UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

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

UCLA vs. Columbia?

UCLA /w $95k
55
37%
Columbia
92
63%
 
Total votes: 147

nervous1
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UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:24 pm

Hey everyone. I got a lot of great advice by lurking on this board and thought I will finally create my own post to answer a major question I have. (I've already reached out to to other posters, i.e. palmstar, who has been incredibly helpful!) Scenario below, comments by current UCLA or Columbia students/grads much appreciated.

Scenario:
I really want to work in LA. My ideal career path would be Big Law in LA a few years, then a fed govt position (ideally U.S. attorney's office) or corporate in-house in LA. I would sacrifice Big Law if I could just find a govt position (excluding the DA's office) or mid-law firm ($75-$100k) in LA right after law school, but at the same time my biggest fear is ending up with a $45-55k firm job after graduating and chances of that are MUCH higher from UCLA than from Columbia. I'd have around ~$100k of total debt graduating from UCLA (including law school living expenses debt and undergrad debt) and a LOT more debt from Columbia.

So what should I do? I'm leaning towards UCLA because I would like to spend the next 3 years there, and the debt burden would be low, but Columbia is much more prestigious and I've heard UCLA took a real serious beating for the 2009 OCI....as in only top 10% found Big Law firm jobs among 2L's. At a top 15 law school and the best school in the region? Really?

(I'm convinced a major reason why UCLA/USC do so poorly for regional powerhouses is because the LA Big Law market is MUCH smaller than NYC/DC/Boston. Thoughts?)

eth3n
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby eth3n » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:37 pm

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog ... ornia.html

not that it matters, but something to think about

there is a lot of fleeing to the public sector in CA right now, and from what I have heard from USAO/DOJ/DOJ-AG is that the most important thing right now for hiring is getting people that show DEDICATION to the area (especially if you want criminal). Also something to think about (UNLESS UCLA LEAVES YOU WITH NEGLIGIBLE DEBT TAKE COLUMBIA!!). I saw a TON of UCLA 2Ls at the Hastings PI/PS day yesterday begging for positions at open tabling.

Nothing personal against UCLA, all this stuff just recently fell into my lap.

USAIRS
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby USAIRS » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:07 pm

nervous1 wrote:Hey everyone. I got a lot of great advice by lurking on this board and thought I will finally create my own post to answer a major question I have. (I've already reached out to to other posters, i.e. palmstar, who has been incredibly helpful!) Scenario below, comments by current UCLA or Columbia students/grads much appreciated.

Scenario:
I really want to work in LA. My ideal career path would be Big Law in LA a few years, then a fed govt position (ideally U.S. attorney's office) or corporate in-house in LA. I would sacrifice Big Law if I could just find a govt position (excluding the DA's office) or mid-law firm ($75-$100k) in LA right after law school, but at the same time my biggest fear is ending up with a $45-55k firm job after graduating and chances of that are MUCH higher from UCLA than from Columbia. I'd have around ~$100k of total debt graduating from UCLA (including law school living expenses debt and undergrad debt) and a LOT more debt from Columbia.

So what should I do? I'm leaning towards UCLA because I would like to spend the next 3 years there, and the debt burden would be low, but Columbia is much more prestigious and I've heard UCLA took a real serious beating for the 2009 OCI....as in only top 10% found Big Law firm jobs among 2L's. At a top 15 law school and the best school in the region? Really?

(I'm convinced a major reason why UCLA/USC do so poorly for regional powerhouses is because the LA Big Law market is MUCH smaller than NYC/DC/Boston. Thoughts?)


If your goal is LA USAO, then you want to do one of the following routes:

1. An appellate clerkship, preferably 9th circuit. Some chance of straight to USAO, but better if you do one of #s 3,4, or 5 after;
2. District court clerkship in the central district, followed one of the below;
3. City Attorney's Office, taking a special assistant USA position at some point;
4. DA's office, but mostly in one of the eastern empire counties and primarily for a lateral to a satellite office;
5. Top law firm, litigation group, preferably local;
6. Supreme court clerkship. No joke.

None of the above, with the exception maybe of #6, with a great interview, gives a "great chance" a spot. The best is a combination of #s 1 or 2 with #s 3, 4, and 5. Any of #s 1-5 by themselves will give you maybe a 1/3 or 1/4 chance at best of landing in the USAO.

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vanwinkle
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:10 pm

Go to Columbia and work in LA on your summers to network and make connections.

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im_blue
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby im_blue » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:59 pm

nervous1 wrote:Columbia is much more prestigious and I've heard UCLA took a real serious beating for the 2009 OCI....as in only top 10% found Big Law firm jobs among 2L's. At a top 15 law school and the best school in the region? Really?


