Law School Professor, Taking Questions

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LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:23 pm

Sogui wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:
mst wrote:Do law professors at schools outside of the top 14/top 30 really differentiate between the caliber of schools within the t14 (excluding the obvious Harvard, Yale, and maybe Stanford)? To elaborate, if you sat down in the lounge and started discussing the t14 schools with fellow professors also at t50ish schools, do you think they would for the most part agree that there is very little distinction in quality between schools like Columbia/NYU/Chicago and schools like Georgetown/Cornell/Northwestern? Or is the profession (outside of the super-competitive top schools) generally :"aware" that there is a big difference between a Chicago and a Duke?

Sorry if that's confusing. I'm basically just trying to get a handle on whether the profession seems to divide the t14 up so distinctively (HYS/CCN/BMVP/DNCG) like the members of this board do, or if they just generally see it as: (HY/CCNBMVPDNCG) or something along those lines... Please keep in mind that I'm not looking for the viewpoint of super-academics who could name every professor at every school in the t14.


I don't think law professors make distinctions as fine as you make them, especially because professors are comparing faculties, rather than student bodies. HYS undoubtedly stand out among the pack, but beyond that, the schools don't break down in the same ways that law students break them down (e.g. "CCN" v. "MVP"). To most professors, Georgetown is far more prestigious than, say, Duke or Michigan because of its location and (because of its location) it attracts many more heavyweight scholars than the more isolated schools.

So, to answer your question, I don't think law professors break law schools down in the same way that students do.



This makes sense, but I'd imagine when this generation's law students end up as Deans and other such roles, that things will quickly change. My experience (as a student) has been that schools either want someone who is individually prestigious or if they don't have a reputation, at least comes from a school that is as equal or more prestigious. At CLS nearly all the professors are from HYS, with a handful from Columbia or NYU. Anyone else is an "expert" in some "hot" sub-category, and only teaches that area. My K professor was a great example of this, one of the few profs with a state school (non-Cali) undergrad but went to Chicago for his JD and ended up clerking for Judge Posner.

The situation with current faculty is that they only had a rough idea of where a school might fall. One heavyweight scholar with a big presence at a law school might make an otherwise mediocre school seem much more prestigious. That's still a factor, but it won't move a #13 school any farther than a rank or two above its current position in our current generation's minds.

I'm always wondering if I could go back and at least lecture for my alma mater or another similarly ranked school someday. I had a "business law" lecturer who was also went to undergrad and law school at UT-Austin, just like my K professor it was such an easy topic to teach. You get to talk about funny cases, do some Socratic questioning, play "hide the ball" and generally the class loves it. Even better is that unlike the prof, our lecturer only had to "grade" a few multiple choice exams. He just developed a "script" over the years that was highly entertaining and thus he ends up collecting a low six-figure salary plus another 30k-100k in teaching awards every so often since he is always near the top of the rankings in course evaluations.


Your perceptions will change if and when you enter academia. I think there's little chance that schools will gravitate towards hiring sloths (publication-wise) who graduated from Yale and held SCOTUS clerkships. Too many schools have already been burned by hiring these types of folks, without regard to scholarly potential. I seriously doubt legal academia will regress to systematically favoring a graduate of a school ranked #7 over #9 , and I seriously doubt professors will ignore publication records of faculty members in considering the strength of a school.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of professors do not work at T20 schools. To a TLS'er, a school like SMU or Florida State may be a rancid toilet, but for something in the academic area, those are pretty damn good schools to find a job at.

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quakeroats
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:52 pm

LawProfessor123 wrote:
Sogui wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:
mst wrote:Do law professors at schools outside of the top 14/top 30 really differentiate between the caliber of schools within the t14 (excluding the obvious Harvard, Yale, and maybe Stanford)? To elaborate, if you sat down in the lounge and started discussing the t14 schools with fellow professors also at t50ish schools, do you think they would for the most part agree that there is very little distinction in quality between schools like Columbia/NYU/Chicago and schools like Georgetown/Cornell/Northwestern? Or is the profession (outside of the super-competitive top schools) generally :"aware" that there is a big difference between a Chicago and a Duke?

Sorry if that's confusing. I'm basically just trying to get a handle on whether the profession seems to divide the t14 up so distinctively (HYS/CCN/BMVP/DNCG) like the members of this board do, or if they just generally see it as: (HY/CCNBMVPDNCG) or something along those lines... Please keep in mind that I'm not looking for the viewpoint of super-academics who could name every professor at every school in the t14.


