Best Public Interest Law Schools

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
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badfish
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:49 am

MeTalkPrettyOneDay wrote:
badfish wrote:[NYU has] a separate p.i. employment office.
So does CLS :D


huh, go figure. well i'm not going to get into a debate about it, both are obviously excellent choices.

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gilagarta
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby gilagarta » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:27 pm

Havaianas wrote:When evaluating LRAPs - I have been placing a lot of emphasis on income cap and the rules for when you can qualify (only within 2 years after graduating, any time w/in ten years postgrad, if you can go in and out of qualification). Looking at those factors Boalt looks GREAT. I'm not really sure what small print I should be paying attention to... Any suggestions?


Boalt - must apply within 3.5 years, then you can reenter whenever you qualify, up to 100k
Stanford - within 5 years, sliding up to 80k
Georgetown - within 2 years, up to 75k (GULC "assistance" on a sliding scale after 75k)
Duke - anytime you're eligible within ten years, up to 60k
UTexas - within 2 years, up to 50k


Also can anyone talk about Harvard's LIPP?


I recently went to Harvard's ASW, and their LIPP is pretty amazing. You can enter and exit the program whenever you want during the 10 years after you graduate - there's no minimum PI time commitment to qualify, and you could leave PI for a few years and then come back and you'd be able to be in the program again. It's a sliding scale with no official cutoff, but it seems like it's around 90k. I was impressed to see that someone making $75k a year would still have their loans paid off to the extent that after they make their contribution, it would still be like they were making $63k.

With that said, I'm having a hard time making a decision between Harvard and NYU overall. They seem to have comparable opportunities, so I'm wondering if the slightly higher rank makes Harvard enough of a bigger deal for me to leave my beloved city of NYC, where I want to practice law. Thoughts?

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Borhas
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Borhas » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:48 pm

I've heard great things about PI at UC Hastings, which is expensive, but has a decent LRAP (called PICAP, income up to 70k non profit AND local, state, fed gov work eligible)... something to consider for those who don't get in Stanford or Boalt
Last edited by Borhas on Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dutchstriker
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby dutchstriker » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:35 pm

I admittedly didn't read this whole thread, but I saw on the first page people saying "so-and-so's LRAP is better than so-and-so's." I think it's much more complex than most people make it out to be. Yes, Yale's LRAP is objectively better than, say, Columbia's in pretty much every way. But I think you have to qualify a statement like "Columbia's LRAP is better than Harvard's." Yes, the salary scale is more generous. But eligible employment under HLS' LIPP is much more comprehensive (nonprofit/gov't work needn't be law-related; private practice is covered) and loans are not completely forgiven at CLS until you've been in the program for five years (whereas they're immediately forgiven under LIPP). If you want to pursue a PhD after law school, LIPP will cover you.

So who has the better LRAP? Columbia or Harvard? The right answer is "it depends." I know that's hard to swallow for a rankings obsessed group, but some things in life are a little more complex than that.

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sunshinefairy
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby sunshinefairy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:36 pm

I am so excited to find this thread! But, just to throw a curve ball...what about strong public interest programs outside T14?

I have a 153/3.81 + softs including 4 years experience with national public policy nonprofit (right now serving as State Director). I didn't even apply to any T30 schools and I still feel confident that I will get a law degree that will advance my career in serving the public good and kicking the man's ass.

So with ranking aside, what should top factors be?

Employment statistics
Loan repayment/Scholarships
Location (state capitals)
Student body/activism/organizations (liberal)
??

...or do I just need to take the LSAT again... :?

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Borhas
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Borhas » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:26 pm

sunshinefairy wrote:...or do I just need to take the LSAT again... :?


study harder this time

prolyphek
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby prolyphek » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:36 pm

BostonU and Cornell were the only two schools in top 20 in the Public Interest Honor Roll in National Jurist, not to take away from Columbia and Harvard and the like but I think they do a pretty good job.

