am focused on is costs vs employment. Me and my friend(who's currently about to apply for law) were discussing possibilities, and I reviewed a few articles/posts on this forum and saw that some universities offer scholarships and such for students to attend their institute?

I am a little confused by this, and hope that someone would help elaborate this for me. From my understanding, if you are considered a good candidate, some lower institutes will offer you full scholarships to attend their law program where your costs will be low compared to top tier schools who require top rates. If my understanding is correct, is there a site that has information regarding this? I also would like to know what schools would offer scholarships and what GPA/LSAT is usually required before a school would go about doing this.

Another question of mine is simply a ongoing debate and really, I am not even sure if I should ask it.

It's centered on what I am sure everyone here is aware of, the ongoing debate that law is a over-saturated market, and getting a job is difficult for new graduating personal unless it is from a T14 school. My problem with this is finding reliable sources. I have contacted both professionals working in the field and advisers, and to be honest, the consensus seems to be split.

Simply going by US NEWS it seems there are institutes which fare pretty well, but I have been told by others, that a lot of these institutes mis-lead their numbers on purpose, in order to reflect this on purpose. So really, I am not sure on who to believe because it is a constant debate between parties which seems to be a factor only true to some. (Hopefully this will end this: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/20 ... on-notice/)

I will simply explain my situation, and understanding, and hope to get some guidance. I am currently a resident of Georgia, and have the option of attending Georgia law schools for a cheaper rate. The main institute I was looking at was UGA (http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandr ... rgia-03042) whom only charge 15.8k per year for in-state students. They are ranked 35th and I would imagine they would be considered a "average" law school program. According to their statistics however, they have a 84% employment rate, with a average salary of 130k. I found this to be great, but also suspicious, because Emory(GA school) which is ranked 30th has only a 65% employment rate.

Comparing this to NYU and Vanderbilt, the costs are on separate levels. So really, is the almost triple debt worth the 10% employment rate gained from this? Because I am well aware that on paper NYU will open doors to any law firm, but really, I am having a hard time convincing myself to do all that debt for simply that extra 10% employment rate gained. And it also is coming down to the ongoing debate, how important is it to graduate from a T20, or T14 school? I also would not like to factor in graduating "top of my class" because everyone has this goal in mind, and it would be arrogant of me to believe that I have a advantage over anyone else, however, I will try my hardest in order to achieve this.

Thanks for any guidance.

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby Grizz » Mon May 23, 2011 7:27 am

Just take the LSAT and get back to us if you want personalized feedback as to your own personal situation.

aliarrow
Posts: 886
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:08 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby aliarrow » Mon May 23, 2011 8:28 am

Use http://www.lawschoolnumbers.com to see what numbers will get you in where, and to predict what kind of scholarship money you can expect.

Employment percentages mean nothing, especially at graduation percentages, so I'd recommend you not even bother looking at them. Median salaries mean even less. These two numbers are among the easiest for law schools to manipulate. One concern is how well a school places into 'biglaw', which is the type of job that will allow you to pay off the debt in a reasonable amount of time (starting salaries around 100k-160k), for this you should look at the law.com percentages of graduates obtaining jobs with NLJ 250 firms (the highly ranked high cost schools tend to do much better by this metric, with the exception of Yale because more grads are focused on prestigious clerkships after graduation).
These biglaw percentages are important because biglaw is essentially the most 'reliable' sort of employment if you don't have a great deal of work experience. They offer the most comprehensive training and hire almost solely based on grades and school rank.
If you don't hit biglaw you'll have to try for a job with a small firm (not very willing to take on new grads, it isn't cost efficient) or a public sector job (not reliable due to hiring freezes, heavily increased competition due to the loss of desirable private sector jobs).

Prestige (and employment opportunities) vs. Costs is a dilemma almost all prospective law students grapple with. As rad law so concisely put it, we can't give you specific advise until you have an actual score, and any speculation at this point as to specific schools will be fruitless. If you can get into a top school (T13 or so), then it's generally advisable to do so due to a high chance of employment success and geographic flexibility. However, if you don't have high enough numbers, it would be best to stick with a school in the region you want to work in at a reasonable cost. If it did come down to Emory (at sticker price) vs. UGA and you knew without a doubt you wanted to work in Georgia, it would be best to attend UGA at a much cheaper price.

flcath
Posts: 1502
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby flcath » Mon May 23, 2011 9:22 am

Law school, unlike most other academic programs, renders its cost of attendance unrecognizable (from the published tuition figures) through merit-based scholarships. Don't assume anywhere costs anything until you have applied and gotten your acceptance and scholarship package. The standard is to receive both at the same time.

School-compiled employment figures are unreliable across the board for a variety of reasons. They aren't outright lies, but they come from substandard data collection processes that the schools have no incentive (or, actually, an adverse incentive) to fix. This link contains the best stats, as it compares which schools place the highest % of graduates into the top firm jobs in the US. To do a true comparison you should add the % of federal clerkships (the schools will advertise this on their websites, and this data will be truthful and complete) to the figure listed in the link, as these positions are the most prestigious post-LS jobs in the nation, and will lead to Biglaw employment at their completion.

