Duke vs. Michigan?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
junelsat
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:06 pm

Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby junelsat » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:18 am

I'm in at both, and am wondering what the differences between the two schools are. They seem fairly comparable on paper. I'm from NY and am planning to head back there after law school. Thanks.

User avatar
devilishangelrjp
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:21 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby devilishangelrjp » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:22 am

junelsat wrote:I'm in at both, and am wondering what the differences between the two schools are. They seem fairly comparable on paper. I'm from NY and am planning to head back there after law school. Thanks.


Michigan MIGHT be better for job opportunities because Duke is a big monster in the south. But either one I think will give you the name you need to get that coveted position you will want after graduation. They pretty much are fairly comparable, just where do you want to spend the next three years? In Durham or Ann Arbor? Personally, I would choose Durham, but my reasons stem from an aversion to Michigan, and a romanticized love of the South.

z*z
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:00 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby z*z » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:34 am

I would strongly suggest visiting both schools if you have not already.


*If you can only visit one, visit Michigan :wink:

User avatar
beesknees
Posts: 458
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:46 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby beesknees » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:41 am

If Duke accepts me, I'll have to make a similar decesion. Seems like it will come down to the schools "soft" factors because they both are pretty much peer schools. One could argue that Michigan could be slightly better for NYC, but from looking at Duke stats, they send a good chunk of kids up there too, so it doesn't seem like it'd be a huge difference for you.

fortissimo
Posts: 597
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:41 am

Michigan obviously does better on the West Coast and Chicago than Duke, but Michigan places more graduates into New York City than anywhere else. This is probably partly because we have a ton of New Yorkers here. (DC is third/fourth in terms of most popular destination.)

A plus with Michigan is that we do NOT have graded Legal Practice. (It's Pass/Honors. The top 20% of the class gets "Honors.") I think at Duke they have graded Legal Practice which seems like a lot of added stress on top of graded doctrinal courses during your 1L year.

At Michigan you can also take an unlimited amount of upper div classes pass/fail if you don't care about graduating with honors. If you want to graduate with honors you can take up to 20 units for pass/fail, and now now we are allowed to retroactively "pass" two classes in which we have C grades or higher. This means that you can take a class for a grade, then see what you get, and after you get the grade you can choose whether or not to turn it into a "pass" so it does not affect your GPA. This takes some of the stress once you start taking upper div classes.

Ann Arbor is a really nice city. There's over 115,000 people within the city limits and it's right next to door to other cities. I have enjoyed living here. You should visit both places (and also wait for your financial aid package from both schools).
Last edited by fortissimo on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby rayiner » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:37 pm

A plus with Michigan is that we do NOT have graded Legal Practice. (It's Pass/Honors. The top 20% of the class gets "Honors.") I think at Duke they have graded Legal Practice which seems like a lot of added stress on top of graded doctrinal courses during your 1L year. At Michigan we also get to grade a certain number of units (15 units? not sure on the number) as


Graded legal writing is TTT.

User avatar
Bosque
Posts: 1585
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:14 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:51 pm

Hey HEY hey! Thought I would pop in and drop some knowledge on the Duke side too. Duke has a smaller class than Michigan. The benefit here is that not only is there a greater opportunity for you to befriend your peers and professors since you don't just blend into a crowd, but you are also competing with less of you classmates for jobs.

I suspect the difference in grading policies is also a result of the class size differences. Michigan has 350 some students to help find jobs every year. Michigan wants their student's GPAs to be as close to or above the median as they can be, so they have those policies and an ungraded LARW course. It makes everyone's GPA look a little better, but all it is really doing is inflating the curve. Duke only has to place 200, so they know employers will dip a little lower in the class. We may end up with lower GPAs in the end, but your GPA is only a measure of how you performed next to your classmates. You cannot accurately compare between schools. Most legal employers are going to know how GPAs differ from school to school. Also, there is a benefit to having a graded LARW class. LARW is the first year class you are going to use most over your career. If it is ungraded, you can coast through without actually learning it, which will hurt you when you turn in a crappy memo at your first job. If it is graded, it forces you to try.

(Disclosure: That said, graded LARW can be a pain sometimes. But it is weighted substantially lower in hours than the normal classes, so even if you bomb it it won't change your GPA very much.)

Duke is also usually quite generous with scholarships. I cannot speak to how generous Michigan is with scholarships as a whole, but my personal experience says they usually offer less money. Oh, and interesting fact: the state with the highest representation in our 1l class is-get this-California. So I am not so sure about Michigan necessarily being stronger back there, at least in the future. But you said you wanted to go back to New York. NYC is traditionally where we send the greatest number of graduates. Some data I saw from a few years ago had us in third for firm recruitment in NYC, behind NYU and Columbia. So if NYC is where you want to end up, I think Duke would be a fine choice.

