TTT or no?

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jm618

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TTT or no?

Post by jm618 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:04 pm

Hey folks, I’m looking for some advice.

I’m 32, a military retiree (honorable/medical), and a psychology major (BS, University of Wyoming) with a 4.0 through my first two years. I have not taken the LSAT and haven’t even settled on law as a career. I chose psychology specifically because the two long term career paths that I find equally interesting are psychology and law and a psych major could do either one. It would be great if I could steer either path into a career that somehow works with and helps other veterans but there’s a variety of fascinating avenues in each field.

I have yet to use the GI Bill so that would help pay for most of law school. I have no interest in BigLaw and I don’t particularly care to be in a major city. Maybe Denver or Phoenix for a time but absolutely not the coasts. I don’t even think I’d care to be a litigator although I wouldn’t close the door on that option yet.

I’m from Wyoming originally and I’d be happy to live here long term. If not here, I’d much prefer living and working throughout the Rocky Mountain region. I’d also be happy with the southwest and even the Midwest as a means to an end before moving back west. On that note, what are your thoughts on earnings potential in these smaller cities and even rural environments?

When it comes to choosing a school, if I just wanted to be in Wyoming, is it so bad if I went to law school here? Or does Wyoming’s TTT status mean I’m wasting my time and money and I’ll never find a job?

If TTT does ensure destitution and failure, what schools should be on my radar within my geographic region of interest?

Finally, how might being a veteran and non-traditional student in his mid-30s impact me in terms of admissions, general life in law school, and the hiring process afterwards?

Hopefully I haven’t rambled on too much. I appreciate your time!

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RunnerRunner

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by RunnerRunner » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:06 pm

jm618 wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:04 pm
Finally, how might being a veteran and non-traditional student in his mid-30s impact me in terms of admissions, general life in law school, and the hiring process afterwards?
I think being a veteran with real-life experience will help, not hurt, your chances of admission. For general life in law school, you'll be fine, plenty of people come to law school from all walks of life. The same thing applies to the hiring process post-law school. I know people your age who have gotten jobs at top-flight firms in big, competitive cities, so I can't imagine your age would preclude you from any jobs (and your status as a veteran would almost certainly help you get jobs).

As for whether going to a TTT would be a wise choice, I will leave that to others. The common wisdom (which I agree with) is that you should go to the best school you get into, all things equal. But, that "all thing equal" caveat may be important in your case, since you want to stay where you are.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:09 pm

If you'r okay with 1) making ~$40-60k starting 2) in X State and, then going to U of X Law School 3) at a reasonable price is usually a decent way to go. You seem in a good place on (2) and, thanks to the GI Bill, on (3), so it's really a question of what your professional/salary expectations are and whether any given law school can reliably get you into jobs that meet those expectations.

What you should do in the medium term is maintain that 4.0. With straight A's and a good LSAT the world is your oyster from a LS admissions perspective. It might make sense to go to UWyoming (which seems decent on paper, although an alarming proportion of its graduates fail the bar exam), or a stronger school in the region like BYU or Colorado, or even a school like Harvard with national reach.
Finally, how might being a veteran and non-traditional student in his mid-30s impact me in terms of admissions, general life in law school, and the hiring process afterwards?
It's going to broadly be a positive. Employers tend to like veterans and mid-30's isn't so old that people will notice much.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:26 pm

Broadly agree with the above posters, and I'd say that going to a TTT does not "ensure destitution and failure" but that many TTT students and graduates have too much debt and not good enough employment prospects.

The risk of going to a TTT school is that, if you do poorly or even just okay your first year (which can happen to anyone), getting any legal job will be difficult, and getting one that gives you a reasonable shot at paying down six-figure student loans is nearly impossible. If you go to Wyoming in-state, you're not going to be in six-figure debt (and with the GI bill, you might graduate debt-free). That means that the main risk of going to a TTT doesn't really apply to you---at least not to the same extent as someone who goes to, say, Hofstra Law at sticker price. Even if you're not currently interested in biglaw, you may be limiting long-term career prospects by going to Wyoming over a place like Chicago, Northwestern, WUSTL, Texas, or the schools LSAT Airbender mentioned (plus, say, UUtah, ASU/UofA, any other western T1 schools).

nixy

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:45 pm

Yeah, I meant to add that being a vet will help, generally. And I agree that you could consider some of the stronger mountain west schools, which would give you some broader options. It doesn't sound to me like you need to go to Chicago, Northwestern, WUSTL or Texas, though you certainly could - the extent to which not going to a school like that will limit your future career options depends very much on what you want to do. If you're not interested in nationally competitive jobs (and it doesn't sound like you are), I don't think that kind of school pedigree is necessary. If you think that at some point you might want to, I don't know, go to DC to advocate for vets, then it might matter more. But I think if you're staying in the field of veteran care, experience and commitment tends to trump pedigree.

