You know... as I read this entire post I find myself thankful for having stumbled upon this at the most opportune time. I am now obviously reconsidering my options of attending VLS.
While it is true that I only have an interest in Environmental Law, and have absolutely no desire to work anywhere near big law making upwards of 100k anytime soon, it is completely unrealistic for me to accumulate a debt:income ratio beyond the worst case scenario graduating from VLS. (Min. Wage)
Yet it is also true that many graduates from VLS acquire national positions. Many environmental organizations seek VLS graduates to fill their firms, and advocacy groups. However, you must place in the top 5% of your class. Of course a T14 graduate who focused on Env. Law will always have an advantage.
However, many of you on TLS are completely out of touch with the Env. Law sector. The truth is, Env. Law is one of the fastest growing legal markets in the world due to the current political climate surrounding environmental issues. The vast majority of T14 and even TT students have aspirations of becoming highly payed big shot attorneys. This is fine. We all know the average % of law graduates entering the PI sector is roughly 2%. And withing that 2% those with the best educations tend to aspire for the most prominent and highest paid PI jobs. Fortunately, Env. Law is neither prominent nor lucrative and for some reason has managed to stay underneath the radar of most T14 law graduates. And even while a hanful of T14 schools have T10 Env. Law programs, very very very few join them. And those few are not enough to meet the demand for Env. Lawers.
The demand for Env. Law, Env. Scientists, Env. Specialist, Env. Managers, etc is increasing at a rate of 10% - 25% a year. Which means that a person who goes to TTT VLS for Env. Law, and attends Env. Law clinics, and does well has a great chance at scoring a national position for Env. related legal work (Law, Justice, Legislation, Activism, Advocacy, NPO and NGO contracts)
Boston, Boulder, Denver, DC, Pheonix, Sacramento, Portland, and Tampa EPA/WMD/SC/WWF/DU/Local Env. Law Firms love VLS grads. (only env.) Not enough Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and GULC graduates to fill up all the spots... especially at $44K - $55K starting salary.
Having said all this I am now confident that I will only be attending VLS if I get 90% tuition scholly. I know how much I can make upon graduation and have no aspirations of anything higher. I am completely satisfied working in Boston, or any of the cities I mentioned. If I fail to nab the big scholly, I will simply take the LSAT in December in an attempt to succesfully match my average diagnostic score of 170. If I suceed I will obviously apply to what I consider the best school for my desired career. In my case it is GULC, VLS, Columbia, or Yale.
I also think it is important to remind TLS users when giving advice to people choosing between #1 n/$$ vs #8 w/$$$ to consider their career goals. I would never accept Yale with no money over GULC with half scholly, simply because I am aware that my profession of choice is low paying, therby making my debt:income ratio ridiculously high.
In response to the OP....... If you weren't focusing on Env. Law while at VLS, and/or refused to work Env. related jobs in NYC, Boston, Penn, NJ, etc. then you messed up man. This very instant NJ DEP, USFS, and a couple of local environmental groups are hiring. While it might not be legal work, some of it is management work for advocacy... something that a VLS grad should have studied while there if they focused on Env. Law.
To all the TLS users, I am glad I stumbled upon this forum. I did so while deciding which school to go to. I wish I had found it 6 months ago and saved myself the agony of waiting awholenother year to start law school. But I am content with all the information I have received from reading the posts. Also, don't take offense to pointing out your lack of knowledge revolving around env. law, it's just not your thing and that's cool. I figure once I start my 1L and finally graduate I can probably be the Env. law guy, but until then I am happy trolling the forum.