Dear Professor Campos,
Hello my name is [ ], a prospective admitted student to the University of Colorado Boulder Law School, and I am wondering if I could ask you a few questions pertaining to your take on CU law. I received your contact information from the Faculty Directory on the CU website, and noticed that you received your JD from the University of Michigan Law School. The two schools that I am seriously considering attending include CU and the University of Michigan. As a Michigan graduate and CU Professor, I am wondering if you could potentially provide any insights into your perspective and experiences with these two schools, and potential advantages/disadvantages that both offer?
Important factors that I am using to evaluate schools include faculty accessibility, collegial atmosphere, clinical/externship opportunities, educational quality, and career outlook upon graduation. I really appreciate your consideration of my questions. From communication with other CU Professors, students, and staff, I have found the University of Colorado community to be extremely accommodating and friendly. Thank you very much for any insights that you can offer and for taking the time to provide your opinion. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Have a great day.
Some background: The CU faculty has been strongly encouraged by the administration to reply to such messages for the purposes of recruitment. In fact we've been told that a bunch of students in the last couple of classes claim they chose CU over other schools because our faculty is such an awesomely responsive and collegial bunch, in that we were the only school where all the faculty who were contacted responded to prospective student inquiries. I'm not implying any nefarious intent on the part of the administrators who have asked us to engage in this sort of recruitment, as I'm quite certain it would never occur to these people that faculty responses to such messages would be anything but helpful in improving the school's "yield" on admitted applicants.
Moving right along . . .
Where are you from and what do you want to do when you graduate? How much money have CU and UM offered you? Why specifically are you considering CU?
Dear Professor Campos,
Thanks for getting back to me so soon. I am from [large eastern city] having graduated from [pretty good liberal arts college] this past May. I cannot say for certain what I'd like to do after I graduate, but I am interested in clerkship opportunities or possibly something in the field of environmental, Indian, or maybe international law. I am really approaching law school with an open mind, and I am open to any type of law that interests me in school. I don't plan on pursuing a career in the larger DC, Chicago, or NYC markets.
Regarding money: CU has offered me a Dean's Scholar Scholarship, while Michigan has offered no money.
I am specifically considering CU because I am very interested in living and practicing in the Colorado region after graduation, and also because I have been very impressed by the level of support that I have received from members of the CU community thus far. In addition, the small class size of CU also appeals to me, having attended [ ]. The Dean's Scholar Scholarship is also a great opportunity along with the Dean's Fellowship that would be offered in my 1L summer. Please let me know if you need any further information. Thank you again for your help.
How much money is the Dean’s Scholar Scholarship? What’s the Dean’s Fellowship?
The Dean's Scholar Scholarship is a full-ride offer for 3 years (first year covers out of state tuition, while the second two years cover in state tuition), while the Dean's Fellowship is a program being instituted this year in which CU will help Dean's Fellows in finding summer employment working for a faculty member, a law school Research Center, or a nonprofit or government agency in one of four areas: Environmental, Public Interest, Business/Entrepeneurship, or Technology/Intellectual Property Law. In addition, the fellowship includes a $3,000 1L summer stipend along with a mentoring opportunity with an assigned faculty mentor and/or a prominent lawyer to discuss work and career options.
A few things to keep in mind:
(1) If you go to CU you are likely to end up needing to get a job in Colorado. The difficulty with this is that you don’t appear to have any connections to the area, which puts you at something of a disadvantage in comparison to people who do. CU law graduates are currently having quite a bit of difficulty getting real legal jobs, meaning full-time long-term employment that requires a law degree. Not having connections to the area will be a problem for you, all other things being equal.(2) By contrast Michigan is a national school, meaning you would have more options in regard to potential employment. However, this is counterbalanced by the fact that COA would be around $200K-$225K in comparison to being perhaps a quarter of that at CU. Do you understand what $200K of non-dischargeable high-interest debt means? I’m not trying to be patronizing, but with that sort of debt load your only realistic employment options would be a large law firm job (assuming you could get one – 60% of the most recent Michigan class didn’t) or the sort of government or public interest job that would qualify for the school’s LRAP program (Loan Assistance Repayment]. Those jobs are extremely competitive – more so than many big firm positions.(3) Do you actually know anything about the practice of law? Why do you want to go to law school exactly? There is no such thing as “international” law, and it’s almost impossible to get a job in the Indian law field these days if you’re not an enrolled member of a tribe.
Going to law school is an enormous investment of time and money. The lower-risk lower-return choice for you would be CU. The higher risk higher-return choice would be Michigan. Both under current conditions would be very significant career gambles. I don’t know what your other options are so I don’t know whether one or both could be good choices for you, but in any event I would advise you to be cautious.
Dear Professor Campos,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. I have taken all of your advice into consideration, and I appreciate your insights. Take care.
Obviously I don't know anything about this kid -- and s/he is obviously a kid -- so I don't have any strong opinion as to whether CU or UM or no law school at all would be a better choice for him/her under these circumstances. What I do know is that kids like this are basically lambs to the slaughter in this system. They literally have no clue -- none -- regarding what they're getting themselves into. They might as well be signing up for the Army on a whim. They don't know the first thing about what being a lawyer might involve, they have no idea what debt or unemployment or debt-ridden unemployment mean, and they just want to be patted on the head and told they're Gifted and Talented and that we would love to have
their money them join us.
The most aggravating feature of this particular subspecies of Puer Ignoramus is that this kid, if s/he attends CU, will have his/her utter cluelessness subsidized to the tune of $100K by the half of the student body who is paying full freight, some of whom might actually have good reasons for wanting to become lawyers at something like a reasonable price.
The second most aggravating feature is . . . LMGTFY.