Choosing between LA Schools and T14

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Futurelawyer93

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Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:32 am

Hello, thank you in advance for your wise advice. I've been admitted to some great school - UCLA, USC, Georgetown, NYU, Berkeley and a few others. But have been dinged by Harvard, Yale, and now a WL at Chicago and a WL at Texas (YP?). Rejection sucks, especially in the uncertain 'rona era. Though I'm also very grateful since all the schools I got into are a huge step up from my initial expectations when this process started some months ago (was sure it would be Loyola/Pepperdine, and maybe UCLA/USC if I got very lucky).

I live in LA, and ideally don't want to leave unless it's to attend a HYS, or top 14 with a large scholarship, lay prestige, and a nice locale. My 167 LSAT is good but not great, my gpa is 3.9+. I am in my mid to late twenties and I am a fairly successful small business owner (my income is similar to an income partner at a BL firm). I've been out of undergrad for 6 years.

I foolishly thought my strong softs, LORs, polished application/essays, and unique work experience would have gotten me into HYS... so far not the case. Based on the future career path I want to take (plaintiffs law, staying in the business world, maybe even politics) lay prestige is important to me. I'd also like to do a clerkship, so normal rankings and law school GPA matter too. I doubt I'll ever work in traditional big law, unless it's for a Susman type plaintiffs boutique. More likely I'll go out on my own once I get a bit of experience, building building a practice from PI and employment matters into class actions, consumer rights/anti-trust, and other plaintiffs litigation. But who knows, that could all change once I am in school.

UCLA offered me very little aid and hasn't budged much on negotiations, I will try again once I get the packages from Berkeley and NYU. USC offered nearly a full ride, but due to my geographics in LA attending 'SC would be a big change of pace vs UCLA (I live within a mile of UCLA, so do all my friends and family and my company is based in West LA, which I'd like to continue to supervise while in law school). Due to these factors - commuting, being further from my home and office - it might end up costing me more in lost income and time going to USC at 75% off, than going to UCLA at close to sticker (~20% off).

The other option is R&R. I only studied for 3 months (tho 200+ hours) and took the LSAT just once. My score was at the top of my PT average range. But given more months of study and another take or two, I'm sure I could break into the 170-173. I also applied LATE, like as late as possible since I just decided on doing law school and studying for the LSAT in November. Higher score plus applying earlier would likely mean more scholarship money at UCLA, and entrance to HYS.

If I get into Stanford (app pending), or UCLA comes way up on their offer after more negotiations, it's a done deal. Ditto if I get the Rothman at USC (actual full ride, impressive honor), or magically get a named scholarship at one of the schools I'm still waiting on decisions from (Columbia, Duke, UVA, NU) or scholly info from (NYU, Berkeley). Assuming these improbable outcomes don't come through, I'm torn on what to do between my current options.

Advice?

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cavalier1138

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by cavalier1138 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:05 am

There are a few million red flags in this post, but I'll start with the most obvious ones:
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I live in LA, and ideally don't want to leave unless it's to attend a HYS, or top 14 with a large scholarship, lay prestige, and a nice locale.
Does that mean you want to work in LA after school? Of your listed school qualities, only one of them is actually important in picking a law school, and that's the scholarship amount. Whether a school is in a "nice locale" should be one of the last things you consider when comparing options. But more concerning is the repeated referencing of "lay prestige" throughout your post. Lay prestige is not a thing.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:Based on the future career path I want to take (plaintiffs law, staying in the business world, maybe even politics) lay prestige is important to me. . . . . I doubt I'll ever work in traditional big law, unless it's for a Susman type plaintiffs boutique. More likely I'll go out on my own once I get a bit of experience, building building a practice from PI and employment matters into class actions, consumer rights/anti-trust, and other plaintiffs litigation. But who knows, that could all change once I am in school.
This career track sounds absolutely insane. It sounds like you want to continue to run a business while representing plaintiffs in multi-million dollar class actions before running for senator, which is basically the lawyer equivalent of wanting to be an astronaut-spy-athlete-president. I'm also not sure that your idea of solo practice makes sense (or that you could avoid working on the other half of Susman's cases, assuming you could get hired there, which is a huge assumption). But again, lay prestige does not exist. Your focus on that as a prerequisite for your hypothetical career path is a huge concern, because it seems to indicate that you view law school as a stepping stone to fame and fortune, not as what it is: a means for becoming a lawyer.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I foolishly thought my strong softs, LORs, polished application/essays, and unique work experience would have gotten me into HYS... so far not the case.
That's normal. LSAT/GPA are 90-95% of the equation. So if you really want to see better admissions results/scholarship offers, you should retake and reapply. Based on your description of your LSAT performance, it sounds like you have a good shot at improving enough to bring all the top schools into play, many with significant scholarships. You can also use that prep time to figure out whether you actually need HYS for anything, or if it would be in your best interests to attend another top school with a full ride.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by decimalsanddollars » Thu Mar 26, 2020 9:51 am

Agree with what Cav said, but I wanted to highlight a few other things.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I am in my mid to late twenties and I am a fairly successful small business owner (my income is similar to an income partner at a BL firm).
If you're making around half a million dollars now, why do you want to go to law school? Nothing in your response indicates that you want to be a lawyer, and this part specifically suggests you are thinking about this wrong:
Futurelawyer93 wrote:USC offered nearly a full ride, but due to my geographics in LA attending 'SC would be a big change of pace vs UCLA (I live within a mile of UCLA, so do all my friends and family and my company is based in West LA, which I'd like to continue to supervise while in law school).
It's not going to be easy, practical, or perhaps even possible to maintain your business career during law school, particularly during 1L---which is notoriously all-consuming.