But as everyone else said, it really comes down to personal fit and money at this point. Visit both. It is the only way to pick at this point.

User avatar
jackassjim
Posts: 185
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:58 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby jackassjim » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:00 pm

Bosque wrote:Michigan wants their student's GPAs to be as close to or above the median as they can be, so they have those policies and an ungraded LARW course. It makes everyone's GPA look a little better, but all it is really doing is inflating the curve.


If that really is their strategy, maybe someone should explain to them the concept of "median".

User avatar
Bosque
Posts: 1585
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:14 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:09 pm

jackassjim wrote:
Bosque wrote:Michigan wants their student's GPAs to be as close to or above the median as they can be, so they have those policies and an ungraded LARW course. It makes everyone's GPA look a little better, but all it is really doing is inflating the curve.


If that really is their strategy, maybe someone should explain to them the concept of "median".


No, I sort of understand. They are normalizing the curve. It lets the student with all A-s look the same as the student with mostly A-s and two B-s. And if employers are not studying the grading policies closely, then they may see the grading curve for the classes and not realize the actual GPA curve is going to be higher because of this policy.

Really the people the policy hurts are the ones with steady consistent grades.

Flanker1067
Posts: 658
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:47 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby Flanker1067 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:12 pm

I am surprised at the responses here thus far. It seems many people here (on TLS) group Mich with Penn, Berk, and Virginia and Duke with the lesser t14's. Where are those people?

This is coming from someone who may also have to make this consideration and who is leaning towards Duke(I just prefer the location).

fortissimo
Posts: 597
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:13 pm

.
Last edited by fortissimo on Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
jackassjim
Posts: 185
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:58 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby jackassjim » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:40 pm

Bosque wrote:They are normalizing the curve. It lets the student with all A-s look the same as the student with mostly A-s and two B-s.

There is no "normalizing" going on. If a course is graded pass/fail, then it simply does not affect GPAs. The A-students remain A-students, and the B-students remain B-students. The only way you can make the argument above, is if you expect that A-students will systematically do better (worse) than they usually do relative to the B-students in legal writing class. Only that would increase (decrease) the spread between their GPAs.

Bosque wrote:the actual GPA curve is going to be higher because of this policy.

This would only be true if the grades from the class can be expected to be systematically lower than what they are in all other courses; actually, they would need to be MUCH lower than in other classes to have any impact on the cumulative GPA curve, since that difference would be weighed by the number of credits the class is worth, relative to total credits. A pass/fail like that should not have an impact on the overall mean or distribution of grades.

irishman86
Posts: 312
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:03 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby irishman86 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:02 pm

Michigan

knows11
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:58 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby knows11 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:05 pm

I figured that I would throw my two cents in because I am a current undergrad at Michigan and will be attending Duke Law next fall. They do have a lot of similarities, they are both extraordinary law schools, well-known throughout the country, and have very good placement in New York.

However, when it came time for me to apply to law school, there were things about Michigan in general that still hold somewhat true for the law school. There are a lot of students, I was in the business school with about 350 per class and felt that there was not enough personal attention and when the economy went bad the number of recruiters who traveled from New York decreased as it was simpler to get Chicago recruiters to come to the school. For me, I wanted more personal attention so I looked for top law schools with small classes and I definately want to be on the east coast, I don't really even want to think about Chicago or other midwestern cities. The weather in Ann Arbor is also unbearable at times, I'm from New Jersey and have experienced winter before, but Ann Arbor winters just feel much colder and there is a lot more snow and it is a lot longer. I am really ready for a change to more moderate winters in Durham. This is just my experience with Michigan, which I absolutely loved, but as I am approaching my upper levels of education different things have become important that made me choose Duke.

fortissimo
Posts: 597
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:14 pm

knows11 wrote:I figured that I would throw my two cents in because I am a current undergrad at Michigan and will be attending Duke Law next fall. They do have a lot of similarities, they are both extraordinary law schools, well-known throughout the country, and have very good placement in New York.

However, when it came time for me to apply to law school, there were things about Michigan in general that still hold somewhat true for the law school. There are a lot of students, I was in the business school with about 350 per class and felt that there was not enough personal attention and when the economy went bad the number of recruiters who traveled from New York decreased as it was simpler to get Chicago recruiters to come to the school. For me, I wanted more personal attention so I looked for top law schools with small classes and I definately want to be on the east coast, I don't really even want to think about Chicago or other midwestern cities. The weather in Ann Arbor is also unbearable at times, I'm from New Jersey and have experienced winter before, but Ann Arbor winters just feel much colder and there is a lot more snow and it is a lot longer. I am really ready for a change to more moderate winters in Durham. This is just my experience with Michigan, which I absolutely loved, but as I am approaching my upper levels of education different things have become important that made me choose Duke.


