Hattori Hanzo wrote:Is there any reasonable argument for choosing Berkeley (with yet unspecified financial aid) over Columbia+Butler?
To answer the OP, yes! There are reasonable arguments. Berkeley is a great school.
Columbia has "better" stats, but who really cares? I will imagine you will have a great life regardless of which you choose, and Berkeley would make it more likely you will have it in California.
Berkeley was my first choice before I realized how much the rankings matter for some things. I wanted to give myself the best chance of becoming a professor, so I ended up choosing Yale. But I also would have liked giving myself the best chance of ending up in California. I am a 1L now, and I see my dream of moving to California slipping away. Sure, you can get a job in California from Yale or Columbia, but the fact is that most don't. NYC and DC have nearly irresistible pull. Even if you can resist because of your commitment to warmer weather, you will be leaving most of your law friends behind if you move West, which sort of sucks.
If you want to live and work in California, you should definitely consider Berkeley over Columbia. I was offered the Hamilton at Columbia. If Berkeley had matched (and I hadn't gotten into H or S), I
absolutely would have chosen Berkeley.
Peoples on TLS pretty much only follow the bare numbers. By this logic if you asked them, "Is there any reasonable argument for choosing a top law school over a top med school?" They should answer no. But that's ridiculous.
It's not all about numbers. If you love California and think you will be happy at Berkeley (I think it's very possible most people would be happier at Berkeley, and I think it's crazy to undervalue this factor). And if you are happy with the sort of jobs you can expect to get to Berkeley, then go for it.
And stay off this boards. To be honest, I wonder whether I would have chosen Yale if I had spent less time on TLS when making my decision. I love Yale for two reasons: 1) the grading system and unparalleled flexibility make me happy; 2) it seems to be a great place to train for government or academic work.
But I made two huge sacrifices in coming here: 1) giving up California and 2) giving up the chance to study at a school with strong IP and science law (S and Berkeley).
My advice: study the employment numbers, cancel your TLS account, visit each school, and go with your gut!