I don't think law professors make distinctions as fine as you make them, especially because professors are comparing faculties, rather than student bodies. HYS undoubtedly stand out among the pack, but beyond that, the schools don't break down in the same ways that law students break them down (e.g. "CCN" v. "MVP"). To most professors, Georgetown is far more prestigious than, say, Duke or Michigan because of its location and (because of its location) it attracts many more heavyweight scholars than the more isolated schools.

So, to answer your question, I don't think law professors break law schools down in the same way that students do.



This makes sense, but I'd imagine when this generation's law students end up as Deans and other such roles, that things will quickly change. My experience (as a student) has been that schools either want someone who is individually prestigious or if they don't have a reputation, at least comes from a school that is as equal or more prestigious. At CLS nearly all the professors are from HYS, with a handful from Columbia or NYU. Anyone else is an "expert" in some "hot" sub-category, and only teaches that area. My K professor was a great example of this, one of the few profs with a state school (non-Cali) undergrad but went to Chicago for his JD and ended up clerking for Judge Posner.

The situation with current faculty is that they only had a rough idea of where a school might fall. One heavyweight scholar with a big presence at a law school might make an otherwise mediocre school seem much more prestigious. That's still a factor, but it won't move a #13 school any farther than a rank or two above its current position in our current generation's minds.

I'm always wondering if I could go back and at least lecture for my alma mater or another similarly ranked school someday. I had a "business law" lecturer who was also went to undergrad and law school at UT-Austin, just like my K professor it was such an easy topic to teach. You get to talk about funny cases, do some Socratic questioning, play "hide the ball" and generally the class loves it. Even better is that unlike the prof, our lecturer only had to "grade" a few multiple choice exams. He just developed a "script" over the years that was highly entertaining and thus he ends up collecting a low six-figure salary plus another 30k-100k in teaching awards every so often since he is always near the top of the rankings in course evaluations.


Your perceptions will change if and when you enter academia. I think there's little chance that schools will gravitate towards hiring sloths (publication-wise) who graduated from Yale and held SCOTUS clerkships. Too many schools have already been burned by hiring these types of folks, without regard to scholarly potential. I seriously doubt legal academia will regress to systematically favoring a graduate of a school ranked #7 over #9 , and I seriously doubt professors will ignore publication records of faculty members in considering the strength of a school.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of professors do not work at T20 schools. To a TLS'er, a school like SMU or Florida State may be a rancid toilet, but for something in the academic area, those are pretty damn good schools to find a job at.


I can vouch for a lot of this from what I've heard. Poor or infrequent scholarship will jeopardize tenure for a Yale SCOTUS clerk. It's actually a frequent criticism of that segment of the assistant professor population. They have every credential, but can't publish their way out of a paper bag.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:04 pm

This question has been danced around but never directly asked. What's the utility of hiring those that can turn out lots of first-rate scholarship? With other enterprises the incentives are pretty clear at a basic level, i.e., businesses are designed to make money for their shareholders and money is a basic unit of exchange, but this seems very different. You can't do much with scholarship. You can't usually turn it into anything commercial, so what's the allure? Why not hire the best practitioners or the best teachers? What does an institution receive for having the best legal scholars? How has this situation come to be and what perpetuates it?

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:08 pm

I think your question goes beyond law and professional schools and touches on the enterprise of academia generally. I do think that there are great benefits to having a law school faculty that is engaged in the law -- it's better to learn a subject from someone who is passionate about it, I think. And, law schools have traditionally provided an opportunity for persons to think more broadly about the law than a practitioner would be able to, and significant legal developments have emanated from academic work in almost every field.

Of course, the natural response to these points is that, these days, a significant part of what law professors produce is nonsensical, interdisciplinary gobbledygook. And fewer professors have any practice experience, which also inhibits their making actual contributions to the real world. And not least of all, many law professors are actually very bad writers, so any contributions they might make becomes obscured in a sea of jargon and poorly worded prose.

