Right now I am a student at Western Michigan with a CJ major and a minor in social work. I am a non-traditional student (currently not full-time and 29) but have a 4.0 GPA and I'm trying to get my work schedule changed so I can go full time. Its always been my dream to go to law school at Michigan. Do I have a chance in hell of getting in and if so what kind of LSAT score do I need?
Michigan Law School Admissions
NO CHANCE IN HELL UNLESS IMPROVE TACKLING ON DEFENSE!!!1! THIS IS NOT BIG ESTERN FOOTBAWL!!
168-70. Good Luck.
What's the worst they can do? Say no?
and depends on more than just academic performance, but how you spent your time during undergrad. A good story can go a long way in your application.
As far as LSAT, I had a 3.4(far from a 4.0 but some kind of barometer at least) at Mich and a 166 and I did not even try. You need to be thinking <170. Even then, may be a long shot. Keep up the good work however, and may I suggest Wayne State Law as a possible alternative if you want to stay in Michigan. Outstanding law school, 1/3 the price, and I had a very good experience.
at Wayne State right now....
To the OP, you can always apply. No harm in that, but yes, higher than 170.
Is Civ Pro as coma-inducing as I remember it being?
I had a 3.96 GPA at a pretty good private liberal arts school and had a 171 on my LSAT and got in on the wait list. But, I was out of state and a white male.
Yeah, white male, out-of-state here as well; had gone to UM undergrad with a 3.4; took a non-traditional path after undergrad (television sports anchor). Got in with a 167; was shocked. Also did early app, though.
Michigan Law does a fairly comprehensive review of application materials, so if you have an interesting story to go with the non-traditional path, that could be a big boon for admissions. LSAT scores are the be-all end-all these days in admissions though, so study hard.
I got into M Law at the ripe old age of 35 and wasn't the oldest person in my class. Apparently geezers also contribute to the diversity of a class. I honestly don't recall my LSAT score but had decent undergraduate grades from U-M LS&A, but not spectacular. I'm sure my age actually was to my advantage. By the way, it was a kick sitting in the student section again after 14 years and I was mistaken for a professor a couple of times.
Overall, a great experience and the best career move I ever made. Keep in mind though that the market for attorneys has changed in the last couple of years - I graduated in 1998.
is a pretty useful site if you want to see the criteria for different schools.
Work experience / productive time off between undergrad and application can be a big boost. My LSAT was a little below Mich Law's average, but I had spent two years working and studying overseas ater graduating from undergrad and it seemed to be a key reason for my subsequent admission. More than some other schools, Michigan seems to take the "whole package" into account (yeah, I know, that's what she said, but you get the gist). As the poster above mentioned, a good story goes a long way. Good luck.
I had a mixed undergard GPA. 2.5 at the Naval Academy and 3.98 at UM. I got in with a 172 on LSAT. Most of the guys I hung around with were in the 165-170 range and from out-of-state. My buddy that did all 4 years at UM undergrad had a 3.7/167 and was wait-listed for a year. The numbers may be a little toughter with the economy in the tank the past few years and fewer good paying jobs right out of college leads to increased applications. I believe, though, that UM is requried to take 1/3 of its class from in-state. The good news is the LSAT tests skills, and you can certainly train yourself to do well on it. I took the Kaplan course and ordered every prior test available to practice with. Timing is the key to the test. Good luck!
They have to take 1/4 from in state. Or at least that was the number 5 or 6 years ago.
Brian, who are you talking about - Cyrus? I got in with a 168 and 3.5 undergrad. I didn't get waitlisted, but they stuck me in with the summer starters because I took a year off in between.
is often not the deciding factor:
Good luck .. you might need it.
Don't voice your opinion if you have no idea what you're talking about. Michigan Law values diversity but don't try to insinuate anything if you don't know the current state of affairs (MCRI/Prop 2).
Some PC feathers here I see. I am aware of the MCRI - I voted for it. Unfortunately, U of M Law School burned a lot of taxpayer and student tuition money defending a racist policy in court and is only now being hindered by a change in the law. I think it is naive to believe that they are doing anything more than reluctantly complying with the letter of the law. There are plenty of social engineers still running admissions at U of M and undoubtedly doing whatever they can, within the letter of the law (or not), to consider non-merit factors in admissions.
This is relevant to anybody applying to U of M. If you aren't accepted, it doesn't mean your accomplishments didn't merit admission.
The entire PC atmosphere at most "elite" academic institutions which suppresses polite discussion of such matters is a disgrace to the idea of "higher" education.