There were almost twice as many employers from NYC than from Chicago at Michigan's past OCI...NYC is seen as the "safety" market for Michigan law students (one of the lowest GPA requirements) and is one of the easiest markets to break into for us. We typically place the most in NYC, then Chicago, then California/DC. I'm not from the Midwest so I haven't experienced too many Ann Arbor winters, but this year it only snowed 2-3 times in January. We had clear skies yesterday. Ann Arbor winters are pretty mild and definitely has not lived up to its hype, at least this year anyway. If you want to talk about weather, it gets unbearably humid and hot in the South, something that a Westerner like me can never get used to.

A certain fraction of the 1L classes are split into 40 person class sizes rather than ~90 (your section). I had a 40 person class for two of my 1L courses. The majority of the upper divs (non 1L courses) seem to have 40 people or less. Seminars are smaller. I personally like larger classes because you get to chill more, but it's not like you go to lecture with all the 1Ls in your class. They break the 1Ls into 4 different sections, and then some of those sections are split into half for lectures.
Last edited by fortissimo on Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

junelsat
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:06 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby junelsat » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:18 pm

Does Michigan have a noticeably stronger reputation, or is the difference negligible? Anybody know about the difference in culture between the two schools? I'm still waiting to hear from several more reach schools, but I guess the answer is that I need to start visiting.

The weather is really a non-factor to me, as I don't think it will affect my experience as much as some people imagine it might. I go to undergrad in Atlanta and love the weather down here, but I'd be willing to bear colder temperatures for a better school.

iceman12354
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:37 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby iceman12354 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:29 pm

As a Duke 2L, and as someone with many 2L friends at Michigan law without jobs for this summer, I say "Go Blue...Devils."

fortissimo
Posts: 597
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:31 pm

iceman12354 wrote:As a Duke 2L, and as someone with many 2L friends at Michigan law without jobs for this summer, I say "Go Blue...Devils."


Someone from Duke posted that only 50% of your class was employed...not sure that's a good argument.

That said, if I were choosing between schools now, I'd probably base my decision heavily on financial aid. (Otherwise, come to Michigan like most cross-admits. :wink: )

User avatar
FlightoftheEarls
Posts: 859
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:10 pm

Bosque wrote:Hey HEY hey! Thought I would pop in and drop some knowledge on the Duke side too. Duke has a smaller class than Michigan. The benefit here is that not only is there a greater opportunity for you to befriend your peers and professors since you don't just blend into a crowd, but you are also competing with less of you classmates for jobs.

Plus side of larger school? More classes to choose from that will align with your interests. Also - professors tend to only teach one section anyway, so unless Duke has significantly smaller section sizes (I have no idea on this - do they?), it makes absolutely no difference how large the overall school is when it comes to getting to know your professors. As far as peers, I think Michigan does a fantastic job with this (I know half of my 1L class of 350 through the LC alone), plus the rest of my section that lives outside of the LC. Not to mention all the events that Michigan (and I'm sure Duke does too) puts on that allow you to meet a large number of people you may not normally. Finally, you are competing for a class rank at both schools, as you concede later on. The argument about competing with less [sic] of your classmates for jobs, while true in a numerical sense, fails when you consider that employers base their hiring decisions largely on where one's GPA puts them in terms of class rank.


Bosque wrote:I suspect the difference in grading policies is also a result of the class size differences. Michigan has 350 some students to help find jobs every year. Michigan wants their student's GPAs to be as close to or above the median as they can be, so they have those policies and an ungraded LARW course. It makes everyone's GPA look a little better, but all it is really doing is inflating the curve.

I have all the respect in the world for Duke, but I will defend my school when you make up a statistical analysis that makes absolutely no sense. You did that here, as already addressed. You're better than that.


Bosque wrote:Duke only has to place 200, so they know employers will dip a little lower in the class.

Interesting. I'll grant that one area where Michigan and Duke are pretty comparable is in Biglaw placement, so this has me intrigued.

Bosque wrote:We may end up with lower GPAs in the end, but your GPA is only a measure of how you performed next to your classmates. You cannot accurately compare between schools. Most legal employers are going to know how GPAs differ from school to school.

This part I definitely agree with. Firms that hire consistently at these schools know the curve at each school and where the places you relative to the rest of your class, so it's not really a competition between GPAs at peer schools with different schools.

Bosque wrote:Also, there is a benefit to having a graded LARW class. LARW is the first year class you are going to use most over your career. If it is ungraded, you can coast through without actually learning it, which will hurt you when you turn in a crappy memo at your first job. If it is graded, it forces you to try.

(Disclosure: That said, graded LARW can be a pain sometimes. But it is weighted substantially lower in hours than the normal classes, so even if you bomb it it won't change your GPA very much.)

