need help choosing a law school

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PennStateCivic
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need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Wed May 02, 2012 7:51 pm

Ok so I have a tough call coming up for law school and would like some input. I have a 12k/year scholarship to duquesne law school and got accepted to dickinson which is where i have wanted to go due to their rank and being penn state now (i just finished my undergrad at psu altoona). anyway i was wondering if there are any significant factors that would help with this choice or if they are so close in rank that i should just go to the one that i enjoy the campus of the most? please offer any advice you have!
thank you very much!

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BarcaCrossesTheAlps
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby BarcaCrossesTheAlps » Wed May 02, 2012 8:01 pm

Where do you want to practice? Is Penn St full sticker? I would think Penn St would be the overall best option no matter what, but full sticker for anything outside of the top ten or so is a pretty big matzah ball to swallow!

CanadianWolf
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed May 02, 2012 8:11 pm

Not sure, but Duquesne's market may be limited to the Pittsburgh area in which it is far behind the University of Pittsburgh. Penn State's Dickinson School of Law probably places its grads in small law firms or solo practice/office sharing arrangements throughout rural & small town Pennsylvania due to competition from Penn, Temple, Rutgers & Villanova & even Drexel in Philadelphia.

My best guess is that in order to obtain a position in a private law firm in Pittsburgh from Duquesne a very high class rank and/or prior relationship (maybe as a paralegal, for example) with the law firm is needed.

Are you prepared to enter into private practice or an office sharing arrangement if attending Duquesne ?

If your career objective is to return to Alatoona to practice in a solo or very small firm setting, then your connections to the area & Pennsylvania bar membership should suffice regardless of which law school you attend.

Once again, these are just my best guesses offered to encourage others with more specific knowledge to post in this thread.

PennStateCivic
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Wed May 02, 2012 9:03 pm

thanks for the help guys. dickinson is full sticker price. and i would like to go to a firm or somewhere i could work my way up the payscale. i would like to be making 100k or more within 5-10 years which seems fair. i dont really care where i work as long as the pay is good and the environment is decent. i interned at the cambria county da's office and like trial law but i'm not too picky. i plan on working to get good grades and my personality generally has helped me in the workplace so i just need any advice on the right school to form a good foundation for my career.

CanadianWolf
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed May 02, 2012 9:05 pm

It really isn't done that way when considering regional law schools with small markets. Understand that your job options are likely to be limited to the Pittsburgh area from Duquesne, & rural & small town Pennsylvania from Penn State--Dickinson, although the very best students (top 5% or so) from Dickinson should have better opportunities.

P.S. There is a significant chance that you will not receive any job offers that require a law degree as a graduate of either law school.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed May 02, 2012 9:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Nelson
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby Nelson » Wed May 02, 2012 9:06 pm

PennStateCivic wrote:a good foundation for my career.

The best foundation for your career would be retaking the LSAT to get into better schools. These options are not good.

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top30man
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby top30man » Wed May 02, 2012 9:49 pm

Nelson wrote:
PennStateCivic wrote:a good foundation for my career.

The best foundation for your career would be retaking the LSAT to get into better schools. These options are not good.

I work at a large firm in Pittsburgh (not as an attorney). Dont go to Duquesne. Please. Even in 2009 when things were rosier 40 percent of the class couldn't get a job that required a jd. I know people that couldn't even land full time paralegal gigs. Even Pitt is a risky call and it's far and away the better school in Pittsburgh. About fifteen years ago Pitt an Duquesne were roughly peers. Between the dean change, the discrimination lawsuits and faculty in fighting a few years ago the school nosedived. Worse, the school seems to make little attempt to improve its standing. The dean has made bizarre statements about how the rankings are so flawed and implied they aren't trying to really improve.
Last edited by top30man on Wed May 02, 2012 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PennStateCivic
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Wed May 02, 2012 9:51 pm

@top30man...what do you think of dickinson. i was under the impression it was a good law school although some of the replies are discouraging to that thought.

rad lulz
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby rad lulz » Wed May 02, 2012 9:52 pm

At those prices, for those schools, it would be lunacy to attend.

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MachineLemon
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby MachineLemon » Wed May 02, 2012 10:02 pm

rad lulz wrote:At those prices, for those schools, it would be lunacy to attend.