Neg away, PC sheep.
You're being negged because nobody here cares about your politics BRAH.
Here come all the mindless PC sheep.
So... you speak for everybody?
By the way, I was accepted by a U of M grad school - not that that's particularly important. No sour grapes - just the truth.
Read the rules of MGoBlog. First rule: No Politics.
And the law school gets, I believe, 0.3% of its funding from the state (at least in 2006 when I was there this was the case). If it didn't sit on state-owned land (actually, land granted to the state which was granted to M Law from), I am pretty damn sure the law school would just go private, and have far less headaches to deal with from the Michigan legislature.
And, also, you clearly haven't read the SCOTUS's opinions, where they say race is and can be a factor in admissions. They upheld MLaw's policy. The two cases were heard in tandem, but had different rulings. Also, look at who wrote amicus curiae briefs on behalf of UM-- the US Armed Forces, major corporations, etc.
But yeah, no politics, please, and this type of argument is definitely over the line.
I only noted a relevant factor in admissions. I did not bring politics into the discussion - the numerous narrow minded here did so.
Secondly, whether you like it or not, the U of M Law School is a public institution. It's degree of state support is irrelevant. It is state supported. Period. Moreover, civil rights law applies to even non-government public institutions:
See Title II. Since the Law School admits non-Michigan students, it engages in interstate commerce. But the whole idea of interstate commerce has been stretched to include intrastate non commerce, so that fact is likely irrelevant.
As for the SCOTUS majority opinion, it ignored the Constitution and is frankly, rather bizarre. In this case, and many others, the SCOTUS failed in its basic duty to uphold the Constitution. But as you pointed out, we are supposed to avoid politics on Mgoblog - a rule I wish you and many others here would follow.
So, I'm done.
Been an awful long time since my Law in Higher Ed class, but it's not clear to me that the "interstate commerce" principle applies to private higher education institutions, at least in terms of admissions and the awarding of scholarships. Has there been a successful challenge to single-sex private undergraduate colleges on this basis?
I'm not being snarky--I am genuinely interested in clarification because maybe we're talking about two different issues.
for the intelligent reply.
I was done but you deserve a reply.
Judges don't seem to understand the English language very well so "interstate commerce" has been held by courts to apply (or not apply) to anything they want it to. In any case, law school admissions (since they admit students from other states) does actually fit the definition of "interstate (across state lines) commerce (transactions having the objective of supplying goods and services)."
I'm sorry did I make a "political" comment? Then again, we are actually talking about the law, not politics, right? Gee, I guess it doesn't matter if your opinion is unpopular.
In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court UPHELD the law school's admission policy (i.e., the law school won that case). But maybe you think having a U.S. Supreme Court or a Constitution is also a waste of taxpayer money.
Maybe you have a better way of running a democracy...but it doesn't matter because, unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, your individual opinions do not have the force of law.
As a general matter, it is apparent that you are talking about a process that you don't understand, an admissions department that you have never met, and a legal decision that you have never read. You might not be a sheep, but that does not mean you know what you are talking about.
you read my post? I am aware that the SCOTUS upheld the law school's admission policy - in violation of the Constitution. The decision was to say the least... bizarre. One of the Justices even suggested that racial discrimination by the government will be acceptable temporarily, for say 25 years. That is seriously idiotic. You seem to have a similar contempt for the Constitution and individual rights. You also seem to have a contempt for any opinions different from yours.
You are obviously talking about matters way over your head. As for the admissions process, any lack of understanding is due to it's fuzzy subjective nature. I also don't think that one has to have met the admissions department in order to form an opinion of their behavior - you assertion is absurd. Moreover, you assumption regarding what I have, or have not, read is also absurd. How do you have any clue what I have read?
I didn't bring politics into this thread but just noted a relevant factor in admissions. The narrow minded here have done so.
Your starting point is that the U.S. Supreme Court does not know how to interpret the Constitution. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Good luck with that fortress of logic.
I look forward to seeing the "Remdog" confirmation proceedings sometime in the next decade or so. Clearly, you are ahead of your time.
As for matters being "over my head," I was accurately noting that the law school won its admissions case. Relatedly, you may be interested to learn that Germany lost WWII and that the South lost the Civil War. Those topics may also be "over my head," but are similarly established on the record.
When I was curious about the law school's admission criteria, I scheduled a time to talk to them about it. It proved to be very helpful. Communication can be helpful sometimes, if you are actually looking for answers.
