Law School Decision

So many people are interested in where I plan to attend law school. Currently I have been accepted at:

  1. Hofstra
  2. New York Law School
  3. Rutgers-Newark School of Law

I’ve decided to attend:

RUTGERS-NEWARK SCHOOL OF LAW !

According to “www.top-law-schools.com” this is the lowdown:

While the school’s Newark location may not be ideal, Rutgers-Newark School of Law still has plenty to offer. The school is especially attractive for financial reasons, offering both low in-state tuition and very high starting salaries.

Admissions standards at Rutgers-Newark are slightly lower than those of its sister-school in Camden. The Princeton Review gives the school an “Admissions Selectivity Rating” of 84 out of a possible 100. Roughly 29% (863 out of 2,893) of applicants were granted admission last year. For those who were admitted, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range was 3.08–3.55 and the range for the LSAT was 155-161—with medians hovering around 3.3 and 159, respectively (USNews).

Rutgers-Newark also has a part-time program available. While admissions standards are usually much less stringent for part-time programs, at Rutgers-Newark, they differ little from the full-time program’s standards. Last year, GPA’s for part-time admits ranged from 3.06 to 3.59 for the 25th to 75th percentiles, while LSAT scores ranged from 153 to 158 (USNews).

Most people are delightfully surprised to learn that Rutgers is a state-institution. As a result, in-state students enjoy a healthy discount. Last year, New Jersey residents paid $21,302, while out-of-staters paid $30,307. “Room & board” is estimated by the school to be just over $10,500. So, out-of-state students can easily expect to spend over $40,000 per year. While tuition is low, so is the amount of financial aid generally received by Rutgers-Newark students. The 75th percentile grant was $6,000 last year, while the median was $4,000 and the 25th percentile was $2,500. On the plus side, there is a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) in place.

Bar Passage & Employment Prospects

USNews reports that 80% of Rutgers-Newark graduates pass the Bar the on their first try, just beating the state-wide passage rate of 79%. This is a fairly weak passage rate; and so it is not surprising that about the same amount of students (82%) are employed at the time of graduation. Within nine months, however, 95% of Rutgers-Newark graduates are employed. This is a testament to the strength of the Rutgers brand throughout the state of New Jersey, where the majority of Rutgers-Newark graduates (63%) are employed.  It may seem like a Rutgers-Newark degree is quite exportable, as 37% of graduates end up practicing outside of New Jersey. Further analysis reveals, however, that almost all of those who find work outside of the state end up in Philadelphia or New York, two cities that share borders with New Jersey. A few students (4%) found work south of the Mason Dixon Line, and some (1%) ended up in New England; but Rutgers-Newark is, and will remain to be, a regional law school. Prospective students should keep this in mind as they decide where to attend.

While Rutgers-Newark graduates may not be represented all over the country, they are represented in almost every field of law. Consistent with nationwide trends, more Rutgers-Newark graduates (43%) work in private practice than in any other field. Judicial clerkships are also quite popular, employing 31% of RU-Newark grads, while 15% went to work in business. The remaining graduates generally divide themselves among public-interest, academic and military jobs. One look at starting salaries reveals the reasoning behind the popularity of private practice work among RU-Newark graduates: those who enter private practice enjoy a median starting salary of $115,000—quite a high figure compared to that of schools similarly ranked to Rutgers. Such a high salary is most likely a result of the healthy legal markets in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York.

Academics

Rutgers-Newark provides an academic experience that is ample with opportunity; it is the type of opportunity however that must be sought after. Whereas top-14 schools are full of nationally-ranked programs and students are heavily recruited for internships and jobs, Rutgers-Newark has few outstanding programs. The school does have a strong clinical training program, however (ranked 28th in the nation by USNews); and this program, combined with the school’s proximity to both New York City and Trenton (home of New Jersey’s State government), provides students with the type of training and opportunity that can lead to a wonderful career in law.  It should be noted, however, that when it comes time to apply for internships and jobs in the New York and Trenton areas, competition may be fierce. Positions in the New York area are some of the most sought-after in the nation, if not the world.

Students brag about the school’s “excellent and approachable” faculty and “remarkable” new library (six years old). A 2L had this to say: “for pretty much every resource I have needed, I have had no trouble finding it… the faculty and the administration are relentlessly helpful, and this has had a big effect on my experience here so far”.

Quality of Life

Adding to the list of commonalities between the two Rutgers Law schools, the Newark campus, like its counterpart in Camden, is also located in a city which leaves much to be desired. Crime is high, the city is unattractive, and there is little in the way of social life. Many prospective students brush this aside, assuming they won’t have much free time in law school anyway. While this is certainly true, it would be a mistake to discount the effect that a school’s location will have on one’s experience.

Students are able to get out and enjoy nearby Hoboken, however; and many decide to live there and commute to Newark. In Hoboken students can find a growing population of young professionals and increasing night-life, mostly revolving around local happy-hours. Students also always have the option of hopping over to New York City for a weekend, which offers infinitely more opportunities for social life than anywhere in New Jersey.

As far as life on campus is concerned, competition seems to be moderate, if not low, and this helps to create a less stressful environment. As one student put it, “Competition exists… but not so much in the classroom as in the hunt for jobs”.

Conclusion

Certainly the school has its setbacks—most of which stem from the Newark location; but Rutgers-Newark is a gem of a prospect for any student hoping to enter private-practice in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Quick Reference

U.S. News Ranking: 77
LSAT Median: 159
GPA Median: 3.34
Multiple LSAT scores: Average
Application Deadlines: 03/15
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: 195
Yearly Tuition: $21,302 (In-state) $30,307 (Out-of-state)
Bar passage rate: 80.0%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 95.3%
Median private sector starting salary: $115,000

I have visited the campus, and whereas Newark is not exactly the most beautiful looking city in the world. It is not as scary as say….the TSU campus.

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4 Comments

  1. offthevine said,

    July 28, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Sounds great! Congratulations!

  2. tanglethis said,

    July 29, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    So wait… I get confused about how going to law school in whatever state affects where you practice law. Are you going to be certified for law in general, or NJ law in particular?

  3. kyoske said,

    July 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Amy: Thanks

    Sara: Once you attend and graduate from an ABA (American Bar Association) approved law school you take the Bar Exam in the state you plan on practicing. I think in New York you can take a combined test to practice in both New York and New Jersey since they are so close. So after all this stuff with law school is over I will bid a sad farewell to my friends and fiancé and study for at a special Bar Prep course for like 6 weeks. Then you take the Bar exam, and wait an eternity for the results. During which you party for a week and then get a job. Most firms will accept you based on the condition that you receive a passing score on the Bar.

  4. SK said,

    September 3, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Sounds great. I would love to visit so let me know when your spring break is.


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