Hey Powerscore people,
So I've been reading online about southwestern, particularly the 2 year program. There seems to be a lot of criticism from the TLS community and in forums in general where people say its a scam because it is unranked etc. However, my gut tells me that these critics lack real work/life experience or fixate on rankings too much based on the types of criticism that I have read. That being said, I am aware that their bar passage rates are very low for those who DO NOT take their bar passage course, however much higher for those who do, and those who do not graduate in the upper middle to top percentage of their class. I am aware that they are not a top school in LA. However, in the real world many of my former colleagues and attorneys that I worked with attended southwestern both at small and large entertainment firms and in business affairs, which is a great way to develop a client base since all the studio deals are done through them.
Also, to note boutique firms have equal leverage for the most part in entertainment. Attorneys generally rake in 5% of the deals and it's a volume business, the people are insane but at least its interesting. Business affairs directors start around 100 to 120 but you'll need 1 to 2 years at a firm before then and 6 to 7 year attorneys are anywhere from the high 200s to the low 300s. EVPS and higher are paid much more. It is a lot of work, and fast paced, but not nearly as bad as BigLaw plus it's partially a lifestyle. Usually your first year out regardless is between 60 and 90. The lower end if you get stuck at a crappy coordinator job for the first year, but no matter where you go with the exception of HYS, and like 6 entertainment boutique heavy hitter firms you're going to make that range for a year.
So why does this school get such a bad rap? It's not the best school in the world but nobody "hands out jobs" from the best schools either. I have friends who graduated from some t14 schools who started at 50k....same as business affairs and boutique attorneys from Southwestern. If you want a job you either have to network hard or go out and get it, regardless of where you graduate unless it's HYS. Am I missing something here? I am considering attending here if I can get a solid scholarship and I just want to get the clearest picture I can. There's also the option of taking the first year scholarship then transferring to USC or UCLA, thus saving 50k, however, the accelerated JD overall seems like a better deal unless you really lack experience.
Application Questions-Southwestern 2 Year JD
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Interesting question, coralconsulting77, and I'll attempt to answer it with the disclaimer that I know absolutely nothing about the program in question, despite my living and working in L.A. My view is that a program has to be evaluated by weighing a variety of factors, including the type of law you wish to practice, the bar passage rate, the cost and average debt for graduating students, the dropout rate, and of course that program's reputation in both the geographic area and area of practice in which you plan to work. So, if you plan to work in the greater Los Angeles area, practice Entertainment Law, and you are prepared to manage the debt with which you will likely graduate, and you believe based on your research and analysis that you will in fact graduate and pass the bar, and if you have found that the local community of Entertainment Law practitioners will not look down on you for having gone through that program to the extent that you will be unable to find a good job with growth prospects, then who cares what anyone anywhere else says about it? You're not competing with HYS grads for a Big Law job, so what they think and how likely they will get jobs that allow them to pay off their debts doesn't matter. You can deal with them when you are negotiating a contract between their client and yours.
So, do your research. Talk to hiring managers at firms (or legal departments at studios, agencies, management cos, etc) that look like places you would like to work and see what they think. Talk to Southwestern 2-year program grads about their regrets, or lack thereof. Talk to current students there and get some anecdotal info about attrition rates, job prospects, etc.
Finally, as to transfers, my advice is to NEVER plan on a transfer. You simply cannot count on that happening. Great if it works out for you, but go in prepared for the idea that you will finish (if you finish) where you started. If that is not an acceptable outcome for you, then don't start there in the first place.
Not ranked? Pshaw! Does it get the job done that you need to get done? That's what matters. You're not planning on a seat on the Supreme Court or a job teaching Con Law at Berkeley, so don't pick a law school based on those kinds of outcomes.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam
All good points, thanks for that insight Adam.
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