On those points, I would suggest that law schools return to the practice of hiring excellent legal thinkers and stop progressing towards the Ph.D/graduate program model. But that likely won't happen any time soon.

quakeroats wrote:This question has been danced around but never directly asked. What's the utility of hiring those that can turn out lots of first-rate scholarship? With other enterprises the incentives are pretty clear at a basic level, i.e., businesses are designed to make money for their shareholders and money is a basic unit of exchange, but this seems very different. You can't do much with scholarship. You can't usually turn it into anything commercial, so what's the allure? Why not hire the best practitioners or the best teachers? What does an institution receive for having the best legal scholars? How has this situation come to be and what perpetuates it?
Last edited by LawProfessor123 on Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

shastaca
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby shastaca » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:40 pm

Is there anything in particular that one could do in law school to improve his chances of learning to do first rate scholarship? which is after all is the key to having a good academic career?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:02 pm

mst wrote:Do law professors at schools outside of the top 14/top 30 really differentiate between the caliber of schools within the t14 (excluding the obvious Harvard, Yale, and maybe Stanford)? To elaborate, if you sat down in the lounge and started discussing the t14 schools with fellow professors also at t50ish schools, do you think they would for the most part agree that there is very little distinction in quality between schools like Columbia/NYU/Chicago and schools like Georgetown/Cornell/Northwestern? Or is the profession (outside of the super-competitive top schools) generally :"aware" that there is a big difference between a Chicago and a Duke?

Sorry if that's confusing. I'm basically just trying to get a handle on whether the profession seems to divide the t14 up so distinctively (HYS/CCN/BMVP/DNCG) like the members of this board do, or if they just generally see it as: (HY/CCNBMVPDNCG) or something along those lines... Please keep in mind that I'm not looking for the viewpoint of super-academics who could name every professor at every school in the t14.


I don't think law professors make distinctions as fine as you make them, especially because professors are comparing faculties, rather than student bodies. HYS undoubtedly stand out among the pack, but beyond that, the schools don't break down in the same ways that law students break them down (e.g. "CCN" v. "MVP"). To most professors, Georgetown is far more prestigious than, say, Duke or Michigan because of its location and (because of its location) it attracts many more heavyweight scholars than the more isolated schools.

So, to answer your question, I don't think law professors break law schools down in the same way that students do.

EDIT: The irritating but influential Brian Leiter has taken issue with the statement above regarding Georgetown. At the risk of taking anything that BL says too seriously, I would just point out that schools in great locations generally have an easier time drawing star faculty than schools in remote locations, and I would stand by the statement that many faculty members would much rather work at Georgetown or Northwesthern than North Carolina. I didn't mean to say that Duke is less prestigious than those schools; "less desirable as a place to work" would have been a better way to explain what I was getting at. In a response to a later post, I made clear that I was equating "prestige" with "schools to find a job at."

And as I said earlier in this thread, when speaking of prestige generally, law professors use "US News rankings to measure their own prestige and determine their own self worth"; thus, I don't doubt that perception of law schools by professors generally mirrors that of US News, and that Duke is generally considered more prestigious than Georgetown.

My point instead was that DC/Chicago may be more attractive places to live/work than at Duke in NC. And I'd make the same statement regarding NY area schools. Schools like Rutgers, St. Johns, and Brooklyn are sometimes able to retain some faculty who could have otherwise ended up in a T40 school in a remote area. In this sense, and only in this sense, would I suggest that those NY schools are sometimes considered more prestigious (again, in terms of desirable places to work) than a T40 school in a remote area. I was not using "prestige" as a proxy of scholarly output or related matters.
Last edited by LawProfessor123 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:35 am, edited 5 times in total.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:03 pm

Write a student note and do everything you can to find a faculty mentor who will take interest in you, your scholarship, and your career. It's hard to learn how to do this stuff without guidance.

shastaca wrote:Is there anything in particular that one could do in law school to improve his chances of learning to do first rate scholarship? which is after all is the key to having a good academic career?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:35 am

What's behind the visiting professor position, and what if anything does it mean beyond the obvious.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:20 pm

quakeroats wrote:What's behind the visiting professor position, and what if anything does it mean beyond the obvious.


There's a lot of information on the web about various "VAP" or fellowship programs, which I assume you are asking about (as opposed to someone who is simply a visiting professor from another school). Classically formulated, they are designed to give recent graduates an opportunity to write and prepare themselves for the meat market. But schools use VAP programs for various other purposes, including staffing LRW courses and filling curricular needs.

There are many of these programs, both formal and informal, so it's hard to give a targeted answer to your question.

If you are asking about visiting professorships generally, then like I said they are typically used by schools to full a short term curricular need. Some schools may have a visiting professor with an eye on evaluating whether to give that person a full time offer, though.

