A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

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Nurma Thurman

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A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Nurma Thurman » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:01 pm

First time poster, so hello!

I'm trying to decide between: Texas A&M ($$$+), Houston ($$), St. John's ($$$$), and LSU ($$$$). I don't really care about Big Law and will probably practice either Criminal Defense or Personal Injury. No locational preference.

Thoughts?

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:20 pm

What's your total cost of attendance at each school, and how much do you expect/hope to make on graduation?

Also, do you really have no location preference? These schools are in radically different markets.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Nurma Thurman » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:26 pm

A&M would be about $18K total tuition. Houston about $50K total. SJU: $0. LSU: $0.

I'd like to be making $100K+ within two years of graduating.

And yes, re: locational preference, they all work for me.

Thanks!

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Johnnybgoode92 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:50 pm

Nurma Thurman wrote:A&M would be about $18K total tuition. Houston about $50K total. SJU: $0. LSU: $0.

I'd like to be making $100K+ within two years of graduating.

And yes, re: locational preference, they all work for me.

Thanks!
Retake LSAT until you get U Houston, Fordham, or Tulane for free. Even if your goal isn’t big law, these schools have shoddy track records and many of their students will not be practicing attorneys.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Nurma Thurman » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:10 pm

Do you think it would be worth it to take the June LSAT? I can't wait another cycle, unfortunately, and was planning on retaking in March. Also, I don't want to miss out on full-rides because I decided to wait until July/August.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Johnnybgoode92 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:19 pm

Nurma Thurman wrote:Do you think it would be worth it to take the June LSAT? I can't wait another cycle, unfortunately, and was planning on retaking in March. Also, I don't want to miss out on full-rides because I decided to wait until July/August.
Those schools I mentioned won’t give full rides or significant scholarships that late. Why can’t you wait another cycle?

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:21 pm

Why can't you wait another cycle? Law school isn't going anywhere (and frankly, this may be one of the worst times to go).

But as a side note:
Nurma Thurman wrote:I'd like to be making $100K+ within two years of graduating.
That is almost certainly not happening from any of these schools. You should be prepared to earn around $45-60k starting salary after graduation (possibly more if you're working in NYC, but it depends).

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Johnnybgoode92 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:29 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Why can't you wait another cycle? Law school isn't going anywhere (and frankly, this may be one of the worst times to go).

But as a side note:
Nurma Thurman wrote:I'd like to be making $100K+ within two years of graduating.
That is almost certainly not happening from any of these schools. You should be prepared to earn around $45-60k starting salary after graduation (possibly more if you're working in NYC, but it depends).
I have yet to see a situation where someone must attend during a given cycle. That it is impossible to put off law school for another year. Highly unlikely this is the first exception we encounter.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Nurma Thurman » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:35 pm

Johnnybgoode92 wrote: Those schools I mentioned won’t give full rides or significant scholarships that late. Why can’t you wait another cycle?
Personal reasons -- age, family, job. It's just not feasible. Which sucks because I know I could score a lot higher on the LSAT (PT'ed at around +4 my current score). But silver lining, I'm hoping, is I can go to one of these schools for free, be in the top 5-20% of my class, and secure high-paying work that way. Surely it's been done before, and regularly (if rarely).

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:34 pm

Nurma Thurman wrote:Personal reasons -- age, family, job. It's just not feasible. Which sucks because I know I could score a lot higher on the LSAT (PT'ed at around +4 my current score). But silver lining, I'm hoping, is I can go to one of these schools for free, be in the top 5-20% of my class, and secure high-paying work that way. Surely it's been done before, and regularly (if rarely).
Frankly, if you can't go to law school next year, then it makes no sense that you can go this year or that you can handle an attorney's work schedule in four years.

But that said, let's just focus on your plan. Yes, it is possible for the top 5%--and in this economy, it might not even be the top 5% from these schools--to secure the kind of high-paying work you're hoping for. And of course it's been done before. It happens 5% of the time in any given class. The issue for you is that there's a 95% chance it won't happen for you.

If your main reason for wanting to go to law school is a high-paying job, then just don't go, period. But if you genuinely want to be a lawyer and want to work in biglaw (which is basically what you'd have to do to be earning six figures right after graduation), then don't go to any of these schools.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Wubbles » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:54 pm

Early career (and often later career) personal injury and criminal defense work does not pay the kind of money you are looking to make.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by crazywafflez » Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:44 pm

Hey, I'd recommend going to LSU if you must go. As long as you are cool with staying in Louisiana, you probs will be in like Lake Charles or somewhere up north. Top 5%, maybe LR, have a shot at east Texas (limited though). You better be fine with LA though. LSU is a good school for the rest of the state (outside of NOLA); and it still places well enough for those who do well in NOLA. Are you southern though? Cause LA is pretty insular- I'm from TN and my friends who are from NY have struggled getting firm gigs unless they are top of the class and from the area.
A&M is just really new and idk enough about it- Dallas is a good legal market, but I'm really not sure the aggie network is up and running so much for lawyers from the school yet.
Houston is good for Houston.

