Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

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soullesswonder
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Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby soullesswonder » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:26 am

I've been perusing this fall's callback thread, and I'm more than a little concerned at the fact that students with good (read: above median) grades at T14s had such a difficult time getting responses to the resumes they sent out to firms that didn't OCI at their schools. That has led me to wonder if it's a bad idea to attend a T6 school when you already feel like you won't be focusing on OCI firms.

As for my specific situation...I currently hold an offer from Harvard, and I am waiting to hear from a few other T6 schools. I have also been accepted to Duke and am trying to decide how much I'm willing to chase after Virginia. The twist here is that my ideal firms are not in the V100, and there are only a handful of V100s that hold any interest for me. My top three markets are Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville - not places that send a ton of representatives to T6 OCIs. Most of these firms do OCI at Duke and/or Virginia. I should note that I have no direct ties to any of those three markets (although I grew up a few hours away and attended UG a few hours away - so there are some regional ties).

In the pre-bust legal market, I think I would have wrangled as much $$$ from Duke/VA and just gone there, secure in the knowledge that most of my fellow students would have been gunning for V100 and I wouldn't have had a ton of pressure to perform. ITE, however, I fear that a large number of those students will be moving downmarket. Having "Harvard" on the resume should still make me stand out even ITE, but after reading the anonymous results of the callback thread I'm wondering if those resumes are being taken seriously or if they're even being read.

General Question: Is Harvard (or any other T6) worth attending if the majority of your targeted firms do not OCI?

Specific Question: In my situation, is there a point where the reduced cost of Duke (or, less likely, Virginia), justifies passing up on Harvard?

EDIT: Cleaned up a bit. I'm trying to provide enough relevant info here without making it too long
Last edited by soullesswonder on Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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los blancos
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby los blancos » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:36 am

:shock:

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Steven Perry
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Steven Perry » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:39 am

When it comes to Harvard Law, I'll always take the advice of Nike and Tiger Woods:

Just do it.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:43 am

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Stringer Bell » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:47 am

I have to give you some credit for referring to Harvard as a T6 as opposed to a T3.

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soullesswonder
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby soullesswonder » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:53 am

thesealocust wrote:
soullesswonder wrote:General Question: Is Harvard (or any other T6) worth attending if the majority of your targeted firms do not OCI

Specific Question: In my situation, is there a point where the reduced cost of Duke (or, less likely, Virginia), justifies passing up on Harvard?


It doesn't really matter whether or not the firm does OCI, I think you're reading too much into that. Whatever measure of value there is to a Harvard JD over a Duke or Virginia one (and it's there, there's no doubt about that) will express itself just as much in a resume spam as it will at OCI. Your question is obviously sincere and well thought out, but it doesn't really make sense.

As for passing up Harvard... the problem is that you probably want to go to a firm that pays you a lot of money, and those firms are looking for talent. 'Talent' is a lot deeper from Harvard than it is at Duke. Below median at Duke isn't relegated to 'lesser' market paying firms, they're scrambling for any legal job that will service their loans.

Harvard is basically always worth it, because it opens up doors at the top end and stops doors at the bottom end from closing. Your full ride at UVA isn't going to get you a well paying job if you flub your first year grades.

And law school - even at today's prices - is a STEAL if it nets you a bigfirm type salary. To people who have the goal of a big firm job, I would rarely counsel going to a lesser school with $$$, unless the gap were quite small indeed. If you happen to be the guy (or gal) whose class rank puts you outside of the reach of the salary you wanted, that scholarship money won't be much comfort.

HLS is worth the price, as long as you want to go to a firm that pays a ton of money to first year associates. If you want to do public interest or government work, or are interested in the truly small firms that only pay a fraction of market, it's another conversation.


Thanks for the response. The bolded was a decent assumption, but not true in my case. There's not a single firm that I like that pays 160k. The Nashville firms pay 110k, while most of the rest pay 130k with a few 145k thrown in. I'm pursuing that magical unicorn of Midlaw where the people bill less than 2000 a year and still have a shot at partner.