My advice is to take your other option, which sounds like it would actually be a good idea:
The other option is R&R. I only studied for 3 months (tho 200+ hours) and took the LSAT just once. My score was at the top of my PT average range. But given more months of study and another take or two, I'm sure I could break into the 170-173. I also applied LATE, like as late as possible since I just decided on doing law school and studying for the LSAT in November. Higher score plus applying earlier would likely mean more scholarship money at UCLA, and entrance to HYS.
Take a year or two, study for the LSAT, and really think about why you want to be a lawyer. When you're ready to apply, do so early in the cycle.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:09 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:There are a few million red flags in this post, but I'll start with the most obvious ones:
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I live in LA, and ideally don't want to leave unless it's to attend a HYS, or top 14 with a large scholarship, lay prestige, and a nice locale.
Does that mean you want to work in LA after school? Of your listed school qualities, only one of them is actually important in picking a law school, and that's the scholarship amount. Whether a school is in a "nice locale" should be one of the last things you consider when comparing options. But more concerning is the repeated referencing of "lay prestige" throughout your post. Lay prestige is not a thing.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:Based on the future career path I want to take (plaintiffs law, staying in the business world, maybe even politics) lay prestige is important to me. . . . . I doubt I'll ever work in traditional big law, unless it's for a Susman type plaintiffs boutique. More likely I'll go out on my own once I get a bit of experience, building building a practice from PI and employment matters into class actions, consumer rights/anti-trust, and other plaintiffs litigation. But who knows, that could all change once I am in school.
This career track sounds absolutely insane. It sounds like you want to continue to run a business while representing plaintiffs in multi-million dollar class actions before running for senator, which is basically the lawyer equivalent of wanting to be an astronaut-spy-athlete-president. I'm also not sure that your idea of solo practice makes sense (or that you could avoid working on the other half of Susman's cases, assuming you could get hired there, which is a huge assumption). But again, lay prestige does not exist. Your focus on that as a prerequisite for your hypothetical career path is a huge concern, because it seems to indicate that you view law school as a stepping stone to fame and fortune, not as what it is: a means for becoming a lawyer.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I foolishly thought my strong softs, LORs, polished application/essays, and unique work experience would have gotten me into HYS... so far not the case.
That's normal. LSAT/GPA are 90-95% of the equation. So if you really want to see better admissions results/scholarship offers, you should retake and reapply. Based on your description of your LSAT performance, it sounds like you have a good shot at improving enough to bring all the top schools into play, many with significant scholarships. You can also use that prep time to figure out whether you actually need HYS for anything, or if it would be in your best interests to attend another top school with a full ride.
Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. I apologize for any grammatical errors, as well as the cavalier nature of my original post. It was written on my phone, and initially intended for reddit, before realizing this would be a better platform to elicit real advice.

To address some of your questions:

1. I most likely intend to work in LA long-term. As previously mentioned, this is where I am from and where my network is. However, I am pretty adaptable and going to school elsewhere opens up a number of new opportunities as well as challenges (good in the sense that I could grow from them, bad in the sense that challenges aren't usually and increase the odds of failing). Regarding "nice locale," that's kind of a weird term I used, and my definition of it is even weirder. I could see myself living in a more rustic location, somewhere with lower cost of living so that I could buy a house there while in school. New York City is not appealing to me at all. While I think that locale shouldn't be my #1 determinant (and I agree that for most people it should be near the bottom of their considerations), I do think that it is important. If I move, it should be to a place I will enjoy living, especially if the locale of the law school is a place where if I like it, I might end up putting down roots long-term. At a minimum, it should be in a location which is tolerable. Worst case scenario, imagine I enroll at NYU for a million good reasons, but can not tolerate living in the city having never lived on the East Coast before, or in such a cramped urban environment.

2. I didn't mean to imply that I would do all three things at once, or in a progression. I meant that list (plaintiffs law, staying in the business world, maybe even politics) to be my desired/probable outcomes (politics not being a probable outcome but something to consider, though improbably attain, in the future). The same latter comment would apply to obtaining employment at Susman too. Though there are a number of other high-end plaintiff shops, getting into one of them to learn the ropes probably isn't too unrealistic if I go to the right school.

3. Lay prestige. I just learned this term a month or so ago. I think it does exist. Imagine you are a personal injury attorney and your desired clients are everyday Joes and Janes in Los Angeles, these folks are likely going to be more impressed with a law degree from Georgetown or Columbia, than NYU or UVA, and thus more inclined to give their case to you, all other factors being equal, than to an NYU/UVA grad. They don't know (nor care about) the difference in rankings, or BL/FC stats, at those higher ranked schools. In reality, most of the big PI cases come from a network of others attorneys, who might know that NYU is a better than Georgetown. But I still think this point holds water.

