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need help choosing a school

Discussion in 'Law School & Careers in Law' started by Lost, Feb 11, 2004.

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  1. Lost

    Lost Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm at my wick's end.. I'm trying to choose a law school and it seems all I have to go by are a bunch of questionable rankings.

    I'm studying criminal justice as an undergrad at Florida State right now and approaching graduation and I haven't even taken the LSAT yet (I could graduate either fall 04 or spring 05). I've got a 3.78 gpa at the moment though and have taken a symbolic logic class (philosophy minor). I do know that I want to practice in the southeast. I also would like to work in criminal law with a strong background in constitutional law and civil rights. I'd love to work in the appeals process.. better still would be becoming a Circuit Court judge.

    I've heard that the high ranked schools aren't worth the money if I'm not planning on working for a large private firm.. any truth to this? I could just go the University of Florida or Florida State but I don't want to regret not going to a better school twenty years from now... I don't want my school choice to forclose on career goals.

    Can anyone refer me to a good book or website? Better still does anyone know what schools have a great reputation in criminal law and civil rights? Any of these schools in or near Florida?

    Any direction or advice would be tremendously appreciated

    Will

    edit: also, is it worth taking a test prep class? If so, which one? I've heard testmasters is worth it.....
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    High ranked schools can be worth the money but only the top 20 or so, top 10 for sure.

    Are you looking to practice in your home state? It is a good idea to talk to people working in the field and in the area. Don't always take what they have to say as gospel as they will usually be partial to their school, but do listen as there are usually many nuggets. There are several books published you can get at amazon which review these schools. St. John's in NY is well known for the criminal justice system, on both sides. CUNY is a very low ranked school but very high in civil rights. You need to know what you want to do... but make sure it is what you want to do and I would see what I could do to intern or just ask someone if you can 'shadow' them for a few days.
     
  3. Lost

    Lost Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have been doing loads more research in the past few days and am strongly leaning towards University of Texas at Austin.

    It's a public university so it's cheaper and it's also highly ranked in general and is ranked very highly in criminal law and constitutional law - the two subject areas I know I will be studying.

    I have zero interest in coporate law/business law and land use law.. and minimal interest in civil torts... being a criminal justice major I have a fascination with the criminal justice system and the constitution which explains why I want to study those areas of law.

    I haven't heard or read anything about CUNY or St. Johns prior to your post - how do you know they're highly regarded? In what so called rankings? I'll have to look into both schools but to be honest I'd really like to stay in the south.. preferably in the southeast.. I know UF has a good criminal program but it's ranked low overall.. really I'd like to go to a top 15 or top 20 school and there just aren't any in FL..

    Any thoughts on Austin?

    edit: I should mention that I'm relying heavily on information from the "educational quality rankings" webpage which, ironically, seems to be hosted by University of Texas. UT is ranked 15 in the US News and World Reports rankings though. The ERQ rankings can be foundhere

    Thanks again
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2004
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Much will depend upon geographic location as well. St. John's has a very strong record in the New York City area. In Texas it probably is not nearly as strong as U of T at Austin.

    You should probably look to see who is who in the business you are seeking to enter. You should probably take a look at the composition at the District Attorney's offices that you hope to work for. Call them up and speak to them. Many ADAs might be willing to have a little talk with you.

    I would probably say that if you know where you want to practice, that could be one of the most important factors in choosing a school.

     
  5. pilawman

    pilawman New Member

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    Hey Lost,

    I wouldn't sweat the decision so much. Unless you're going Ivy League, it's my opinion that any of the public schools in Florida would be fine. Assuming you are a Florida resident, they'll be a heck of a lot cheaper as well.

    I applied and was accepted at both Florida and Florida State. Both great schools. I went to Florida, and while I concentrated in land use, I immensely enjoyed criminal procedure courses, in particular a course called police practices taught by Prof. Fletcher Baldwin. He is a character and very highly respected. In your decision process, I'd encourage you to speak with him.

    If you can graduate in the top 10% to 15% at FSU or Florida and participate in extracurricular activities like law review and/or moot court, you should be able to write your ticket to any job in Florida.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2004
  6. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes and no... if you are looking to work in a specialy and you KNOW that you will work in that specialty then you want to go to top ranked schools in that specialty area.

    Otherwise, if it's a top 20 or so school consider it. Many times it will be your paper that will be the only criteria for an interview. If you're at a good school, it will help you in the long run.

     
  7. NYClex

    NYClex New Member

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    I think the professor here gave a good advice. You cannot really say if a prestigious school is worth the money or not unless you look at what you are doing. I went to NYU, do I think it was worth it? I guess yes, could I have done fine at CUNY? Probably yes, too.

    Since you already have an idea of what you want to do later do what the professor said: have a look at people who already are in these positions and see where they went to school. You probably will find a pattern.
     

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