William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

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mml mpls
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby mml mpls » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:03 pm

not sure if you're still checking this, but i'd love to get your input. i applied to william mitchell, hamline, and the U. i work full time, and planned to do the part time program at wm (i only applied to hamline as a part time back-up and to the U so i wouldn't have to wonder what might have been). wm offered me a full scholarship and a fellowship, so i've been planning to go there. but then yesterday the U called and offered me a full scholarship as well. NOT EXPECTED! i'm not sure what to do. if i go to the U, i would have to quit my job, find something for 20 hours a week, and max out my student loans just to pay my mortgage and other bills. if i stick with wm, i won't accumulate any more debt than i already have. long term i do want to practice, and i don't want to stay in mn forever. i guess my question is two-fold. first, am i insane if i pass on a full scholarship to the U? second, if i want to work outside of mn, is it better to be in the top of my class at wm, with a fellowship and several additional years of work experience in a very well-respected professional office, or to graduate closer to the middle of my class (just a guess obviously) from the U, probably with some extracurricular and having taken more coursework that is directly related to my area of interest? if i don't make any sense, it's because i can't think straight, so i apologize in advance! thanks!

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:36 pm

I can honestly say that I've never heard of anyone in your situation. Still, congratulations on the prospect of getting a legal education with no debt. That's an accomplishment in and of itself. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

First, am i insane if i pass on a full scholarship to the U?

Minnesota is great. I went to undergrad at the U of M, so when I was an OL, I immediately applied to the law school. (I knew I wanted to stay in Minnesota for the time being, so I also applied to William Mitchell and St. Thomas.) I know that a full scholarship to the U of M Law School is no small thing, so your alternative would have to be very compelling. A full scholarship to Mitchell may not be good enough, depending on what you plan to do with your career. (More on that in my next response.)

Second, if i want to work outside of mn, is it better to be in the top of my class at wm, with a fellowship and several additional years of work experience in a very well-respected professional office, or to graduate closer to the middle of my class (just a guess obviously) from the U, probably with some extracurricular and having taken more coursework that is directly related to my area of interest?

Getting a first job outside Minnesota and the upper Midwest with a J.D. from Mitchell, even with highest honors, can be a steep climb. On the other hand, it's helpful to know what kind of first job you're looking for. BigLaw in the top markets like NYC or Chicago? I'd say that's near impossible, barring some rock-solid personal connection. Small or medium-sized private firms or government work? In that case, I'd say the odds get better. Some people from my graduating class found jobs out in California. Others moved down to Missouri. Still others moved to Texas for work. This just goes to show you that things might be changing. Recent news that I thought was great for the school was a William Mitchell 3L scoring a federal clerkship outside the District of Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit (in the Eastern District of Michigan). I don't think that's happened for a long time; perhaps ever.

I'm not as intimately acquainted with the job prospects of U of M law grads, but I'd like to think that if they offered you a full scholarship, you should expect to rank somewhere higher than the median. In any event, I don't think U of M law students in the 50th percentile have that much of a leg up in terms of job prospects on their counterparts at William Mitchell. The difference, whether it's right or wrong, comes in opportunities for the top students at the two schools.

So here are a couple broad generalizations to help you make your decision.

1. If you want to work in BigLaw outside Minnesota for your first job, your chances are much better at the U of M (although from what I hear, you shouldn't bank on it).
2. If you want to do anything else outside Minnesota, it may not matter as much which of the two schools you choose.

I hope that helps.

mml mpls
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby mml mpls » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:51 pm

thank you, that definitely does help! i have a follow up question though - what can you tell me about employment opportunities during law school? are summers really as lucrative as some people say they are? so far i've been thinking that if i go to the U, i'll have to depend 100% on student loans. i'm starting to realize that that might be a little bit unrealistic (happily). any insight would be very appreciated. thanks again!

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:11 am

There are two scenarios here. The first is if you went to the U of M; the second, William Mitchell.

1. Obviously I won't get into the details of your mortgage and monthly bills, but I can't imagine that the loans you'd obtain to pay for them (in lieu of having a full-time job) would be nearly as extensive as regular loans for tuition. Most law students are coming out of school with six-figure debt. Would you need at least $100K over three years to cover just your cost of living? By my own rough calculations, I only used $42K for living expenses during my three years of law school, and I didn't always spend very wisely. Also, keep in mind that the ABA "allows" you to work part-time while being a full-time law student. With your tuition at the U covered, that could mitigate the need for extensive personal loans.