(That said, of course, if you maintain your GPA and you get a commensurate LSAT, the world is your oyster, law school-wise, and there will be a lot of doors opened to you that you may not have been considering.)

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nixy

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:47 pm

(I said "I meant to add" above because I thought I'd already posted this, but it was sitting unposted in another window. So oops.)

I think if you're certain you want to be in Wyoming, going to U Wyoming for law school isn't a bad idea (this is coming from someone who went to a state flagship). Local Wyoming firms will definitely hire Wyoming grads; the bigger/fancier firms will hire from the top of the class, other firms will hire people who are good at networking/making connections. The issue will mostly be the size of the market - there aren't going to be a ton of jobs just because Wyoming has such a small population. And the earning potential isn't likely to be anything like in major cities, as you will be looking at small/mid-sized firms, local government, or solo work (but of course COL in Wyoming will be much lower as well). I think it will vary a bit depending on what you want to do, though.

In terms of raw numbers/recognizing that Wyoming grads will very rarely be looking at biglaw outcomes, their employment numbers aren't that bad (in the sense of total numbers hired, leaving aside quality of the job), and it's a fairly inexpensive school. I don't think it's a bad investment if you can go for almost no cost, which it sounds like you'd be able to do (given your GI bill, your current GPA, and the likelihood with your GPA that you should be able to get a LSAT score above their 75th, which isn't very high).

If you're not certain about staying in Wyoming, it gets much trickier. If you excel at law school you can make opportunities elsewhere, but it will be much much more of an uphill battle. I'm not going to call Wyoming portable, but to the extent you're looking in the mountain west at least it will make a bit more sense than if you suddenly woke up one morning and wanted to work in the southeast US.

I will say that work helping veterans is likely to fall on the poorly-paid end of the spectrum (I wish that weren't so, but to my knowledge it is). The highest paid jobs involving vets are likely to be with the federal government/VA, but many of those are going to be protecting the government's interests and where those interests diverge from the interests of the individual vet, you may not be doing the kind of work you want (also, not sure how many VA jobs there will be in Wyoming).

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by BrainsyK » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:03 pm

I think that it's probably fine to go to UWyoming, but since you have GI Bill and can attend a public university law school for basically free, why not go all out? Let's say that you attended UVA for free. Imagine how kick-ass you'd be on the job hunt in Wyoming? I'm sure that there's a certain extent that Wyoming lawyers want UWyoming Law, but they'd probably would like to scoop up a T14 grad once in a while. You're from there so it's not like you don't have ties or convincing reasons to want to work there. It's great deal for the employer. It's a great deal for you to preserve flexibility. Your law school could also help you in all sorts of subtle ways in your career that you might never even think of. Maybe it won't, but you didn't pay for it so it doesn't matter. You're going to spend 3 years in law school somewhere anyway, and Charlottesville is... maybe more akin to Wyoming than a lot of other coastal cities? IDK. It certainly won't be hell on earth like NYC or CA would be.

nixy

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:13 pm

I'm not actually sure that going to UVA would make the OP any more kickass on the job hunt in Wyoming, apart from with big law firms that they've already said they're not interested in. I'm not saying it would hurt, just not sure it would make a difference.

Also prettttty certain Charlottesville isn't remotely akin to Wyoming. Probably the best bet in that respect would be Michigan.

jm618

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by jm618 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:29 pm

Thank you all for the input. I've read about the "portability" of T14 degrees. Would a T14 always be advantageous even if I just want to come back to Wyoming? Or might I actually be disadvantaged when competing against a quality UWyoming grad in the state? What about competing with a Wyoming grad if I'm coming from somewhere like ASU, Utah, or DU in Denver? Each might be preferable for a variety of personal reasons if there's an advantage over UW. BYU is a fine school but I'm not LDS and I understand that one's religious affiliation (or lack thereof) can be a limiting factor, particularly for networking.