Credited.

--LinkRemoved--

--LinkRemoved--

Coin flip on getting a full-time legal jerb, except the coin costs >$100k.

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soitgoes9
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby soitgoes9 » Wed May 02, 2012 10:03 pm

If you are I would not attend either at those prices unless you have crazy connections. I would work for a few years and retake the lsat with goon numbers you could get a lot of money at Penn State or Pitt.

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top30man
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby top30man » Wed May 02, 2012 10:25 pm

PennStateCivic wrote:@top30man...what do you think of dickinson. i was under the impression it was a good law school although some of the replies are discouraging to that thought.

The problem with Dickinson is that it doesn't really have a market. There used to be a lot of state gov hiring in Harrisburg but Corbett shut that down pretty quickly. Philly and Pittsburgh both have other better schools.
Specifically with Pittsburgh, the market is a lot smaller than it was a few years ago. Between big law and mid law SAs there are only around 30. Compare this to four years ago when reed smith and k and l had around 25 or 30 each plus other firms. Going to a good school is a near necessity.

PennStateCivic
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Wed May 02, 2012 10:31 pm

@top or anyone with input. i'm getting a feeling i'm being told not to bother with law school unless its a top 20 school but the odds of me reaching that are almost 0. out of what i have, especially for pa, i was under the understanding that both schools have a decent reputation and was told from several ada's that duq creates good trial attorneys. basically with what i have, i was accepted at the university of baltimore, widener, dickinson, waitlisted at villanova, and got the scholarship to duq what would be my best option to get a decent job and hopefully assist me in getting a career going in which i could be making 100k/year after maybe 5-10 years experience which i think seems like a fair goal. please let me know if i'm being unrealistic and if i am completely off base.

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Nelson
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby Nelson » Wed May 02, 2012 10:32 pm

What is your GPA/LSAT? Have you maxed out retakes?

PennStateCivic
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Wed May 02, 2012 10:33 pm

my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

CanadianWolf
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed May 02, 2012 10:33 pm

It's not T-20 or bust. Identify your target market & try to get scholarship money from a regional law school that places well there if your numbers make highly ranked law schools unlikely. The point is that it is foolish to pay sticker price at other than a heavily discounted state school or a T-6 or so law school. The reason is that it is difficult to repay student loan debt without a high paying position & schools like Duquesne & Penn State don't place many in high paying positions.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed May 02, 2012 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nelson
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby Nelson » Wed May 02, 2012 10:36 pm

PennStateCivic wrote:my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

Prep more and retake. You need to get up to the mid 160s so you can get money from Pitt or Villanova/Temple depending on what side of PA you want to be on.

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top30man
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby top30man » Wed May 02, 2012 10:46 pm

PennStateCivic wrote:my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

If you get a 161 you will get money from Pitt. They give some form of money if you hit their 75th. I'm not saying t20 or bust. Id say retake for a 161 plus and go to Pitt with money. It's a decent option for Pittsburgh.

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soitgoes9
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby soitgoes9 » Wed May 02, 2012 11:26 pm

A 161/162 with work exp. is a good place to me in PA. PA lacks a clear second best school so you kind of have to pick a region or follow the money.

r6_philly
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby r6_philly » Wed May 02, 2012 11:41 pm

Nelson wrote:
PennStateCivic wrote:my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

Prep more and retake. You need to get up to the mid 160s so you can get money from Pitt or Villanova/Temple depending on what side of PA you want to be on.


There are decisively more jobs over on this side though. There are more firms, more gov/PI orgs, and perhaps better for going solo. There is always Temple part-time to cut down the cost by working through it.

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soitgoes9
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby soitgoes9 » Wed May 02, 2012 11:54 pm

r6_philly wrote:
Nelson wrote:
PennStateCivic wrote:my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

Prep more and retake. You need to get up to the mid 160s so you can get money from Pitt or Villanova/Temple depending on what side of PA you want to be on.


There are decisively more jobs over on this side though. There are more firms, more gov/PI orgs, and perhaps better for going solo. There is always Temple part-time to cut down the cost by working through it.



True but there are also more law schools.

