what is a "trap school"?

I've been reading the term "trap school" a lot on this forumgreenday7509/06/12
A trap school is typically a non T14 Tier 1 school that has shikes09/06/12
Georgetown is considered by many to be the trap school of thohiodocreviewer09/06/12
Trap schools are when someone has a good LSAT and grades, bucattleprod09/06/12
Yeah, non-T14 Tier 1 usually qualifies. One trait seems eject09/06/12
I really don't see any "prestige" associated with any of thecattleprod09/06/12
If you put UW in the trap category then you are essentially eject09/06/12
wily school of lawdoublefriedchicken09/06/12
Here is my Webster dictionary definition: Trap schools arlawlawtemp09/06/12
But under your definition Cooley would qualify as a trap scheject09/06/12
Gullible people. Not totally delusional, or mentally ill pelawlawtemp09/06/12
This definition reflects a general lack of understanding. Sjohnnycakes09/06/12
Campos created the term trap school - I think. As stated doublefriedchicken09/06/12
This is exactly it. With little exception (USC, UCLA, Vandy ballsnottt09/06/12
Paging wily!! Paging wily!!thedetroiter09/06/12
Wily will be fine. He has the whale Asian thing going for hiatheistlawyer09/06/12
"Whole asian" or Freudian slip? I'm a "whale asian" now? LOLwily09/06/12
I think the one thing that everyone is missing is that the "whatisrap09/06/12
A trap school is one just one notch below the top 14, typicaonehell09/06/12
At our Inns of Court meeting today, a prof put up pretty sobwily09/06/12
Jebus. BTW nowhere close to 100,000 real jobs for lawyers blawprof09/06/12
Sorry, I meant the last 5 years, I think. The prof was the wily09/06/12
I'm surprised I haven't seen this book mentioned before. Theeject09/06/12
The maths does not compute!unfrozenlawyer09/06/12
Missed opp to engage in JDU-style convo with your lul prof Whungjuror09/06/12
The top ten percent sounds wrong. There are about 190 ABA scgarga09/07/12
Any school ranked from number 11 on down to 65 or so. Any scjohnkneegrowponte09/06/12
Keep in mind that in schools that place 20-30% in biglaw thagarga09/07/12
A trap school looks like it'd be a good deal, but isnt. It'stttgrad09/07/12
I believe Campos came up with the term. According to him, municipald109/07/12
greenday75 (Sep 6, 2012 - 12:51 pm)

I've been reading the term "trap school" a lot on this forum recently. Just wondering how JDUers define it.

Admin, if this is more of an OT thread, I apologize.

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shikes (Sep 6, 2012 - 12:55 pm)

A trap school is typically a non T14 Tier 1 school that has a lot of lay prestige but not necessarily good job statistics. Schools like ND, Emory and WashU are schools that a lay person will say "Oh my God, thats so amazing you got in there, you need to go cause its an amazing school!" but really their job prospects simply aren't that great and they "trap" you by making you pay sticker thinking that the law prestige will translate into employment.

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ohiodocreviewer (Sep 6, 2012 - 12:58 pm)

Georgetown is considered by many to be the trap school of the Top 14 itself, because of its comparatively large graduating class sizes and poor employment stats when set against the rest of the Top 14.

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cattleprod (Sep 6, 2012 - 1:09 pm)

Trap schools are when someone has a good LSAT and grades, but not quite good enough for the really good schools (HYS). So that student might be accepted at a bunch of others ranged between #15 and #50.

So that student has the option typically of paying full sticker price at #15-#25 or having a good scholarship at #40-#50. In reality, paying full sticker at #15-#25 is likely a trap school scenario because their placement stats for Biglaw are not that good. And a Biglaw salary is what is needed to justify paying full sticker price at #15-#25. If that student is going to likely end up in small law making under $50,000 then the better choice is likely a school ranked lower and take the scholarship.

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eject (Sep 6, 2012 - 1:22 pm)

Yeah, non-T14 Tier 1 usually qualifies.

