Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

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dKb
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Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:07 pm

I got accepted into these schools with roughly the same amount in scholarship money (anywhere from 15k to 20k a year) and am having a difficult time making a decision. Please don't tell me re-take because that's not really an option. I don't really desire any big law position; I just want to make a comfortable living and hopefully practice in either Virginia, Maryland, or North Carolina area. Also, I wouldn't mind teaching a couple legal classes at a T3 or T4 school as a way to supplement my income as I get older if that has any influence.

Here are my concerns... Unless there is some reason why George Mason is far superior to the other two schools, I would prefer not to attend George Mason because I'm not an in-state resident so I wouldn't save much money and I would prefer not to deal with the hassle and aggravation of D.C. and the beltway everyday.

I'm leaning towards Washington & Lee but I'm concerned with their slip in ratings over the past couple of years. They consistently ranked in the high 20's to low 30's but have recently slipped to 42. While it looks like they have stabilized at that number over the past couple of years, my concern is that they might begin to slide again. On the other hand, Richmond has steadily climbed in the rankings over the last five years.

All of these schools are ranked roughly the same ( W&L 42, Richmond 52, and George Mason 42) and the tuition would be comparable. Which of these schools will provide me with the best prospects of meaningful employment, which of these schools would give me the most portable degree until I decided exactly where I want to live and practice and would any of these schools afford me a better opportunity to maybe teach law at a lower level law school someday?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Clemenceau
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby Clemenceau » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:14 pm

Please include:
-The schools you are considering
-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships. Here is a helpful calculator.
-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
-Your general career goals
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
-How many times you have taken the LSAT

cbro
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby cbro » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:20 pm

TCR is retake but if you absolutely must, then Washington & Lee. Its employment statistics are marginally better than George Mason's and Richmond's and will give you a better shot at obtaining a job that requires bar passage where you will actually use your legal education.

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pancakes3
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby pancakes3 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:21 pm

it seems odd that OP is familiar enough with TLS to know that people will tell him to retake, yet not familiar with the fact that rankings mean diddly squat.

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chuckbass
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby chuckbass » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:23 pm

Why is retaking not an option? Another year of what you're doing and retaking is certainly going to be better than graduating jobless in three years with a six-figure loan balance.

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:41 pm

Clemenceau wrote:Please include:
-The schools you are considering
-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships. Here is a helpful calculator.
-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
-Your general career goals
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
-How many times you have taken the LSAT



Schools I'm considering and cost of attendance

Richmond COA would be 38k per year
Washington & Lee COA would be 43k per year
George Mason COA would be 47k per year

Between savings and my family I would be able to put about 15k a year towards the overall COA

I'm from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania but I'm getting married to a girl from Falls Church, Virginia so we would like to eventually live in Virginia or North Carolina.

My general career goals are working in a small to mid-size firm. Not really sure what kind of law I'm interested in yet. Maybe constitutional law or civil rights litigation

And I've exhausted all of my LSAT takes. GPA was 3.57 in psychology and my best LSAT was a 163

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pancakes3
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby pancakes3 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:57 pm

dKb wrote:My general career goals are working in a small to mid-size firm. Not really sure what kind of law I'm interested in yet. Maybe constitutional law or civil rights litigation


and what if mid-law civil rights doesn't work out. are you ok with slip and falls, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and/or family law?

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Dr. Review
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby Dr. Review » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:06 pm

I can't speak for Virginia, but Richmond and George Mason won't get you to NC, and W&L is lower on the list than a lot of other schools for NC.

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:14 pm

pancakes3 wrote:
dKb wrote:My general career goals are working in a small to mid-size firm. Not really sure what kind of law I'm interested in yet. Maybe constitutional law or civil rights litigation


and what if mid-law civil rights doesn't work out. are you ok with slip and falls, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and/or family law?


Yeah, I'm assuming my interests will change once I actually take some classes. But to answer your question, yes I wouldn't mind handling negligence claims or doing family law. I'm basically just looking for job security and an upper-middle class existence.

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Dr. Review
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby Dr. Review » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:20 pm

dKb wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:
dKb wrote:My general career goals are working in a small to mid-size firm. Not really sure what kind of law I'm interested in yet. Maybe constitutional law or civil rights litigation


and what if mid-law civil rights doesn't work out. are you ok with slip and falls, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and/or family law?


