Best Public Interest Law Schools

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obrienfa
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Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby obrienfa » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:14 pm

I know there are probably a lot of people interested in public interest law here and I was wondering which were the best schools for it? I've been looking over the US News and World Report for 2010 but they don't cover public interest in their rankings. Thanks so much.

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b0dylanguage
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby b0dylanguage » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:20 pm

I'm pretty sure NYU is one of the best, if not the best.

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nealric
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:51 pm

The cheapest law school you can get into and/or the school with the best LRAP.

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rolark
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby rolark » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:11 pm

There are a few things I'm taking into account while making my decision:

1) Reputation/ranking - Okay, so the far-reaching and prestigious degree thing speaks for itself. You can still do great work with most schools, though. I don't care much about the rankings beyond T20, because past that point I think finding a regional fit becomes much more important.

2) Percentage placed into public interest - I think this tells me a lot about the PI environment on campus. For example, Duke really wowed me with PI in their brochures, but when I looked up employment on LSAC, I saw only 3 graduates went into PI last year. Whether it's self-selection or discouragement or lack of opportunity, there's something going on here I want to avoid.

3) Financial aid / LRAP - Right now I'm in at Michigan and waiting on NYU. I'm at the point of weighing scholarships to LRAP, but since I have a half tuition scholarship at Mich and they have a great LRAP, I'm really feeling I want to lean away from NYC cost of living right now. Though NYU has their public interest fair and is known for PI, I really don't think Mich is that far behind.

4) Specific programs - Certain schools offer certain programs. One may have an externship program to an area of the world in which you have interest, another might not.

5) General feel of the school - I want to be in a school environment where I'm happy. Competition, location, and political leaning will all factor in.

These aren't the only factors . . . but that might give you a start. If you want anything more personal or detailed, just PM me.

Bennettju
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Bennettju » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:29 pm

Hey, thanks for making a dedicated thread for this--there are more of us "bleeding hearts" out there than people want to admit!

One resource that may be helpful is the Equal Justice Works guide. It doesn't rank schools based on who's better for PI work, but it does give you the opportunity to compare side-by-side different offerings/programs that are available at various schools. Here's the link: http://www.ejwguide.org/

I'm in a similar boat of trying to weigh scholarship vs. LRAP vs. specific programs of interest vs. breadth of PI/clinical opportunities.

Currently I'm changing my mind on a daily basis between Northwestern (in their JD-LLM in International Human Rights program; no scholarship $$), Georgetown (no scholarship, but tremendous clinical offerings and great location for PI work), and Notre Dame ($20k/year scholarship and great IHR program, but in the middle of nowhere). Care to weigh in, anybody? :)

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oberlin08
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby oberlin08 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:30 pm

Northeastern is up there.

orphanarium
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby orphanarium » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:33 pm

...
Last edited by orphanarium on Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bennettju
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Bennettju » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:47 pm

orphanarium wrote:
Bennettju wrote:Hey, thanks for making a dedicated thread for this--there are more of us "bleeding hearts" out there than people want to admit!

One resource that may be helpful is the Equal Justice Works guide. It doesn't rank schools based on who's better for PI work, but it does give you the opportunity to compare side-by-side different offerings/programs that are available at various schools. Here's the link: http://www.ejwguide.org/

I'm in a similar boat of trying to weigh scholarship vs. LRAP vs. specific programs of interest vs. breadth of PI/clinical opportunities.

Currently I'm changing my mind on a daily basis between Northwestern (in their JD-LLM in International Human Rights program; no scholarship $$), Georgetown (no scholarship, but tremendous clinical offerings and great location for PI work), and Notre Dame ($20k/year scholarship and great IHR program, but in the middle of nowhere). Care to weigh in, anybody? :)


Notre Dame students, at least the undergraduates, are very, very conservative. If the law school students are anything like the undergraduate students, I'd stay clear.



Thanks for the advice, orphanarium. I'll take it into account.

I just realized that it would be rude of me to hijack this thread, since the OP's question is more important for more people than my personal situation. So, I'll create my own "what should I do" thread shortly, but in the meantime, let's get back to discussing PI schools in general. Thanks!

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Havaianas
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Havaianas » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:51 pm

I know this probably sounds really naive - but is PI really so competitive that you need to have a T6 or at least T20 degree? It seems like so few people go into PI and it obviously doesn't make anyone rich - so why not just go to the school that gives you $$$ and/or a school with a good LRAP?

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radgrad
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby radgrad » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:54 pm

Yeah seriously, thanks for starting this thread. A few things I want to throw in...

First, location. For people who want to work for big nonprofit law/advocacy firms or the government, this can apparently matter a lot. NYC, San Fran, Washington DC... maybe Chicago? It seems like these cities have a lot of headquarters/offices for big organizations that might employ public interest lawyers.