One trait seems to be that a certain percentage of the class gets big firm jobs to lure applicants into thinking it will happen to them too. It becomes an expensive gamble. This can be contrasted with third tier schools where one does not have a reasonable expectation of success or prestige.

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cattleprod (Sep 6, 2012 - 1:48 pm)

I really don't see any "prestige" associated with any of the schools outside of T6 these days.

I live in the state of Washington. Nobody is impressed with Univ of Washington law school (#20) these days. Seattle Univ School of Law (#82) is considered our local toilet school and where all the DUI lawyers went.

I would put Univ of Washington right in that "trap" school category now. They are hyping up (locally) that they jumped from #30 to #20 in recent USNWR rankings. But they certainly don't have any amazing history for placing many people in Biglaw to justify the cost of law school at full sticker.

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eject (Sep 6, 2012 - 2:02 pm)

If you put UW in the trap category then you are essentially agreeing with me.

Prestige is relative but I agree with Shikes that you can have prestige without good job outcomes. UW is a great example. It's the best school in Washington state. Unlike Seattle U, people around the country have heard of it and it's associated with a respectable undergraduate institution. To put it another way, it is more reasonable for someone uninitiated to think that UW is a good bet than to think Seattle U is a good bet.

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doublefriedchicken (Sep 6, 2012 - 1:46 pm)

wily school of law

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lawlawtemp (Sep 6, 2012 - 1:53 pm)

Here is my Webster dictionary definition:

Trap schools are schools that spend enormous amounts of money on expensive PR campaigns to delude gullible people into believing that their outrageous costs are somehow rationally related to their outcomes, namely their job prospects.

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eject (Sep 6, 2012 - 2:13 pm)

But under your definition Cooley would qualify as a trap school.

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lawlawtemp (Sep 6, 2012 - 2:17 pm)

Gullible people. Not totally delusional, or mentally ill people.

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johnnycakes (Sep 6, 2012 - 5:26 pm)

This definition reflects a general lack of understanding. Shikes' definition is the correct response.

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doublefriedchicken (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:11 pm)

Campos created the term trap school - I think.

As stated above it is usually good schools outside the Top 14 - typically Top 25 schools.

So a lemming thinks "I am going to a Top 25 school!" but these schools place at much lower rate than the T14 - maybe not that much different than a school ranked 59 would.

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ballsnottt (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:37 pm)

This is exactly it. With little exception (USC, UCLA, Vandy and Texas) the job placement difference between University of Washington at #20 and University of Florida at #48 is zero. Looking at the rankings, the real trap begins at #19 with UMINN. and continues to about #30. Anybody with half a brain would know at this point not take any stock into the rankings anymore however. Especially because they change every couple of years. 2-3 years ago, it was IU-B that rocketed into the top. Before that it was Iowa. Now it's ASU at #26. It's bogus. It would truly be awful to go to ASU and pay out of state tuition because it's 'ranked 26'.

The other thing that makes many of these traps is they are relatively easy to get into for one reason or another (huge class, comparatively lousy location) so they know when they admit you that you'll probably have few options in that range. I guarantee you that UMINN at #19 does not share very many cross admits with USC at #18 and they're not really considered peer schools.

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thedetroiter (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:19 pm)

Paging wily!! Paging wily!!

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atheistlawyer (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:21 pm)

Wily will be fine. He has the whale Asian thing going for him. Whenever someone sees an Asian, they automatically think that person is smarter than other people, whether they actually are or not.

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wily (Sep 6, 2012 - 6:50 pm)

"Whole asian" or Freudian slip? I'm a "whale asian" now? LOL.

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whatisrap (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:53 pm)

I think the one thing that everyone is missing is that the "trap" is paying full-sticker or close to it when could have dropped down to 40-60 with full or almost full scholly and relatively same job prospects. Students get "trapped" into the rankings game and pick the school with the better rank as opposed to the school which financially makes more sense.