So... your argument is that the SC is infallible and their decisions should not be questioned even if they lack any mooring in the Constitution? Uh... yeah.
I would give you a history lesson but I don't have the time - read up on the SC's recent and older decisions, many of which have been thankfully overturned.
As for your insults, you need to try a bit harder. A black robe does not confer rationality or intellect and the lack of one does not invalidate one's logic or intellect either.
Communication is helpful but obviously not appreciated on Mgoblog.
I would love to hear about all of the cases you have read and how you understand the Constitution best of all. Seriously, I want to learn.
don't claim to understand the Constitution "best of all." It appears that I do understand parts of the Constitution better than some of our SC Justices, unfortunately. There are many individuals who have a better understanding than myself or the majority of SC Justices. Much like law school admissions, selection to the SC is not all about merit. It's also reasonable to suggest that SC justices may understand the Constitution quite well but choose to ignore it in favor of their own personal beliefs.
You can read just as well as I. There are plenty of seriously brilliant scholars who have written some scathing opinions regarding the Constitutionality of certain SC decisions.
I was a poli sci and history major who graduated in four years from UM. I was an in-state student. I scored in the top 4% on the LSAT back when it was on a 46 point scale. I did not get into Michigan Law. I personally know of people (a couple are friends) who got into M Law with lesser qualifications based on diversity. And I have no problem with that. Diversity plays an important role in academics. I should know as I was the only hispanic (non-Mexican, non-Central-American and non-Puerto Rican which were the groups that UM considered for diversity) student in my top 20 law school where I graduated in the top 25% of my class. So, Remdog, go whine somewhere else.
I assume you know how to read given your law degree but maybe I assume too much. You obviously did not comprehend my post if you read it. First of all, where is there anything in my post even remotely resembling a whine??? All the whining is coming from other thin-skinned posters. Secondly, your opinion of "diversity" is not remotely relevant to this discussion. True diversity, fyi, has nothing to do with the color of one's skin or ethnic background - it does have something to do with one's talents, socioeconomic background, life challenges and viewpoints. The university is not remotely interested in diverse viewpoints - and neither are the sheep here obviously. In any case, I didn't even debate the appropriateness of considering non-academic matters when admitting people to an academic institution. I only noted that such matters are considered. In addition, whether you have a problem with admissions decisions based on such matters is again not relevant to others affected by these decisions.
Maybe you need to learn some tolerance of diversity yourself.
Your attack on the UM Law School admissions process seems to have shifted into an attack on some of the Supreme Court Justices (a different argument entirely). If you want to hate on specific Justices of the Supreme Court -- that is fine -- but that's probably for a different blog.
Regarding the bigger picture, if you want to start your own law school that narrowly defines "merit" as GPA only (or something else easily measured), nobody is stopping you. Go for it. And if your school does a better job of identying and developing "merit," then you should have no problem competing with Michigan Law or other top law schools.
Just don't be surprised when you start your own law school and discover that your rubric for "merit" is not as foolproof as you imagined. Some people with stellar numbers may be terrible law school students and attorneys. Similarly, some people with great but not quite stellar numbers may turn out to be excellent law school students and attorneys. That's really the crux of the issue -- identifying the best candidates overall (some of which might not be captured by a numbers-only approach).
Numbers don't tell the whole story. But... there is absolutely no evidence that the University's subjective approach is fairer or better than an objective one. In fact, given the nature of subjective decisions and the rather questionable criteria used, it is reasonable to guess that it is less fair and worse.
To be fair - Dred Scott was once good law. It is just as much an error to assume that the Court is infallible as it is to assume that their opinions are completely uninformed. Supreme Court justices cannot even agree on a judicial philosophy as to how cases should be decided, much less agree on the outcome of all cases. The reason why most cases get to the Supreme Court rather than being disposed of by lower courts is that they are close calls with good arguments on both sides.
I agree -- those are all good points. Also, constitutional law is one area that has the capacity to change rapidly and is not as firmly bound to precedent as other areas of the law.
As a technical matter, however, it bothers me when, instead of arguing for a "change in the law," someone like remdog argues that existing constitutional law is per se unconstitutional. Call it a pet peeve.
Is the idea that any SC decision is somehow the final arbiter on the "constitutionality" of a law. SC decisions have, many times, strayed from the Constitution - personal beliefs and even international law have taken precedence. So, it is valid for others to condemn these decisions and argue for a Court with greater respect for the Constitution they are sworn to uphold, a Court which might later rule in accordance with the Constitution and reverse said decisions.