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quakeroats
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:31 pm

LawProfessor123 wrote:
quakeroats wrote:What's behind the visiting professor position, and what if anything does it mean beyond the obvious.


There's a lot of information on the web about various "VAP" or fellowship programs, which I assume you are asking about (as opposed to someone who is simply a visiting professor from another school). Classically formulated, they are designed to give recent graduates an opportunity to write and prepare themselves for the meat market. But schools use VAP programs for various other purposes, including staffing LRW courses and filling curricular needs.

There are many of these programs, both formal and informal, so it's hard to give a targeted answer to your question.

If you are asking about visiting professorships generally, then like I said they are typically used by schools to full a short term curricular need. Some schools may have a visiting professor with an eye on evaluating whether to give that person a full time offer, though.


That's more or less what I've heard. Thanks for this again. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

BTW, what's the general opinion of LRW profs among tenure-track and full profs?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:24 pm

quakeroats wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:
quakeroats wrote:What's behind the visiting professor position, and what if anything does it mean beyond the obvious.


There's a lot of information on the web about various "VAP" or fellowship programs, which I assume you are asking about (as opposed to someone who is simply a visiting professor from another school). Classically formulated, they are designed to give recent graduates an opportunity to write and prepare themselves for the meat market. But schools use VAP programs for various other purposes, including staffing LRW courses and filling curricular needs.

There are many of these programs, both formal and informal, so it's hard to give a targeted answer to your question.

If you are asking about visiting professorships generally, then like I said they are typically used by schools to full a short term curricular need. Some schools may have a visiting professor with an eye on evaluating whether to give that person a full time offer, though.


That's more or less what I've heard. Thanks for this again. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

BTW, what's the general opinion of LRW profs among tenure-track and full profs?


I think this varies. I've certainly heard tenure/tenure track profs make condescending remarks about LRW professors (even though the remarks may not have been intentionally condescending). And I think the official professional organization for LRW professors frequently lobbies for improved treatment/recognition in terms of pay, availability of tenure, and so on. See also "Plea for Rationality and Decency: The Disparate Treatment of Legal Writing Faculties as a Violation of Both Equal Protection and Professional Ethics," 39 Duq. L. Rev. 329 (2000-2001); "Giving Up Grammar and Dumping Derrida: How to Make Legal Writing a Respected Part of the Law School Curriculum," 33 Cap. U. L. Rev. 291, 305 (2004).

At the same time, there are probably schools where LRW professors are treated much better. I do know of some schools that grant LRW professors tenure. And I don't know whether the scholarship by LRW professors that denounces the status quo accurately reflects broader attitudes. But the unfortunate reality does seem to be that LRW professors frequently do not get the respect they deserve from the other faculty.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:16 pm

I am posting this question in several of these discussions with the hopes of receiving a wide range of answers, so please be tolerant if you see it more than once. If I had time to thoroughly read and understand one book between now and the time I enter law school in the fall, what should that book be and how will it benefit me as a 1L?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:20 pm

I seriously doubt there is any single book that will, by itself, make you succeed. Perhaps you should just read something that will motivate you to work your tail off your 1L year, whether that's a self-help book, a legal thriller, the current U.S. employment data, or anything else.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:25 pm

Let me ask this question in a slighly different way that get better to the heart of what I'm looking for. What what are the books that everyone (faculty, staff, fellow students) will assume that you have read by the time you start law school? These books may hane nothing to do with law school directly or even with that law in general. I feel like I have kind of a "dark horse" sort of background - I am a classically trained musician - and have no significant coursework in the social sciences, philosophy, political science, english, and the like, unlike the bulk of law school applicants.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:10 pm

There is no book that everyone assumes you have read. 1L year is gearded towards the generalist. If you have some special reason to believe that your 1L professors will heavily adopt one type of approach (e.g., law & economics), then I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to read some type of armchair's guide to basic economic principles. Students going to GMU or Chicago probably would benefit from knowing something about economics, but I don't know about Iowa (which your moniker suggests that you are attending).

