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More law school advice sought

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Maxinquaye, May 20, 2002.

  1. Maxinquaye

    Maxinquaye Member

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    I really appreciated the thread on law school below. I am at a point of liminality in my life - I need to choose my post-graduate education, and could use some advice.
    I just turned 27 years old. I graduate from Cal State San Marcos in Southern California next spring with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, focused on High Technology Management. This makes sense for me since I currently run the MIS for a small company (45 employees ~35-40 mil) and have done so for the last 3 years. Before that I did computer security consulting. I'm also a Veteran, having served 4 years in the USMC (enlisted - honorable discharge).
    So here's my dilemma. I could go to San Diego State and get my MSBS in 30 units (one year). I could get an MBA in 48 units. Thing is, I can't for the life of me find anything in business I LIKE doing. In fact, the only thing that really rings my bell is law - I took 2 law classes as electives (criminal and constitutional law). I aced them both and loved every second. When I face the facts, I would much rather do law then business. I've always been interested in philosophy and political science - law just brings it all together for me.
    The question is, would going to law school be worth the sacrifices I would have to make? First off would be the tuition (and the debt it would incur). There are 3 law schools in San Diego, all charge roughly 22-25K per year. Second would be the loss of my lifestyle: I do pretty good for may age and not having a degree, had to pay taxes on $67000 in income last year, and received about another 10K in tuition money from the USMC which was tax free. If I go to B-school, I can continue to work and go to school at night, maintaining my resume and income. I would also be able to get out of school with no debt. Starting law school would mean going back to penniless student =/
    Another problem are the schools here. USD is a second tier school - Cal Western and Thomas Jefferson are from my understanding lesser institutions. Ironically, they all charge as much as Stanford or Harvard. Is a degree from these types on institutions going to get me anywhere?
    I realize this is quite long, but any insights and advice would be greatly appreciated..
     


  2. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Distinguished Member

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    If your heart is set on law school, you should go.  You can do a lot of things with a business degree, but you can't practice law.  As for the money issue, you should look into some of the excellent state law schools in California (I assume that you are a California resident) that charge half as much for tuition as the private schools.  UC-Berkeley and UCLA are top-tier schools and Hastings isn't far behind.  Not knowing what your academic record is like, I can only recommend that to get into these schools you (1) study like a demon for the LSAT and (2) accentuate your background -- law schools like to have a diverse student body.

    I'm not sure what the reputation of USD is in the legal community.  It's probably OK if you know you're going to stay in San Diego.  If you want choices from around the state, however, definitely look into the schools I mentioned.
     


  3. GatorStyle

    GatorStyle Senior Member

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    To address some of your points, Max, in no particular order:

    It's not surprising that some of these lesser schools charge as much as do Harvard/Yale/etc. That's the economics of law school cost. Private schools - no matter how superb or miserable - generally charge about the same. Public schools charge far less, particularly so if you're an in-state resident. As I mentioned in my earlier post, all law school curriculum/course work is roughly the same, from Harvard to the shittiest law school out there. The differences lie in (1) cache/name value of diploma; (2) caliber of professors and fellow students; and (3) elective/clinical programs. If you have no intention of leaving the area, a local state school - even a lesser one - may be fine for you, because of the networking opportunities close to home.

    As to your dilemma, consider a night school/part-time option; many schools offer these. As to whether you're willing to become a starving student again, only you can make that call. As much as I loved college (not so much law school), I just couldn't do it. By contrast, a good friend of mine just left his job to become a starving student at an excellent business school, with the hope that his 2 yr. sacrifice will pay greater dividends in the future. Your call. Needless to say, you'll feel better off back in school if you have a security blanket, like a well-paid, working wife, or a big nest-egg, or something else to get you through. Makes things much easier.

    As between MBA and law degrees, both are among the most versatile degrees you can get. Both permit you to work outside the usual field/profession that one typically enters upon graduation. But as stated above, you can't practice law with an MBA (but you can do business with a law degree; your learning curve just may be steeper).

    Lastly, you may want to investigate schools that offer dual J.D./M.B.A. programs. I know they're out there, and may be an option if you can't decide.
     


  4. Maxinquaye

    Maxinquaye Member

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    Well, I did the math, and going to law school full time would mean: 1- Turning my back on the relatively successful career I have now. 2- Losing about 250K in lost wages, plus going into debt for tuition, etc. That's a lot of risk I dunno if I want to take. Â The only choice I have found that I'm comfortable with is to go part time evenings to a shitty local law school that just got ABA certified called Thomas Jefferson School of law (www.tjsl.edu). Â Upside of this is, I can do the night course, keeping my job, and they will give me a free ride the first year with a 160 LSAT (I've been scoring high 160's on the practice test). Additionally, the school admits such lackluster people, I'm sure I would be able to stay in the top 5% of the class, and maybe get on their review. What is your opinion of my job prospects graduating at the top of the class from a smaller crappy school?
     


  5. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Distinguished Member

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    If you plan on working for a firm, you should hesitate before attending a law school that only recently received ABA certification, if only because the lawyers doing the hiring will not have had exposure to graduates from the school and may not be willing to take a chance even on a graduate who has done really well.  On the other hand, if you plan on hanging out your own shingle, and particularly if you are going into criminal defense, where you went to law school is much less important.  Non-lawyers are not going to know or care where you went to school so long as you can get them money from the driver who hit them or get them off from a drug possession charge.  

    As for the opportunity cost of going to law school . . . you have to spend money to make money, as they say.  Think of it like startup costs for a new business.  If you really want to go to law school you don't want to be wishing you had done so ten years down the road.
     


  6. LDawg

    LDawg Active Member

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    What do you guys mean you can't practice law with an MBA? Are you implying that it's illegal? Or that there is no benefit of having an MBA while practicing law?

    -LDawg
     


  7. GatorStyle

    GatorStyle Senior Member

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    LDawg:

    In virtually every American jurisdiction, you can only pracfice law with a J.D. (Juris Doctor, the degree you get after 3 yrs. of law school), after having passed a Bar examination, and if you otherwise meet the particular requirements of wherever you're seeking to be admitted. You can practice law with an M.B.A. (or any other degree for that matter) in addition to that (and it may be of benefit to you in some instances), but you'll also need the other requirements. It's illegal to practice law otherwise.
     


  8. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Distinguished Member

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    In a few states (Virginia, Maine, Colorado, and Vermont), you can work with an attorney as an apprentice for a few years and take the bar exam with that attorney's endorsement.  While this route will save a lot of money in law school tuition, it may limit exposure to different areas of the law and future opportunities in the legal profession.
     


  9. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Washington State has a clerkship program like Ambulance Chaser described as well. "See generally" WA State Bar Assn.
     


  10. LDawg

    LDawg Active Member

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    hahahhaa....I'm SUCH a retard. When I read that sentence on your post, Gator, I thought you were implying that it was illegal to practice law with an MBA assuming that you have a J.D. Now that I re-read it all, I was such a dumbass with my post full of lame questions. That's just great coming from a person planning to go to law school. LOL. Thanks for the clarification though Gator.
     


  11. GQ Lawyer

    GQ Lawyer Senior Member

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    This string just proves my theory that law school is the great American babysitter of B.A. degrees.
     


  12. Maxinquaye

    Maxinquaye Member

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    GQ Lawyer

    Please explain...babysitter??
     


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