Stringer Bell wrote:I have to give you some credit for referring to Harvard as a T6 as opposed to a T3.


:lol: I wanted to give my question some relevance to other people. I recently got an invitation to apply for a merit scholarship to Chicago (no acceptance, but I've already submitted the essay, so I'd be surprised if I didn't get in), so to a certain extent my question could extend to that school as well.

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thesealocust
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:58 am

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Cupidity
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Cupidity » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:00 am

All TLS loathes you.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby annapavlova » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:01 am

Cupidity wrote:All TLS loathes you.

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los blancos
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby los blancos » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:35 am

thesealocust wrote:I see the economics working this way: If you want to work at a law firm that pays anything over 60K to first year associates, go to the best* school you can go to because it's going to be an extremely difficult job to get.

*Assuming 'best' here is a T14, otherwise marginal gain probably not worth it



Honestly, I would think most Harvard grads are shooting for East Coast/West Coast. OP might not have much competition from HYS grads if he/she wants the midlaw unicorn (which I desperately want but lack a Harvard acceptance :mrgreen: )

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby insidethetwenty » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:08 am

I think you should go to Harvard. I mean it's Harvard Law School. You'll be able to punch your ticket to pretty much any midlaw market in America. Believe it or not, these firms will use their new "Harvard-trained" associate to impress clients and drum up new business. If you want that 160k job in Charlotte or Atlanta or the best, highest-paying job in any of these small markets, Harvard is the best choice.

Now, I think in your case you should take Duke/UVA with big money over any of CCN, but Harvard is a different animal.

Congratulations on having such great choices!

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Cleareyes » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:19 am

As a current HLS 1L I'll say that I haven't heard a lot about upperclassmen having real problems getting jobs at non-OCI firms. My impression from them has been that you have to hustle and show definite interest, but it's not THAT tough. Heck a fair number of my 1L classmates have gotten 1L firm offers without there being a real OCI, and I have to assume that if you do well your first summer you at least have a shot at returning your second. I think a lot of the people who have trouble with non-OCI firms are people who didn't do well at OCI, and so it's not surprising they'd have trouble in general (for whatever reason.) If you come here with the intention of going to specific places, and you take steps during your time to demonstrate interest and build connections, I really don't foresee it being an issue.

All that being said, if Duke or Virginia are super cheap and the firms you want are there too...I'd at least consider those schools. At Harvard you can afford to be lower in your class and still get jobs, but those are T14 schools and they place well and aren't particularly risky. If you want to come to Harvard for specific reasons (And there are a lot of great reasons to come here) it's still worth it IMO but your HLS degree won't get you more money from a given Nashville firm than a Vandy grad gets, and you'll have all that debt. It really depends on your willingness to accept risk and what your long term aspirations are (If, for example, you might want to transition from firmlife to academia eventually then an HLS degree could hold special value even years after graduation.)

EDIT: I will say that going the HLS route will require you to be proactive and self-motivated in the job hunt to get to the non-OCI firms. OCS here is great, and they'll help, but they definitely have more experience helping people with OCI firms. Most HLS students are pretty proactive and self-motivated people, but it's an issue to keep in mind. You're going to have to contact alums working in the areas you want to work, send out a lot of cover letters, etc...etc...

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby gymboree » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:35 am

Cleareyes wrote:As a current HLS 1L I'll say that I haven't heard a lot about upperclassmen having real problems getting jobs at non-OCI firms. My impression from them has been that you have to hustle and show definite interest, but it's not THAT tough. Heck a fair number of my 1L classmates have gotten 1L firm offers without there being a real OCI, and I have to assume that if you do well your first summer you at least have a shot at returning your second. I think a lot of the people who have trouble with non-OCI firms are people who didn't do well at OCI, and so it's not surprising they'd have trouble in general (for whatever reason.) If you come here with the intention of going to specific places, and you take steps during your time to demonstrate interest and build connections, I really don't foresee it being an issue.