2. Working full-time and going to school part-time isn't easy; law school by itself can be fairly difficult to manage. Yes, with a full scholarship to Mitchell and as an enrollee in the part-time program, you could keep your full-time job. Just keep in mind that your academic performance might suffer. I'm not saying that it will, but there are no guarantees. That could ultimately affect whether you find the job you're looking for somewhere else.

In sum, it sounds to me like your main concerns are (1) financial solvency and (2) wanting to work outside Minnesota. In this situation, William Mitchell appears to be the best option for number one and the U of M is probably your best option for number two. I'm sorry that I can't give you a definitive answer, but I hope you can reach a satisfactory conclusion after weighing those two factors. Good luck.

drleather
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby drleather » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:40 am

I'm a student at U of M, and I'd concur that if you can't get into The U, then William Mitchell is a sound 2nd option if you want to work around the cities. Also, if you are dead-set on working in PI, then a large scholarship at WM vs no money at The U is probably a wise decision. I've volunteered at some PI places and I'd say the ratio seems to be about: 30% UM, 40% WM, 20% UST and 10% Hamline.

Just avoid Hamline, and don't spend the dough to go to St. Thomas if you can go to WM for similar or less money. WM definitely has a greater presence around the cities than St. Thomas, and the alumni network is indeed large. I was even told by one small firm "We don't generally hire UofM students because they can be snobbish, we prefer WM grads." Of course, they were all WM grads, but still.

I think UofM will give you a broader array of options, and maybe a leg up in some firms/PI places, but WM is definitely a respectable option that makes more sense for some. I think it also offers a part-time program which is obviously helpful if you want to work while you go to school.

mml mpls
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby mml mpls » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:31 pm

thanks so much. i just met with admissions from the U and i've decided to go to take their scholarship offer. based on what i want to do long term, it just makes so much more sense. the admissions rep also gave me some great information about research assistant positions during the school year and average summer salaries. the combination of those two things cuts the amount of loans i'd need in half, so it's kind of a no-brainer now. i really appreciate all of the information you shared! thank you!

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:09 pm

Mml, I'm glad you've made a decision. Naturally, I like to see promising OLs attend William Mitchell, but I don't know if I would've chosen differently from you had I been in your shoes five years ago.

Drleather, I was wondering when a U of M law student was going to poke his head in on this thread. I appreciate you providing an outside opinion.

Slobodan Milosevic
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby Slobodan Milosevic » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:18 pm

So, MSP1, I'm going to need you to call up the WM Admissions office and tell them to make a decision regarding my application pronto! Use some of your clout and help a promising 0L out!
It's been almost two months since I applied and still nothing...is that good or bad?

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:18 pm

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you didn't put your TLS username on your application.

Two months? What kind of numbers/softs did you have? (Don't feel compelled to answer if you're not comfortable doing so.) It seems a little odd to have that kind of delay. I say call them up if you don't hear anything soon.

Jake Gittes
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby Jake Gittes » Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:31 pm

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Last edited by Jake Gittes on Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:50 pm

Good question. As for BigLaw, a quick numbers comparison might give you some insight on WI vs. IA vs. William Mitchell (these are the NLJ 250 firms based in Minneapolis):

Faegre & Benson
WI: 14 alumni (5 partners and 9 associates)
IA: 29 alumni (12 partners, 14 associates, and 3 special/of counsel)
William Mitchell: 36 alumni (11 partners, 20 associates, and 5 special/of counsel)

Dorsey & Whitney
WI: 13 alumni (4 partners, 7 associates, and 2 "attorneys")
IA: 23 alumni (11 partners, 8 associates, and 4 special/of counsel)
William Mitchell: 34 alumni (18 partners, 16 associates)

Robins Kaplan
WI: 11 alumni (1 partner, 10 associates)
IA: 10 alumni (3 partners, 7 associates)
William Mitchell: 25 alumni (12 partners, 13 associates)

Fredrikson & Byron
WI: 7 alumni (3 shareholders, 4 associates)
IA: 19 alumni (6 shareholders, 11 associates, and 2 other)
William Mitchell: 32 alumni (21 shareholders, 5 associates, and 6 other)

Leonard, Street & Deinard
WI: 6 alumni (4 shareholders, 2 associates)
IA: 9 alumni (7 shareholders, 2 associates)
William Mitchell: 38 alumni (20 shareholders, 13 associates, and 5 special/of counsel)

Briggs and Morgan
Can't search by law school on their site, so I'm not totally sure.

