Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

Given the circumstances, which law school is the wiser option?

College of William and Mary (~$18,000 a year+cost of living)
38
41%
Temple (Full Ride+cost of living)
54
59%
 
Total votes: 92

ragnarok545
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Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:21 pm

Hi everyone. I've been in a really tough spot decision-wise for weeks now and could really use any helpful input that readers can give.

About Me:
I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and would like to spend the rest of my life living nearby. Both my girlfriend and I have family here, and while the thought of living in another state for three years sounds pretty cool for a change, I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea of landing a job keeping me hundreds of miles away.
I'm not exactly sure what branch of law I wish to run toward at the moment, but like many, I would like to keep the door open as much as possible for large law firm positions and judicial clerkships.

Schools:
So far, I've been admitted to Temple, BU, BC, William and Mary, and Washington and Lee. Boston sounded cool, but BC and BU dropped off the list quickly due to a lack of aid, and Washington and Lee's location (tiny town, further south than William and Mary) brings it off the list for me. So, that leaves Temple and William and Mary.

I visited William and Mary recently and was pretty much blown away by how beautiful the school and surrounding undergraduate campus is within Williamsburg. From meeting students and sitting in on a class, it seemed clear that the teachers and students were every bit as collegial and intelligent as you could hope for. Also, the grad fellowship that they offered lets students conduct research projects with professors in their second year, which sounds like an awesome opportunity.

Temple Law I will be visiting shortly, but from having spent 3.5 years at their undergrad, I have to say that things are more hit or miss in terms of the people there, and North Philadelphia doesn't hold a candle to Williamsburg. More importantly though, I'm worried about the all-powerful US News ranking, which places Temple at #65 and W&M at #28.

All of this originally led me to lean towards William and Mary, but what really complicates things is that after scanning the web pages of various prominent firms (Ballard Spahr, Morgan Lewis, Dechert, etc.) and Philadelphia solicitors, I was shocked to see that Temple almost owns the Philadelphia market. A typical prestigious firm in Philly has about 25 Penn graduates, 20 from Temple, an additional dozen or so from the remainder of the T-14, and only one or two from William and Mary.

So, finally, my question. Will I be foolish to attend William and Mary and spend an addition $60,000 just because it is prettier and seemingly more intellectual? Or do you guys think a William and Mary graduate seeking to get a job in Philadelphia will have just as much (or more) of an opportunity than a Temple graduate? I'm sorry for the ridiculous length, but I frequently see posts with these questions asking for more details, so I didn't want to leave anything out. Thanks for taking the time to read!

EDIT: Thanks for the considerate responses guys. Does anyone have additional thoughts? I'm really at a loss for how seriously to take the "every school is the same after T-14/20" mantra. If it is true, then I almost need to take Temple, but if not, things are different.
Last edited by ragnarok545 on Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jks289
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby jks289 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:30 pm

From an outside perspective, William and Mary is the easy choice. You'll have better career prospects and it sounds like you already feel you will have a better law school experience. I understand being debt-adverse and a full ride is hard to pass up. But it is early in the game to think merit aid has been decided. In fact, you are just starting negotiations. Get in touch with the financial aid departments of the schools (including BU and BC) and tell them you are very interested in attending, have x, y and z offers elsewhere, and would like to know if you are eligible for increased aid. Temple is going to really limit you geographically, and in my experience life is simply too unpredictable to know exactly where you want to end up living forever. Good luck, it sounds like you have some great options.

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dood
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby dood » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:31 pm

...
Last edited by dood on Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

xcountryjunkie
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby xcountryjunkie » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:32 pm

ragnarok545 wrote:Hi everyone. I've been in a really tough spot decision-wise for weeks now and could really use any helpful input that readers can give.

About Me:
I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and would like to spend the rest of my life living nearby. Both my girlfriend and I have family here, and while the thought of living in another state for three years sounds pretty cool for a change, I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea of landing a job keeping me hundreds of miles away.
I'm not exactly sure what branch of law I wish to run toward at the moment, but like many, I would like to keep the door open as much as possible for large law firm positions and judicial clerkships.