All that being said, if Duke or Virginia are super cheap and the firms you want are there too...I'd at least consider those schools. At Harvard you can afford to be lower in your class and still get jobs, but those are T14 schools and they place well and aren't particularly risky. If you want to come to Harvard for specific reasons (And there are a lot of great reasons to come here) it's still worth it IMO but your HLS degree won't get you more money from a given Nashville firm than a Vandy grad gets, and you'll have all that debt. It really depends on your willingness to accept risk and what your long term aspirations are (If, for example, you might want to transition from firmlife to academia eventually then an HLS degree could hold special value even years after graduation.)

EDIT: I will say that going the HLS route will require you to be proactive and self-motivated in the job hunt to get to the non-OCI firms. OCS here is great, and they'll help, but they definitely have more experience helping people with OCI firms. Most HLS students are pretty proactive and self-motivated people, but it's an issue to keep in mind. You're going to have to contact alums working in the areas you want to work, send out a lot of cover letters, etc...etc...


Every lawyer I know has told me to go to school where I want to practice, even those that have gone to Yale.

If you want to work in the Southeast, I would consider the fact that the exposure/networking at Duke to lawyers/firms/judges in the region would be highest at Duke. I wouldn't underestimate how powerful building relationships can be. You would certainly be advantaged if you had a 3-year head start on any Harvard student in networking in the area. Very few Duke students stick around the Raleigh area after grad, so there's little competition in the region. Duke would be huge in Atlanta (from the research I've done -- I'm also in the Southeast). When I did a visit last year, the student guide told us they had more firms at OCI than students by a lot. If you have big $$$ from Duke I would do a visit, talk to their Career Services people, and seriously contemplate ITE: Duke + low debt + king of region and good portability vs. Harvard + high debt + highest portability.

I'm weighing similar options and haven't come out one way or the other yet. But no debt feels like an extremely good option, especially if it's where you want to practice.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Cleareyes » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:47 am

gymboree wrote:Every lawyer I know has told me to go to school where I want to practice, even those that have gone to Yale.

If you want to work in the Southeast, I would consider the fact that the exposure/networking at Duke to lawyers/firms/judges in the region would be highest at Duke. I wouldn't underestimate how powerful building relationships can be. You would certainly be advantaged if you had a 3-year head start on any Harvard student in networking in the area. Very few Duke students stick around the Raleigh area after grad, so there's little competition in the region. Duke would be huge in Atlanta (from the research I've done -- I'm also in the Southeast). When I did a visit last year, the student guide told us they had more firms at OCI than students by a lot. If you have big $$$ from Duke I would do a visit, talk to their Career Services people, and seriously contemplate ITE: Duke + low debt + king of region and good portability vs. Harvard + high debt + highest portability.

I'm weighing similar options and haven't come out one way or the other yet. But no debt feels like an extremely good option, especially if it's where you want to practice.


So the guys who went to Yale wanted to practice in New Haven? :lol:

I don't think Duke is a bad choice at all, and I don't think I implied it was. However, if Solar wants to go to HLS and what's stopping him is the fear that he can't get a job down there, I don't think it should stop him. That's a very obtainable goal from HLS. If, on the other hand, all he wants is a job in that region and doesn't care about the added benefits an HLS degree might provide (such as extreme future portability, though a Duke degree would be fine for that as well) then it's a matter of crunching the numbers and comparing risk vs. reward. Which is sort of what you're suggesting. So I'm not sure we disagree.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby keg411 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:52 am

OP, neither choice is really a bad one to make. Going to Duke with little debt and a definite idea of where you want to practice and networking there is a very good idea. HLS is HLS. It really depends if you feel that the lack of debt and being in the area where you want to work trump the real prestige and portability of HLS.