-You will not be making 100k two years out though from these schools- and expect to graduate median. I chose my current school expecting to be top of my class (I'm at Tulane and chose it over Emory thinking I'd ace everything). I'm slightly above median. Most of my friends who have graduated from UTk, LSU, Arizona State and Tulane who are crim defense and doing PI work or just personal injury in general are making about 50k. Some are around 40k and some around 65k. The firm gigs do not pay 100k two years out unless you're at least at a mid sized firm in a bigger city. Waco and Baton Rouge or Lake Charles won't be paying you that kind of money for quite a few years and even then you've gotta be lucky and good.

If you must go I'd probs choose LSU. Best of luck.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by Nurma Thurman » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:31 am

Thanks, this is all pretty interesting. The 45k-60k salary is pretty shocking. I currently make $85k and that's just with a BS (Ivy undergrad, 8 years WE). I also know at least ten lawyers who are 30-40, all of whom make $100k+, and who all went to Tier 2-3s.

And while I'm not from the south, I've lived here for the past 6 years and would like to stay in the region.

Again, thanks for your insights.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by cavalier1138 » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:37 am

Nurma Thurman wrote:I also know at least ten lawyers who are 30-40, all of whom make $100k+, and who all went to Tier 2-3s.
Do you know when they started making $100k+? And do you know what happened to the rest of their classmates? The problem with knowing 10 relatively successful lawyers is that you're interviewing a biased sample.
Nurma Thurman wrote:And while I'm not from the south, I've lived here for the past 6 years and would like to stay in the region.
So you do have location preferences. SJU is out. And you need to think long and hard about the difference between Louisiana and Texas. They're both technically in "the South," but they're radically different markets. Louisiana will keep you particularly confined after graduation due to its civil law system.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by decimalsanddollars » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:22 am

Agreed with Cav and other posters that the value isn't great for your current options and that SJU is out. Also agreed that LSU mostly traps you in Louisiana, although you can choose civil law or common law once you're there (or do both). Houston places somewhat well in biglaw *in Houston*, but only around a quarter to a third of UH grads can land that kind of job. It does not make sense for you to expect to be top of the class at any school you attend, and median at UHLC is a precarious (and perhaps doomed) place to be for biglaw jobs. That said, the Houston market overall pays quite well and has relatively low cost of living. If you would prefer DFW, you should go to A&M instead.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by QContinuum » Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:24 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:If you would prefer DFW, you should go to A&M instead.
Normally law schools (aside from the T13/T20) are regional, but the difference in prestige between UH and A&M is large enough that I'm a bit skeptical that it would ever make sense to choose A&M over UH (aside from the typical "my uncle has a job for me" exception). While A&M - the university - has a great brand in Texas, A&M Law isn't a homegrown A&M school, and has no historic ties to College Station. A&M Law was bought by A&M in 2012 (effective 2013) - before then, it was Texas Wesleyan Law, and there was an unpleasant business (which was actually litigated in court) during the transition when A&M Law refused to recognize Wesleyan Law grads as A&M Law grads, meaning the school effectively has no alumni network predating 2013.

Now, I understand A&M - the university - has been throwing money at A&M Law, and that, as a direct result, A&M Law has been rising rapidly in the USNWR rankings. But I fear this is a case where the rankings may overstate the school's actual reputation and placement ability.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by decimalsanddollars » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:38 pm

QContinuum wrote:
decimalsanddollars wrote:If you would prefer DFW, you should go to A&M instead.
Normally law schools (aside from the T13/T20) are regional, but the difference in prestige between UH and A&M is large enough that I'm a bit skeptical that it would ever make sense to choose A&M over UH (aside from the typical "my uncle has a job for me" exception). While A&M - the university - has a great brand in Texas, A&M Law isn't a homegrown A&M school, and has no historic ties to College Station. A&M Law was bought by A&M in 2012 (effective 2013) - before then, it was Texas Wesleyan Law, and there was an unpleasant business (which was actually litigated in court) during the transition when A&M Law refused to recognize Wesleyan Law grads as A&M Law grads, meaning the school effectively has no alumni network predating 2013.