Maybe you should write the U.S. Supreme Court a letter.
As long as the LSAT number us in the range your chances are fine. Going to Western is OK as long as you do well, and being a non-traditional student will help not hurt.
I'm a UMLS grad and had friends who got in with below range LSATs, but they all had compelling life stories (distinguished military service and the like). But I had another friend that applied who I thought was an interesting candidate worthy of admission but with an LSAT a few points below the low end of UMLS's range. I'm friends with the dean of admissions and wrote a letter for my friend's application, and he didn't get in. They said it really takes something special to make up for a below range LSAT.
My advice: Go all out to get the best LSAT score you can. Apply early. Do things that make you appear interesting, if you haven't already. (Not being 22 and straight out of college without ever having a job helps--no offense to anyone, it's just the truth).
Anyhow. Good luck.
to reply to my own comment, but I should add:
What is CJ? Criminal Justice? If so, that's probably not going to help. There are people of many majors in law school, including plenty of English, Poli Sci, Philosophy, Econ, Psyc, etc, etc, etc, majors that tend to be popular with undergrads. All of that is OK (I was a philosophy and Poli Sci double), but if you want a major that helps rather than just doesn't hurt, I'd go with math, engineering, or any hard science. Engineers also have a big benefit coming out of school job wise. Of course this is probably all too late for you to change, but just an FYI.
(edited to fix many iPhone typos)
i'd say 168-169. when evaluating undergrad gpa you need to be mindful that the admissions committee puts it in the context of the rigor of your undergraduate school. i don't mean to demean the hard work you've put in and the great success you've shown by receiving an A in all of your classes. however, the fact remains that most applicants are coming from undergraduate schools with a better academic reputation and the admissions committe puts all applicants' grades in a relative context. given that your gpa is so high, but that western is not a top 25 undergraduate institution, your gpa probably will fall in about the 50% range for admitted students. you therefore should aim for an lsat at or slightly above that percentage - 168-169.
congraulations on your success thusfar. i'm sure you'll get into an excellent law school. i encourage you to go to the very best law school to which your admitted, regardless of cost. it has been my experience that the loans are well worth it.
Would say you need to be higher than that, in my opinion. Probably 170+.
Things you have going for you:
1) Your GPA - The fact that you go to Western as opposed to say, Columbia, doesn't really matter, which I assume is why you asked the question. Strangely enough law schools don't care all that much where you went to undergrad, just that your GPA is good.
2) Residency - It sounds like you are a Michigan resident. M Law doesn't really give too much weight to that, but it gives it a little.
3) Work Experience - Law schools like work experience, and unless you've been sitting around for the last 10 years, it sounds like you have some of that.
Bottom Line: With a 4.0 you would have a shot at Michigan with a 163 or higher. That does not mean you would have a good shot, but a shot. You would have a good shot with a 168, and you would almost certainly get in if you can get a 170 or higher and apply early decision. While many top law schools have cutoffs for the LSAT, say at 168, Michigan tends to take a bit more of an "all around" approach. Berkeley is similar in this respect. So right some compelling stories. If you happen to have an interesting story to tell this will help a lot.
But yeah, if you kill the LSAT you will be in Ann Arbor next year.
Source: Graduated MLaw recently.
i very much disagree with your first point. in my discussions w/ the mlaw admissions dep't., among others, it has been made clear to me that undergraduate institution is a factor in their decision. i express no view on whether that's the right approach, but believe that's how admissions committes evaluate applicants.
I understand what you are saying, but in this case the school reputation may matter less than in others. I say that because the OP claims to have a 4.0 average, and is also a non-traditional student.
What the admissions committee sees in such a case is a person who went, for understandable reasons, to a geographically convenient institution, and while there racked up a perfect scholastic record.
To be competitive, you may need a LSAT score of 168+ , but I don't think there is any real "formula." They probably let in some candidates with lower scores and reject some candidates with higher scores. It is my understanding that they have two or three sets of eyes review the application individually. Most of my friends that got in there had a 168 or better.
From my experience, LSAT score means more than GPA. I got accepted by UM Law with a 172 LSAT and a 3.7 GPA (in Poli. Sci. and Physics). I worked in admissions at my law school, and I will tell you that written statements are read. Be compelling, be engaging, and be grammatically correct! If it comes down to you and Joe Schmoe, a well-written personal statement can seal the deal.
That might be a decent resouce for your applicaiton process.
