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Your thoughts on low-ranked law schools with scholarship?

VladenschlutteVladenschlutte Registered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
edited August 2011 in Law School
There are two law schools near where I live very close to each other. University of Michigan Law School which costs upwards of 50K/year but is a top 14 school. Thomas M. Cooley Law School which is some bottom tier law school, but is free for anyone with an LSAT score of 163 or higher (median LSAT score there is 146, so this 163 is likely not a large number of students).

Presumably someone who would be at the bottom or merely average at UMich would shine at Cooley, so if someone is making a decision between UMich and Cooley, is Cooley a 150K handicap. What if someone was picking between it and a school where the median LSAT score is 163 (a school ranked about 50)? Is going to a bottom tiered law school that big of a handicap for someone who gets a 163 LSAT?

I'm not making decision, but I'm curious what your thoughts are.
Post edited by Vladenschlutte on

Replies to: Your thoughts on low-ranked law schools with scholarship?

  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member
    As someone who went to Georgetown Law School, I can tell you from experience that with all the lawyers out there, coming from a big name school like Michigan is critical.

    On the other hand, if you made law review at Cooley, that might get you the same job as a Michigan grad.

    The real question, however, is whether going to law school is a good idea, even with a free scholarship.

    There are way way way too many lawyers out there, and hence, the law of supply and demand will likely kill you.

    I honestly would choose a different path, but if you insist on law school, I think you HAVE to go to Michigan.
  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte Registered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    Well, I'm not making this decision. But let's say this person is smart, works hard, and does well. Surely there must be some job out there for them. Assume this guy had "legal ability" at the level of the top 30-40% of Law School graduates nationally. Say LSAT is a good measure of "legal ability," even though I realize it isn't.

    Is the school itself so tremendous of a handicap that it would be almost hopeless if he went to Cooley? Will just the fact that someone went to Michigan set someone up to the tune of 150K better than someone going to Cooley?
  • graduated31graduated31 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    T14 law grad here.

    I totally agree that Michigan would have to be the choice. Coming from a name school is HUGE when it comes to getting a well-paying law job. It doesn't guarantee it, but its a huge asset. Its virtually impossible to even land an interview at a major national law firm if you don't come from a top 14 school. That's not to say there are not opportunities at more regional and small law firms. But if big law is the goal, going to a top tier school is nearly a must.
  • zaprowsdowerzaprowsdower Registered User Posts: 213 Junior Member
    Is the school itself so tremendous of a handicap that it would be almost hopeless if he went to Cooley?

    Yes. There are times when it may be reasonable to take money at a school that isn't the best one you got into, even if it means turning down a T14 school. But it never makes sense to go to Cooley. I would also caution anyone against assuming that they'll be in the very top of their class at a low-ranked school because of their LSAT score. I think a lot of TTT exams tend to be closer to pure tests of memory, so the smart guy who slacks off because he's overconfident will often end up ranked behind the dumber guy who spent 12 hours a day memorizing the casebook and UCC.
  • LSU8888LSU8888 Registered User Posts: 289 Junior Member
    Zaprow, that's exactly the point I was going to make. There's no dependable correlation between admission credentials and performance. Even if the "smart guy" did not slack off, it's still no sure thing.

    The number of recruiters at a school like Michigan compared to Cooley is monumental. Cooley has the reputation as the law school that will accept anybody who pays.

    Now let's say instead of Cooley, you could go to Wayne State for free. It's a lower ranked school, but it has a better reputation than Cooley. If theoretically you could be assured you be in the top 2% of your class at WSU, then it would make sense to attend. But as has been said, there is absolutely no way of knowing that.

    Many people take scholarships with a top 1/3 stipulation thinking it will be a breeze, but are not able to keep them, and then are faced with the decision whether to dropout or pay full tuition for slim employment prospects.

    Attending a T14 also has the safety valve of LRAP (look it up).

    Significantly increasing your odds at landing a high paying job makes sense in the long run. Landing your first job is monumentally important in law.
  • notaznguynotaznguy Registered User Posts: 954 Member
    Short answer: Yes
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,137 Senior Member
    Here is info from USNews annual survey of law schools that may help:

    Figures for Thomas Cooley v Michigan:

    Percent of graduates known to be employed 9 months after graduation: 65.6% v. 96.4%

    Percent known to be unemployed nine months after graduation and actively seeking jobs: 15.4% v .5%

    Middle 50% range (25th percentile to 75th percentile) of starting salaries of those who are employed in the private sector: $40,000 to $62,515 v. $145,000 to $160,000
  • CoolbrezzeCoolbrezze Registered User Posts: 5,403 Senior Member
    Your saying that University of Michigan law school will charge you 50k? Meaing your 150k in debt? Simply do not go there.
  • shanntotheontshanntotheont Registered User Posts: 115 Junior Member
    Do not go to cooley! Have you lost your freaking mind?

    Do not listen to coolbreeze.

    Reasons for not attending Cooley (even with a full ride):
    1. Law students are graded on a curve, you could have a bait-n-switch situation where you lose your scholarship for being below the curve. Everyone thinks they're smart in law school, and everyone is working hard. There is no guarantee you will succeed and be able to keep that money for the remaining two years.

    2. If you go to Michigan and end up with 150k in debt, the chances of you being employed and paying it back are hell of a lot higher than the exact opposite at Cooley.

    3. Job prospects at Cooley are not only dismal, but I'd venture to research that 65.6% that are working... Are they in the legal field? Are they part-time? Are they in-counsel at a law firm? Are they temporary positions?

    4. I doubt employers care that someone is on Cooley's Law Review... I'm just saying.

    5. If a person got into Michigan w/o money, presumably he can get into another law school in Michigan (ahem MSU) with money.

    Overall, going to Cooley is beyond dumb. It's reckless. Go do your homework and don't ask ridiculous questions like this EVER EVER EVER again.
This discussion has been closed.