Now, I understand A&M - the university - has been throwing money at A&M Law, and that, as a direct result, A&M Law has been rising rapidly in the USNWR rankings. But I fear this is a case where the rankings may overstate the school's actual reputation and placement ability.
Agreed that it is overstated, and your analysis of the school's history is correct. I will say that the money has helped the school place more clerks and biglaw associates (specifically, and really only, in DFW) than TWU Law ever could, but I think it is not as dramatic an increase in placement as the rankings jump would suggest.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by QContinuum » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:10 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:Agreed that it is overstated, and your analysis of the school's history is correct. I will say that the money has helped the school place more clerks and biglaw associates (specifically, and really only, in DFW) than TWU Law ever could, but I think it is not as dramatic an increase in placement as the rankings jump would suggest.
Thanks for the added context. Agree that A&M Law is rapidly rising. It's entirely possible it surpasses UH in a decade.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by LSATWiz.com » Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:07 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
Nurma Thurman wrote:I also know at least ten lawyers who are 30-40, all of whom make $100k+, and who all went to Tier 2-3s.
Do you know when they started making $100k+? And do you know what happened to the rest of their classmates? The problem with knowing 10 relatively successful lawyers is that you're interviewing a biased sample.
Nurma Thurman wrote:And while I'm not from the south, I've lived here for the past 6 years and would like to stay in the region.
So you do have location preferences. SJU is out. And you need to think long and hard about the difference between Louisiana and Texas. They're both technically in "the South," but they're radically different markets. Louisiana will keep you particularly confined after graduation due to its civil law system.
Yeah, the people who don't get jobs as lawyers probably aren't advertising they went to law school because they don't want to perceived as failures even if that failure was outside of their control. It's like saying I was a basketball player in high school when I didn't get much team playing time on a team that wasn't very good. It's not that I'm ashamed of it, but if someone asked me about my accomplishments, I wouldn't list that. I'd also add that people who consistently earn well don't really discuss their incomes - you're prouder of that when you first get it so they may have built their way up to it.

Six figures is also not that much money and there's a lot of variance in it. $200k is an entirely different amount of money than $100k, and it's much harder to get a $100k job in some areas than others. In a weakened economy, it's not particularly easy to get good insurance or criminal defense work because literally the entire class will be competing for every $60k job available if those $100k jobs are unavailable to the top grads. You should also note that top 5% is difficult at any law school, because it essentially means you can't be middle of the class on any exam. It is hard even for the best test takers to bring their A-game every day, and there's some lock involved in being able to do that.

If A&M is really that cheap, I'd go with that, but your posts are inconsistent. On the one hand you say you're okay bypassing the option that pays six figures right away, but want to make six-figures in a few years. This seems to suggest you really do want that kind of job coming out, but are willing to wait a few years to get it. The issue with criminal defense is that majority of people facing criminal charges don't have much money. There are a lot of articles about our penal system being designed to set up a certain percentage of unfortunate souls for incarceration from birth by depriving them of strong role models, limiting their educational opportunities, and training them to distrust law enforcement from a young age. It's certainly noble to try to help them, but one of the things about disadvantaged people is they tend to not have very much money so how are you making six-figures working someone else's book of business? It's hard. Insurance also doesn't pay much for new lawyers. Now these are both steady forms of employment, but it doesn't sound like you really want them given your salary aspirations, just that they seem easier to get.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:48 pm

Nurma Thurman wrote:Thanks, this is all pretty interesting. The 45k-60k salary is pretty shocking. I currently make $85k and that's just with a BS (Ivy undergrad, 8 years WE). I also know at least ten lawyers who are 30-40, all of whom make $100k+, and who all went to Tier 2-3s.

And while I'm not from the south, I've lived here for the past 6 years and would like to stay in the region.

Again, thanks for your insights.
From those schools, odds are you're making more now than you will out of law school (unless you are at the top of your class and land mid/biglaw). Now, you might work your way up to $100k after some time if you're a good attorney, but personal injury and criminal law aren't typically paying big bucks to attorneys right out of law school.

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Re: A&M vs. Houston vs. St. John's vs. LSU

Post by LSATWiz.com » Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:09 pm

Firms are cutting salaries and may be ending summer programs altogether. In light of this, to get your high paying job, amend that plan of yours slightly to be top 1 percent, but hopefully be valedictorian. At least one person from your class will graduate with a six figure job. You will be in the class. Therefore, you are guaranteed to graduate with a six figure job. Logic checks out. Good luck.

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