DocHawkeye wrote:Let me ask this question in a slighly different way that get better to the heart of what I'm looking for. What what are the books that everyone (faculty, staff, fellow students) will assume that you have read by the time you start law school? These books may hane nothing to do with law school directly or even with that law in general. I feel like I have kind of a "dark horse" sort of background - I am a classically trained musician - and have no significant coursework in the social sciences, philosophy, political science, english, and the like, unlike the bulk of law school applicants.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby dextermorgan » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:13 pm

LawProfessor123 wrote:There is no book that everyone assumes you have read. 1L year is gearded towards the generalist. If you have some special reason to believe that your 1L professors will heavily adopt one type of approach (e.g., law & economics), then I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to read some type of armchair's guide to basic economic principles. Students going to GMU or Chicago probably would benefit from knowing something about economics, but I don't know about Iowa (which your moniker suggests that you are attending).

DocHawkeye wrote:Let me ask this question in a slighly different way that get better to the heart of what I'm looking for. What what are the books that everyone (faculty, staff, fellow students) will assume that you have read by the time you start law school? These books may hane nothing to do with law school directly or even with that law in general. I feel like I have kind of a "dark horse" sort of background - I am a classically trained musician - and have no significant coursework in the social sciences, philosophy, political science, english, and the like, unlike the bulk of law school applicants.

You seem like a pretty straight up guy, so I will ask: what do most law professors think of Getting to Maybe?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:46 pm

dextermorgan wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:There is no book that everyone assumes you have read. 1L year is gearded towards the generalist. If you have some special reason to believe that your 1L professors will heavily adopt one type of approach (e.g., law & economics), then I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to read some type of armchair's guide to basic economic principles. Students going to GMU or Chicago probably would benefit from knowing something about economics, but I don't know about Iowa (which your moniker suggests that you are attending).

DocHawkeye wrote:Let me ask this question in a slighly different way that get better to the heart of what I'm looking for. What what are the books that everyone (faculty, staff, fellow students) will assume that you have read by the time you start law school? These books may hane nothing to do with law school directly or even with that law in general. I feel like I have kind of a "dark horse" sort of background - I am a classically trained musician - and have no significant coursework in the social sciences, philosophy, political science, english, and the like, unlike the bulk of law school applicants.

You seem like a pretty straight up guy, so I will ask: what do most law professors think of Getting to Maybe?


For the sake of full disclosure, I graduated with a Ph.D. in music from Iowa in 2006. I am hoping to be admitted to the law school for this fall's entering class. I do wonder about "Gettng to Maybe." There seems to be a lot of buzz about it.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:58 pm

dextermorgan wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:There is no book that everyone assumes you have read. 1L year is gearded towards the generalist. If you have some special reason to believe that your 1L professors will heavily adopt one type of approach (e.g., law & economics), then I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to read some type of armchair's guide to basic economic principles. Students going to GMU or Chicago probably would benefit from knowing something about economics, but I don't know about Iowa (which your moniker suggests that you are attending).

DocHawkeye wrote:Let me ask this question in a slighly different way that get better to the heart of what I'm looking for. What what are the books that everyone (faculty, staff, fellow students) will assume that you have read by the time you start law school? These books may hane nothing to do with law school directly or even with that law in general. I feel like I have kind of a "dark horse" sort of background - I am a classically trained musician - and have no significant coursework in the social sciences, philosophy, political science, english, and the like, unlike the bulk of law school applicants.

You seem like a pretty straight up guy, so I will ask: what do most law professors think of Getting to Maybe?


I have never discussed the book with any other law professor, but I thought it was an outstanding book. It greatly helped me with my studying 1L year. 1L is in part confusing because you're not always sure what you're studying for, but the "forks" framework helped me with my issue-spotting. I'm somewhat skeptical of its value for upper level courses, but everyone should take a look at it for 1L.

I had forgotten about the book, but now that I'm on the other side of the classroom, I think I will give it another read.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby t14bound » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:01 pm

Do you believe in the common belief "T14 or go home?"? If so why?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:26 pm

"Go home" seems a bit strong, but surely students should think about the realities of $150k in student loans. You can get a great start to a legal career at many law school, but debt really is a huge issue.

If I were applying to law school and didn't get into a T14 school, I'd think it much wiser to attend a state school rather than a private school, even if the private school was a few spots higher.

I probably wouldn't counsel that anyone attend a third or fourth tier school, absent special circumstances (independent wealth, pre-existing connections in legal community, or extremely strong and bona fide interest in being a lawyer). Of course, if your only alternative is flipping burgers, rolling the dice at 4th tier law school may leave you no worse off than where you started. Perhaps that's why students continue to flock to law school in droves, notwithstanding the difficult legal market awaiting them.

t14bound wrote:Do you believe in the common belief "T14 or go home?"? If so why?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby DocHawkeye » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:03 am

LawProfessor123 wrote:"Go home" seems a bit strong, but surely students should think about the realities of $150k in student loans. You can get a great start to a legal career at many law school, but debt really is a huge issue.