Schools:
So far, I've been admitted to Temple, BU, BC, William and Mary, and Washington and Lee. Boston sounded cool, but BC and BU dropped off the list quickly due to a lack of aid, and Washington and Lee's location (tiny town, further south than William and Mary) brings it off the list for me. So, that leaves Temple and William and Mary.

I visited William and Mary recently and was pretty much blown away by how beautiful the school and surrounding undergraduate campus is within Williamsburg. From meeting students and sitting in on a class, it seemed clear that the teachers and students were every bit as collegial and intelligent as you could hope for. Also, the grad fellowship that they offered lets students conduct research projects with professors in their second year, which sounds like an awesome opportunity.

Temple Law I will be visiting shortly, but from having spent 3.5 years at their undergrad, I have to say that things are more hit or miss in terms of the people there, and North Philadelphia doesn't hold a candle to Williamsburg. More importantly though, I'm worried about the all-powerful US News ranking, which places Temple at #65 and W&M at #28.

All of this originally led me to lean towards William and Mary, but what really complicates things is that after scanning the web pages of various prominent firms (Ballard Spahr, Morgan Lewis, Dechert, etc.) and Philadelphia solicitors, I was shocked to see that Temple almost owns the Philadelphia market. A typical prestigious firm in Philly has about 25 Penn graduates, 20 from Temple, an additional dozen or so from the remainder of the T-14, and only one or two from William and Mary.

So, finally, my question. Will I be foolish to attend William and Mary and spend an addition $60,000 just because it is prettier and seemingly more intellectual? Or do you guys think a William and Mary graduate seeking to get a job in Philadelphia will have just as much (or more) of an opportunity than a Temple graduate? I'm sorry for the ridiculous length, but I frequently see posts with these questions asking for more details, so I didn't want to leave anything out. Thanks for taking the time to read!


William and Mary. Temple's larger numbers at these firms don't surprise me. Temple is not a very portable degree, so all their applicants shoot for Philly (hence the saturation). William and Mary doesn't have a clear market like that, so their graduates scatter. Their smaller representation in Philly is probably due to choice.

For non T14 schools, W&M has about as good a national reputation as you can get. I don't think it's degree would hurt you in Philly, and if you ever want to leave Philly it'll help.

You seem to prefer W&M, and unless you are very debt-averse, I don't see a reason to not follow that inclination.

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:21 pm

People that are responding to the poll, can you tell me why you feel that way? As I feared, people's opinions are about evenly split on this one, so I'd like hear why.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:24 pm

If you want to stay in Philly, go to Temple. I don't get where these people are getting "W&M is portable" from. You'll graduate from Temple with zero debt (a rare but amazing thing) and have a degree that is actually recognized and well-known in the Philly legal community.

Once you go outside of T14 what matters most is 1) local awareness of the degree's value and 2) your grades. Philly has Penn, which places many grads outside the Philly market, and then next is Temple locally I believe? If you work hard, study smart, learn how to take law school exams before finals, and get good grades, you'll be in good shape for the Philly market.

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thalassocrat
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby thalassocrat » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:27 pm

I didn't see it if you answered this, but are there any strings on the Temple offer?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:29 pm

thalassocrat wrote:I didn't see it if you answered this, but are there any strings on the Temple offer?

Ooh, good question.

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:31 pm

Hey thalassocrat. First off, awesome avatar. Second, Temple's full ride stipulates that I remain in the "top half of the class" while William and Mary mandates a B average which is a little below median If I'm to pay $18,000 a year instead of the out of state $32,000.

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JayTal
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby JayTal » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:32 pm

If it's the Beasley Scholarship, then it should be top 50%. At least that's what my note said.

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:33 pm

You're correct JayTal. Do you have a similar dilemma?

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prezidentv8
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:34 pm

thalassocrat wrote:I didn't see it if you answered this, but are there any strings on the Temple offer?