Yeah, I'm assuming my interests will change once I actually take some classes. But to answer your question, yes I wouldn't mind handling negligence claims or doing family law. I'm basically just looking for job security and an upper-middle class existence.

Do a bit of research on the bimodal distribution of lawyer salaries. Generally speaking, it's either 160k or 40k-60k, with very little in between.

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Worker and Parasite
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby Worker and Parasite » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:36 pm

dKb wrote:Also, I wouldn't mind teaching a couple legal classes at a T3 or T4 school as a way to supplement my income as I get older if that has any influence.


Adjunct teaching pays BADLY fyi

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:41 pm

Worker and Parasite wrote:
dKb wrote:Also, I wouldn't mind teaching a couple legal classes at a T3 or T4 school as a way to supplement my income as I get older if that has any influence.


Adjunct teaching pays BADLY fyi


I realize that... that's why I said "supplement" my income. I never considered making it a full-time gig.

LurkerShirker
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby LurkerShirker » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:59 pm

You may want to look at numbers other than overall rankings. George Mason had a horrible 72% pass rate on the Virginia bar exam last year and a 51.6% JD required full time bar required (non school funded) job rate. The comparable figures at Richmond is 86.73% bar pass and a 56.4% JD required full time bar pass required (non school funded) job rate. The comparable figures at W&L is 89.19% bar pass rate and 63.8% JD required full time bar pass required (non school funded) job rate. Big law numbers at GMU is 8.7%, at Richmond is 8.1% and at W&L is 15%.

BigZuck
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jun 25, 2015 6:57 pm

Quantify "comfortable" and "upper-middle class" please. What kind of salary are you aiming for here?

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:33 pm

BigZuck wrote:Quantify "comfortable" and "upper-middle class" please. What kind of salary are you aiming for here?


I would be happy with something between 80-90 thousand a year. I think that would be enough to live well in small to moderate size cities in Virginia.

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chuckbass
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby chuckbass » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:34 pm

dKb wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Quantify "comfortable" and "upper-middle class" please. What kind of salary are you aiming for here?


I would be happy with something between 80-90 thousand a year. I think that would be enough to live well in small to moderate size cities in Virginia.

Can you point to any jobs that pay this?

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:11 pm

scottidsntknow wrote:
dKb wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Quantify "comfortable" and "upper-middle class" please. What kind of salary are you aiming for here?


I would be happy with something between 80-90 thousand a year. I think that would be enough to live well in small to moderate size cities in Virginia.

Can you point to any jobs that pay this?



I'm not sure I understand your question.... do you mean any legal jobs in Virginia that pay this? or any legal jobs in general that pay this? or any job in general that pays this? I'm sure there are many lawyers that make a salary around that amount. Unfortunately, when these schools lists employment statistics, they're are usually done based on what the median starting salaries are. I can't really pinpoint exactly how many lawyers that come from these schools make exactly 80k a year but that figure is in line with these schools median starting salaries figures. I don't think it is unreasonable to think that their median salaries would be attainable.

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chuckbass
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby chuckbass » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:46 pm

But you see, these median incomes hide a bi-modal pay scale, which for law is generally $40-60k or biglaw money (which is less than 160k in VA). The schools you're looking at aren't placing many people into high-paying positions, and they're only placing about half of the class into jobs as lawyers in the first place. You should really reevaluate some things.

BigZuck
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:37 pm

Hypo:

A law school has 100 graduates
50 get paid 160K
50 get paid 40K
Median salary is 100K
But not a single one of them gets paid 100K

I wouldn't use median salary in the way that you're using it

eta: and usually they are just reporting salary of people who reported salary to them. So that median 80K salary (or whatever) might only represent the median of 30% of the class (or whatever percentage of the class reported salary to the school)

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Dr. Review
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby Dr. Review » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:24 am

BigZuck wrote:Hypo:

A law school has 100 graduates
50 get paid 160K
50 get paid 40K
Median salary is 100K
But not a single one of them gets paid 100K

I wouldn't use median salary in the way that you're using it

eta: and usually they are just reporting salary of people who reported salary to them. So that median 80K salary (or whatever) might only represent the median of 30% of the class (or whatever percentage of the class reported salary to the school)

This is not how median works, but you are mostly right.