If I were applying to law school and didn't get into a T14 school, I'd think it much wiser to attend a state school rather than a private school, even if the private school was a few spots higher.

I probably wouldn't counsel that anyone attend a third or fourth tier school, absent special circumstances (independent wealth, pre-existing connections in legal community, or extremely strong and bona fide interest in being a lawyer). Of course, if your only alternative is flipping burgers, rolling the dice at 4th tier law school may leave you no worse off than where you started. Perhaps that's why students continue to flock to law school in droves, notwithstanding the difficult legal market awaiting them.

t14bound wrote:Do you believe in the common belief "T14 or go home?"? If so why?


This is an issue near and dear to my heart. As things sit right now, I am looking at the choice between a top-50-ish private school at sticker price, an out-of-state public 3rd tier and an in-state private 3rd tier both with significant scholarships that make them very close to the same price. The question is if it’s really worth three times the money to go for the higher rated degree than either of the other two options would cost or should I go with the "low cost option" recognizing that my employment options may be substantially more limited upon completion? My UGPA is quite low when compared to the law school applicant pool as a whole and thus retaking the LSAT will not significantly improve the likelihood of my acceptance at a t-14 school. My goal is to make a decent living, not to get rich. So there are three options – top-50-ish private at sticker price, tier three at half price, or forget the whole thing? Thoughts?

Wow, that's a long post...

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby beachbum » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:11 am

DocHawkeye wrote:This is an issue near and dear to my heart. As things sit right now, I am looking at the choice between a top-50-ish private school at sticker price, an out-of-state public 3rd tier and an in-state private 3rd tier both with significant scholarships that make them very close to the same price. The question is if it’s really worth three times the money to go for the higher rated degree than either of the other two options would cost or should I go with the "low cost option" recognizing that my employment options may be substantially more limited upon completion? My UGPA is quite low when compared to the law school applicant pool as a whole and thus retaking the LSAT will not significantly improve the likelihood of my acceptance at a t-14 school. My goal is to make a decent living, not to get rich. So there are three options – top-50-ish private at sticker price, tier three at half price, or forget the whole thing? Thoughts?

Wow, that's a long post...


A 3.3 will not exclude you from the T14, nor will it keep you from sizable scholarships at lower-ranked schools. Retaking could be a good option.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:00 am

DocHawkeye wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:"Go home" seems a bit strong, but surely students should think about the realities of $150k in student loans. You can get a great start to a legal career at many law school, but debt really is a huge issue.

If I were applying to law school and didn't get into a T14 school, I'd think it much wiser to attend a state school rather than a private school, even if the private school was a few spots higher.

I probably wouldn't counsel that anyone attend a third or fourth tier school, absent special circumstances (independent wealth, pre-existing connections in legal community, or extremely strong and bona fide interest in being a lawyer). Of course, if your only alternative is flipping burgers, rolling the dice at 4th tier law school may leave you no worse off than where you started. Perhaps that's why students continue to flock to law school in droves, notwithstanding the difficult legal market awaiting them.

t14bound wrote:Do you believe in the common belief "T14 or go home?"? If so why?


This is an issue near and dear to my heart. As things sit right now, I am looking at the choice between a top-50-ish private school at sticker price, an out-of-state public 3rd tier and an in-state private 3rd tier both with significant scholarships that make them very close to the same price. The question is if it’s really worth three times the money to go for the higher rated degree than either of the other two options would cost or should I go with the "low cost option" recognizing that my employment options may be substantially more limited upon completion? My UGPA is quite low when compared to the law school applicant pool as a whole and thus retaking the LSAT will not significantly improve the likelihood of my acceptance at a t-14 school. My goal is to make a decent living, not to get rich. So there are three options – top-50-ish private at sticker price, tier three at half price, or forget the whole thing? Thoughts?

Wow, that's a long post...


Wow, that's a tough question! It'd be of course to insane to rely on an anonymous posting (like mine) in making your decision, and it should be clear that I have no special ability to assess the merits of your questions vis-a-vis any of the thousands of people out there who have spent some time practicing law.