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top30man
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby top30man » Thu May 03, 2012 12:05 am

r6_philly wrote:
Nelson wrote:
PennStateCivic wrote:my gpa is a 3.22 overall but that is up from a 2.06 so some schools noted the improvement in my average. plus my letters and evals were from professors and i'm an eagle scout which helped alot. and my lsat was 157 on first take

Prep more and retake. You need to get up to the mid 160s so you can get money from Pitt or Villanova/Temple depending on what side of PA you want to be on.


There are decisively more jobs over on this side though. There are more firms, more gov/PI orgs, and perhaps better for going solo. There is always Temple part-time to cut down the cost by working through it.

This is true. Philly is far far larger. I was just under the impression op wanted Pittsburgh. If both are fine with you Philly schools are probably a better bet.
Eta: yes there are more schools but the market is far larger. As I said, big law SAs in Pittsburgh this year hovered around 30. Philly eclipses that by a ton.

PennStateCivic
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby PennStateCivic » Thu May 03, 2012 12:20 am

well because of being under parents' health insurance and student loans i want to begin school in the fall. i fully intend on putting in the work to keep good grades and was just wondering, given the circumstances, which school would offer the best options for me after graduating. idc where i work/live i just want decent pay and a decent job to start from. i believe that i have the ability to work my way up from there.

r6_philly
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby r6_philly » Thu May 03, 2012 12:47 am

PennStateCivic wrote:well because of being under parents' health insurance and student loans i want to begin school in the fall. i fully intend on putting in the work to keep good grades and was just wondering, given the circumstances, which school would offer the best options for me after graduating. idc where i work/live i just want decent pay and a decent job to start from. i believe that i have the ability to work my way up from there.


It's hard to explain to 0L the reality of law school and getting a job. The problem with law school and law jobs is that ability may end up not having much to do with where you end up, at least in the short-mid term. You may work really hard and end up with bottom 1/4 grades because you misread a prompt, or just simply don't get what the professor wants, which may not have anything to do with the actual legal landscape. And going to the level of school you are looking at, not having top notch grades will foreclose a lot of opportunities that you may excel at, at least in the 5 year time frame.

I am not one to tell everyone to go T14 or bust, or retake or bust. I just want to make sure that 0Ls go into their 1L fall with the right information and right expectation. The risk you are taking is graduating middle of your class and have no one even care about the piece of paper with your name on it, while you busted your behind for every second of all three years. Think about this, what makes you stand out from the other 200 kids out of whatever school you go to that are competing for the 50 jobs available? Is it something that can be easily identified by the employer so they should absolutely hire you over your classmates?

So then, if you must, whatever that will give you the least amount of debt, limit your down side to as little money as possible aside from the time loss. But know that there isn't much of an upside. I worked hard and defied impossible odds before law school, so I understand and respect your attitude. But that just doesn't apply very well in this situation.

timbs4339
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Re: need help choosing a law school

Postby timbs4339 » Thu May 03, 2012 12:53 am

PennStateCivic wrote:well because of being under parents' health insurance and student loans i want to begin school in the fall. i fully intend on putting in the work to keep good grades and was just wondering, given the circumstances, which school would offer the best options for me after graduating. idc where i work/live i just want decent pay and a decent job to start from. i believe that i have the ability to work my way up from there.


NO. No no no.

Everyone at your school will be in the exact same position you are. They are all hustling like mad to be top 10% or 5% and land that legal job that will allow them to pay back debt. You will have a 10% or 5% chance of doing this. Would you take those odds at a casino? The most likely option out of either of those schools will be a job between 40-50K per year. And way more people will wind up making shit wages or working in non-law jobs than will get decent employment.

Unfortunately, the market for attorneys is completely saturated right now and so wages are depressed. You can't assume your salary will increase measurably with experience. Your chances of making 100K in the non-Philly PA markets 5 years out are very slim.

It is much easier to retake the LSAT and score 5 points higher with good study methods than it is to get top 10 or 5% at an uber-competitive lower ranked school where everyone knows they will need to get good grades to have any chance of decent employment.

PennStateCivic wrote:parents' health insurance and student loans i want to begin school in the fall


I've been hearing this a lot lately- people going to law school because they need the three years of deferment and government money for living expenses. Do you know what IBR is? If you get a low-paying retail or other bum job for a year, the government will help you out by paying your loans and you can study for the LSAT during that time.




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