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dutchstriker
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby dutchstriker » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:59 pm

All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

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ccs224
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby ccs224 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:16 am

Borhas wrote:
sunshinefairy wrote:...or do I just need to take the LSAT again... :?


study harder this time


There are strong PI schools outside the T14 and lot's of the state schools have strong PI scholarships. Problem is, most of them don't carry the same sway as the bigger names, and most of us haven't scoured every school to adequately respond to this point (but really, previous poster, you can find what cities schools are in pretty damned easy). I would still suggest retaking, but there are plenty of good PI options. http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/b ... aw-schools includes many impressive, if more local, schools.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:06 am

dutchstriker wrote:All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

No. Who suggested this? I haven't gotten the impression that Cornell is known for PI.

CyLaw
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby CyLaw » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:32 am

beef wellington wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

No. Who suggested this? I haven't gotten the impression that Cornell is known for PI.


I confused by that also. I might be going to Cornell, and I am going to do PI, but I think there are normally only 3-6 students who do PI at graduation each year. So I don't think Cornell is really known for PI. They are pushing public service now, but it seems that the students self select towards BigLaw instead.

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dutchstriker
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby dutchstriker » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:33 am

beef wellington wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

No. Who suggested this? I haven't gotten the impression that Cornell is known for PI.

Read the post directly above mine.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:19 pm

dutchstriker wrote:
beef wellington wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

No. Who suggested this? I haven't gotten the impression that Cornell is known for PI.

Read the post directly above mine.

Okay, gotcha. Yeah that National Jurist list is kind of a joke. I guess it's useful in that it might lead you to investigate programs at lesser known schools, but the rankings themselves should not be taken seriously, as evidenced by Harvard not being on the list but Cornell being on there.

prolyphek
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby prolyphek » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:27 pm

beef wellington wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:
beef wellington wrote:
dutchstriker wrote:All things being equal, will a PI org. take a Cornell grad over a Harvard grad? That's really what we should care about.

No. Who suggested this? I haven't gotten the impression that Cornell is known for PI.

Read the post directly above mine.

Okay, gotcha. Yeah that National Jurist list is kind of a joke. I guess it's useful in that it might lead you to investigate programs at lesser known schools, but the rankings themselves should not be taken seriously, as evidenced by Harvard not being on the list but Cornell being on there.



Why does something automatically become a joke simply becasue Harvard is not on there, I understand the general feel on the forum that it's t14 or bust but I think it is insane. For instance the National Jurist is not the only place that I have read about how good Boston U's public interest programs are yet you automatically dismiss the list by saying lesser know schools as if Cornell and Boston are schools that no one has heard of...I just don't get that

carlkenneth
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby carlkenneth » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:55 pm

The intention of this thread is great and much needed. But like much else on TLS it has become about the T14.

Having worked in public interest (both the non-profit and gov't sector), and having interviewed lawyers for positions, I can tell you that law school ranking matters much less in public interest than the conventional wisdom on this site states.

Public interest is nothing like Big Law. No glamorous corporate lunches. No $160K salary. But just as much hard work, late nights, etc.Most non-profit organizations look at practical experience first. Where you worked (clinics, summer internships, etc.), what you did after undergrad, expertise, etc. Several times I've seen graduates of top law schools disappointed in their public interest jobs because they think that they deserve special treatment because they graduated from HYS. When they find out that their opinions aren't valued as highly as the CUNY graduate with 10 years work experience before starting law school they leave and go into the private sector.

I'd also argue that there are more employment opportunities in PI than there are in Big Law. The public interest is a huge field. For those that don't mind not practicing law per se there are many other opportunities (research, lobbying, organizing, etc.). And the good thing is that most of these PI positions rarely ask for one's ranking in law school. For a lot of non-profit organizations just "being" a lawyer puts one at an advantage. On the other hand there are a very finite # of "BigLaw" jobs available at any given time and those jobs always favor graduates of prestigious law schools.