For OP:
Dr. Review wrote:Research the bimodal distribution of lawyer salaries. Generally speaking, it's either 160k or 40k-60k, with very little in between.
Last edited by Dr. Review on Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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pancakes3
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby pancakes3 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:47 am

http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/wl/sals/2013/

is Washington and Lee's salary information.

57% of the class reported salaries with splits at (25th - 53k) (50th 69.5k) (75th 125k).
The median is 69.5k and the mean is 85.8k. The top salaries skew the "average" when in fact you're much more likely to make 70k or less.

It's even further skewed bc only 57.3% are reporting. The 25% not reporting almost certainly makes less because only 10% of the class gets biglaw at all* and the 75th split is already set at 125k.

Then you account for the 20% who are unemployed and add it to the splits? 53k becomes your new median and the average dips down to 60k, with a 1 in 5 chance of making $0. That's a far cry from the median income being $86,000 at first glance.

And as a side note, this information is readily available. You need to do your due diligence in researching. Don't shrug it off as just TLS being TLS. You've got to understand at least the arguments and acknowledge what parts are valid.


*http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/wl/jobs/employers/2013/

dKb
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby dKb » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:05 am

BigZuck wrote:Hypo:

A law school has 100 graduates
50 get paid 160K
50 get paid 40K
Median salary is 100K
But not a single one of them gets paid 100K

I wouldn't use median salary in the way that you're using it

eta: and usually they are just reporting salary of people who reported salary to them. So that median 80K salary (or whatever) might only represent the median of 30% of the class (or whatever percentage of the class reported salary to the school)


Thanks for all of the information... I didn't mean to bring all these numbers into the equation. Let me try to ask this a different way because I honestly value all of your opinions. Between my scholarships, savings, and my family, my tuition for any of these three schools would be covered. I'm engaged to a pharmacist who does not mind covering rent and food and necessities while I finish school. Yes I would like to make a nice salary but I wouldn't be totally crushed if I only made 50k or 60k a year since I won't be saddled with debt. I'm going to law school because I genuinely enjoy the law and would thoroughly enjoy spending the rest of my life studying and practicing it. So... If these were your only three options and you did not have to consider any student loans or debt and you wanted to live in Virginia, which of these three schools would you attend if your only consideration was getting the best legal education possible?

BigZuck
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby BigZuck » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:11 am

Er, right yeah median is median not mode. Still I wouldn't expect sizeable numbers to be making around 100K, especially at these schools.

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chuckbass
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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby chuckbass » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:16 am

BigZuck wrote:Er, right yeah median is median not mode. Still I wouldn't expect sizeable numbers to be making around 100K, especially at these schools.

Meh you were close enough with the math

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Re: Washington & Lee vs. Richmond vs. George Mason

Postby BigZuck » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:18 am

dKb wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Hypo:

A law school has 100 graduates
50 get paid 160K
50 get paid 40K
Median salary is 100K
But not a single one of them gets paid 100K

I wouldn't use median salary in the way that you're using it

eta: and usually they are just reporting salary of people who reported salary to them. So that median 80K salary (or whatever) might only represent the median of 30% of the class (or whatever percentage of the class reported salary to the school)


Thanks for all of the information... I didn't mean to bring all these numbers into the equation. Let me try to ask this a different way because I honestly value all of your opinions. Between my scholarships, savings, and my family, my tuition for any of these three schools would be covered. I'm engaged to a pharmacist who does not mind covering rent and food and necessities while I finish school. Yes I would like to make a nice salary but I wouldn't be totally crushed if I only made 50k or 60k a year since I won't be saddled with debt. I'm going to law school because I genuinely enjoy the law and would thoroughly enjoy spending the rest of my life studying and practicing it. So... If these were your only three options and you did not have to consider any student loans or debt and you wanted to live in Virginia, which of these three schools would you attend if your only consideration was getting the best legal education possible?


Eh...ok, what is it that you enjoy about "the law" and why do you think you would enjoy studying it for the rest of your life?

If you're looking for stimulating academic pursuits, I'm not sure that's a good reason to go to law school either.

I think all these schools are probably fine if you want to work at a small firm/local gov long term in the region they place into (pretty much just Virginia), AND it's cheap because it's likely that you won't make much starting out and will likely top out at like 80K after a number of years, assuming you stay in the game that long.

I'd you want to make 90K starting out or have "geographic flexibility" (whatever that is) then I wouldn't go to any of them.




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