UVA or UT Austin would probably be ideal based entirely on the fact that they're public and I could get out close to debt free. Obviously they're fantastic programs and located in fine cities.

I've also read that being at the top of your class from a smaller regional school can carry more weight than being at the bottom of your class at a T14. Does that matter if I don't want anything larger than mid-market? I understand not wanting to be completely dismissive but the stress and demands of biglaw isn't something I think I want, especially as I'd be entering the field in my mid to late 30s. I'm not trying to push the 'easy button' by choosing a comparatively easier program but I don't know if the additional burden of a more rigorous program is necessary given my goals and expectations. Feel free to chastise me if that's the wrong attitude.

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BrainsyK

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by BrainsyK » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:51 pm

From my experience researching mini-markets, top of local beats bottom or even middle of T14--though it's hard to tell with such small sample sizes. TLS doctrine is that you can't predict whether you'll be top or bottom. I think that it's a bit ridiculous to say that someone who goes to UWyoming with a 4.0/165+ can't safely mark themselves as being at least in the top 25%ile after 1L, but it is what is.

I'm definitely not saying that you should be gunning for biglaw--merely that flexibility comes in a billion ways that you can't even imagine. I'm not using that as an idiom for "very big advantage." It's that people literally cannot imagine the ways that it can help. It may not help at all, which why I don't recommend overpaying for it. In your case though, you're not paying at all. You may want to talk to an actual Wyoming lawyer/law student about this? One way in which a non-top school might be disadvantage is that you'll lack opportunities to network with local lawyers while in school or at school-sponsored events.

I don't think non-local schools as defined geographic area with familiarity rather than state helps. For instance, I consider BYU a "local" school for TX biglaw and probably law generally. I'm Canadian so my US geography is pretty bad, but that's the principle that I've observed.

As another poster said, UMich is also a great choice--possibly better than UVA depending on how you like each city.

jm618

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by jm618 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:53 pm

Also, nixy, I was stationed in Virginia Beach for four years and I've been through Charlottesville a few times. You're correct that it is nothing like Wyoming. That being said, it's closer to Wyoming than any T14 based entirely on it's proximity to dirt roads and agriculture.

namefromplace

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by namefromplace » Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:53 am

I think one thing to consider is where you will be able to find work in what you would want to do. If you're looking for public interest work, I would try to find an attorney who does that kind of work, sit them down, and ask them about that kind of hiring market. I would assume something like veterans assistance work is kind of rare to find outside of VA/DC/NY, unless you're starting your own firm.

If you're looking for work at a regional law firm, I would assume the market for that within Wyoming is really small (especially for transactional work), in which case you would either need to do really well at U. Wyoming (which is never a given) or go to a T-14 and network. A T14 will leave you with more options.

Re: BYU, BYU's connections to the cities you mentioned are definitely strongest in Phoenix, with fewer connections to Denver and even fewer to Wyoming. You're still in the geographical area, so that helps, but Denver and Wyoming aren't really in the Mormon Belt that BYU is best at placing in. Re: not being LDS, that may lead to a kind of awkward experience at the school, but I also don't think it would severely impact your networking ability, as long as you can kind of code switch. In other words, those you network with aren't going to ask you about your religion.

nixy

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by nixy » Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:13 pm

I really don't think the BYU network is going to be the same for a non-Mormon as a Mormon - I think it's more a Mormon network than a school network.

There are vets and organizations that work for vets all across the country, but you may have more options on the psychology side than the legal side.

namefromplace

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Re: TTT or no?

Post by namefromplace » Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:43 am

nixy wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:13 pm
I really don't think the BYU network is going to be the same for a non-Mormon as a Mormon - I think it's more a Mormon network than a school network.

There are vets and organizations that work for vets all across the country, but you may have more options on the psychology side than the legal side.
It's a Mormon network, but you're folded into that network for being part of BYU. Maybe some of the deeper networking connections are made through church, but, as a law student, people will essentially assume you're Mormon if you're at BYU and aren't going to ask otherwise. Whether that's something you want is up to you.

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