Florida Coastal School of Law...should I go? (Jacksonville, Miami: legal, shop)
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Well all I can really say is that while interning in Jackonsville I have met many lawyers who graduated from Coastal and are doing exceptionally well. So if you play your cards right, I think you have a decent shot somewhere. At the end of the day everyone is so fixated on working for the big firm and making a ton of money. A law degree can't hurt you, bottom line. It's a graduate degree after all, so even if you don't become a lawyer having that background will help you somewhere down the road.
The easiest way to make money fast in the legal profession in Florida is personal injury work. And you don't need a big deal degree or Law Review to do that. These days - you just need $$$ to do a lot of advertising (wasn't true when I was practicing - there wasn't much advertising back then). And the smarts to refer any really big cases you get to lawyers who know what they're doing and have the bucks to finance the cases and prepare them properly (used to cost maybe $10-25k to do a medical malpractice case properly - now it's easily $50-100k+). It's almost more like being a venture capitalist than a lawyer. FWIW - my husband was a plaintiffs' PI lawyer who specialized in medical malpractice. Almost a 100% referral practice from lawyers who signed up cases - and then didn't have a clue what to do with them. And I was at the end of the food chain - an appellate/legal issue trial consulting lawyer who did mostly personal injury work. Robyn
P.S. The way things used to work is the main lawyer would get 40% of the recovery - and the referral lawyer would get something like 30-50% of that. I think all these percentages are lower now. But - in a really big case - you're still talking about substantial amounts of money.
Just wanted to add to this conversation. I graduated same year as FCSL_08. I'm sure I probably even took similar classes, had similar stats (although wasn't on law review). I currently have a satisfying job making good money. My experience is that there are many FCSL attorneys in the greater Jacksonville market and the vibe that I have gotten is that they "look out" for each other. I have had nothing but good experiences dealing with other attorneys who did not go to Coastal as well. Do they initially discredit me because I went to a T4? Maybe. But all it takes is professionalism and some strong work to quickly dispell any notion that you'll be a pushover.
I enjoyed my time at Coastal and found the professors to be qualified and instructive. Would I have paid full sticker price, especially given the state of the economy? No. But I enrolled in 2005 when a bad legal market wasn't even really considered. New enrollees certainly need to do their homework and take a practical look at what they expect to incur in debt, what the job market is like in the area they want to practice, and whether he/she is willing to put in the time and effort to work in a somewhat thankless profession (if you're not ready for it).
Good grades and a positive attitude go a long way. But a huge percentage of (if not most) people graduating from FCSL have neither, and basically expect a job to waiting for them upon graduation, which is not true.
So many students go to FCSL expecting to practice international law or sports law, and then they don't take any practical classes or spend their time trying to network or get meaningful work experience.
Basically, FCSL isn't a terrible idea for the people who manage graduate in the top 15% or so of their class with LR/MC and get some real job experience and have the tenacity to control their lives. But for the rest, FCSL is just $150k of debt and a line on a resume that potential employers will toss in the garbage.
Go at your own risk, but consider yourself warned.
To be honest, I really have a pretty bright future. However, I am involved at FCSL and have a lot of contact with the students, and it is a very sad situation. Firms in Florida and nationwide have cut back on hiring, and most Coastal students are being lead to believe that the hiring reduction is temporary and based on largely on "the economy." And that is certainly true for the Foley's and the H+K's out there (nat'l/int'l firms), but demand at smaller local and regional firms hasn't really changed for smaller firms based on the economy - they've changed based on the sheer number on law school grads available.
Firms who used to only get "C" students applying now have their pick of top 10%ers and Law Reviewers, and so nowadays kids with crap grades and no experience do debt collection.
I just hope to enlighten some 0Ls out there to the reality.
I've read a lot of the posts on here and it has been quite informative. However, I have chosen FCSL and will be entering this fall, unless Marquette takes me from their waiting list. My ultimate goal is to practice law in business/sports/contracts area. I don't remember if I read it here or somewhere else, but there have been people that have said sports law programs and certificates don't really amount to anything. My question is, would this still be the case if I eventually applied to a law firm that dealt with sports and entertainment field, or should I not waste my time and just work on the jd by itself? Also, what is the best way to prepare for 0l year at FCSL? I got the complete idiot's guide to speed reading to improve my reading speed, bc it is rather slow. I, also, have Law School Confidential, Acing Your First Year of Law School, and Law 101. I doubt I'm going to have time to read all of those between enjoying the summer and traveling, which one would be the most beneficial in reading before the year begins?
Here are some suggestions to prepare for law school:
Develop and implement healthy stress management strategies, such as regular exercise and mediation.
Obtain bar preparation (BarBri & PMBR) outlines and begin to look over the outlines for contracts, property, torts, and criminal law.
After spending several hours a day 3 to 5 days a week reviewing the outlines for two to three weeks, begin working on bar prep multiple choice questions related to contracts, property, torts, and criminal law. Review the questions you answer wrong (as a non-lawyer you will miss many) and learn the correct answer. You should do 50 questions a day for a month.
The process of actively studying the law will familiarize you with the concepts that will be presented in your first year substantive law classes.
While it is important to learn to read the law, it is more important to be able to distill legal concepts/rules in concise packets of data and apply the legal rules to the facts. Doing practice exams and questions is the best method to learn this skill.
Think about how you will organize the information presented in law school. Try to find class outlines from successful law students to understand what effective organization looks like.
**In my opinion, prospective law students are better off focusing on improving LSAT scores to boost them out of the 4th tier, even if it means waiting an extra year. The practice areas mentioned in your post are “big firm” practice areas, which predominately hire out of the top tier.
While it is hard to predict the future, I believe the relative value of the 4th tier JD will continue to diminish in comparison to the 1st Tier JD as 4th Tier schools, developed as profit centers, continue to crank out more JDs than the legal job market can absorb.
My LSAT was pretty decent, my problem was that I waited so long to apply to law school, that the najority of tier 1 schools were already full and placed me on their waiting lists, but I've been told that it is rare for people who waited as long as I did to apply to get in off the waiting list. As for waiting a year, I just don't think I could sit idle for a year. I'm not going into this looking to transfer, but if it is true that 4th tiers don't really get "big" firm offers; what are the odds of being able to transfer to a tier 1 if you do very well your first year ar a t4? Again thank you for the prep info.
It is natural to want to get started, but I wouldn't count on being able to transfer. You may be placed in a section with the most competitive students, which could blunt your ability to get the rank necessary to transfer up to a better school. Perhaps some FCSL alumni can elucidate on whether or not FCSL puts its best incoming students together in one section?
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