The type of evaluation you were doing in your OP is the correct way to go: factor in employment prospects and total cost of attendance. Apply broadly, especially on the "reach" end of the spectrum. Sometimes when your offers have all come in, the 'correct' choice will be obvious; sometimes it will depend upon how debt-averse / career-ambitious you are. FWIW, I would take NYU at sticker price over UGA w/ a full scholarship, but someone in that situation probably has an attractive third offer (say, Duke at 50%) that I'd probably take over both.

Anecdotally, private schools seem to be very generous w/ scholarships in the 0-50% range (e.g., I got 40% scholarships from places I was surprised to get accepted to at all), then tighten up considerably above that. If you end up looking at lower-end schools (and you never know how you're going to do on the LSAT), make sure to pay attention to grade-stipulations that schools may place on you keeping your scholarship after 1L.

Johnathanrs
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 5:23 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby Johnathanrs » Mon May 23, 2011 3:58 pm

Thanks for the replies. This post isn't just for me, it is also for my friend. Her stats I believe are 165/3.67.(GA tech) She is only thinking about submitting to UGA due to costs. She doesn't really know anything about scholarships and things dealing in that area. She also is considering re-taking the LSAT with me, but basically, she did all of her research based on US news and felt that a 130k plus 84% job placement + costs of UGA was well worth it. She even thinks that it is far more foolish to even get into Vanderbilt, or aim higher due to how much debt she would acquire. But once again, her logic is behind the employment rate posted by US News, which is rational, but I am trying to get her to understand that other things like scholarships and also fake job employment rates need to be considered. (She is also looking at joining the military for law school due to costs.)

aliarrow
Posts: 886
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:08 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby aliarrow » Mon May 23, 2011 4:16 pm

Johnathanrs wrote:Thanks for the replies. This post isn't just for me, it is also for my friend. Her stats I believe are 165/3.67.(GA tech) She is only thinking about submitting to UGA due to costs. She doesn't really know anything about scholarships and things dealing in that area. She also is considering re-taking the LSAT with me, but basically, she did all of her research based on US news and felt that a 130k plus 84% job placement + costs of UGA was well worth it. She even thinks that it is far more foolish to even get into Vanderbilt, or aim higher due to how much debt she would acquire. But once again, her logic is behind the employment rate posted by US News, which is rational, but I am trying to get her to understand that other things like scholarships and also fake job employment rates need to be considered. (She is also looking at joining the military for law school due to costs.)


Again, under no circumstances should you just go by the employment rate. That includes those employed part-time, working at McDonalds, Walmart Greeters, Doc Review Slaves, etc.
It just depends on you/your friend's goals. If you're completely content staying in Georgia and don't want biglaw, then go to UGA/Georgia State and save some money. If you do want biglaw or to possibly leave the state, the debt at Vanderbilt or Emory would be more justifiable.

Johnathanrs
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 5:23 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby Johnathanrs » Mon May 23, 2011 5:16 pm

Yeah thanks, note taken.

My biggest concern was coming down to if law school was really even worth it in this market. I am not trying to be rude when I say this, but I think law school isn't justified anymore in a lot of situations. One of my hopes was finding people who are finishing up law school and seeing their opinion.

I just can't justify taking 150k+ of debt, without having a salary matching at the end. I had no idea of scholarships, but now I will be looking into this and re-evaluating. It is just I like to plan ahead and need to determine if I need to consider business school a alternative route. Why I am doing my homework. Unlike a lot here, I like to plan ahead and have multiple options and routes that best exemplifies my situation. Most are saying evaluate when you have taken the LSAT, but I disagree, I do not want to have only the choice of law school where I feel the amount of debt isn't justifying the job outlooks. Then, deciding law school isn't even a good path to take, and be stuck with having to study for the GRE, wasted application fees, and time wasted. (I like to know what exactly I need to score, what scholarships are going to be offered for that range, exc. If I fail to meet this score, I might immediately drop law all together.)

From what I am reading (through research) a lot aren't finding jobs to counter their debt. I think it is fine if you get a scholarship without debt, but if this isn't the case, and you are paying full sticker price for a non-t14--it seems like a gamble, and right now, I am trying to factor in if that gamble is worth it. (Because I need to study for the GRE for example) and what schools exactly are worth it, and what schools are not.

Thanks for the help though. Much appreciated.

User avatar
Magnolia
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:06 pm

Re: LF Guidance. Prestige vs Costs.

Postby Magnolia » Mon May 23, 2011 6:49 pm

You should aim for a 170+. That should get you options in the t14 and get you significant scholarships at lower ranked schools. I'm not sure what your GPA is, but obviously the lower your GPA, the higher your LSAT needs to be. If you have a really high GPA 3.8-3.9+, you can probably break the t14 with a score in the upper 160's. With a high GPA and a high LSAT you'll be in contention for scholarships to the t14. Generally, you'll need to have one or both stats above the 75th percentile to garner a significant scholarship. You can check out lawschoolnumbers.com to get an idea of which schools give out lots of scholarship money (WUSTL, Vandy, UIUC, etc) and which ones are stingy (GW, American, etc.).

Start by taking a diagnostic LSAT to see where you are and how much work it will take to get you into the range in which you need to be. The LSAT is very learnable, so you'll be able to improve your score, but breaking into the 170's will probably be easier if your diagnostic is in the 160s than if your diagnostic is in the 130-140 range. Then you can decide if it's worthwhile to invest the time and money.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 4 guests