PSoL is a seven-year-old for-profit law school which was accredited by the ever-vigilant ABA two years ago. Currently the part-time program charges almost $31,000 per year in tuition and fees, meaning that the minimum someone like the OP is going to spend in the course of getting a law degree from this institution is about $125,000, not counting another ten thousand or so for associated expenses, i..e, books, bar review course, etc. (based on eight semesters of part-time attendance).
I'm just trying to figure out if I fall into that small category of people that could wind up gainfully employed were I to attend PSoL, and hopefully someone here could help me out with that.
I'll give a bit of a background on myself. I am 29 years old, and just had my first child. I have always taken an interest in law, and since highschool it has been my goal to become an attorney. That being said, I admittedly am a bit of a slacker and my grades have never been anything spectacular since I tend to do alright while putting in no work to my schooling. Obviously not the best choice, but at the time I was in college I was happy to coast by without really trying.
Either way, I do not come from a wealthy family and I don't think I could have just gone to college and law school straight out of high school anyway, since I would have had no way to support myself. Instead I went into the Army, then used my GI Bill along with working 30+ hours a week to go to college (Michigan State). After graduation I became a police officer with the Phoenix Police Department.
Which brings me to today. I love my job and I get paid quite well for doing it. I am definitely not one that needs a lot of money to be happy, and I don't want to become an attorney just because I have some unrealistic delusions that I will become wealthy beyond belief just because I have a JD. I intend to put in my time and retire from the PD, at which point I would like to pursue a second career as an attorney. I have no interest in Biglaw, just a city prosecutor position. By the time I would do this we would already be receiving my pension from the PD along with my wife's (she's a teacher), so I would not need a great deal of money to make ends meet. I want this only for a second career, so that I can continue with a job that looks at the law from a different perspective.
While I would love to know that I accomplished the goals I set out to do in life, I am in no way willing to jeopardize my current career in some desperate hope to be an attorney that may never pan out anyway either. Therefore, I would not be willing to leave the Phoenix area, nor would I be willing to go to school full time because I would clearly need to take a hiatus from my job to do so. So my options for a part-time law school in the Phoenix area? PSoL. That's it, it's the only school with a part time program by me.
Now I would just forget about law school if that was my only option under normal circumstance, but with my situation I would like to believe my circumstance are far from normal. The Phoenix Police Department has a legal unit, which has several officers that are bar certified working for them, many acting in a dual capacity as police and attorneys. This of course should give anyone on that unit a good in for a career with the prosecutor's office later on. Admittedly, I don't know too much about the legal unit or what it takes to get on at this time, but to the best of my knowledge if you are an officer that is bar certified in AZ it should be fairly easy. I have the names of a few officers on the legal team already and I will be asking them some questions here in the coming days as well.
I am still in the start of my career. I currently have 3 years on, so I would like to continue with patrol for several more years before I would even consider transferring to legal anyway. This gives me ample time to get through law school in the mean time. I am just getting sick of going back and forth on my plans though, and wanted some type of guidance. Every time I think I would like to go through with it, I think of going to PSoL and I read these forums and I get scared off. I will say this though, one thing that does keep me wishing to proceed with these plans is at the end of the day, even if things don't work out at least I will have tried and can say I went to law school.
As I mentioned earlier, I just had my first child, a daughter. My parents barely graduated highschool, and my wife's parents were highschool dropouts. My wife has a masters, and I currently have my bachelor's. We both currently live better than either of our parents ever did as a result. I would like to set an example for my daughter and I would like her to do even better than us, and even the act of going to law school alone would make me feel I've given her a higher bar to meet. So there are factors that I have considered in this decision that have lead me to the school that aren't financial as well. Whether or not these factors are enough to make me blow a substantial amount of money on something that may never see a positive gain though is definitely debatable.
Now what I find particularly fascinating about the OP is that he is, given he and his wife's apparent family backgrounds, already a big winner in the American economic and cultural status game. His family income appears to be well over $100,000 per year -- elsewhere in the post he reveals he's making $65,000, and since his wife is a teacher with a masters degree she could well be making a similar amount, and is almost certainly not making much less. Note that if their family income is, to be conservative, $115,000 per year that puts them in around the 85th percentile of household income in the country (median household income in 2010 was $49K). In addition, he notes that he "loves his job." How many lawyers, or even DAs, would say the same?.
Furthermore I don't know what starting salaries for DAs in Phoenix are but I know what they are in Denver and if the numbers are at all similar he would be taking a pay cut by becoming a DA (measuring by hours worked it would be an even bigger reduction as DAs don't get overtime. It's a running joke in the Denver DA's office that the cops make more than the lawyers -- except it isn't a joke at all).
And all of this of course doesn't even take into account that his odds of actually getting the job he would go to law school to get are minuscule.
What's most interesting to me about the OP's narrative is that, on one level, he doesn't seem particularly naive about any of this. He realizes he's got, all things considered, an excellent job, and he certainly isn't considering going to law school in order to increase his income. Indeed his perusal of TLS has left him with a strong sense that there's a very high risk going to PSoL would be the equivalent of lighting $125K on fire, at least in straightforward pecuniary terms.
But there's the catch. The OP longs for the status and respect that he believes comes from being a district attorney, rather than a "mere" cop -- even a cop with a law degree (although it appears he may be willing to pay six figures just for the latter outcome). He wants his daughter to look up to him, and to have dreams of "better things" than he and his wife's wholly respectable middle class identities, even when, as in their case, those identities have created a distinctly upper middle class household income -- an income which is certainly quite a bit higher than that of the median among American households in which at least one person has a law degree, especially if that law degree was acquired any time in the last decade or so.
And for that, he's willing to consider paying a staggering sum of money to a bottom feeding for-profit law school, owned by a $300 million private equity fund that specializes in this sort of thing.
Forget the fake placement stats and the unlimited government loans, and the various "cognitive errors" to which we are all so sadly prone. Bizarre as it may seem to those inside the legal profession -- not law professors needless to say -- who see the sausage getting made every day, it's still the cultural status associated with being a member of a "learned profession" that keeps this thing of ours in the black (for the moment anyway). But, bit by bit, our recklessness and greed is wasting our cultural capital, like a trust fund baby who, in middle age, keeps invading the corpus which has supported him in such fine style over all these many years.