4. I want to go to law school to become a lawyer. This is the reason for me going to law school. Not to be a stepping stone toward politics, or a CEO role, though I do think that it is good resume builder for those things. That is a nice side effect, it's not my intended purpose. While I do have a very good income now, I believe that becoming a lawyer would increase my earning potential. Especially if I became a successful plaintiffs attorney. Also, this sounds corny but the truth is high income isn't everything. I would like to think that some law students get into law to be intellectually challenged, to do high level work at a professional standard, to have a positive impact on society, and to be respected in their communities for doing such. I've worked grueling jobs and made shit money, I now work much less and make great money; nearly all my jobs have been in the legal field. I want to go to law school to be a lawyer, and I want to be a lawyer for all these aforementioned reasons.

5. Taking the time to really consider what I want and retaking the LSAT to improve my outcomes does seem like the most logical thing to do, if my current outcomes are insufficient to meet my goals or if my goals are really so outlandish that they need to be reconsidered. This is something I have to give some serious thought to. Adding on to this is the uncertainty in the business world. My business, which provides auxiliary services to law firms, may implode if law firms see substantially financial strife from the corona pandemic. I do not think that this is going to happen (a lot of lawyers will still be needed for insurance defense, employment law, public agency, and practice areas... and those clients will keep paying their bills, and the firms will hopefully in turn keep paying my bills hopefully), but it might; in which case, being in law school for three years is a pretty good use of my time.

6. Debt. I am debt adverse, but I also think I could pay my way through law school presuming the economy doesn't tank. Even if I step down from running my company, I would still be the primary shareholder and likely retain a relatively high income (1/2 of what I make now?) for a few years. Attending out of state would impact this formula a lot, due to relocation costs, generally higher tuitions out of state, and the risk of loosing some grip on my business. But I would likely be able to pay my way through either attending UCLA at $40K a year or USC at $18K a year, I am just being cheap and salty that UCLA is charging double.

After reading these responses, I am curious to hear your suggestions. I am sorry if any of this came off as defensive or boastful, that's not the intent. I really appreciate your thoughtful responses and I look forward to hearing more.

Futurelawyer93

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:15 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:Agree with what Cav said, but I wanted to highlight a few other things.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:I am in my mid to late twenties and I am a fairly successful small business owner (my income is similar to an income partner at a BL firm).
If you're making around half a million dollars now, why do you want to go to law school? Nothing in your response indicates that you want to be a lawyer, and this part specifically suggests you are thinking about this wrong:
Futurelawyer93 wrote:USC offered nearly a full ride, but due to my geographics in LA attending 'SC would be a big change of pace vs UCLA (I live within a mile of UCLA, so do all my friends and family and my company is based in West LA, which I'd like to continue to supervise while in law school).
It's not going to be easy, practical, or perhaps even possible to maintain your business career during law school, particularly during 1L---which is notoriously all-consuming.

My advice is to take your other option, which sounds like it would actually be a good idea:
The other option is R&R. I only studied for 3 months (tho 200+ hours) and took the LSAT just once. My score was at the top of my PT average range. But given more months of study and another take or two, I'm sure I could break into the 170-173. I also applied LATE, like as late as possible since I just decided on doing law school and studying for the LSAT in November. Higher score plus applying earlier would likely mean more scholarship money at UCLA, and entrance to HYS.
Take a year or two, study for the LSAT, and really think about why you want to be a lawyer. When you're ready to apply, do so early in the cycle.
I think I answered most of your questions/comments in the other response. I agree with your regarding 1L. That is my main concern. From all the lawyers I have spoken to, working in 2L and 3L sounds quite doable (though IDK if that is still true if you want an optimal GPA outcome, and a shot at a clerkship).

1L though... It is my understanding there is even an ABA guideline on the number of hours you can work during it? I would likely scale back my involvement substantially during 1L and potentially during all of law school; for example going into my office once or twice a week for just a few hours, if I attend school in LA.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:54 pm

Futurelawyer93 wrote:I am in my mid to late twenties and I am a fairly successful small business owner (my income is similar to an income partner at a BL firm).
Far be it for me to tell anybody how to live their life, but why would you choose to go law school? You're already doing quite well.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 5:45 am

