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Old 03-19-2008, 03:48 AM
 
Location: Michissippi
3,116 posts, read 7,163,281 times
Reputation: 2055

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You need to take several factors into consideration when choosing a law school:

1. What kind of law school can I get into? Top 10? Top 20? First tier?

2. Where do you want to live (NYC for now)? Where would it be best to start a legal career; in what state and city would you be most likely to find an entry level job?

3. If you can't get into a top 10 or top 20 law school, then you have to start wondering about the costs of attending law school. Can you get in-state tuition at a public university? Are any of the schools offering you scholarships?

In general, it's best to go to law school in a city where you hope to settle down and practice, especially if you didn't grow up in that area. Also, try to keep your costs--both cost of living and tuition--as low as possible. However, if you can get into a top 10 school then you should probably go, and if you can't get into a top 10 school but can get into one of the top 20 schools, you need to give such a school serious consideration. Otherwise, I suggest going to the best school you can where you have in-state tuition or a scholarship in a location or state where you'd like to settle.

I really do want to emphasize this point about not overpaying for law school. There are some lower tier schools, often the private schools, that charge the same amount of tuition as the top ten schools; that's insane for a degree that has questionable value.

Remember--becoming a lawyer does NOT put you on the gravy train--not when the nation produces twice as many law school graduates as can be employed as lawyers. You could easily graduate from law school and find yourself unemployed and possibly unemployable in the field and then having to scurry for a job in another field. (I know it might not be nice or politically correct to say something like that, but it's the dirty truth of the American educational system today; getting a degree far from guarantees you a job, a career in the field you trained for, or even a middle class income.) You might also want to open a solo practice (if you can't find a job), which is a very daunting prospect today, especially when thousands of other similarly situated new graduates also want to start solo practices, and it will definitely be easier if you have less student loan debt.

Also, work your butt off during your first year and try to get the highest GPA possible throughout law school but especially during that first year; it's very important!
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:33 PM
 
Location: Center City Philadelphia
1,099 posts, read 4,143,019 times
Reputation: 436
I think Philadelphia is a good option. Cheaper then NYC and DC but very easy access (via Amtrak) to all the major cities on the east coast. Philadelphia is known as having some of the best lawyers in the country.

As for crime, well Philadelphia has large poor crime-ridden areas just like any other major city. As long as you stay out of there, you'll be fine. You take the same risks that you do anywhere else.
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:05 PM
 
766 posts, read 2,270,854 times
Reputation: 698
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhaalspawn View Post
You need to take several factors into consideration when choosing a law school:

1. What kind of law school can I get into? Top 10? Top 20? First tier?

2. Where do you want to live (NYC for now)? Where would it be best to start a legal career; in what state and city would you be most likely to find an entry level job?

3. If you can't get into a top 10 or top 20 law school, then you have to start wondering about the costs of attending law school. Can you get in-state tuition at a public university? Are any of the schools offering you scholarships?

In general, it's best to go to law school in a city where you hope to settle down and practice, especially if you didn't grow up in that area. Also, try to keep your costs--both cost of living and tuition--as low as possible. However, if you can get into a top 10 school then you should probably go, and if you can't get into a top 10 school but can get into one of the top 20 schools, you need to give such a school serious consideration. Otherwise, I suggest going to the best school you can where you have in-state tuition or a scholarship in a location or state where you'd like to settle.

I really do want to emphasize this point about not overpaying for law school. There are some lower tier schools, often the private schools, that charge the same amount of tuition as the top ten schools; that's insane for a degree that has questionable value.

Remember--becoming a lawyer does NOT put you on the gravy train--not when the nation produces twice as many law school graduates as can be employed as lawyers. You could easily graduate from law school and find yourself unemployed and possibly unemployable in the field and then having to scurry for a job in another field. (I know it might not be nice or politically correct to say something like that, but it's the dirty truth of the American educational system today; getting a degree far from guarantees you a job, a career in the field you trained for, or even a middle class income.) You might also want to open a solo practice (if you can't find a job), which is a very daunting prospect today, especially when thousands of other similarly situated new graduates also want to start solo practices, and it will definitely be easier if you have less student loan debt.

Also, work your butt off during your first year and try to get the highest GPA possible throughout law school but especially during that first year; it's very important!
As a lawyer, I completely agree with all of this. Other than the top 10 to 15 schools (i.e. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, U of Chicago, Columbia, etc.), I've found that graduate placements for law schools become very regional in nature (even for schools that are relatively tough to get into like Wash U or Notre Dame, the vast majority of opportunities are going to be in the Midwest). Therefore, the location of where someone wants to practice is a very important consideration in terms of choosing a law school unless you've got the goods to get into a top 10 school. You should also be very wary of piling on a lot of debt at lower tier schools. Unfortunately, first year grades also mean everything (it's backwards, but it is what it is).

For locales, I can just speak to the Chicago market - if you get into "Biglaw", you're going to make as much as associates in New York or California but have about 75% of the cost of living, so in terms of income-to-COL ratio, Chicago is at or near the top for lawyers (as a general rule anywhere, don't just look at sticker prices of real estate as to whether a place is "cheap" or "expensive" - you need to take into account the amount of professional opportunities and potential income growth in that area). Of course, be prepared to work 60-to-70 hour weeks at those Biglaw firms (which is not an exaggeration from first-hand experience). There's a very large gap between Biglaw salaries and smaller firms or public sector jobs (honestly, you're not going to be making much more than what you would have with a bachelor's degree alone in a lot of cases), so it's very accurate that you can't just assume a JD is going to automatically lead to riches.
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