Page 1 of 1

how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 7:15 pm
by Haunt
I've heard some conflicting things and am just struggling with how to really approach this question. I'm from the South originally, but I've lived all over the country. The big wrinkle is that it's hard to predict where my wife's career track will take her. So I'm just trying to get a handle on how to think about how portable different schools might make my degree.

Currently I've been accepted to and am considering UCLA, ASU, CU-Boulder, Vanderbilt, and BU. I figure CU is probably too geographically restrictive to be the right choice for me, but what about the others? I'm under the impression UCLA might be close to national in terms of portability, while the others are really regional--but how big are the regions and how hard is to get beyond them? Or is it not really about school at all but "ties"--given I've moved all over and would be bringing a family (ideally with my wife hired in the area as well) where are my ties? Haven't lived in the town I grew up in since HS.

Thanks.

EDIT: The optimistic answer I'm sort of hoping for is that if I go to one of these schools and do well and then my wife were to get a job in a certain area, good school/grades + spouse has a job here as a rationale to present potential employers would be good enough to help me overcome most regional hurdles. But I don't know if that's realistic.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 7:37 pm
by Stranger
Yes, your wife having a job in a market can serve as sufficient ties for most legal employers to see you as serious about their market. If you don't have this narrowed down to a region she's going to land in, though, I would rule out ASU, CU, and maybe BU (barring a really sweet financial situation). UCLA and Vanderbilt are a cut above those others in terms of portability, but even they don't open things up nationally the way the T13 would. UCLA vs. Vanderbilt is something of a running argument on this board, and it's really impossible to compare them intelligently without a cost-of-attendance figure, but if you were looking at equal costs, I'd come down for Vandy in most situations.

Do you know what you want to do in law, though? That matters quite a bit, too.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:19 pm
by Haunt
Thanks a lot. Using the schools' CoA estimators after scholarship I looks like Vandy would cost about $15k more (not sure about how the health insurance would play into this though).

I'm pretty open in terms of what I might want to do (is that bad?). To the extent I have a preference right now I'm thinking something public interest/PD or maybe try to go into a DA's office and try to work up towards working on white collar/fraud stuff. But I could also see myself just going for "something corporate" or really a lot of different things.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:44 pm
by UVA2B
Haunt wrote:
Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:19 pm
Thanks a lot. Using the schools' CoA estimators after scholarship I looks like Vandy would cost about $15k more (not sure about how the health insurance would play into this though).

I'm pretty open in terms of what I might want to do (is that bad?). To the extent I have a preference right now I'm thinking something public interest/PD or maybe try to go into a DA's office and try to work up towards working on white collar/fraud stuff. But I could also see myself just going for "something corporate" or really a lot of different things.
Because of your generalized interest in markets and jobs, you'll want to focus on two things with your wife: LRAP and market desirability. The second one is easier: where do you and your wife ideally want to pursue jobs? Because you're looking at PI/PD jobs in general, you'll want to focus from the start with the markets you find most appealing. If you want to end up in Tucson, ASU is infinitely better than Vandy. But if you want to end up in Johnson City, Vandy is worth it for you.

The first question is also pretty easy, because you're likely to rely on LRAP for your expected career. Research them yourself for your own information, but generally speaking, the higher ranked the school, the better the LRAP. If you don't know what LRAP is, it's a generic term used by most schools for Loan Repayment Assistance Program, wherein low paying public interest careers are subsidized by the law school so students don't feel compelled into taking higher paying private jobs. There is an entire thread on LRAP here if you're interested.

Finally, and most crucially, you need to understand why you need to pick a market when picking a school here. All of these schools are to some degree regional, but so are the jobs you're mostly considering. If you want to be a PD or DA in a local government, you'll want to intern, extern, etc. with those offices to ingratiate yourself with those who you want to hire you. If we are talking between LA and Nashville PD/DA offices, they'll be very different because LA will be a much more competitive office, but the thrust of logic remains the same. Get the people you want to hire you to like you, and do that by being committed to getting a job in their office. Be the face they know, and be the person whose work and motivation they have seen. It's possible to get a job from ASU in Colorado, but why do that when you have Boulder right there carrying the state's hiring belt?

Edit: if you decide you want to do "white collar stuff," understand that means you're moving into large law firms and USAO jobs, so the calculus will entirely change if that's what you want most.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:54 am
by Slytherpuff
Lots of great advice in here so far, but just to add a bit more information on the extent to which these schools are regional v. national - you can look up each school here (https://www.lstreports.com/schools/) and get an overview of what states the recent grads went to work in.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:09 pm
by Haunt
Yea, thanks a lot everyone.