The LSAT is very important, especially as Michigan tries to make a push up the US News rankings. With that being said, I agree with those who said that if you're within the acceptance range, you should apply. Don't listen to those who say you need a certain number. I have as many friends who had above a 170, as who had below a 170. I remember Dean Z once telling me that only 5% of the applicants really do a good job selling themselves.
... my 2 cents is that the dream should be to be a lawyer, not to attend a particular law school.
I'd say you've got a rough road ahead to get into Michigan Law, but it's probably worth $75 to find out.
The real challenge these days is forging a career in the law, at least one where you can make a decent living and retire $150,000+ in debt. That's a fact whether it's Harvard or Tom Cooley.
The latter has four campuses now and rumor is that they are opening one next year in Detroit in the old Michigan Central Depot.
Admissions does not care (much) about where you went to UG and what you majored in. All else equal, 4.0 in Poli Sci >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 3.4 in Electrical Engineering or something hard. All else equal, 3.8 at Random State U >>>>>>>> 3.5 at Harvard. The reporting formula that gives the USNEWS ranking is based solely on numbers and not weighted for UG quality or major. Hence, they just don't care about it that much.
Also, being a non-trad helps. People straight out of UG (like me) were only ~30% of my class there (be sure to apply to Northwestern too they take ~94% nontrads). Write a good personal statement helps, a lot. If you have a 4.0/180 from a top school and write a crappy personal statement or don't show that you spent time on your app or write a good "Why Michigan?" essay you will get dinged. LSAT >>> GPA >> Personal Statement > other application essays > UG/major >= everything else. In-state helps because they have to pull 25% of the class from in-state.
Diversity in admissions is truly a "whole person" analysis and you DO get bonus points for being able to provide any diversity to the student body in any form. Coming from a blue collar family or a military family or whatever can provide a boost on par with anything else people traditionally consider "diversity" to be, provided that you write a compelling story in your PS. It's not just about race (I know people in admissions, just trust me on this one), no matter what anyone else tries to say.
TL;DR -score a 170 and you are a near-lock if you spend some time on your app and explain your resume gaps.
Please, for your own sake, get out while you can (e.g. before you owe some amorphous corporate entity $150k + compounding interest).
. . . but would say that the refrain heard not that long ago of "go to the best law school you can get into" shouldn't be blindly followed. For most people, cost and debt matter and can impact your life and career options for a long long time. Of course, my career and educational path are testaments to the fact that life often gets in the way of the most rational planning . . .
Honestly, the most important thing is to apply very early. Like, the app should be in by now if you're applying for next fall.
Either side of 170 should do it. Also, write good essays. As others have said being a non-traditional student will almost certainly help you.
is a good site for admissions information. It shows you the ranges of people who have been admitted, waitlisted, deferred, etc. along with the numbers you need to get scholarships. Moreover, it lets you see the numbers by undergrad institution-you can see if going to WMU means you need higher LSAT scores than if you'd gone to UM or somewhere comparable.
That being said, as a current 3L (not at Michigan), why the hell would you want to go to law school right now? There are no jobs and you're going to graduate with a huge loan debt that you can't get rid of.
In my experience, non-traditional students have an advantage in admissions because law schools ultimately want people who can do well while in school and be employed when they leave, and non-traditional students tend to have more life and work experience to pull from. Ungrad institution does matter somewhat, but they are also looking for the best applicants and those can come from anywhere. Your major probably is not that relevant because people turn to law for a variety of reasons (for example, I went back after working in software development. Go figure). With regards to the LSAT, make sure you hit close to whatever number the school looks for (I figure UM is around 168+), but it will not be a complete dealbreaker if you do not bomb out. A personal statement is important because it will help to distinguish you from the 400 applicants from the Ivys, and will help to frame your future goals and how this education will help. From experience, I am a Masters student in CE at Columbia because I made it clear why I wanted to attend and how it would help my career, which I figure helped to offset a lower-than-average GRE score in Math.
But beyond the admissions process, my suggestion would be for you to identify why you want to go to law school. There are jobs in the state and beyond for competent attorneys, but the market is also pretty saturated right now. When the economy went down a couple of years ago, law schools admitted monster classes as people tried to improve their skills/hold out until the market improved. So right now, that means there is a glut of law school graduates out there, all with massive debt and few jobs. If you plan on working for a big firm and understand the sacrifices that entails, then by all means go to law school. But if you are simply trying to figure out your next step, take a semester off after graduation and figure it out. That might cost you a couple of bucks in the short term, but rushing into law school and saddling yourself with $100k+ in debt will stay with you far longer.