Futurelawyer93 wrote:2. I didn't mean to imply that I would do all three things at once, or in a progression. I meant that list (plaintiffs law, staying in the business world, maybe even politics) to be my desired/probable outcomes (politics not being a probable outcome but something to consider, though improbably attain, in the future). The same latter comment would apply to obtaining employment at Susman too. Though there are a number of other high-end plaintiff shops, getting into one of them to learn the ropes probably isn't too unrealistic if I go to the right school.
The thing is that two of your three desired outcomes aren't things you need a JD for (and no, a JD doesn't "add value" for either). And with regards to any high-end lit boutique--I want to again flag that Susman does defense work, too--they're extremely hard to get into from anywhere. I know top students at top schools who weren't able to land that kind of work.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:3. Lay prestige. I just learned this term a month or so ago. I think it does exist. Imagine you are a personal injury attorney and your desired clients are everyday Joes and Janes in Los Angeles, these folks are likely going to be more impressed with a law degree from Georgetown or Columbia, than NYU or UVA, and thus more inclined to give their case to you, all other factors being equal, than to an NYU/UVA grad. They don't know (nor care about) the difference in rankings, or BL/FC stats, at those higher ranked schools. In reality, most of the big PI cases come from a network of others attorneys, who might know that NYU is a better than Georgetown. But I still think this point holds water.
It doesn't hold water. The notion of "lay prestige" is a myth, and you need to disabuse yourself of the idea that it will be at all helpful down the line.
Futurelawyer93 wrote:4. I want to go to law school to become a lawyer. This is the reason for me going to law school. Not to be a stepping stone toward politics, or a CEO role, though I do think that it is good resume builder for those things. That is a nice side effect, it's not my intended purpose. While I do have a very good income now, I believe that becoming a lawyer would increase my earning potential. Especially if I became a successful plaintiffs attorney. Also, this sounds corny but the truth is high income isn't everything. I would like to think that some law students get into law to be intellectually challenged, to do high level work at a professional standard, to have a positive impact on society, and to be respected in their communities for doing such. I've worked grueling jobs and made shit money, I now work much less and make great money; nearly all my jobs have been in the legal field. I want to go to law school to be a lawyer, and I want to be a lawyer for all these aforementioned reasons.
I'm a lawyer (as are the others posting on this thread so far). It's not a resume builder for any of that stuff. It sure as hell doesn't increase your earning potential, because as mentioned earlier, you're already out-earning most non-equity partners at big firms.

As for the intellectual challenge/positive impact/etc., that's not going to be found in the overwhelming majority of PI cases. If you definitely want to be a lawyer, great. But most of your ideas about the legal field scream that you've either convinced yourself that you're going to be Joe Rice or that you're going to be a poor but happy crusader for the most downtrodden of people. And the reality is that you'll likely be neither in that practice area.

All this is basically to say that if you really want to be a lawyer, go to law school. But make sure you have clear eyes going into this, because you're already better situated than the vast majority of law school grads.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:34 am

I am seeing that there's a big distinction between the high-end contingency work of a Susman firm (sure, defense and plaintiff), the Joe Rices of the world, and the straight PI solos. I don't really want to be handling dog bite cases and Walmart slip and falls, as many solos do. But I also don't see myself handling highly complex IP infringement matters, like Susman is known for. I see myself doing something in between. I read about a recent $18M settlement against a school district for its actions that led to a special ed student being incapacitated. That kind of case appeals to me. So do consumer class actions against colluding auto-makers, and the wild fire cases against PG&E. I like the business aspects of it. From the little I know about the process of getting a loadstar and appointing lead counsel and liaison counsel and all the dealings that occur to cobble together a big case... I think I'd excel in that world. That's probably not what's happening at Susman Godfrey.

These examples are just what I've been exposed to, I realize that I'll be exposed to a plethora of other opportunities as I progress in law school and thereafter, which may very well be more appealing to me. I've also come to understand that your earlier career experiences shape your future outcomes, especially for entrepreneurs. What you are exposed to helps to determine your path later on, since those are then the tools you're equip with. With that in mind id prefer to be exposed to more complex stuff earlier on.

Most of the big name plaintiffs attorneys I know of went to Loyola, Southwestern, Whittier, etc. This has been my exposure. They're handling lower level class actions, mass torts, clergy sex abuse, etc in addition to car accidents. I see Joe Rice went to South Carolina. Seems these guys are basically highly successful PI attorneys who've branched out. They're big personalities, that are naturals and lucky. Did it matter where they went to school, given these traits? Would their outcomes be even greater if they went to better schools?

Then I see the people at Cochette Pitre and Lieff Cabraser as somewhere in between, went to much more esteemed schools, but not quite the level of Susman's Harvard/Yale/SC Clerk folks. I presume they're handling work that's also somewhere in between in terms of complexity. This is probably a good "optimistic" goal to have as a place to start out and gain the right exposure.

You've helped me clarify my goal: I am shooting for something in between (i.e. more complex plaintiffs law), but will be more than happy to try and make it big as a PI attorney who then branches out. Thus, UCLA would probably be good enough for the former, and more than good enough for the latter?

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:01 am

Futurelawyer93 wrote:I am seeing that there's a big distinction between the high-end contingency work of a Susman firm (sure, defense and plaintiff), the Joe Rices of the world, and the straight PI solos. I don't really want to be handling dog bite cases and Walmart slip and falls, as many solos do. But I also don't see myself handling highly complex IP infringement matters, like Susman is known for. I see myself doing something in between. I read about a recent $18M settlement against a school district for its actions that led to a special ed student being incapacitated. That kind of case appeals to me. So do consumer class actions against colluding auto-makers, and the wild fire cases against PG&E. I like the business aspects of it. From the little I know about the process of getting a loadstar and appointing lead counsel and liaison counsel and all the dealings that occur to cobble together a big case... I think I'd excel in that world. That's probably not what's happening at Susman Godfrey.

