We are going to turn some reader questions into full posts in cases where I think a lot of people might be in a similar situation. A common decision is whether to go to law school in your home state or farther afield, and making the right choice can be critical.
One of our readers writes in:
I wanted to get your opinion on my law school choices. For some background: I’ve been working as a television producer for the last few years and want to work in IP/entertainment law (I’m hoping my TV background would be really attractive to firms and media corporations). I have narrowed my law school decision down to two choices…Wake Forest Law (it would cost me $10,000/yr in tuition) and Florida State College of Law (it would cost me $6,000 in tuition). I’ve lived in FL my whole life and want to practice somewhere in the South Atlantic area (D.C. being an ideal place to end up). Do you have any advice to help me in my decision? I’ve visited both schools and like the culture of both of them.
This one is a fairly easy call to me. When you are choosing between schools outside the top 25 cost becomes the major factor. As it’s often difficult to procure legal employment right away, having a lower debt burden is key, allowing you much greater options in terms of employment.
I’m not sure whether that’s 6K total cost for Florida State or yearly, but it doesn’t matter — Florida State is the right decision here, 100%. These two schools provide comparable employment prospects (about 65% employed in full-time legal jobs 9 months following graduation).Wake Forest doesn’t have powerful enough extra pull for getting jobs in the DC area to justify switching your home base now and paying the extra cost for tuition.
Florida State should have plenty of alumni working in the DC area who might be able to give you leads when you start searching for jobs. Also, FSU is going to be much superior in terms of the the Florida job market, so if you choose to return to Florida you’ll have a major advantage there. Having Florida as a good option strikes me as very sensible, even if it’s not your main plan. Sometimes you have to go where the work is, and the DC market is a much more competitive than Florida.
Also, as you like both schools, you won’t be sacrificing on culture!
As a side note: entertainment law is a tough prospect even coming from elite schools. While it’s certainly a good idea to pursue your interests in this area, make sure you aren’t neglecting areas of focus where hiring is more robust. Check out our recent post on what classes to take to be most useful to law firms.
Good luck and enjoy 1L year!