Edit: In summary a non-profit organization with a budget less than $1m doesn't give a crap whether you went to Harvard, Cornell, or Cooley. They just care that you know your sh_t.

carlkenneth
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby carlkenneth » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:07 pm

Sorry. With that said, here's my two cents:
Good PI schools from what research I've done (in no particular order):

Northeastern
American
Cornell
NYU
CUNY
Brooklyn
UCLA
Appalachian
Univ of Wis- Madison
Harvard
Boalt Hall

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:14 pm

prolyphek wrote:Why does something automatically become a joke simply becasue Harvard is not on there, I understand the general feel on the forum that it's t14 or bust but I think it is insane. For instance the National Jurist is not the only place that I have read about how good Boston U's public interest programs are yet you automatically dismiss the list by saying lesser know schools as if Cornell and Boston are schools that no one has heard of...I just don't get that

I'm not saying none of the schools on the list have good PI programs. I said the list is useful insofar as it inspires further research about the schools on the list. But as a ranking of "Best Public Interest Law Schools" it's patently absurd. The methodology is completely arbitrary. Yale, NYU, and Berkeley aren't even on the list. (FTR, neither is Cornell, and Harvard makes it in near the bottom.) I'm sure many of the schools on the list have great PI programs, but none will get you the opportunities that YNB will in PI, that just goes without saying.

As carl points out, experience and extracurriculars are really important for PI, but elite jobs are much tougher to come by for grads of non-elite schools, whereas the reverse is not true. But yes, if you're not interested in these jobs then your school's rank doesn't matter nearly as much as your WE and ECs and connections.

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chris0805
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby chris0805 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:18 pm

That list is a joke for incoming law students because its measuring the wrong things compared to what they should be interested in.

First of all, it's great that 78 percent of students at Northeastern get A grant or some form of financial aid. Still, hiring practices being equal (which they are not), I would prefer to be at Yale, Columbia, or NYU, who have stronger LRAPs. I'm sure the 8,500 over three years is nice, but I'd rather be paying nothing when I make 45K, than 1,200 in monthly payments.

Second, the percent of your classmates that take part in a clinical offering or externship is (almost) irrelevant. You want to know how many opportunities there are, not how many students choose to take advantage of them. The most important thing to do in law school is to build a good resume, get practical experience, and cover your costs. The highest ranked schools do have more opportunities, more clinics, and more funding. Can you get a great public interest job from a lower ranked school? Definitely, but its easier (and usually cheaper) to do it from the T10.

If you want an idea of the "best place" to launch a public interest career, think about what you want to do. If it's something that people consider "less prestigious," I would consider schools like CUNY (for their super low tuition) or Northeastern (for their co-op program). Still, I think most people are better off looking at which schools place more students into things like Skadden Fellowships (19/26 this year went to students in the T14, but CUNY and Northeastern each had one too) and which school has the best LRAP for them.

People who say that its T14 or bust are WAY overstating it, but so are people who suggest that there aren't PI employers who care where you went to law school.

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Unemployed
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby Unemployed » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:19 pm

carlkenneth wrote:The intention of this thread is great and much needed. But like much else on TLS it has become about the T14.

Having worked in public interest (both the non-profit and gov't sector), and having interviewed lawyers for positions, I can tell you that law school ranking matters much less in public interest than the conventional wisdom on this site states.

Public interest is nothing like Big Law. No glamorous corporate lunches. No $160K salary. But just as much hard work, late nights, etc.Most non-profit organizations look at practical experience first. Where you worked (clinics, summer internships, etc.), what you did after undergrad, expertise, etc. Several times I've seen graduates of top law schools disappointed in their public interest jobs because they think that they deserve special treatment because they graduated from HYS. When they find out that their opinions aren't valued as highly as the CUNY graduate with 10 years work experience before starting law school they leave and go into the private sector.

