michaela0085 wrote:What are the details of the public interest fellowship at CLS? Is it just tuition or do they give you any extra stipend? And do you have to devote many years to public service after law school? If you do have to commit to years of public service, I almost think it could be silly to turn down S and H for CLS. S and H have decent LRAP programs (Yale's is the best, and they are also great for public service, not sure whether that is an option for you). Whether you do the LRAP programs or the public interest fellowships that require you to do public service, you are committing yourself to years of indentured servitude.
So, I don't think that CLS with scholarship is such a good deal relative to S and H if your scholarship requires years of commitment to public service.
the public interest fellowship only requires that you do (already funded) public interest work anywhere in the world for your two summers in law school and that you work in the public interest arena for 5 years after law school. as far as i've seen there's not even a salary cap there... which is nice when you consider, say, stanford's lrap of 10 yrs plus salary cap.
also they hook you up with a faculty adviser and an adviser who is a student who got this scholarship a year or two before.
my big concern is that i've heard columbia is overwhelmingly biglaw focused and uber-competitive. what are people's thoughts on this?[/quote]
Yale funds your public interest work in the summers; I bet Stanford and Harvard do as well. But it's nice that your scholarship does too.
It's also nice that you don't have a salary cap. And 5 years does not sound too bad.
I have a couple questions that might help you assess the value of this scholarship to you: 1) What qualifies as public interest? Does any government job? Would working for the DOJ count? If even the DOJ or U.S. attorney work counts, that makes the deal that much sweeter; 2) do you want to clerk after graduation? I imagine clerking is not covered. 3) Any interest in becoming a law professor? In this regard I think Y>SH>>>CLS. 4) are you looking for super prestigious government or PI jobs? There are a lot of PI jobs out there, but I think that some of them are easier to get coming from Y or H. 5) Do you have a prestigious undergrad degree? Even PI institutions can be prestige whores, as far as I know. If you have a degree from a top undergrad plus this PI scholarship from CLS, I think that would help close any prestige gap. 6) is there any minimal grade requirement for keeping the scholarship? I am guessing no, but it would of course matter a lot if there is.
I think that the public interest scholarship from CLS can actually help you get PI jobs. Especially for non-governmental PI work, a commitment to PI helps a lot. You can demonstrate a commitment at any of these schools by working PI jobs both summers, but your scholarship will be prima facie evidence of a commitment to PI. This should help you coming out of undergrad.
Also, how you do in law school will largely determine the jobs open to you. I think CLS is very competitive, largely because so many people want corporate jobs. The corporate focus of CLS could actually help you while you are at CLS (that is, less competition for PI jobs). But the competitiveness can effect your post-graduate opportunities by making the curve worse.
I think one of the key questions you should ask yourself is how much does prestige matter to you. I think there are doors open to you from YHS that are not open to you from CLS. I can't tell you what they are exactly, but I am confident that they exist. But there will be a ton of doors open to you from CLS!! So if there are no particular doors that you are dying to go though, that makes CLS a better choice.
One final consideration: Yale's LRAP covers any need-based loans taken to cover living expenses (housing, etc), as well as need-based loans taken as an undergraduate. I'm not sure whether S and H do the same, but to me this would be a huge consideration! CLS may perhaps cover any need-based loans taken for living expenses, but I suspect they may not.
You obviously have some amazing options, and I think you will be fine no matter what you choose.
There are no right answers to life's most important questions.
Good luck with this one.