Cal Trask wrote:
Jamesta25 wrote:What do you guys think of some of the harsh talk about Hastings on this message board? I have a friend who just graduated who loved his experience and has a great legal job through an internship he found through Hastings. I also have a friend who is a 1L and chose Hastings over some much higher ranked schools due to its strong reputation in the public sector in the SF Bay Area. I know the reputation is strong among SF law firms, due to its history and strong alumni network.
Another thing I'm considering is that recent graduates came out during the height of the recession and our employment prospects and the legal market could look extremely different in 3.5 years. I've also read a lot of how many professional Baby Boomers are set to retire and that opportunities for our generation should be greater than those of Generation X.
I desperately want to live and work in the Bay Area so this is a major option for me. I'm curious as to what others considering UCH think of the negativity and why you may or may not still be considering attending.
From what I understand, a lot of the negativity comes from the cost, relatively diminished prospects at big law jobs, and the inherent risk of attending a school in California. Hastings is not an inexpensive school and its cost of attendance is only going to rise. California, particularly the Bay Area, tends to be overwhelmed with law school graduates (there are way too many law schools in CA), leading to intense competition for the few large firm jobs available. Too many people enter into law school with the mistaken belief that they're going to be able to secure one of these jobs, even at better-ranked, better-employing schools. Doing so in San Francisco where you're going to pay more in rent than Manhattan is a daunting prospect.
The public interest route is a bit of a different option, but there's still no guarantee that you're going to snag an LRAP-elligible PSLF job after graduation--those positions are just as hard to land these days as a big firm gig. Granted, Hastings has a pretty decent LRAP (no requirement for the position to be JD-only, from my understanding), but in that case, depending on what type of PI you're shooting for, school ranking is less important than other factors. PD/DA offices don't seem to particularly give a damn about which school you went to or the grades you get there, only whether you can do the job. With less than half of recent graduates reporting full-time legal employment, it's hard for many to reconcile these costs with the comparably meager rewards.
Hinging $200k on the prospect that some people may be retiring is a bad move. You need to know what you're planning on doing and whether the school itself is going to offer substantial prospects for that plan to succeed to offset that gamble.
Myself, I'm planning on PI work, so the increased clinical opportunities, LRAP program, and location of the school are tempting. While looking at money elsewhere, the increased opportunities that these would provide may be sufficient to take an increased debt load. I have yet to make up my mind, however.
ETA: This isn't meant to be a rant against Hastings, or necessarily any CA school for that matter. When it comes down to it, law school is a serious investment, and the vast majority of schools are difficult to justify.