I honestly don't think you will be wrong with either decision.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby gymboree » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:09 am

Cleareyes wrote:
So the guys who went to Yale wanted to practice in New Haven? :lol:

...So I'm not sure we disagree.


I don't disagree with you at all! The Harvard option, is... well, Harvard. I was just exploring the Duke option. 8)

And those Yale guys definitely did not want to practice in New Haven! :lol: They were making the point, as did others, that there are opportunities in certain markets to get a head start. And ITE you need every possible advantage. That said, I know what area of law I'd like to get into, and I know where I'd like to live and practice. If you don't know at least where you'd like to practice, then Harvard wins every time.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby im_blue » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:38 pm

gymboree wrote:
Cleareyes wrote:
So the guys who went to Yale wanted to practice in New Haven? :lol:

...So I'm not sure we disagree.


I don't disagree with you at all! The Harvard option, is... well, Harvard. I was just exploring the Duke option. 8)

And those Yale guys definitely did not want to practice in New Haven! :lol: They were making the point, as did others, that there are opportunities in certain markets to get a head start. And ITE you need every possible advantage. That said, I know what area of law I'd like to get into, and I know where I'd like to live and practice. [strike]If you don't know at least where you'd like to practice, then[/strike] Harvard wins every time.


FTFY :o

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Mattalones » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:47 pm

What you are trying to do, while possible, is not a good decision. My GF tried to do the same thing by leveraging her prestigious degree to get non-OCI firms. Didn't happen, and she put a lot of proactivity into it, and she had pretty good grades 1L year and after. People doing non-OCI give up A LOT; they are basically cold-calling for jobs. Doing that gives up the connections that I high ranking LS affords you. If you are going to do that, you would be better off going to a school that has OCI of the firm/location that you want. If you got into a T6, you will also be able to get into a good enough ranking school (probably with $$) that has the OCI you're looking for. I have known other people who have ignored this same advice on the same questions - "My high ranking school will give me enough mobility so that I won't have to rely on OCI" - and they got stuck in a location they didn't really want ... I mean they still have market paying jobs, just not where they want to be.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby soullesswonder » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:56 pm

Mattalones wrote:What you are trying to do, while possible, is not a good decision. My GF tried to do the same thing by leveraging her prestigious degree to get non-OCI firms. Didn't happen, and she put a lot of proactivity into it, and she had pretty good grades 1L year and after. People doing non-OCI give up A LOT; they are basically cold-calling for jobs. Doing that gives up the connections that I high ranking LS affords you. If you are going to do that, you would be better off going to a school that has OCI of the firm/location that you want. If you got into a T6, you will also be able to get into a good enough ranking school (probably with $$) that has the OCI you're looking for. I have known other people who have ignored this same advice on the same questions - "My high ranking school will give me enough mobility so that I won't have to rely on OCI" - and they got stuck in a location they didn't really want ... I mean they still have market paying jobs, just not where they want to be.


Which school did your g/f attend? I'm not discounting this as a possibility, but I think it's fair to say that Harvard has more pull than any other school in this scenario (see lay prestige thread). Chicago or NYU may draw blank stares down South, but not Harvard.

General Update: Duke's initial scholarship offer was $75,000 - a little disappointing under the circumstances. I've LOCI'd to UVA and I'm trying to put on the full court press to get some action on my app.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Mattalones » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:34 pm

I would rather not post her school, but I have also had other friends (UVA, Northwestern, UChicago, and UC Berkeley) who had the same thing happen. I don't know about Harvard, but I have heard about this happening to Harvard students too.

For that school, what it is going to come down to is answers from their Career Center. Tell them what you are trying to do and ask them what kind of connections they have; see if they have any stats on it. Then, do the same question process for the school that has OCI for the jobs you want (they will have stats on the firms that do OCI there). Compare the results and make your decision - if Harvard doesn't have the stats you're looking for, then it is probably a sign that you will be blazing you own trails and that is almost certainly going to be a worse place to be in than your next choice school with desirable OCI.