Lindquist & Vennum
Same problem.

I guess I work in a smaller firm (less than fifty attorneys), but we're an interesting mix. It's about half-and-half U of M and William Mitchell grads, with some Drake grads, and then a handful of T14 grads. It seems to me that the smaller you go in firm size, the less the hiring partner tends to care about your law school (unless they're a raging partisan toward their own alma mater). They care much more about whether they like you and believe you'll be a good addition to the "team." If you have good MN connections, then you might have a leg up already in that regard.

Hope this helps.

Jake Gittes
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby Jake Gittes » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:06 pm

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Last edited by Jake Gittes on Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:38 pm

I'm impressed. That's a pretty condescending reply to what I thought was an honest response to your question.

I'd agree that the big firms in the Twin Cities, despite what they claim during OCI, don't really consider anyone outside the top 20% at William Mitchell. However, I think you may be trying to pass off some broad generalizations as fact.

First, there's an important distinction between choosing to work in a certain market and having no other choice but to work in that market. I readily concede that a J.D. from William Mitchell doesn't have anything close to the portability of the same degree from a T14 law school (but then again, I've never argued that in this thread). I also readily concede that even a summa graduate from Mitchell can't get their first job in Big Law in a traditionally big market (see earlier posts above). Nonetheless, Mitchell graduates work in other parts of the country besides the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota:

http://www.avvo.com/stats/school_detail ... of-law-739

I'm also intrigued as to how you reached the conclusion that William Mitchell was better "a long time ago," and that now it's a pity case.

As for Iowa, I think it's entirely possible that the top students there can get higher-paying jobs in Chicago. I'm not so sure about NYC, simply because New England is already saturated with several of the best law schools in the country.

And I'm glad you have an opinion about how well IA and WI law students "coming home" to Minnesota place compared to William Mitchell students, but I don't know if there's really any way to objectively verify that. All we really have to go on are the numbers above and our own personal theories on the matter.

Finally, before we start trashing "local small-timers," I'd recommend seeing how many of those supposedly horrid attorneys graduated from IA and are quite happy with their little practice in Cedar Rapids or Council Bluffs. This is an important lesson for OLs: working in a small firm does not mean you are a bad attorney. All it means is that you work in a small firm. There are Harvard and Yale grads that work in small firms; I doubt people are going round and snickering at them behind their back.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:42 pm

My apologies. I misread the last sentence of your post.

I'm just wondering how my U. of Iowa/U of Wisconsin degree would be received if I look for small firm job in the cities.


I stand by the answer I gave previously:

It seems to me that the smaller you go in firm size, the less the hiring partner tends to care about your law school (unless they're a raging partisan toward their own alma mater). They care much more about whether they like you and believe you'll be a good addition to the "team." If you have good MN connections, then you might have a leg up already in that regard.

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:58 pm

I've recently been accepted to William Mitchell with a 85% scholarship. In order to keep it, i need to maintain a 2.7 GPA. Can anyone give me a sence about how hard it would be to maintain a 2.7? I went to a public school as a undergraduate and graduated with a 3.8, but with considerable effort. Can I be confident that I'll maintain a 2.7 given my sucsess as an undergraduate, or is law school a different game?

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:25 pm

Undergrad institution?

Slobodan Milosevic
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby Slobodan Milosevic » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:11 pm

waitingsux wrote:I've recently been accepted to William Mitchell with a 85% scholarship. In order to keep it, i need to maintain a 2.7 GPA. Can anyone give me a sence about how hard it would be to maintain a 2.7? I went to a public school as a undergraduate and graduated with a 3.8, but with considerable effort. Can I be confident that I'll maintain a 2.7 given my sucsess as an undergraduate, or is law school a different game?


It doesn't matter if you struggled...good students who go "above and beyond" struggle all the time.
The question is, can you write well? Don't answer that question by yourself. Did your professors like your writing in college? If so, you will have nothing to worry about.