I'd also argue that there are more employment opportunities in PI than there are in Big Law. The public interest is a huge field. For those that don't mind not practicing law per se there are many other opportunities (research, lobbying, organizing, etc.). And the good thing is that most of these PI positions rarely ask for one's ranking in law school. For a lot of non-profit organizations just "being" a lawyer puts one at an advantage. On the other hand there are a very finite # of "BigLaw" jobs available at any given time and those jobs always favor graduates of prestigious law schools.

Edit: In summary a non-profit organization with a budget less than $1m doesn't give a crap whether you went to Harvard, Cornell, or Cooley. They just care that you know your sh_t.


You bring up good points, but perhaps your limited experience - granted, you have more than most of us - can't speak for the entire industry(?). I know of PI jobs which operate like elite biglaw with respect to hiring - NYCLU doesn't even hire every year and can choose from (literally) hundreds of experienced T5 grads for a single spot. Internship opportunites there are similarly sought after by hundreds of applications from top schools. Experience matters a lot in these organizations, but a top JD is a prereq.

carlkenneth
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby carlkenneth » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:46 pm

Unemployed wrote:
You bring up good points, but perhaps your limited experience - granted, you have more than most of us - can't speak for the entire industry(?). I know of PI jobs which operate like elite biglaw with respect to hiring - NYCLU doesn't even hire every year and can choose from (literally) hundreds of experienced T5 grads for a single spot. Internship opportunites there are similarly sought after by hundreds of applications from top schools. Experience matters a lot in these organizations, but a top JD is a prereq.


You're right about organizations like the ACLU, NAACP, etc. They do have their choice of T5 applicants. But most non-profit organizations don't operate at the magnitude of those groups. Orgs like the ACLU are part of a small handful of non-profit organizations that take on legal cases that they believe will have a broader policy impact.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:32 pm

chris0805 wrote:I think most people are better off looking at which schools place more students into things like Skadden Fellowships

I'd had this idea a while back and had started to figure it out, your comment inspired me to finish it.

The first number is the number of Skadden Fellows that school has produced since 1989. The second is the number of total matriculants for the class of either 2009 or 2008, not sure which. The third is the ratio of the first two numbers. Discuss.

EDIT: see below post for additional, revised chart

--ImageRemoved--
Last edited by beef wellington on Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

prolyphek
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby prolyphek » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:42 pm

I wasn't discounting the premise that one should go to a top school when possible, I am definitly going to do that myself, I am choosing between 3 schools in the top 20 that I have been accepted to and hoping to get off the waitlist from the 7 in the t-14. I was only saying that I find it interesting that people act as if you go to a school ranked 18 like usc that you or 20 like BU that you are automatically disadvantaged for good PI jobs when compared to those who go to say Vandy or something. Obviously Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and the like have excellent placement but I am not sure that presige ends at the 14th school on the list and I am not sure that all schools in the t-14 place better than schools outside of the t-14 but still in the top 20.

CyLaw
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby CyLaw » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:47 pm

beef wellington wrote:
chris0805 wrote:I think most people are better off looking at which schools place more students into things like Skadden Fellowships

I'd had this idea a while back and had started to figure it out, your comment inspired me to finish it.

The first number is the number of Skadden Fellows that school has produced since 1989. The second is the number of total matriculants for the class of either 2009 or 2008, not sure which. The third is the ratio of the first two numbers. Discuss.

--ImageRemoved--


It would be more useful to include ratios that compare the number of fellows to the number of people who entered public interest.

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:02 pm

CyLaw wrote:It would be more useful to include ratios that compare the number of fellows to the number of people who entered public interest.

Good call, I'll go calculate govt and PI employment. Should I include clerkships and/or academia?

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beef wellington
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Re: Best Public Interest Law Schools

Postby beef wellington » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:33 pm

I took CyLaw's advice and redid the above chart.

The %pi number = %PI + %govt + (%clerk * (%PI + %govt))

#pi = class size * %pi / 100

Hope somebody finds this useful.

--ImageRemoved--




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