With those major, major qualifications, I would suggest finding a law school in the T50ish that 1) has a monopoly or near monopoly over the local legal market; 2) is a public school; and 3) offers in-state tuition after the first year.

I cannot, in good conscience, counsel anyone to attend a 3rd tier school, absent unusual circumstances (which I've described earlier). At the same time, a T50ish school at full sticker (which I assume will mean 150k of debt) also is not an attractive option. In a normal economy, 30-60% of the class at such a school may earn enough money to service such a debt while maintaining a basic standard of living, and those odds aren't bad, but the legal market is so horrid that I cannot in good faith counsel someone to take those chances.

But if you can get into a school that offers low tuition after 1L year and good inroads into the local legal market, I think that might be ideal, given your circumstances (I'm assuming that, since you got into one T50 school, you may be competitive at other schools). So, schools like FSU, tOSU, ASU, Iowa, Missouri, LSU, UGA, and so on might be worth a close look. I'm not personally familiar with schools of this sort or of any of those schools in particular, but I would advise you to look at these schools. These schools are outside of major legal markets but seem to have a decent legal market around them; not in the league of NYC or Chicago, but still, a decent sized state government employer and various small and midlaw jobs. Also, examine the financial costs of these schools, and see whether they can offer a manageable debt load for an out of state student (including in-state treatment for 2L and 3L year) and whether the schools have good relationships with the employers in the nearby, mid-size cities.

Please do not be goaded into thinking that you will get the coveted 160k plus job out of law school because you heard that many people in the top 10% at whatever school got those jobs and you are SURE you will end up with that ranking. I am very concerned about the prospect of you paying 150k to attend a private school in the T50, absent unusual circumstances (does this school have significant inroads with the local legal market, and does it have a virtual monopoly over that market?).

And finally, please once again note my disclaimer in my first paragraph: I have shared my thoughts because you asked about them and I invited questions in this thread. But a law professor, removed in the ivory tower, is not the best person to provide advice on evaluating job prospects in the real world.

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Ticket2ride
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby Ticket2ride » Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:10 am

Hi there!

I am trying to decide which path to choose regarding my law school carreer. I have a 4.0 GPA and 168 LSAT, double major in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and would love to go to William&Mary, I think I have a good chance to get in (I hope). My application is in and complete but I probably won't get a decision until end of March. At the same time, I am going to my final interview for a position as a deputy sheriff with a very reputable and well-paying sheriffs office. They may offer me the job at the interview. So what to do? Take the job and quit 2 months later if I get into W&M? I have some moral issues with that, feel like a cheater. Or take the job and try to defer enrollment for a year and get some law enforcement experience? I am interested in becoming a prosecutor, so would that year and a half "on the street" be good for that purpose?
Also, if I defer for a year I will be graduating age 30.... is that too old or am I being paranoid?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

LawProfessor123
Posts: 155
Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:12 pm

I don't think 30 is too old for law school. And if you are convinced that 30 is too old, why would you think that 29 is not? It's just a year. .

I don't think there's anything "immoral" about quitting a position after 2 months, unless you first commit for a 1-year period. Surely the sheriff's office has fired people sooner than 1 year.

I imagine that a year or so as a sheriff might help you a little bit when you go looking for a job, although if you are 30, presumably you already have some work experience. I doubt that being a sheriff would give you a major inroads with, say, the DOJ, although your local prosecutor's office might like someone with sheriff's office experience. But I'm personally ignorant of local politics and of the prosecutorial world generally, so you might want to ask around about that.

On to a topic I can speak more confidently about: With a 168 and 4.0, you should try to target one of the T14 schools. W&M is a fine school, but I think you will have broader career opportunities from one of the national schools.


Ticket2ride wrote:Hi there!

I am trying to decide which path to choose regarding my law school carreer. I have a 4.0 GPA and 168 LSAT, double major in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and would love to go to William&Mary, I think I have a good chance to get in (I hope). My application is in and complete but I probably won't get a decision until end of March. At the same time, I am going to my final interview for a position as a deputy sheriff with a very reputable and well-paying sheriffs office. They may offer me the job at the interview. So what to do? Take the job and quit 2 months later if I get into W&M? I have some moral issues with that, feel like a cheater. Or take the job and try to defer enrollment for a year and get some law enforcement experience? I am interested in becoming a prosecutor, so would that year and a half "on the street" be good for that purpose?
Also, if I defer for a year I will be graduating age 30.... is that too old or am I being paranoid?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.




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