Thoughts about choosing a law school, pt. 3

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5 Responses

  1. Larry Rosenthal says:

    Professor Yen:

    These posts are terrific! Applicants — and even those already in law school — often fail to appreciate the importance of legal writing to preprofessional legal education. I fear, however, that these posts have overstressed the importance of the 1L writing course. Even the best 1L course can only begin to develop legal writing skills — it has no hope of getting students to the point where their writing is of sufficient merit to enhance their marketability. I think applicants should carefully investigate the writing opportunities for 2L and 3Ls. Are they only in remedial courses, do they involve producing scholarly papers of little interest to potential employers, or are there opportunities to develop the kind of writing skills actually used by practitioners that enhance a candidate’s ability to get a high-quality job? My own school has recently increased the amount of writing required of upper-level students, and imposed a practice-oriented writing requirement, in an effort to address these issues.

    Larry Rosenthal
    Chapman University School of Law

  2. Matt says:

    This is very interesting and seems very reasonable, Alfred. I’d like to hear a bit more on how far you’d push the point. When deciding between roughly equally ranked schools this seems like a point that should reasonably be given a lot of weight. But I’d assume that most people would think that it should be given only a little weight in deciding between, say, a top-10 and a top-50 school, given the expected difference in job opportunities between average graduates from each school (leaving aside whether these differences are reasonable or not.) Would you agree? Obviously, personal and even idiosyncratic factors matter in these decisions as well, but I’d be interested to have you say more about how much weight you think this factor should have and how it compares with other considerations.

  3. MJG says:

    I agree with your analysis about legal writing courses. It is particularly interesting with the dust-up at the University of Texas Law School, which much of that focused on the school’s allegedly inferior legal writing program.

  4. Alfred Yen says:

    Matt, I agree that between a top 10 school and a school ranked around 50, factors other than the legal writing program would probably drive the choice towards the top 10 school. But between #20 v. #30 (or even #35), I think the individual student needs to decide what matters to her. As I mentioned in my first post, there’s not much difference per U.S. News between #20 and #30, so the fit between what a student needs and what the school offers matters more. I think that your “generic” student is well served by looking for good writing programs, all other things being reasonably close (which of course they never are).

  5. Matt says:

    Thanks Alfred- that seems perfectly sensible.