Second, as scary as it sounds, I think it makes more sense to pay 200k at a school with a top-notch LRAP than 80k at a school with a crappy one. I did a bit of math, and because LRAP programs are based on how much money you make instead of how much debt you have, the initial amount of debt doesn't matter much. The one big "except" here is for people who are making a significant amount of money doing public interest law. If you're starting out at 80k doing PI work, LRAP doesn't help nearly as much.

Third, top public interest jobs are nearly as competitive as top firm jobs. Especially with fewer high-paying jobs available for our corporate brethren, it seems like more people are going into PI. So school, prestige, connections, etc seem to still matter a fair amount.

Just thoughts I've had as I've explored different programs. I generally agree with the other things that have been said here too.

edit: many PI people I've talked to have stressed the importance of clinical training. seems that having a lot of experience actually doing PI-type activities while in law school is one of the big things that makes you competitive for PI jobs after school.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Blindmelon » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:58 pm

Havaianas wrote:I know this probably sounds really naive - but is PI really so competitive that you need to have a T6 or at least T20 degree? It seems like so few people go into PI and it obviously doesn't make anyone rich - so why not just go to the school that gives you $$$ and/or a school with a good LRAP?


Depends on the PI you want to go into. Most fed gov. work is an competitive as biglaw, but in a different way. Random DA's office, not so much.

As for schools, I would first look at the range you can get into (T14, T30, T1, T2, etc.) then you can look at slight gradations within.

For example, if you're targeting the T30 range, BU is one of your best bets for PI work (national jurist points it out as one of 4 strong PI schools - http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress ... t0210/#/18), but if you're looking at T1 then Northeastern might be good with the caveat that its regional.

Most importantly... $ $ $ $ $ $. BU has a PI Scholly thats 30k/year, BC has one thats 25k/year, both good things.

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ccs224
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby ccs224 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:00 pm

I'm wondering what folks think about the importance of location plays when going to law school for PI. Do some areas provide more opportunities or is it best to focus on the place you would most want to end up?

I'm interested in general thoughts, but I ask for a specific reason (not trying to highjack the thread either, but I will provide my personal example). Ideally, I want to end up back in the Northwest doing PI environmental law work. I've got a big scholarship to Lewis and Clark and a admission at UW, but a stronger scholarship from GWU. I'm a bit torn between the choices; it seems like GW, being in DC, would provide greater opportunities for networking and getting experience at organizations with a national presence, but I'm not sure if it would be worth going to when its primary area of influence is so far away from where I want to be.

Edit: Looks like radgrad started answering this question before I asked it. Thanks. Also, I might add that IBR looks like it might pick up a lot of slack at schools that don't have a strong LRAP, and BC's Public Service Scholarship is for full tuition.
Last edited by ccs224 on Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bennettju
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Bennettju » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:03 pm

One more thing to chime in with, regarding LRAPs and such. You all have probably heard about it already, but another option to consider is the federal program under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA). The CCRAA allows people to first of all make income-based repayments (IBR) of around 10% of your annual income, and after 10 years in qualifying public service, the remaining balance of yours loans is forgiven. Some schools, like Northwestern and Georgetown, are now dovetailing their LRAP programs to work in conjunction with the CCRAA, so that they effectively reimburse you for the out-of-pocket IBR payments, thus supposedly keeping you from paying anything if you stick it out for 10 years in PI work. One important thing to remember, though, is that the CCRAA only applies to qualifying federal loans--if you have to borrow more than 1/2 of your expenses in private loans, you'd be up the proverbial creek.

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Havaianas
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Havaianas » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:14 pm

hmmm so Georgetown sounds like a good option considering
a) couldn't be a better location for PI
b) has a good (great even) LRAP - dovetails with the new IBR, ceiling at 75k, two years after graduating to enroll
c) has a great clinical program
d) large alumni base and part time faculty who are practicing lawyers which could lead to lots of great connections

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:36 pm

Yale.

Seriously though, I get the sense that location and networking are important factors since PI students have to do their own job searches and don't get the benefit of OCI.

Here's a list of schools I've found with the best LRAPs. All of these are good enough to cover virtually all payments for a single person making median PI salaries for ten years. Anyone else know of any that I missed post a link and I'll update the list.

Yale
Stanford
NYU
Boalt
Northwestern
Georgetown
UCLA
Hastings

Columbia, Chicago, and Virginia are rumored to be joining these ranks by updating theirs to dovetail with CCRAA. Columbia's is already pretty good. I imagine a lot of schools will be adopting this new model of LRAP soon. Definitely check out the programs on your own though and read the fine print, some are more of a guarantee than others.

edited to add in NYU, I originally screwed up their calculation. It's still not quite as good as these other programs but close enough.
Last edited by beef wellington on Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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chris0805
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby chris0805 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:01 pm

Excepting the schools that have new LRAPs that dovetail with the federal program, I think Columbia and NYU have better LRAPs than all those listed above (other than Yale and maybe Stanford).