What kinds of lawyer jobs would have the greatest geographical range? Like I said I'm pretty open right now on what I might want to do, so what careers would offer wider portability, if any, if that makes sense?

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:49 pm
by UVA2B
Haunt wrote:
Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:09 pm
Yea, thanks a lot everyone.

What kinds of lawyer jobs would have the greatest geographical range? Like I said I'm pretty open right now on what I might want to do, so what careers would offer wider portability, if any, if that makes sense?
Almost every practice area has theoretical geographic flexibility, in that criminal law doesn't change enough between jurisdictions to make practice in one useless in another, or corporate practice in one market is drastically different so as to be unrecognizable in another. But there is a difference between whether practice areas (which is basically the same thing as lawyer jobs) are portable and whether you will be portable in that practice area. If you become a noted criminal defense attorney, or a particularly effective DA, you can use that experience to leverage to bigger and better offices in other jurisdictions. And if you do well in law school and get a reputable private firm job in the market that law school serves, it's absolutely possible you could have geographic flexibility to get hired in another firm in another market in that same practice area (or alternatively, transfer offices in the same firm after a year or two). But this isn't about the nature of the job: it's the nature of how well you did before and while entering that job. If you screw up any part of that, it can very easily disappear. Which gets back to what I wrote about previously.

You don't need to specifically know what kind of job or practice area you want before you enter law school. A majority of incoming law students have no idea what they want to do. But you need to understand the opportunities available to you if you enter a particular law school and how those opportunities are affected by how you perform at that law school and what connections you manage to make at that law school.

I don't fault you for being vague about what you want to do because you're not sure of what you want to do, but realize that all of the schools you're currently considering do not have true national portability on their own. They will not carry any substantial recognition outside of their regional markets. That doesn't mean you couldn't beat that reputation, but you're starting from behind and having to try to catch up if you start at any of them wanting national portability while you're in law school. There are arguably 13 or 14 national law schools that have portability throughout the country, regardless of market or practice area. None of the schools you're considering are on that list. So you'll need to be more strategic and purposeful in how you approach finding the right job for you and right practice area and market if you enter law school at any of the schools you're considering.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:50 am
by Haunt
OK, that's more or less what I thought--it's the T14, basically, where the school itself offers national portability?

This sort of gets into another area. I ended up applying at basically the end of the cycle--mid February and in a few cases later--which is why (I tell myself) I under-performed my stats a bit (3.45/171). UCLA with almost $$ was my best offer. Definitely leaning towards reapplying at the beginning of the coming cycle. Feels like I could get into a lower T14, maybe even with a little money. Although I kinda think coronavirus might make next cycle especially competitive, but who knows.

Thanks again.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:23 am
by UVA2B
Please reapply. You’ll absolutely be eligible for scholarships in the lower T13.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:59 am
by Slytherpuff
Yes, I definitely think you should reapply. I think you underperformed your score. Are you open to retaking the LSAT as well? If you got higher than a 171 that would open even more doors for you.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Fri May 15, 2020 10:43 am
by Nebby
Haunt wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:50 am
OK, that's more or less what I thought--it's the T14, basically, where the school itself offers national portability?

This sort of gets into another area. I ended up applying at basically the end of the cycle--mid February and in a few cases later--which is why (I tell myself) I under-performed my stats a bit (3.45/171). UCLA with almost $$ was my best offer. Definitely leaning towards reapplying at the beginning of the coming cycle. Feels like I could get into a lower T14, maybe even with a little money. Although I kinda think coronavirus might make next cycle especially competitive, but who knows.

Thanks again.
Definitely reapply early next cycle and, if you have time, retake the LSAT to try and get above 171. Even a one or two point increase can make a big difference in the amount of financial aid you could receive.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:40 pm
by Haunt
OK, re-applying. Didn't re-take, maybe should have, oh well.

Made a new thread asking for PS advice here: viewtopic.php?f=36&t=13798

thanks again everyone

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:16 am
by Haunt
Thanks for encouraging me to try again guys, first acceptance (UVA) of the new cycle.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:25 am
by icechicken
Congrats!!! That's a big step up from last year, especially in terms of geographic flexibility. Hope the rest of the cycle brings even more good news.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:34 am
by pancakes3
Awesome! Stick around and keep us updated! We can also help with LS advice, and this is also a safe space to vent when you can't with your friends and family.

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:31 am
by jeff chiles
Also cool to have avoided a Covid 1L

Re: how law school affects geographic location for afterwards

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:35 pm
by Haunt
jeff chiles wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:31 am
Also cool to have avoided a Covid 1L
Yea that was definitely a factor.