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:55 pm

I graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:00 pm

Mr Milosevic- I write well, but I wouldn't say that it comes easy to me. I write well when I have the time to form my thoughts, but I've never done real well on essay tests.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:46 pm

UMD's a good school. What does your 3.8 translate into? Magna? Summa? Regardless, I was just curious because grade inflation is real problem at some places. And congratulations on being accepted at Mitchell.

I'll tell you straight off the bat that in 2008, Mitchell instituted a new curve for 1L courses. Now, the median is expected to be at a 2.72 GPA. (Personally, I don't think the school is doing itself any favors by being so ruthless with grading, but I'm not in charge.) So if you need a 2.7 to keep your scholarship, than you have to stay in the top-half of your class. Be prepared to work hard for that. Being a spectacular Political Science/History undergrad student doesn't have a direct correlation to success as a law student. Moreover, I discovered at school that some people have a natural aptitude for the law and others need to really work at it. Those that have the natural aptitude and the masochistic work ethic are most likely going to be the ones at the top. Now I'm not trying to scare you off--I just want to be candid about the law school experience.

And if you're concerned about writing under pressure, try taking timed practice exams during your first semester. Just like when you were studying for the LSAT, replicate the conditions you'll actually face for finals. Lots of Mitchell professors put their old exams online along with model answers. It's the best way to know what they're looking for.

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:12 am

Thanks MPS1. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. At UMD a 3.87 earned me Magna Cum Laude. I 'm not sure what that says about grade inflation at UMD.

Don't worry, you aren't scaring me away. I appreciate the honesty. I've talked to a few people about my concerns and they just brush them off insisting that i have nothing to worry about. I know law school is competitive and i want to be sure I can stay in the top half. I have a "masochistic work ethic", but this aptitude you speak of, I'm not sure of. I'm going to give it some thought because I really don't want to leave school in a bunch of debt, albeit the norm.

Thanks also for the useful writing tips. Helpful stuff.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:59 am

I'm glad it's helpful. To give you a clearer picture of the grading at Mitchell, the honors system breaks down like this:

cum laude = 3.2 - 3.4
magna = 3.4 - 3.6
summa = 3.6 - 3.8

I remember conducting interviews for the LR editorial board and noticing that the #2 person in that class had a 3.88 GPA. It was extremely impressive, as I had honestly never heard of anyone with a higher number. There's no such thing as a 4.0 at Mitchell. On the other hand, I'm friends with and work with grads from UMN, who've told me that their class median usually began at a 3.2, and the highest possible GPA was a 4.33. The disparity isn't indicative of intelligence; it's just a choice the schools have made in how they grade their students.

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:47 pm

Does anyone know anything about scholarship retention statistics at Mitchell? What percentage of students receive merit scholarships? A letter from the admissions office wrote "more than 30%" receive merit based scholarships. Talk about vague! That could be as low as 30.1% and as high as 100%! Maybe I'm over thinking all this.

MSP1
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby MSP1 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:53 pm

I can't speak with supreme confidence on this one, but just from anecdotal experience, I'd guess that the number of students receiving scholarships at William Mitchell is much closer to 30% than 100%.

I hate to rip on my own school, but there's no point in being dishonest about it--Mitchell needs way more money for scholarships. I mean, the endowment is paltry compared to some of the other schools I've read about. With that being the case, you should feel very lucky to have almost a full scholarship. They wouldn't have given it to you if they didn't think you'd be worth every penny.

To their credit, the administration recognizes the problem and is trying hard to beat the bushes for more donors. At this point, however, they need to make it the absolute #1 priority. Reengaging the not insignificant alumni base is imperative.

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waitingsux
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Re: William Mitchell Graduate, taking questions.

Postby waitingsux » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:51 pm

From what I've heard, this year Mitchell is giving away more money than other schools in town. Speaking of anecdotal experience, today i received an acceptance letter from St. Thomas with a $5,000 a year offer. I was shocked. I thought that they'd give me way more money. Honestly i wanted to go to st. Thomas over Mitchell, but their offer doesn't even come close to Mitchell's.

I was surprised by Mitchell's enormous offer. It almost seems to good to be true. That's why I'm curious about Mitchell's scholarship retention rate. I've been reading some posts about how other schools offer students scholarships they don't expect students to keep. One post claimed that a school intentionally placed most of the students with scholarships in a section together, making one section more competitive than others, causing a lot of students to lose their aid. You ever heard of such a thing?




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