Berkeley v. Columbia v. Georgetown

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M51
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Re: Berkeley v. Columbia v. Georgetown

Postby M51 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:11 am

Dignan wrote:
VoidSix wrote:
chris0805 wrote:I think that Columbia's reputation goes further than biglaw. I think this whole Columbia = Biglaw Oriented can be VERY overstated. Yes, we're generally putting around 80 % in big firms, but that's not meaningfully more than any of the other schools in the T14.

With that said, go wherever you're happiest. Columbia will be better for the east coast, but the schools are similar enough in prestige that you can go off personal preference. I would definitely visit both, talk to current students and go to the school that feels like the best "fit." You'll want to do well wherever you go, and you're more likely to do well somewhere that you're happy.


It does. But that doesn't mean that it's reputation outside of BigLaw is still superior to Berkeley's. I just don't think there is too much evidence to support that. Slightly better for academia, but mostly negligible from the stats I've seen.

I think the raw numbers support what you're saying. But let me just play devil's advocate for a moment.

I have been out of school for several years. While I was in school, several of my classmates applied to, and a few were accepted by, Boalt. Almost without exception, these classmates were interested in clerking and then doing academia or PI work. I can honestly say that I didn't know a single person who went to Berkeley with the intention of moving onto big law after graduation. It turned out, not surprisingly, that a couple of them ended up in big law, but that was the result of settling after realizing that clerking/academia wasn't in the cards.

I suspect, but I don't know for sure, that Columbia Law is different. I imagine that a substantial majority of students go to Columbia with the intention of securing a job in big law after graduation. Most of these students are not thinking about clerking and they're certainly not thinking about academia. I think it's possible that someone with a clerkship/academia focus at Columbia might have less competition than at Berkeley. In other words, those clerkship/academia percentage figures might be misleading. If, say, 20% of Berkeley students seek a career in academia but only 5% of Columbia students do, then Columbia's relative placement power might be stronger than the raw numbers suggest.

I tend to be wary of these kinds of self-selection arguments. Based on my experience, however, Berkeley seems to attract an unusually high percentage of students who have career goals that involve clerkships/academia. Thoughts?


The first thing you notice at 1L orientation at CLS, or indeed any good law school, is that everyone wants to do PI. At any good law school, most people eventually realize they have these things called "loans", that the difference in what you do between big law and PI really isn't worlds apart like it seems before you enter law school.

I can't imagine places where more % of people start out wanting to do PI than CLS, but I assume most other good law schools probably have a slightly higher % (scary). But you're talking about the diff between 70% and 80%, not the diff between 20% and 80%. At one point in law school (end of 1L summer), you look around at your options and OCI and do a cost-benefit analysis for your career. The better the school's biglaw opportunities for median students, the more attractive it will be as an option ("just for one summer, i promise!") for the not absolutely dedicated PI people. That sways more people than you think, and I think CLS's edge there makes up for a good portion of its %to big law. It's not entirely self selection pre-law school. People grow as individuals during law school, it makes you look at the world in a different way.

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Billy Blanks
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Re: Berkeley v. Columbia v. Georgetown

Postby Billy Blanks » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:53 am

Dignan wrote:
Billy Blanks wrote:Let's move past the argument over whether CLS or Boalt would benefit you more in placement and focus on where you'd be happiest. In the end, won't that determine how well you do and, consequently, whether and where you get to clerk.

Oh, there's no question that being happy is important. I agree with you. To be honest, I think I'd be happy at either school.

My intention was not to start a flame war between Berkeley and CLS partisans. (And I don't think that has happened ITT.) I am just trying to get all the information that I can right now. In about three months, I am going to have to make a major decision, and I am realizing how uninformed I am.

My decision process will, of course, involve more than posing questions on TLS. I'll visit the schools and talk to lawyers in different parts of the country. Occasionally, though, I find that people on TLS raise interesting points that I have not considered. I'm just fishing for different perspectives.


Ah well. I was hoping there was an easy out that would have let you make a simple decision. I suppose choosing between top law schools naturally precludes such a solution...




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