Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

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

Which would you choose?

Harvard
85
41%
Michigan (full tuition Darrow)
83
40%
Duke (full tuition Mordecai)
41
20%
 
Total votes: 209

pleasebehappy
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Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby pleasebehappy » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:42 pm

I've been fortunate enough to get into Harvard and be awarded a Darrow (full tuition) at Michigan and a Mordecai (full tuition) at Duke. Beyond my wildest dreams; I know they're all phenomenal choices and none is "right" or "wrong". Now, I have to start making a decision, and I find this site helpful so I'm curious what others here would do in this position and what you'd consider.

I'm interested in warm weather (did undergrad in TX) and a young/social/collegial atmosphere (I'm 23 only 1 yr out of undergrad), but these won't be the sole deciding factors. Not sure what I want after law school; I'll probably pursue a big law job in DC/midwest/South for several years, then move on to something else. Possibly interested in eventual public sector career (unsure). I've already visited all 3 schools - liked them all, wasn't 100% in love with any (visiting just made the decision more difficult because they are all so great!).

Things I'm questioning:
--are there that many opportunities at Harvard that a Darrow or Mordecai wouldn't have? are job prospects really that bad in the mid/lower top 14? will oci be improved at all in 18 months when 2Ls are interviewing in August 2011?
--is one school known for having happier/friendly/more laid back/less competitive/more social students? I'm really looking for a good balance between academics, social life, and atmosphere.
--debt vs. no debt in this economy (I wouldn't have to take out loans to cover low COL in Ann Arbor/Durham and I'm unlikely to get a lot of need-based aid from Harvard)...along with this, is prestige or lack of debt more important?

Thanks in advance for all of your help!!

jackster2
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby jackster2 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:51 pm

I'd place Duke last. I live in Chapel Hill and I think Duke is very good, but it really lacks a certain intellectual vitality, perhaps too southern, perhaps it attracts a homogeneous student body, I'm not sure but Michigan has an entirely different feel to the faculty and student body.

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bottomshelf
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby bottomshelf » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:54 pm

FWIW, some NYU grads I met recently (who work in D.C.) always referred to Michigan grads as a "friendly" bunch who "know how to have fun." That's a pretty good stereotype to have! A friend of mine who graduated from Duke hated Durham but loved the education. There's my hearsay contribution for the day...

EDIT: as for the debt/no debt thing, I think the consensus on TLS is - it depends (on what you want to do after graduation).
Last edited by bottomshelf on Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nyyankees
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby nyyankees » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:55 pm

I voted for Duke.

In the regions you are looking into, the Duke name is as strong as any, if not the strongest. Given your future public sector aspirations the lack of debt would probably be important. Ive visited Duke a handful of times (admittedly UG, not grad school) but Ive had nothing but good times. The people around there seem to be very nice and pleasant and Id imagine its a great spot for a 23 year old.

The only thing that would change my mind is if you put a LOT of value on the name on your degree. If the name Harvard means a lot more to you, personally, then i might consider it (Im not sure that employers in your region will care too much. Either way, to me Michigan is out (this pains me to say cuz i love that friggin school), the weather combined with the lack of real relevance in the region makes it a little tougher to say yes.

insidethetwenty
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby insidethetwenty » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:03 pm

pleasebehappy wrote:Things I'm questioning:
--are there that many opportunities at Harvard that a Darrow or Mordecai wouldn't have? are job prospects really that bad in the mid/lower top 14?

In a word, yes. The real question is whether you want those opportunities. If you want to be in a high-level federal job, be a senator, be president, be a federal judge one day, then Harvard is a MUCH better choice. If all you are looking for is BigLaw in Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, or at a non-V50 firm in DC, then you'd probably be alright with Duke/Mich.
pleasebehappy wrote: will oci be improved at all in 18 months when 2Ls are interviewing in August 2011?

Maybe, maybe not. I don't think anyone knows for sure what's going to happen
pleasebehappy wrote:--is one school known for having happier/friendly/more laid back/less competitive/more social students? I'm really looking for a good balance between academics, social life, and atmosphere.

I think UVA is the one known the most for that, but I don't think any Duke or Michigan student would tell you their school is not "laid back". Harvard, on the other hand, is known for being slightly less friendly place, but with a class so huge, you'll probably be able to find people like you.
pleasebehappy wrote:--debt vs. no debt in this economy (I wouldn't have to take out loans to cover low COL in Ann Arbor/Durham and I'm unlikely to get a lot of need-based aid from Harvard)...along with this, is prestige or lack of debt more important?

It depends on whether you want all the big opportunities. Prestige might be more important if you want to the biggest, best things. If you just want a quiet, normal life in the South, then going to a top 10 law school for free might be the ticket.

But hey, you can't go wrong at any of those places!