These examples are just what I've been exposed to, I realize that I'll be exposed to a plethora of other opportunities as I progress in law school and thereafter, which may very well be more appealing to me. I've also come to understand that your earlier career experiences shape your future outcomes, especially for entrepreneurs. What you are exposed to helps to determine your path later on, since those are then the tools you're equip with. With that in mind id prefer to be exposed to more complex stuff earlier on.

Most of the big name plaintiffs attorneys I know of went to Loyola, Southwestern, Whittier, etc. This has been my exposure. They're handling lower level class actions, mass torts, clergy sex abuse, etc in addition to car accidents. I see Joe Rice went to South Carolina. Seems these guys are basically highly successful PI attorneys who've branched out. They're big personalities, that are naturals and lucky. Did it matter where they went to school, given these traits? Would their outcomes be even greater if they went to better schools?

Then I see the people at Cochette Pitre and Lieff Cabraser as somewhere in between, went to much more esteemed schools, but not quite the level of Susman's Harvard/Yale/SC Clerk folks. I presume they're handling work that's also somewhere in between in terms of complexity. This is probably a good "optimistic" goal to have as a place to start out and gain the right exposure.

You've helped me clarify my goal: I am shooting for something in between (i.e. more complex plaintiffs law), but will be more than happy to try and make it big as a PI attorney who then branches out. Thus, UCLA would probably be good enough for the former, and more than good enough for the latter?
I think one faulty assumption you're making is that you'll be able to pick and choose your cases---and in fact be very picky---as a solo and still make money. You did successfully identify that luck and natural ability play into how successful a lawyer is (particularly for solos), and which school you choose won't affect that much. The school you choose WILL affect your ability to go down certain desirable paths other people have taken---biglaw, clerkships, bigfed, elite PI, etc.---that have known inputs over which you have more control. The kind of career you're describing is not common; it's not something any of us have taken or want to take; and it's not a career for which a degree UCLA will help you more or less than one from Harvard or Southwestern. If you fail in pursuing this goal, which many law students do, a degree from UCLA will give you more and better fall-back options than one from SW (but fewer and worse than Harvard).

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lavarman84

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by lavarman84 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:19 am

Futurelawyer93 wrote:Most of the big name plaintiffs attorneys I know of went to Loyola, Southwestern, Whittier, etc. This has been my exposure. They're handling lower level class actions, mass torts, clergy sex abuse, etc in addition to car accidents. I see Joe Rice went to South Carolina. Seems these guys are basically highly successful PI attorneys who've branched out. They're big personalities, that are naturals and lucky. Did it matter where they went to school, given these traits? Would their outcomes be even greater if they went to better schools?

Then I see the people at Cochette Pitre and Lieff Cabraser as somewhere in between, went to much more esteemed schools, but not quite the level of Susman's Harvard/Yale/SC Clerk folks. I presume they're handling work that's also somewhere in between in terms of complexity. This is probably a good "optimistic" goal to have as a place to start out and gain the right exposure.

You've helped me clarify my goal: I am shooting for something in between (i.e. more complex plaintiffs law), but will be more than happy to try and make it big as a PI attorney who then branches out. Thus, UCLA would probably be good enough for the former, and more than good enough for the latter?
Maybe you have the goods, but you're aiming for something that isn't attainable for the vast majority of people. It's like picking up a football and dedicating yourself to becoming a NFL QB because you could be the next Tom Brady. You're right that it doesn't matter where Joe Rice went because he's really special at what he does. I have a family member who is an elite PI attorney. He didn't go to a great law school either. He just happens to be an amazing trial lawyer.

But they're the exceptions. Maybe you're exceptional. But you're giving up a lot to take that risk. And I'm not castigating you here on law schools. You have the right mindset on that (although, I'm disappointed that UCLA is playing hardball with you). What I'm questioning is the likelihood you achieve your goals. Because if you don't, you're better off continuing to run your business. And what I'm telling you is that you're shooting for the moon. I am too. But I don't run a successful business.

Ultimately, none of us can make the choice for you. I just want to make sure, as a practicing lawyer, I'm presenting you with a realistic perspective. If you can run a successful business at your age, you might well be capable of being the next Joe Rice. But there are no guarantees. You might be a better businessman than lawyer.
Last edited by lavarman84 on Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by AJordan » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:20 am

Just FYI, I'm a 1L in the top 10% at a t14 mentioned in this thread and have had the Susman conversation with my (very switched on) career services office. Bottom line, elite lit boutiques are a crap shoot no matter what school you attend. Grades matter a ton but there are more than a thousand folks a year in the top quarter of their T14 1L class competing for very very few spots. What you're outlining does read fanciful. It's suspiciously akin to, "I am going to get my pilot's license and then go work for NASA."

I'm reticent to tell people with money how to spend it. You earned it. Spend it however you want. It's just that I've been doing everything I can to network around the entirety of the community and people like what you're describing are unicorns. You really should talk to a few of them and ask how they got into doing what they are doing, step by step. Everyone has an ego. Shouldn't be too hard to get them to tell you if you can find ten minutes of their time.