Also, the best PI school is the best school that offers a specialty (clinics, externships, etc.) in your anticipated field. LRAP, number of students who choose public interest, resources, competitiveness over said resources are reasonable things to consider.

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ec2xs
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby ec2xs » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:02 pm

Consider CUNY as well if you want to look at something other than rankings.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:06 pm

chris0805 wrote:Excepting the schools that have new LRAPs that dovetail with the federal program, I think Columbia and NYU have better LRAPs than all those listed above (other than Yale and maybe Stanford).

Also, the best PI school is the best school that offers a specialty (clinics, externships, etc.) in your anticipated field. LRAP, number of students who choose public interest, resources, competitiveness over said resources are reasonable things to consider.

I think of all the programs I listed as dovetailing with CCRAA. I'm interested to know why you like NYU and CLS better.

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chris0805
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby chris0805 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:29 pm

beef wellington wrote:
chris0805 wrote:Excepting the schools that have new LRAPs that dovetail with the federal program, I think Columbia and NYU have better LRAPs than all those listed above (other than Yale and maybe Stanford).

Also, the best PI school is the best school that offers a specialty (clinics, externships, etc.) in your anticipated field. LRAP, number of students who choose public interest, resources, competitiveness over said resources are reasonable things to consider.

I think of all the programs I listed as dovetailing with CCRAA. I'm interested to know why you like NYU and CLS better.


Ok, I was comparing traditional LRAPs to traditional LRAPs. FWIW, I think every LRAP will either dovetail with the IRB or offer that option to students by the end of the year.

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crackberry
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby crackberry » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:43 pm

Forget specialized rankings. Those are totally irrelevant. Schools like Northeastern can, in no way, be considered among the "best" in anything law school related. The schools in the T14 that send the most kids to PI (by percentage of class) and have the best LRAPs are:

Yale
Stanford
NYU
Boalt

Michigan is also pretty good, but its LRAP is not as good as the above 4. Georgetown also sends a decent # into PI but doesn't have a great LRAP.

Firm-heavy schools in the T14 are going to be:

Harvard
Columbia
Chicago
Virginia
Penn
Duke
Cornell
Northwestern

Of these, Columbia has the best LRAP by far.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:47 pm

Crackberry, I'm thinking you haven't seen the new LRAPs for GULC and NU.

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crackberry
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby crackberry » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:48 pm

beef wellington wrote:Crackberry, I'm thinking you haven't seen the new LRAPs for GULC and NU.

Admittedly not NU, but I didn't really classify theirs. As far as I recall, Gtown still has a low cap on its LRAP? And even if they've raised it, there's no way GULC touches YS Boalt or NYU in LRAP. Those are four of the best.

EDIT: I have no idea what the new federal IBR shit is. It won't affect me so I never paid attention.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:50 pm

crackberry wrote:
beef wellington wrote:Crackberry, I'm thinking you haven't seen the new LRAPs for GULC and NU.

Admittedly not NU, but I didn't really classify theirs. As far as I recall, Gtown still has a low cap on its LRAP?

GULC's soft cap is now 75000. People in PI who don't hit that salary in their first decade will never pay a dime for their education.

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crackberry
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby crackberry » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:51 pm

beef wellington wrote:
crackberry wrote:
beef wellington wrote:Crackberry, I'm thinking you haven't seen the new LRAPs for GULC and NU.

Admittedly not NU, but I didn't really classify theirs. As far as I recall, Gtown still has a low cap on its LRAP?

GULC's soft cap is now 75000. People in PI who don't hit that salary in their first decade will never pay a dime for their education.

Ok, that's definitely an improvement. But what is the sliding scale below it?

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:55 pm

crackberry wrote:
beef wellington wrote:
crackberry wrote:
beef wellington wrote:Crackberry, I'm thinking you haven't seen the new LRAPs for GULC and NU.

Admittedly not NU, but I didn't really classify theirs. As far as I recall, Gtown still has a low cap on its LRAP?

GULC's soft cap is now 75000. People in PI who don't hit that salary in their first decade will never pay a dime for their education.

Ok, that's definitely an improvement. But what is the sliding scale below it?

I don't think they've released it. Even if you're totally cut off, it's still one of the best in the country, in the same class with YSB, better than NYU. Again though, it's hard to know how much weight to give the current LRAPs because it's plausible that all the T14 will have comparable LRAPs by the time we graduate.




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