That's pretty key in my opinion. I like Philly but William and Mary was awesome when I visited and their staff and students were fantastic. You win either way, I think.

PoliticalJunkie
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:36 pm

You'll have more job opportunities in Philly coming from Temple than W&M. Temple dominates the market. Penn is ok, but most of them move to DC/NY.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:37 pm

:D
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:38 pm

PoliticalJunkie wrote:You'll have more job opportunities in Philly coming from Temple than W&M. Temple dominates the market. Penn is ok, but most of them move to DC/NY.

This. Go to Temple, work your ass off, study from day 1 how to take law school exams, and make sure you finish in the top half of your class.

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:40 pm

Glad to see another Temple student! One thing I should mention is that I'm not expecting to bring any $ in during school, so I would not be exactly debt free at Temple. More like $45,000 in debt at Temple compared to $100,000 at William and Mary

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UFMatt
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby UFMatt » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:40 pm

It's difficult to go against the grain on TLS, but I'd recommend Temple. You sound completely committed to Philly, and the full-ride (assuming no strings attached) is a fantastic offer. As great as W&M may be, I'd worry about placement into the Philly market. Let's look at pros and cons for each:

Temple.
Pros = low debt, convenient summer employment in Philly, close to family, good placement into Philly market.
Cons = lower prestige, tougher to find work nationally

W&M.
Pros = higher prestige, better placement nationally
Cons = more debt, far from family, difficult to place within Philly market, must move to find summer employment


For your situation Temple seems like a great fit. Checking intellectual ego at the door, W&M doesn't make much sense for your goals.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:41 pm

ragnarok545 wrote:Glad to see another Temple student! One thing I should mention is that I'm not expecting to bring any $ in during school, so I would not be exactly debt free at Temple. More like $45,000 in debt at Temple compared to $100,000 at William and Mary

If your scholarship is full tuition + COL, why do you need to take that much in loans?

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:44 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought $15,000 was a good rule of thumb to pay for an apartment, food, transportation, etc.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:45 pm

ragnarok545 wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought $15,000 was a good rule of thumb to pay for an apartment, food, transportation, etc.

I'm confused. Is your scholarship "full tuition + COL" or just "full tuition"? The poll makes it seem like you have a scholarship that covers full tuition + COL, which would cover apartment, food, transportation, etc.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:46 pm

:D
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:50 pm

I'm sorry. I can see that I made that way more confusing that it should have been. The scholarship does not cover cost of living. I had "+COL" to try to indicate that that would still be a cost. Does that change your pro-Temple stance significantly?

ragnarok545
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby ragnarok545 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:54 pm

xyz, at either school I will be living with my significant other, and while I am hopeful that she will find a job, her major is in a tough market (film) and I may be paying full rent on an apartment for some time. Also, I would prefer strongly not to live near campus and would probably choose Manyunk/East Falls/Mount Airy if possible. Hence, the higher living costs.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:55 pm

ragnarok545 wrote:I'm sorry. I can see that I made that way more confusing that it should have been. The scholarship does not cover cost of living. I had "+COL" to try to indicate that that would still be a cost. Does that change your pro-Temple stance significantly?

Well, going to Temple would still be $60K or so cheaper, and you'd still have better opportunities in Philly than you would going to W&M, so not really. It makes me less enthusiastic about telling you to go to Temple, but Temple is still the right choice to you.

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badwithpseudonyms
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Re: Seeking helpful input on a really tough law school decision

Postby badwithpseudonyms » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:00 pm

T[emple]ITCR.

1) You want to stay in Philly. Temple is the geographically superior choice. (Proximity to alumni and networking/summer opportunities)
2) As others have said, ITE if it's not T14, just take portability, etc. off the table. A W&M degree will not prestige you into a Philly firm. You'd need to do really well at either school.
3) Free is free in any economy, but ITE it's even more important.

Personally, I'd try to get the top half thing removed, but it sounds like it's a pretty standard stipulation.




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