Graduate School Hoopla
To the five people who actually read this blog,
I’ve been studying so hard for the LSATS lately, that I’ve lost track of what is important in life. In a hyper-competitive environment such as New York, priorities are often skewed for success. In particular, competition to get into graduate school has become heightened for several reasons. There are an abundance of people who are applying with aspirations of wealth and glory. Whereas it used to be non-competitive to get into a night program at Fordham or GeorgetownLawSchool, the scores have been ratcheted up to the point where they eclipse the scores of other full-time day programs at other law schools. Compounded by the dismal economy, many professionals are seeking to go to law school and abandon the business sector. While there is a certain level of pride embedded within receiving a Juris Doctrate from Fordham, Georgetown, UCLA or Columbia, what does it exactly mean?
The era of the big firm is slowly winding down, as litigation costs have reached their apex and other companies are trying to find creative ways to cut down on spending. As a result, law students from these prestigious schools will find themselves struggling just as hard to find a job. Now, more than ever, the ability to network and communicate effectively will determine which law students will land desirable jobs. I have been networking like crazy and have had the privilege to work for an entertainment lawyer for a year this coming November. The experience has been pleasurable, and will make me a competitive candidate for summer internships in the future. Shouldn’t that be the overwhelming factor life? How one can network, find work, and continue to build upon contacts? Not according to academia.
Swept up in rankings and statistics for law schools, for much of the summer I had forgotten who I strove to be. I had been convinced that my future was completely pre-determined by what law school I graduated from. How practical is that?! One of the biggest misnomers of receiving a legal education is that it is “all about where you went to law school.” While there is certainly a ring of truth to that statement, it is not the entire story. One of the biggest Entertainment Lawyers in the country, Mark Sendroff, went to TempleLawSchool and, as mentioned in an interview, simply contacted an Entertainment Lawyer. Years later, he has been involved in dozens of Broadway Productions and movies. Another example is the CEO of Warner Brothers, He but one example of people who exploited their education to its full potential and never looked back. Is it counter-intuitive to believe that one’s future is predetermined by the school attended?
It must be recalled that the robber barons of the early century had no formal education at all. Entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie, a mere peasant from Scotland, soon amassed a fortune worth billions in the steel industry. Of course, the times are different now and it is almost required that one have at least a B.A./B.S. to get anything to happen. One of these people who possessed a B.A. from Northern Michigan was Howard Schultz. Graduating with a B average, he became a salesman and noticed that much of his shipments were directed towards Seattle, Washington. He traveled there and found a small coffee shop called Starbucks Coffee. After several years, he was able to purchase the store and began its international expansion. What’s the point? While times have changed, people have not. Those who strive towards perfection, hard work and dreams will more often then not reach them because of persistence. This ideal, often labeled “The American Dream”, has been shoved under the rug by many today as an antiquated notion.
As the LSATS approach, I have targeted SyracuseUniversity, PepperdineUniversity (Malibu, California), University of Connecticut (UCONN), IndianaUniversity, George Mason and University of North Carolina as the top 5 schools of my interest. Out of them all, Syracuse is the most media and entertainment-driven school (with Indiana and University of North Carolina close 2nds). While the law school was a top 10, it sunk to #125 a few years ago. Currently, it stands at #100 as the law school is making a concerted effort to get back to at least a top 50 ranking. Due to its immeasurable resources (over one billion dollars in endowment), a brand new law school opening in 2012, and national alumni, shouldn’t Syracuse be a heavily desirable school regardless of ranking (especially for media/entertainment law)? For some, the mere notion that it is #100 is a complete turn-off and would elicit the scoffs of many prospective law students. One should never look at a mere “ranking,” especially since it does not tell the complete story of the law school. There is a huge chapter of alumni in Los Angeles that are involved with media and entertainment, something that none of the other schools possess. In fact, Syracuse is making an effort to gain a strong foothold in the area of entertainment out there as it has already in New York City. Should any of this play a factor in my pursuit of becoming the alpha entertainment lawyer I stay up at night thinking about? Or should I fully subscribe to the notion that it is all about rankings and nothing else? When should my future become an issue entirely based on my skills, intelligence and appeal rather than the reputation of my law school?
These are the issues I am confronted with as I pursue law school. Should I pursue law school based on arbitrary rankings? Or should I not only evaluate the law school, but its university and whether the law school is declining or surging? I fervently believe, just as a wise stock-broker would, that future prospects speak more than the present. I could capitalize on a scholarship to SyracuseUniversity now (based on my current scores) and exploit its return to prominence in four to five years. The other option is to strictly base my legal education on the law school and to ignore the reputation and extension of the university. UCONN, for instance, is #52 and is an excellent law school…but it has nothing to do with entertainment. Is it worth it?
The insanity that serves as the bedrock for this exhausting journey has tormented me throughout much of the summer. I plan on visiting UCONN, Maryland and Syracuse at the very least to get a sense of where I belong. It is a difficult process to say the least, but I construe it as an opportunity to investigate, analyze and determine the best outcome for myself; the very same exercises that my clients will request I do for them in the future. To believe that the law school controls my future is nonsensical, yet so many future law students, infused with fear, choose to do so in order to provide comfort to themselves i.e. “If I get into Fordham Law School, I am set for life!” Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you.
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