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Bosque
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby Bosque » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:06 pm

jackster2 wrote:I'd place Duke last. I live in Chapel Hill and I think Duke is very good, but it really lacks a certain intellectual vitality, perhaps too southern, perhaps it attracts a homogeneous student body, I'm not sure but Michigan has an entirely different feel to the faculty and student body.


This statement is 100% false. Stop talking out your ass. Living down the road doesn't grant you any knowledge of what the law school is like.

OP, take it from a Duke student. If you come here you will love it. I would pick Duke if I were you, but as one of the other posters already said this decision is really about your preferences, and we don't know all of those. If you think in ten years you are going to really regret not having the Harvard name on your diploma, then you should probably pick Harvard.

Also, keep in mind that just because you are a Mordecai coming in it doesn't mean you are necessarily going to end up at the top of your class at Duke (or Michigan) coming out. So don't pick Duke or Michigan thinking it is going to be easier than Harvard. You are going to have to work just as hard for a less then certain result at the end of the semester. Just keep that in mind.

Renzo
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:07 pm

I like Duke given your geographical and climate preferences. Unless you think you want to try and compete for the kinds of jobs that only Harvard can get you (and it doesn't sound like you do), you're better off going where you'll be happiest. If all schools were free, I would have picked Duke over any T7-T14 school.

mwazaumoja
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby mwazaumoja » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:21 pm

I'd still pick Harvard, you'll never get that nagging 'what if?' feeling in your stomach if you end up near the top of your class at Michigan or Duke. Hell, you'll never get that nagging feeling if you, god forbid, end up at the BOTTOM of your class at Duke or Michigan.

lawduder
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby lawduder » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:46 pm

Duke

pleasebehappy
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby pleasebehappy » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:56 pm

Thanks so much for all of your insight.

Is Michigan's placement really that much better than Duke's?

Also, I've read many posts here about people from MVPB and DN not getting the jobs they wanted at all (or getting nothing) in terms of big law jobs. What class rank is generally "safe" (I know there are plenty of exceptions) at Duke/Michigan to land a decent big law job? If you're below that line, what are your options after graduation?

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holydonkey
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby holydonkey » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:15 pm

pleasebehappy wrote:Thanks so much for all of your insight.

Is Michigan's placement really that much better than Duke's?

Also, I've read many posts here about people from MVPB and DN not getting the jobs they wanted at all (or getting nothing) in terms of big law jobs. What class rank is generally "safe" (I know there are plenty of exceptions) at Duke/Michigan to land a decent big law job? If you're below that line, what are your options after graduation?


+1 on this question. I'm really considering Michigan, but it looks like the employment statistics (self reported and nlj 250) say you have less chance at big law from Michigan than Cornell. Please explain how these stats are bull.

fortissimo
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby fortissimo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:23 pm

holydonkey wrote:
pleasebehappy wrote:Thanks so much for all of your insight.

Is Michigan's placement really that much better than Duke's?

Also, I've read many posts here about people from MVPB and DN not getting the jobs they wanted at all (or getting nothing) in terms of big law jobs. What class rank is generally "safe" (I know there are plenty of exceptions) at Duke/Michigan to land a decent big law job? If you're below that line, what are your options after graduation?


+1 on this question. I'm really considering Michigan, but it looks like the employment statistics (self reported and nlj 250) say you have less chance at big law from Michigan than Cornell. Please explain how these stats are bull.


Because more at Michigan place into clerkships and prestigious PI, which are typically harder to get than biglaw...? I think "clerkships" are the number one goal for many people. It's seen as the most prestigious first job, and you get a larger first year bonus if you go into biglaw afterwards. It also opens doors for many more jobs in the future, including the DOJ, which practically makes clerkships a prerequisite. (Yale places less into biglaw than Columbia, but it doesn't mean that Yalies have less of a chance at biglaw.)

As for this question, it was easy choosing Michigan over Duke. But given your career goals (biglaw), maybe you should strongly consider Harvard. If you don't want biglaw, I'd say take the full ride.
Last edited by fortissimo on Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby kittenmittons » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:24 pm

Hth

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:28 pm

Considering that you're thinking public sector in the long run -- or, more importantly, that you're pretty open-minded and unsure about what field you really want to pursue -- I'd definitely say take one of the full rides. You'll have a free JD from a top school and no debt to weigh you down. If you may only be interested in a few years of Biglaw, I see especially big benefits to having low debt; you'll have the freedom to move laterally into various career paths without having to worry about making a few decades of $1200 monthly payments for your Harvard education.

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englawyer
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby englawyer » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:56 pm

i would go for Harvard in this case. Keep in mind that even if you don't want to become president, chances are there are many at Harvard that will. Obama selected some of his buddies from HLS for high-level government posts.

i actually take the opposite view of people in this thread if you don't know what you want to do exactly: go to the best school you can, so the most options are open. you might get to LS and realize "hey academia would be great" and then probably regret going to a lower school for some cash.