Most graduates of the very top law schools (Michigan included) land on their feet and are glad they got their degrees.
There are still many attorneys, however, that wish they had never gone to law school and view it as a poor investment. I would consider this dichotomy before deciding on any law school and particularly before assuming any legal education debt.
Before you send in your deposit, talk to some attorneys that are out there practicing at different experience levels (2nd years, 5th years, 10th years, etc.). Also talk to some poeple that have legal degrees, but are not currently practicing law for whatever reason. In addition, ask them how much it cost them to get their degree and how long it took them to pay for it.
Admissions is too big of a crapshoot to give you a definite answer, but obviously the higher the better. Apply early and make life easy on your recommenders (many appreciate being told what you want them to focus on, or being reminded of specifics that will help flesh out the essay). Finally, if you're going into debt, do the math. Figure out what you'll need to be making (keep in mind public interest jobs have debt forgiveness programs) and know to dig deeper than the salary range you see on USN&WR. You will not be making $160,000, or probably even $100,000, unless you leave the state. If you wanna stay in state and don't really care too much about how much you'd be making apply to the other law schools and try and get a full ride (likelier than it sounds).
I went to Michigan Law prior to the affirmative action amendment. At that time, a white non-hispanic student needed a 3.7 or above and an LSAT of 166 or above to be in the consideration zone. Because of the way admissions worked for in-state, if you are a Michigan resident then being at Western shouldn't hurt you.
Going to a name school, like Duke/Harvard/Stanford, would be better but what can you do?
When I got in anything 170 and up gave you almost a sure shot of getting in.
I am sure, based on what UC and Texas were doing when they banned race based admissions, that since then the Law School has started a stealth race program, based on 'diversity of experience' or some such. Boalt Hall was asking about who in your family was in jail/prison and on welfare, and how many high school grads in your family, and for an essay explaining how you felt in mainstream society in undergrad.
If you could tweak your answers correctly that may boost your chances of getting admitted.
You've received plenty of advice on the score--I got in with a 174/3.2 UM BBA, likely the widest disparity in LSAT/GPA in my class--but the best of it is to take the time and spend the $ on a good prep course. . .that test is absolutely beat-able.
The real question about taking on the huge time commitment (3 years) and debt is this: is it your dream to go to the school and be a practicing attorney. . .or to use the education/connections for something other than the law? My best advice is to talk with a few practicing attorneys you trust, and think through whether it's what you're really wanting to do. I went to UM Law b/c I could get out with a rock-solid degree for ~$60k, and I'd have the flexibility to figure out what I wanted to do later. . .and after 10 months of practice, I was on to a public policy career that I never would have been able to support given today's tuition. I loved it and wouldn't trade it for any other path, but if you're looking for a non-practicing career, there are plenty of options that are a lot less painful, both in $ and time. . .
I agree with most of what was said above. I got into MLaw with a 3.34 at the UM Business School and a 170 LSAT. I worked for about 6 years between undergrad and law school, and was married at the time of my application.
Since your GPA is solid, I would think that 168+ on the LSAT should put you into contention. One thing that would probably help would be to show that having worked before law school helped you realize precisely why you really want to be a lawyer. Take advantage of your non-traditional background and work the diversity angle. Show that you will bring something unique to the classroom discussions.
MLaw was great, but the debt is a pain in the ass. Up until a couple of years ago, big firms were throwing big money at new lawyers, but things have changed a lot. Many firms are paying less, and lots are just working their current people more rather than hire new people. Hopefully things will have recovered a great deal by the time you get your JD, but some of those jobs may never come back.
On a personal note, think about what kind of practice you want. A lot of MLaw grads (including me) took jobs with big firms coming out of law school. The money is great, but many ended up hating it and sought something else after a few years. I am now with a much smaller firm and am much happier. The money is not as great early on (it can be down the road, if you are good at what you do), but the lifestyle is far more satisfying, especially if you have a family. Some people want their job to be their life, and that is fine, but a lot of people find that the money does not justify the lifestyle. Just know what you are getting yourself into.
In summary, the practice of law can be very rewarding, assuming that you enjoy the work itself, and not just the money and prestige that can be associated with it. A school like Michigan can open a lot of doors, but as with any education, you get out of it what you put into it. There are some terrible lawyers with Michigan JDs, and there are some great lawyers that went to Third Tier law schools.
Good luck with the process.