[Edit] I don't think you want to reduce the prospects at HLS to job options. I really think that is a mistake. There are a whole hell-of-a lot more reasons to go to Harvard than that (political ties, government opportunities, diplomacy, scholastic options, etc). I think this whole line of thinking is overly-narrow and that you ought to think about that a little bit more seriously. I would go to Fordham or Boston College for a job. I would go to H, Y, or S to surround myself with a certain type of person (networking).

Good luck.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby soullesswonder » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:19 pm

Resurrecting this thread to see if I can get any more input. I've pretty much ruled out Harvard (I'd be taking on 180k of debt to attend), but I've now got a choice between UVA and Chicago with a projected debt load of ~60k either way.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Rand M. » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:22 pm

soullesswonder wrote:Resurrecting this thread to see if I can get any more input. I've pretty much ruled out Harvard (I'd be taking on 180k of debt to attend), but I've now got a choice between UVA and Chicago with a projected debt load of ~60k either way.


If money is the same what is working in UVa's favor?

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soullesswonder
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby soullesswonder » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:26 pm

Rand M. wrote:
soullesswonder wrote:Resurrecting this thread to see if I can get any more input. I've pretty much ruled out Harvard (I'd be taking on 180k of debt to attend), but I've now got a choice between UVA and Chicago with a projected debt load of ~60k either way.


If money is the same what is working in UVa's favor?


For the purposes of this thread, the fact that UVA is going to have a lot of Southeastern firms at OCI while Chicago will only have a handful of V100 Atlanta offices.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Stringer Bell » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:29 pm

I honestly just don't see how losing access through OCI to a bunch of firms in the markets where you want to work could be worth the slight bump in prestige Chicago would give you.

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Re: Is a T6 worth it if you're focused on non-OCI firms?

Postby Na_Swatch » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:32 pm

Mattalones wrote:I would rather not post her school, but I have also had other friends (UVA, Northwestern, UChicago, and UC Berkeley) who had the same thing happen. I don't know about Harvard, but I have heard about this happening to Harvard students too.

For that school, what it is going to come down to is answers from their Career Center. Tell them what you are trying to do and ask them what kind of connections they have; see if they have any stats on it. Then, do the same question process for the school that has OCI for the jobs you want (they will have stats on the firms that do OCI there). Compare the results and make your decision - if Harvard doesn't have the stats you're looking for, then it is probably a sign that you will be blazing you own trails and that is almost certainly going to be a worse place to be in than your next choice school with desirable OCI.

[Edit] I don't think you want to reduce the prospects at HLS to job options. I really think that is a mistake. There are a whole hell-of-a lot more reasons to go to Harvard than that (political ties, government opportunities, diplomacy, scholastic options, etc). I think this whole line of thinking is overly-narrow and that you ought to think about that a little bit more seriously. I would go to Fordham or Boston College for a job. I would go to H, Y, or S to surround myself with a certain type of person (networking).

Good luck.


I think there is a large difference between Harvard and the schools you mentioned. I would be wary for schools like Chicago/ Berkeley/ Penn etc. because they are all regional in a sense (although a huge region tbf). Coming from Harvard, though, it seems as if you put genuine effort and show that your number 1 interest is in these non-oci firms there will be a much greater willingness to interview and consider you.

This is probably furthered by the fact that, for the South (where OP wants to practice), Harvard has arguably the greatest reach and recognition out of HYS.

For myself, though, especially if I was aiming for the Nashville or Charlotte regions, I would seriously consider Duke, even with only 1/2 to 3/4 scholarship. The COL and quality of life going to Duke is very nice, and the OCI's there will allow you to expend less effort to show interest in the firms the OP wants.
In the end I think the two choices are both pretty decent and the OP can't really go wrong either way.




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