My personal plan is to pay down debt quickly during biglaw after graduation; I don't mind living like a bum though. If I am making huge payments even 5-6 years after graduation, something went wrong. If you want to graduate law school and then rent a huge apartment and lease a beamer things might be different.

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dutchstriker
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby dutchstriker » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:14 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:Considering that you're thinking public sector in the long run -- or, more importantly, that you're pretty open-minded and unsure about what field you really want to pursue -- I'd definitely say take one of the full rides. You'll have a free JD from a top school and no debt to weigh you down. If you may only be interested in a few years of Biglaw, I see especially big benefits to having low debt; you'll have the freedom to move laterally into various career paths without having to worry about making a few decades of $1200 monthly payments for your Harvard education.

You may already know this, but any job in nonprofit, government, or academia qualifies for Harvard's LIPP, even if it is not law-related. Just for the OP to keep in mind.

heyguys
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby heyguys » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:30 pm

There is absolutely no reason for you to go to Harvard unless you want either a) a CoA clerkship or b) V10 placement. Since you don't seem to want either of those, I would suggest visiting both UMich and Duke and seeing which you like more. Honestly, I would give deference to Mich for job propects.

lawduder
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby lawduder » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:31 pm

fwiw mich is in the tundra

fortissimo
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby fortissimo » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:51 pm

lawduder wrote:fwiw mich is in the tundra


It might be a warmish winter, but December wasn't cold and I can't recall it snowing then. It only snowed 2-3 times in January in Ann Arbor. It's snowed a few more times in February, but it's probably the only "cold" month since things start warming up in March. Not to mention in AA we don't have drive to get to bars or stores like you do down there and it doesn't get unbearably hot and humid in the Spring like it does in the South. (For some reason it's been a snowing more in Southern states like TN this year. The in-laws keep sending pics of snowstorms in the South.)

I think winter has hit much harder on the East Coast this year with the snowstorms than the Midwest.

It was easy choosing Mich over Duke. I think it's down to Harvard v. Michigan, depending on what the OP wants to do.

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Bosque
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby Bosque » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:58 pm

fortissimo wrote:
It was easy choosing Duke over Mich. I think it's down to Harvard v. Duke, depending on what the OP wants to do.


Fixed.

sfdreaming09
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby sfdreaming09 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:59 pm

Bosque wrote:
fortissimo wrote:
It was easy choosing Duke over Mich. I think it's down to Harvard v. Duke, depending on what the OP wants to do.


Fixed.


I'm not looking at either school, but I would take Duke over Mich any day.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby kittenmittons » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:00 pm

dook sucks.

hth

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby EijiMiyake » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:08 pm

dutchstriker wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:Considering that you're thinking public sector in the long run -- or, more importantly, that you're pretty open-minded and unsure about what field you really want to pursue -- I'd definitely say take one of the full rides. You'll have a free JD from a top school and no debt to weigh you down. If you may only be interested in a few years of Biglaw, I see especially big benefits to having low debt; you'll have the freedom to move laterally into various career paths without having to worry about making a few decades of $1200 monthly payments for your Harvard education.

You may already know this, but any job in nonprofit, government, or academia qualifies for Harvard's LIPP, even if it is not law-related. Just for the OP to keep in mind.



LIPP is great, but let's be real - the debt will still be a noticeable burden on a 60-80k salary.

According to Paycheck city - 60k yields a monthly salary of ~ 3100 in CA. paying 500 of that won't break you, but it will still be tough to save for a home, take nice vacations once in awhile, or buy a car.

irishman86
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby irishman86 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:14 pm

Michigan ftw

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scribelaw
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Re: Harvard vs. Michigan (Darrow) vs. Duke (Mordecai)

Postby scribelaw » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:26 pm

EijiMiyake wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:Considering that you're thinking public sector in the long run -- or, more importantly, that you're pretty open-minded and unsure about what field you really want to pursue -- I'd definitely say take one of the full rides. You'll have a free JD from a top school and no debt to weigh you down. If you may only be interested in a few years of Biglaw, I see especially big benefits to having low debt; you'll have the freedom to move laterally into various career paths without having to worry about making a few decades of $1200 monthly payments for your Harvard education.

You may already know this, but any job in nonprofit, government, or academia qualifies for Harvard's LIPP, even if it is not law-related. Just for the OP to keep in mind.



LIPP is great, but let's be real - the debt will still be a noticeable burden on a 60-80k salary.

According to Paycheck city - 60k yields a monthly salary of ~ 3100 in CA. paying 500 of that won't break you, but it will still be tough to save for a home, take nice vacations once in awhile, or buy a car.


I don't know about CA, but only taking home $3,100 from a salary of $60k isn't right. At that salary, your federal taxes should be in the 17-18 percent range (including social security withholding). If you're in govt work, health care premiums will be negligible and most likely, they'll have a pension plan rather than a 401k to which you contribute. Your take-home pay would be more like $4,000 a month.




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