Let this be a lesson for those on TLS who keep trolling for UCLA over the lower T14 (and even CCN!), which are placing at least 50-60% into biglaw ITE. Even if I thought I was dead-set on practicing in CA, I'd much rather choose a T14 and get biglaw elsewhere, than have a 10% chance from UCLA. The fact that the T14 in question is Columbia makes it a no-brainer.

fortissimo
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:25 pm

Wow, 10%...I heard some scary stories about UCLA but I didn't hear it was this bad. I am not too surprised though, as the CA markets are doing comparably really poorly.

For me this is a no brainer - Columbia. Networking during law school is very overrated. If you went to ugrad or grew up in CA, you can go to school anywhere else and be fine with CA firms as far as connections go. Columbia has a ton of legal prestige in CA, more than Berkeley does, given my (brief) experience working in a firm in CA.
Last edited by fortissimo on Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:27 pm

I don't know..that statement was purely anecdotal. Also, it was more like only top 10% was guaranteed Big Law, not merely got Big Law. But since UCLA was placing 35-45% into Big Law at the height of the economy (a la 2006-2007) that figure doesn't really surprise me. I'm sure other schools with similar numbers (UT, USC, Fordham, etc.) are doing similarly ITE.

If someone wanted to work in LA I would imagine they would still need to be at the very least above median, if not top third or quarter, still at a top 14 (most located on the East Coast remember) to get a LA big law job, since LA is a smaller and more insular market, relative to NYC/DC. (Look at where the majority of associates at all top LA law firms went to school?)

im_blue wrote:
nervous1 wrote:Columbia is much more prestigious and I've heard UCLA took a real serious beating for the 2009 OCI....as in only top 10% found Big Law firm jobs among 2L's. At a top 15 law school and the best school in the region? Really?


Let this be a lesson for those on TLS who keep trolling for UCLA over the lower T14 (and even CCN!), which are placing at least 50-60% into biglaw ITE. Even if I thought I was dead-set on practicing in CA, I'd much rather choose a T14 and get biglaw elsewhere, than have a 10% chance from UCLA. The fact that the T14 in question is Columbia makes it a no-brainer.

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:31 pm

What experience did you have specifically? At was it a major law firm?

fortissimo wrote:Wow, 10%...I heard some scary stories about UCLA but I didn't hear it was this bad. I am not too surprised though, as the CA markets are doing comparably really poorly.

For me this is a no brainer - Columbia. Networking during law school is very overrated. If you went to ugrad or grew up in CA, you can go to school anywhere else and be fine with CA firms as far as connections go. Columbia has a ton of legal prestige in CA, more than Berkeley does, given my (brief) experience working in a firm in CA.

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thelawguy777
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby thelawguy777 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:53 pm

...Just my opinion...

You cannot turn down the #4 law school in the country. UCLA and Columbia are not peer institutions. Columbia (according to Leiter) has the best Big Law placement in the country. I wouldn't even think twice about this decision.

soyable
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby soyable » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:10 pm

I vote UCLA. I visited there last month and was very impressed with the school and I think there's no substitute for being in the area you want to work in. You'll be making connections year-round and will have professors and advisers who will know that market specifically. Plus, the money is a huge deal. You could probably even get more out of them--trust me, I actually did this. Keep them informed with what other offers you get, other scholarships, and even the difference in cost of living between schools (clearly with Columbia it won't be that much difference, at least not in your favor, but draw their attention to another school, like Duke or Michigan, and there will be). The admissions office is very helpful and they are not the ones making financial decisions, so they generally will advocate on your behalf to the scholarship committee.

I know this isn't a popular opinion to hold at TLS, but not everyone is well suited to the best school he/she can get into. You need to really consider where you want to be, what you need out of your school, and what financial debt your about to go into. Good luck--at least you have two great schools to choose between!

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saltoftheearth
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby saltoftheearth » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:33 am

thelawguy777 wrote:...Just my opinion...

You cannot turn down the #4 law school in the country. UCLA and Columbia are not peer institutions. Columbia (according to Leiter) has the best Big Law placement in the country. I wouldn't even think twice about this decision.


go to Columbia

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vanwinkle
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:40 am

thelawguy777 wrote:...Just my opinion...

You cannot turn down the #4 law school in the country. UCLA and Columbia are not peer institutions. Columbia (according to Leiter) has the best Big Law placement in the country. I wouldn't even think twice about this decision.

This is sound.

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los blancos
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby los blancos » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:43 am

nervous1 wrote:But since UCLA was placing 35-45% into Big Law at the height of the economy (a la 2006-2007)



Source?

ibingham
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby ibingham » Mon Feb 08, 2010 2:52 am

columbia. why is this a question?

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:00 am

1. UCLA has better/comparable Big Law placement on the West Coast, especially SoCal
2. It is way, way cheaper and I am debt-averse
3. I would much prefer to spend the next three years in LA over NYC
4. For local government positions, local schools have an edge over HYS

A lot of LA firms have only a handful of Columbia grads and a whole lot of UCLA/USC grads. Can anyone explain this?

Looking at Columbia's numbers....20% of the class is from the West Coast yet they only place 10% there! I mean does this mean half the class doesn't want to go back where they came from....or is the West Coast placement harder? That difference seems significant....

ibingham wrote:columbia. why is this a question?

ibingham
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby ibingham » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:55 pm

nervous1 wrote:1. UCLA has better/comparable Big Law placement on the West Coast, especially SoCal
2. It is way, way cheaper and I am debt-averse
3. I would much prefer to spend the next three years in LA over NYC
4. For local government positions, local schools have an edge over HYS

A lot of LA firms have only a handful of Columbia grads and a whole lot of UCLA/USC grads. Can anyone explain this?

Looking at Columbia's numbers....20% of the class is from the West Coast yet they only place 10% there! I mean does this mean half the class doesn't want to go back where they came from....or is the West Coast placement harder? That difference seems significant....

ibingham wrote:columbia. why is this a question?


I'm starting to question if you were really admitted to Columbia or whether you are using this "versus' thread to troll for UCLA. Placement is measured by how deep a firm goes into your class, not the number of graduates in that city. Self-selection plays a huge role in Columbia's placement in LA. Is it that unbelievable that half the people from the West Coast do not want to go back to the West Coast? (It makes sense too, because those that are willing to leave home for school are more likely to be open-minded about living and working elsewhere after law school.)

Your logic is extremely faulty. Columbia outplaces UCLA in pretty much every respect and probably places better in every market. By this, I mean a firm is willing to dig deeper into Columbia's class than UCLA's. A UCLA law degree is a dime a dozen in Southern California.

There are probably more UCLA graduates in LA than Harvard graduates. Given your faulty logic, are you implying that UCLA places better in Los Angeles biglaw than Harvard? :roll:

It's only 3 years of your life, not eternity and Columbia is a much better school. You are going to be in steep debt anyway if you go to UCLA despite the scholarship, particularly in light of the recent UC tuition increases. I just think your chances of landing a job is a lot higher out of Columbia.

minuit
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby minuit » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:01 pm

I know a girl who went through this exact decision process last application cycle... She wants to live and work in LA after school, her family is in LA, but she still chose Columbia. Why? Because it's Columbia. She has 1L summer job offers from LA, so she will be spending her summer there making contacts and such.

ibingham
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby ibingham » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:03 pm

After browsing some of his previous posts, I am pretty sure the OP is a flame.

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Dignan
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby Dignan » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:03 pm

nervous1 wrote:1. UCLA has better/comparable Big Law placement on the West Coast, especially SoCal
2. It is way, way cheaper and I am debt-averse
3. I would much prefer to spend the next three years in LA over NYC
4. For local government positions, local schools have an edge over HYS

A lot of LA firms have only a handful of Columbia grads and a whole lot of UCLA/USC grads. Can anyone explain this?

Looking at Columbia's numbers....20% of the class is from the West Coast yet they only place 10% there! I mean does this mean half the class doesn't want to go back where they came from....or is the West Coast placement harder? That difference seems significant....]

1. I really, really doubt that's true. Do you have any evidence? The statistic you cited at the end of your post (about 20% of the class being form the west coast and only 10% placing) isn't very persuasive. I think most California residents who go to Columbia plan to work in NYC or DC. I'm a lifelong California resident, and that's my plan. In any case, I strongly suggest talking to a variety of lawyers in LA about this. The few lawyers I've talked to in NorCal say Columbia places just as well (and maybe even better) than Berkeley in California. If Berkeley struggles to keep pace with Columbia's reputation in California, you can imagine how UCLA is going to fare.
2. I can't argue with you here. As you are aware, though, 90K at UCLA is far from a free ride. With rapidly rising UC fees and COL expenses, you will still have to take on some debt at UCLA.
3. That counts for something.
4. I doubt this. It's true that most HYS grads don't bother pursuing local government positions (why would they?), but I bet HYS grads would do very well if they decided to apply to such jobs. And, as I think you are aware, a position with the U.S. attorney's office in LA does not count as a "local job."

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McNabb
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby McNabb » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:13 pm

California firms love Columbia, it is one of their most favored law schools, it really is on a par with even Boalt in Cali. When you think about the fact that most people who go to Columbia want/go for NYC, their Cali placement is even more stunning. Columbia (and Chicago) are actually really close to being on the level of Stanford.

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http://www.mto.com/lawyers/

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RVP11
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby RVP11 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:23 pm

im_blue wrote:
nervous1 wrote:Columbia is much more prestigious and I've heard UCLA took a real serious beating for the 2009 OCI....as in only top 10% found Big Law firm jobs among 2L's. At a top 15 law school and the best school in the region? Really?


Let this be a lesson for those on TLS who keep trolling for UCLA over the lower T14 (and even CCN!), which are placing at least 50-60% into biglaw ITE. Even if I thought I was dead-set on practicing in CA, I'd much rather choose a T14 and get biglaw elsewhere, than have a 10% chance from UCLA. The fact that the T14 in question is Columbia makes it a no-brainer.


Which lower T14s are placing 60% into BigLaw? I'd say the number is more like 40% at UVA.

And I'd be shocked if UCLA truly only got 10% into big firms.

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RVP11
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby RVP11 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:25 pm

Oh, and there's a good argument to be made for Columbia > Berkeley in California. Columbia > UCLA shouldn't even be a question.

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:55 pm

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL%20...%207904889529
los blancos wrote:
nervous1 wrote:But since UCLA was placing 35-45% into Big Law at the height of the economy (a la 2006-2007)



Source?

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:57 pm

Your logic is extremely faulty. Columbia outplaces UCLA in pretty much every respect and probably places better in every market. By this, I mean a firm is willing to dig deeper into Columbia's class than UCLA's.

Only way to know this is to know the GPA cutoffs firms have. Skadden (LA) has a 3.3 cutoff with journal/moot court preferred from UCLA. Anyone know what the Skadden (LA) cutoff is for Columbia?


ibingham wrote:
nervous1 wrote:1. UCLA has better/comparable Big Law placement on the West Coast, especially SoCal
2. It is way, way cheaper and I am debt-averse
3. I would much prefer to spend the next three years in LA over NYC
4. For local government positions, local schools have an edge over HYS

A lot of LA firms have only a handful of Columbia grads and a whole lot of UCLA/USC grads. Can anyone explain this?

Looking at Columbia's numbers....20% of the class is from the West Coast yet they only place 10% there! I mean does this mean half the class doesn't want to go back where they came from....or is the West Coast placement harder? That difference seems significant....

ibingham wrote:columbia. why is this a question?


I'm starting to question if you were really admitted to Columbia or whether you are using this "versus' thread to troll for UCLA. Placement is measured by how deep a firm goes into your class, not the number of graduates in that city. Self-selection plays a huge role in Columbia's placement in LA. Is it that unbelievable that half the people from the West Coast do not want to go back to the West Coast? (It makes sense too, because those that are willing to leave home for school are more likely to be open-minded about living and working elsewhere after law school.)

Your logic is extremely faulty. Columbia outplaces UCLA in pretty much every respect and probably places better in every market. By this, I mean a firm is willing to dig deeper into Columbia's class than UCLA's. A UCLA law degree is a dime a dozen in Southern California.

There are probably more UCLA graduates in LA than Harvard graduates. Given your faulty logic, are you implying that UCLA places better in Los Angeles biglaw than Harvard? :roll:

It's only 3 years of your life, not eternity and Columbia is a much better school. You are going to be in steep debt anyway if you go to UCLA despite the scholarship, particularly in light of the recent UC tuition increases. I just think your chances of landing a job is a lot higher out of Columbia.

nervous1
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Re: UCLA with $$$ or Columbia???

Postby nervous1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:02 pm

When you think about the fact that most people who go to Columbia want/go for NYC, their Cali placement is even more stunning.

Is that true though? What about people who go to Columbia from outside the East Coast who just want to go to the best school they got into?

Also, I can search each of these firms for UCLA grads and find MUCH more. Irell & Manella has 24 UCLA grads and only 17 Columbia grads. Munger has 7 Columbia grads and 14 UCLA grads. I understand that many more UCLA grads favor LA over Columbia grads, but still.....

McNabb wrote:California firms love Columbia, it is one of their most favored law schools, it really is on a par with even Boalt in Cali. When you think about the fact that most people who go to Columbia want/go for NYC, their Cali placement is even more stunning. Columbia (and Chicago) are actually really close to being on the level of Stanford.

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http://www.mto.com/lawyers/
Last edited by nervous1 on Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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