A lot of us kind of have to be okay with pushing paper for a v50 because that's the only way we can pay off our debt we incurred to become lawyers. For you it's more of a 3-year opportunity cost than that. I'm afraid you will find yourself in an October Civ Pro class realizing that you've made a horrible mistake because you don't want to be "a lawyer" but rather "a crusader who makes a lot of money doing the kind of work that I want to do who then also derive social worth from it."

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:03 pm

All really good and insightful advice. Thank you guys.

FYI, I was just emailed that I am out of consideration for the Rothman Scholarship. Maybe I over shared in this post :wink:

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by crazywafflez » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:33 pm

There's no reason for you to go to law school. You already make more money than most lawyers and sounds like your family and everything is all set up. I just don't see a point- you want to be a high powered lit boutique attorney, this is just rare in general- maybe you'd get it from UCLA too, but that offer might be in Riverside or Sac or Phoenix or Vegas (I'm just shooting the shit- you could be first in your class at UCLA and get a great offer somewhere). If I were you I just wouldn't go into law. If you must go because being an attorney is your life's passion, than just go to UCLA. I'd pick USC cause for me they are interchangeable but if it is too much of a schlep than just do UCLA, I guess. You can retake though and spend more time studying- I certainly wish I had taken it more seriously...
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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by ghostoftraynor » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:33 pm

Lay prestige doesn't really exist outside of Harvard/Yale and maybe Stanford on the west coast. Completely without evidence I imagine having Harvard on your resume opens doors in and out of the legal world.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by dabigchina » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:47 pm

I would browse the legal employment forum and take a look at all the people who want to get out of the law before you sink 3 years of your life into this.

Money is money. You can make more money. You'll never get 3 years of your 20's back.

Honestly, if you goal is to be some hotshot plaintiffs attorney, you'd get a better ROI by taking $300k and buying lotto tickets. I'm only half joking here.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by BrainsyK » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:56 pm

I'll take OP's view on lay prestige. It exists. It's marginally to moderately useful depending how much you want to play it. It probably doesn't matter all that much to lawyers, but OP is clearly open to options where it might be useful.

OP, do whatever you want. You've implied that you clear ~500k/yr. If you just want a HLS diploma to hang on your wall, do that. It's about as smart and as dumb as buying a a new Aventador. It's all based on what you value.

Maybe you'll get Susman. Maybe you won't. You probably won't be massively successful in any field if you value the odds individually, but in aggregate, you'll probably do something well. Hell, if you literally just run the Law Offices of FutureLawyer93, Esq. and draft 2 wills per year pro bono. That's fine. You still got 500k/yr.

TLS isn't helpful to you. People here are too used to a few economic conditional presets. Yours isn't within that norm so the advice isn't all that helpful to you. You've basically decided on what people here have advised anyway. Retake. Reapply. Cop dat preftige--or whatever the hell else you want.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by QContinuum » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:43 pm

BrainsyK wrote:I'll take OP's view on lay prestige. It exists. It's marginally to moderately useful depending how much you want to play it. It probably doesn't matter all that much to lawyers, but OP is clearly open to options where it might be useful.

OP, do whatever you want. You've implied that you clear ~500k/yr. If you just want a HLS diploma to hang on your wall, do that. It's about as smart and as dumb as buying a a new Aventador. It's all based on what you value.

Maybe you'll get Susman. Maybe you won't. You probably won't be massively successful in any field if you value the odds individually, but in aggregate, you'll probably do something well. Hell, if you literally just run the Law Offices of FutureLawyer93, Esq. and draft 2 wills per year pro bono. That's fine. You still got 500k/yr.

TLS isn't helpful to you. People here are too used to a few economic conditional presets. Yours isn't within that norm so the advice isn't all that helpful to you. You've basically decided on what people here have advised anyway. Retake. Reapply. Cop dat preftige--or whatever the hell else you want.
I don't think the previous commenters are ignoring OP's unique situation. To the contrary, I see folks expressly taking that into account, and telling OP to really think twice before jeopardizing their extremely successful business by going to law school. I also see folks probing whether law school would actually help OP achieve their stated goals and desires. No one is giving OP "generic" advice.

For what it's worth, I agree that for the kind of nontraditional legal career OP's interested in, lay prestige is a thing, and there's something to the Harvard (or Yale, or Stanford) brand. OP isn't looking to do traditional corporate law with sophisticated clients who recognize NYU Law's prestige. That said, this doesn't obviate the fact that OP's stated plans are still unlikely to succeed, nor does it obviate the fact that there are real risks and costs to attending law school, beyond the tuition dollars. This isn't a case of wiring $300k to HLS and getting back a FedEx package with a HLS diploma, a CA bar license and the cool ability to "draft 2 wills per year pro bono". Folks pooh-pooh legal education, but there's actually a ton of time and effort that goes into law school and bar prep and setting up a solo practice. The time and energy is very manageable for the typical full-time student with nothing else on their plate, but much more challenging for someone running their own business where they're making >$500k/year in profit.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:32 pm