I agree with this - I would have tried a little bit harder in Legal Practice if there was a real grade attached to it. That said, it would be misguided to think that Michigan students don't care about these classes at all. The assignments you do are used for your job search and it would be absurd to think we didn't work our assess off on those. Also, because these classes are with your smallest section, the professors here are the ones you work closest with and are relationships we try to foster for recommendation purposes. Although we don't get a grade as a reward, and that probably does lend some students to transferring a bit of their efforts to their substantive classes, I think it's fair to say that Legal Practice isn't a blow off class for the majority of us.


Bosque wrote:Duke is also usually quite generous with scholarships. I cannot speak to how generous Michigan is with scholarships as a whole, but my personal experience says they usually offer less money.

I have no knowledge to compare the two schools, so what will matter is how much they end up giving the OP in comparison to each other.

Bosque wrote:Oh, and interesting fact: the state with the highest representation in our 1l class is-get this-California. So I am not so sure about Michigan necessarily being stronger back there, at least in the future.

Because you have a large number of CA residents means that you'll be stronger back there in the future? I didn't realize that where students came from made more of a difference for placement than the school's location, quality and reputation. So if most of Yale's students came from the midwest for the incoming 2013 class, Duke would place better in the SF market than Yale? Interesting.

Bosque wrote:But you said you wanted to go back to New York. NYC is traditionally where we send the greatest number of graduates. Some data I saw from a few years ago had us in third for firm recruitment in NYC, behind NYU and Columbia. So if NYC is where you want to end up, I think Duke would be a fine choice.

Again, I think this is interesting. Duke has great firm placement, but I don't believe that it is beating out Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Cornell, Michigan or UVA for NYC placement. I'll believe it's on par with many of these schools, and maybe sends more to this city since these schools diversify so much to other markets they'd rather be in, but I don't think Duke is going to outshine any of these schools when it comes to two competing applicants. It will hold it's own just fine, but I doubt it will give you the leg up you seem to be alluding to.


Bosque wrote:But as everyone else said, it really comes down to personal fit and money at this point. Visit both. It is the only way to pick at this point.

Finally you said it - we definitely agree on this point. They're both fantastic schools, and OP will do great at either. Do your best to get to both ASWs and see which one seems like a better fit for you. They each have great things to offer their students, and you can open countless doors from either one. Best of luck in the decision!

User avatar
prezidentv8
Posts: 2821
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby prezidentv8 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:18 pm

Duke has to be the chillest law school out there. Even our gunners are super nice. It's refreshingly unexpected.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7119
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby los blancos » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:30 pm

As someone who might have to make this decision (in @ Duke, still waiting to hear from Mich but I have the #s), I'm leaning towards Michigan because of CA placement. Is that a dumb reason to prefer Mich?

User avatar
prezidentv8
Posts: 2821
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby prezidentv8 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:38 pm

los blancos wrote:As someone who might have to make this decision (in @ Duke, still waiting to hear from Mich but I have the #s), I'm leaning towards Michigan because of CA placement. Is that a dumb reason to prefer Mich?


Nope, perfectly reasonable, but it seems like the difference would be marginal to me. My strategy involved looking for money, a reasonably good school, and a place I liked to be. Michigan or Duke could be that place for you.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7119
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby los blancos » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:51 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:
los blancos wrote:As someone who might have to make this decision (in @ Duke, still waiting to hear from Mich but I have the #s), I'm leaning towards Michigan because of CA placement. Is that a dumb reason to prefer Mich?


Nope, perfectly reasonable, but it seems like the difference would be marginal to me. My strategy involved looking for money, a reasonably good school, and a place I liked to be. Michigan or Duke could be that place for you.


That's what I'm trying to discern. I have no ties to CA, so for me I have to do my best to find out if there's self-selection away/to CA from either school and which would give me the best shot. Duke is a lot higher on my list than it is on some others' because after CA, I'd probably like to end up in GA or FL (I like Atlanta and Miami), and Duke seems to own the South. Debt is not an issue for me, but if one gave more scholly money than the other, that would probably be more than enough to win me over.

Duke seems underrated in general on TLS.

Oh, and as to what you said earlier about it being chill: I actually mentioned that specifically in my Why Duke as a reason I'd like to attend.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby keg411 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:15 pm

There isn't a big enough gap between Mich and Duke in OP's case because of his/her interests (i.e. both will place just fine in standard NYC Big Law), so I'd tell OP to go visit and get a vibe for the school and see which area they would rather spend 3 years. Also OP, are you getting any $ at either or are both at sticker? (I'd figure COL would be about the same).

scionb4
Posts: 503
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 8:57 am

Re: Duke vs. Michigan?

Postby scionb4 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:17 pm

I am going to defy logic and go with Duke simply because of the better weather. I'd pick any school down the rankings to about Vanderbilt over Michigan simply because it's colder than shit up there. I know that's not the best reason ever, but tell me that come January.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests