DarkwingDick wrote:I can't quite bring myself to submit.
Can students that submitted walk me through your reasoning?
Here's mine up to this point:
I know there are incredible opportunities at Irvine. First off the scholarship, second the incredible amount of individualized attention and care we’ll receive both in the classroom and in professional endeavors, third the chance to be part of creating a new law school ethos and fourth, but relatively inconsequential, a much more pleasant three years than law school will probably be anywhere else.
I guess what I perceive to be the biggest risk is mediocrity. I don’t want to go to a school with mediocre students and graduate with a degree from a mediocre institution. My friend and I were discussing this, and everytime I’m about to submit, I hear him saying, “Your law school will be on your resume FOREVER.” And he’s right. Regardless of how promising a start the school gets, or even our class is (but I have some doubts about that, too), it will be harder and harder each subsequent year to attract quality candidates, as the money, the press and the novelty fade. After graduation though, your school is often shorthand for your quality. There are exceptions, but I don’t know if I’m willing to take that risk in this market. Further, even a quick glance through this cycle's accepted dots at UCI on LSN shows that most of the upper third of admits will not be attending.
Concerning US News, this year's class will be the first to feel the effects. The school cannot be ranked until it has employment statistics, and those will come out right before we potentially graduate. There's been a lot of talk about how UCI's numbers are on par with top 20, but I'd honestly be surprised if those numbers even managed to stay at that level, much less rise, considering that scholarships are only half this year, a drastic drop in applications despite still being free to apply, and a larger projected class. Furthermore, the numbers that will have a much more significant impact on the rankings and job prospects are the assessment ranking from peers and from lawyers & judges. From my personal experience, speaking with recent graduates from T14 schools, these numbers will not be kind to Irvine.
I think you have all rational thoughts and like w/anything have a decision to make. I was thinking a lot along the lines you were for a while, but my thinking shifted after first talking to a big law partner in LA, then attending the ASD. I asked the partner his thoughts, and he said, "Can't really say anything - there's nothing to think about yet." The reality is whether or not the school is mediocre is up to the people who choose to attend. It is the exciting part to me. For those who want to simply be a part of good programs, it may not be right. I personally want to fundamentally change to direction of a field of legal study, and want to start a particular new type of political movement, etc. - potentially things that would get national attention for taking bold new directions and make a name
for the school.
If the school makes statements, paves new ground, it can be a top choice for a number of reasons. The thing I liked (and that is somewhat risky/scary) is that whether or not that happens depends on the students. The thing I liked was that the connections seemed to be there to put you in touch with top national figures if you start something exciting and new. And as the person from the east coast pointed out, the national legal world is at least curious to see what develops, so you have their attention.
Definitely, if it just turns out to be a few groups of smart but non-descript/non-trail blazing law students, it can just become another T40ish also ran in a few years. But for students who would be potentially frustrated at other top schools because you wouldn't have as much leeway to blaze a trail, for those chomping at the bit with a passion about a particular thing they want to found, UCI is a rare op in not just giving that op, but giving it with top-level attention.
The UC budget crisis/fee hikes have absolutely changed the game. No one can fault anyone either way they choose.