I am going in eyes wide open to the risks. Not surprisingly, I am by nature a big risk taker. Though the more I think about it, attending UCLA mitigates so many of these risks, that it truly makes it the best option. As others mentioned, the only name that would really make sense to take the risk for is Harvard. Yale is unequivocally "better" (and btw I think I'd have a better time at Yale were I able to slip in), according to the rankings, so is Stanford (this year). But Harvard has the name recognition that is truly known around the world. Even in California, people know Harvard Law, most don't know the name Stanford Law. However, all three of these schools (and Berkeley/Boalt for that matter) would almost certainly better open the door to a more nuanced first job, and help me to get the right tools early on in my attorney career to do more complex work later on. But the associated risks are so much higher than UCLA, and the odds of a substantially more favorable outcome low enough, that it wouldn't make sense unless I was 100% committed. Clearly I'm not, or else I wouldn't be soliciting advice here. Even at full commitment, many of you have opined that it wouldn't be an advisable investment/risk.

I have no intention of "drafting wills here or there." This would
be the first step of a career change, but unlike a typical student who goes from undergrad student to law school student, or from working full-time to being a law student, this will likely be a more gradual progression. I considered a part-time or evening program. This is something I could still potentially pursue this cycle at Loyola of Georgetown, but I don't think that's necessary or advisable given the unique temporal freedoms associated with my work. I'd call this level of commitment 80%, btw, to pursuing a career as an attorney. I'd go as far as to suppose that this is a higher bs internal statistic than most law students have in the months leading up to their first semester in normal times, let alone in times of a pandemic.

Also to be clear, I am very desirous and delighted to have the opportunity to get a legal education. I think it will be fun, challenging, and deeply impactful on many levels - intellectually, socially, morally. Someone mentioned buying a fancy car. I don't see how that is comparable to this kind of growth or challenge (you kinda asked for this next snipe); the two also aren't necessarily mutually exclusive for me. I intend on engaging in my courses and extracurricular activities, and having the full law school experience. This is far more analogous to a quarter life pivot, than to a "let's get a new shiny thing to play with." Of course the novelty of being back on a college campus is also appealing, and will hopefully serve to mitigate some of the gruelingness of nights spent studying and reading, versus my current evening routine.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by nixy » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:50 pm

FWIW, law school isn't really an exciting intellectual experience. It's a prereq for licensure to enter a particular profession. And the novelty of being back on a college campus wears off really. quickly. (I too made a career change to law, though my previous experience was totally unrelated to what you're doing.) I enjoyed it fine, it does change the way you view certain things, but it's not really about the intellectual experience (and there is a remarkable strain of anti-intellectualism to it).

All that said, I think for your purposes UCLA (or USC) would actually be fine, presuming you stay in LA to pursue your goals. They're both going to be known, respected quantities there, and while they don't quite have the shiny national luster of Harvard, what you want to do will (I think) be much more dependent on your personality and connections than on your pedigree. Since your business in in LA, staying there and building on those connections makes more sense to me than flitting across the country. (Now, sure, if you get into Berkeley/Stanford, that would be a different matter.)

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by lavarman84 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:33 am

nixy wrote:FWIW, law school isn't really an exciting intellectual experience. It's a prereq for licensure to enter a particular profession. And the novelty of being back on a college campus wears off really. quickly. (I too made a career change to law, though my previous experience was totally unrelated to what you're doing.) I enjoyed it fine, it does change the way you view certain things, but it's not really about the intellectual experience (and there is a remarkable strain of anti-intellectualism to it).

All that said, I think for your purposes UCLA (or USC) would actually be fine, presuming you stay in LA to pursue your goals. They're both going to be known, respected quantities there, and while they don't quite have the shiny national luster of Harvard, what you want to do will (I think) be much more dependent on your personality and connections than on your pedigree. Since your business in in LA, staying there and building on those connections makes more sense to me than flitting across the country. (Now, sure, if you get into Berkeley/Stanford, that would be a different matter.)
I think it's what you make of it. I thoroughly enjoyed law school and being on a college campus. Is it some intellectual pinnacle? Not unless you make an effort for it to be (and that effort will have to occur outside of class). But it definitely changes the way you think and the way you see the world. I think there's value in that (although, some might say it fucks up your perspective lol).

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by nixy » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:23 am

lavarman84 wrote:
nixy wrote:FWIW, law school isn't really an exciting intellectual experience. It's a prereq for licensure to enter a particular profession. And the novelty of being back on a college campus wears off really. quickly. (I too made a career change to law, though my previous experience was totally unrelated to what you're doing.) I enjoyed it fine, it does change the way you view certain things, but it's not really about the intellectual experience (and there is a remarkable strain of anti-intellectualism to it).