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onehell (Sep 6, 2012 - 4:55 pm)

A trap school is one just one notch below the top 14, typically the top half of tier one (ROUGHLY around ranks 15-25) as others have said above.

What makes it a trap is that these schools really do manage to place about 1/4th to 1/3rd of their grads in biglaw, and that really is a hell of a lot more than the 1 or 2 people a TTT will place there each year. A 25+% chance is indeed one hell of a lot better odds than a 1-2% shot at a TTT, so people are enticed to pay much more.

Unfortunately, 25% is still a lot worse odds than flipping a coin or playing roulette, so the school will work as a trap for around 75% of the people who enroll there. You see, even a snowflake might recognize that they are not likely to be in the top 5% of their class, but most people think they are significantly above average so top 25-33% will seem much more attainable than is statistically possible. It's a trap built on a common cognitive bias (snowflake syndrome) to which people who did well enough in college to go top 20 for LS are especially prone.

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wily (Sep 6, 2012 - 5:12 pm)

At our Inns of Court meeting today, a prof put up pretty sobering statistics about 225,000 lawyers being created in the last 3 years for 100,000 job openings, and showed us the famous bimodal income distribution graph. Then he told us, but don't worry, you're in the "top 10%" of law schools based on ranking, you'll do fine!

Yes, I go to a trap school.

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lawprof (Sep 6, 2012 - 5:56 pm)

Jebus. BTW nowhere close to 100,000 real jobs for lawyers became available over the last three years. Maybe half that many.

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wily (Sep 6, 2012 - 6:40 pm)

Sorry, I meant the last 5 years, I think. The prof was the author of this book, and he seemed to know the dimensions of the problems with law school well:

http://www.amazon.com/Vanishing-American-Lawyer-Thomas-Morgan/dp/0199737738

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eject (Sep 6, 2012 - 11:39 pm)

I'm surprised I haven't seen this book mentioned before. The part about lawyers needing to be specialized in non-legal issues seems pretty accurate.

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unfrozenlawyer (Sep 6, 2012 - 6:03 pm)

The maths does not compute!

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hungjuror (Sep 6, 2012 - 6:44 pm)

Missed opp to engage in JDU-style convo with your lul prof Wily. tsk tsk

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garga (Sep 7, 2012 - 4:26 am)

The top ten percent sounds wrong. There are about 190 ABA schools. Is GW #19 or above?

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johnkneegrowponte (Sep 6, 2012 - 10:08 pm)

Any school ranked from number 11 on down to 65 or so. Any school that is not a top 6 school but that layfolk in that school's region erroneously think that school is a good school and if that school charges near Harvard like tuition.

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garga (Sep 7, 2012 - 4:35 am)

Keep in mind that in schools that place 20-30% in biglaw that many of that group will be nepotism hires or the stray pretty and personable girl that makes it to law school. Others will be people with hot ugrad degrees in engineering or CS hired for IP jobs.

An unconnected white/asian male or average looking female really needs to be well into the top 10% 1L to get biglaw at GW/WUSTL type schools.

And of course, even those lucky duckies will face a 50% attrition their first 3 years of biglaw.

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tttgrad (Sep 7, 2012 - 7:34 am)

A trap school looks like it'd be a good deal, but isnt. It's a total life-destroying, super shiney trap. Don't fall for it!

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municipald1 (Sep 7, 2012 - 2:15 pm)

I believe Campos came up with the term. According to him,
(1) It's expensive to attend;
(2) It's located in what the sort of people who go to law school tend to consider a desirable place to live;
(3) It has superficially attractive employment and salary statistics.

I think putting the Biglaw placement numbers in perspective (a 25% chance) is useful.

I would consider USC, UCLA, and USD to be Southern California trap schools.
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa are sometimes referred to as midwest trap schools. However, a lot of that has to do with the fact that for those three schools it's basically Chicago or bust, since there aren't exactly robust legal marks in Minneapolis or Milwaukee/Madison.

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