All that said, I think for your purposes UCLA (or USC) would actually be fine, presuming you stay in LA to pursue your goals. They're both going to be known, respected quantities there, and while they don't quite have the shiny national luster of Harvard, what you want to do will (I think) be much more dependent on your personality and connections than on your pedigree. Since your business in in LA, staying there and building on those connections makes more sense to me than flitting across the country. (Now, sure, if you get into Berkeley/Stanford, that would be a different matter.)
I think it's what you make of it. I thoroughly enjoyed law school and being on a college campus. Is it some intellectual pinnacle? Not unless you make an effort for it to be (and that effort will have to occur outside of class). But it definitely changes the way you think and the way you see the world. I think there's value in that (although, some might say it fucks up your perspective lol).
Oh, I enjoyed law school perfectly fine (I don’t think the “college campus” part is really a thing after you’ve been out and lived on your own in the real world, though; you’re not recreating anundergrad experience in any way). And I agree that it changes the way you think/see the world. I also did other graduate work, though, and law school is just not very *intellectual* compared to that. You do a lot of work, you learn stuff, and some people especially geek out on hypos and philosophical debate till the cows come home. But it’s still weirdly not very intellectual compared to other advanced degree programs, so I’m always leery when people say they want to go for the sake of learning and the intellectual experience.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:25 am

Futurelawyer93 wrote:Also to be clear, I am very desirous and delighted to have the opportunity to get a legal education. I think it will be fun, challenging, and deeply impactful on many levels - intellectually, socially, morally. Someone mentioned buying a fancy car. I don't see how that is comparable to this kind of growth or challenge (you kinda asked for this next snipe); the two also aren't necessarily mutually exclusive for me. I intend on engaging in my courses and extracurricular activities, and having the full law school experience. This is far more analogous to a quarter life pivot, than to a "let's get a new shiny thing to play with." Of course the novelty of being back on a college campus is also appealing, and will hopefully serve to mitigate some of the gruelingness of nights spent studying and reading, versus my current evening routine.
Even if you enjoy law school, it will not live up to this hype.

As mentioned, you clearly have your heart set on... something. Maybe it's a unique career track that will see your name in all the legal journals for decades to come. Or maybe it's a waste of time and money. But I beg you, please stop thinking that "lay prestige" is a thing. Non-lawyer recognition of where you went to law school (and holy shit, the idea that Harvard is has more "lay prestige" than Yale may be the dumbest thing I've ever read) has absolutely no effect on your legal career. It doesn't matter. It will never matter. Stop convincing yourself it will have an effect.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by Futurelawyer93 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:39 am

nixy wrote:FWIW, law school isn't really an exciting intellectual experience. It's a prereq for licensure to enter a particular profession. And the novelty of being back on a college campus wears off really. quickly. (I too made a career change to law, though my previous experience was totally unrelated to what you're doing.) I enjoyed it fine, it does change the way you view certain things, but it's not really about the intellectual experience (and there is a remarkable strain of anti-intellectualism to it).

All that said, I think for your purposes UCLA (or USC) would actually be fine, presuming you stay in LA to pursue your goals. They're both going to be known, respected quantities there, and while they don't quite have the shiny national luster of Harvard, what you want to do will (I think) be much more dependent on your personality and connections than on your pedigree. Since your business in in LA, staying there and building on those connections makes more sense to me than flitting across the country. (Now, sure, if you get into Berkeley/Stanford, that would be a different matter.)
I got into Berkeley, I am waiting to hear back from Stanford.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:26 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:(and holy shit, the idea that Harvard is has more "lay prestige" than Yale may be the dumbest thing I've ever read)
It's not that outrageous. Plenty of people think of American universities in a sort of great-power model where Harvard is #1 and the rest of the top tier is filled out by schools that could plausibly go toe-to-toe with Harvard. Almost anyone would put Yale in that latter group, but that still means it's a bit less prestigious by definition. Secondary powers are those that can go toe-to-toe with the weakest great power.

It's actually not that irrational; the main "mistakes" laypeople make result from bias in favor of things they have heard of (so Vandy and Duke, for example, tend to be overrated in the South and underrated everywhere else).

The problem with lay prestige isn't that it doesn't exist, but that it isn't really that valuable except to insecure people who need assurance that others will take them seriously. Real connections are worth paying for; real skills are worth paying for; and for OP's apparent purposes they'll get equally valuable connections and skills from UCLA or Harvard.

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Re: Choosing between LA Schools and T14

Post by nixy » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:38 pm

Futurelawyer93 wrote:
nixy wrote:FWIW, law school isn't really an exciting intellectual experience. It's a prereq for licensure to enter a particular profession. And the novelty of being back on a college campus wears off really. quickly. (I too made a career change to law, though my previous experience was totally unrelated to what you're doing.) I enjoyed it fine, it does change the way you view certain things, but it's not really about the intellectual experience (and there is a remarkable strain of anti-intellectualism to it).

All that said, I think for your purposes UCLA (or USC) would actually be fine, presuming you stay in LA to pursue your goals. They're both going to be known, respected quantities there, and while they don't quite have the shiny national luster of Harvard, what you want to do will (I think) be much more dependent on your personality and connections than on your pedigree. Since your business in in LA, staying there and building on those connections makes more sense to me than flitting across the country. (Now, sure, if you get into Berkeley/Stanford, that would be a different matter.)
I got into Berkeley, I am waiting to hear back from Stanford.
Whoops, sorry, I forgot that bit. I think Berkeley's probably justifiable if you're really not worried about the money, but you have enough factors in your personal life that UCLA (or USC) would be fine.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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