Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

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

Where should I go?

Illinois (35k/year scholarship)
8
31%
USC (20k/year scholarship)
10
38%
UT (sticker)
8
31%
 
Total votes: 26

j pancake
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:15 pm

Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby j pancake » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:06 am

Sorry to add to the glut of polls, but I'm incredibly undecided right now, so I'm desperate for opinions. I'd like to do public interest/government work eventually, but I think I'd like to begin my career in the private sector.

The Illinois offer is by far the most practical financially, and I am somewhat debt averse, but living in Champaign-Urbana for three years is really unappealing to me. Basically, I'm sick of small college towns. However, I definitely wouldn't mind working in Chicago post-graduation, though I'm not a big fan of cold weather.

I haven't spent time in LA yet (I'm visiting soon), but working in southern CA sounds appealing.

Austin would be my preference of where to live during law school, but I'm not super enthused about the prospect of living elsewhere in Texas, though I'm becoming more open to the idea. I like that UT (maybe) offers more national portability than the other two, but I'm not sure if it's worth the big price tag.

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fenderjsm88
Posts: 208
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:58 pm

Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby fenderjsm88 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:16 am

You have to remember that with 60k at USC, you're still gonna be looking at around 150k in debt over three years. For Illinois, it depends whether you're in-state or out, but with 95k, it's definitely gonna be closer to 100k in debt. Not sure about the costs of Texas.

It comes down to where you want to practice - all of these schools are good enough to give you some degree of national portability (Illinois less so than the others, I would imagine,) but they all have their niche regions where they're a top school. Illinois in Chicago, USC in SoCal, UT in Texas.

I think Texas definitely has the most dominance over its region, however. I know that Illinois is behind a lot of schools in the Chicago region (UChicago, NW, competes with ND, plus a lot of T14 grads in general want to work in Chicago.)

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Speedzie
Posts: 24
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Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby Speedzie » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:53 am

I'm an Illinois 2L - I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. PM me if you prefer.

As for the age-old question, "scholarship vs. prestige," that really depends on what you want out of law school, and how risk averse you are (not to mention how you define risk: relatively low prestige or higher debt). edit: ask me about this is in greater detail if you like, I'm just saving time for now.

j pancake wrote: I'd like to do public interest/government work eventually, but I think I'd like to begin my career in the private sector.


For now, the only specific response I have to your original post is this: Most people generally prefer to start w/ Public Interest jobs first, then move on to firms/$$$. This is true (to my knowledge) for 2 reasons: 1) you leave law school having always been poor, so it's easier to take a low paying job out of school, rather than walking away from 6 figures after a couple years (I just heard a judge say this a few days ago); 2) we're all more idealistic and adventurous when we're young -- so your 20s is the time to bounce around.

This is my plan, as I intend to clerk with a judge or prosecute when I graduate, and get some fun lawyering in while I'm still young. It's no joke when almost everyone says being a new associate at a firm is awful, dehumanizing work. For me, earning $50-70k in either post will be completely livable for a few short years... As my evidence prof told me the other day, "I've known plenty of guys who showed up at the prosecutor's office planning specifically to get some trial experience, then left to make tons of money after a couple years."

j pancake
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:15 pm

Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby j pancake » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:42 pm

Speedzie wrote:For now, the only specific response I have to your original post is this: Most people generally prefer to start w/ Public Interest jobs first, then move on to firms/$$$. This is true (to my knowledge) for 2 reasons: 1) you leave law school having always been poor, so it's easier to take a low paying job out of school, rather than walking away from 6 figures after a couple years (I just heard a judge say this a few days ago); 2) we're all more idealistic and adventurous when we're young -- so your 20s is the time to bounce around.

This is my plan, as I intend to clerk with a judge or prosecute when I graduate, and get some fun lawyering in while I'm still young. It's no joke when almost everyone says being a new associate at a firm is awful, dehumanizing work. For me, earning $50-70k in either post will be completely livable for a few short years... As my evidence prof told me the other day, "I've known plenty of guys who showed up at the prosecutor's office planning specifically to get some trial experience, then left to make tons of money after a couple years."


I had originally planned on jumping immediately into the public sector, but I have since convinced myself that starting out in a firm makes more sense. As you mention, burnout is high, so I figure it works better in the short-term. After a few years of working in a firm, I'll have the financial freedom to pursue less lucrative, more personally fulfilling jobs. But, I don't know. You make some good points.

This poll hasn't clarified much so far. It looks like a split decision. I guess there just isn't a clear best choice in this scenario?

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fenderjsm88
Posts: 208
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:58 pm

Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby fenderjsm88 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:02 pm

j pancake wrote: I guess there just isn't a clear best choice in this scenario?


That's kind of true. It really depends on three things - how much debt you are willing to take out, where you would like to spend your law school years, and where you would like to end up.

Don't worry, I'm struggling with these questions as well, and the 4/1 and 4/15 deposit dates are approaching faster than you can say, "maybe I'll just work for another year and apply again this fall."

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Speedzie
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:26 pm

Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby Speedzie » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:56 pm

j pancake wrote: I had originally planned on jumping immediately into the public sector, but I have since convinced myself that starting out in a firm makes more sense. As you mention, burnout is high, so I figure it works better in the short-term.


Yeah, going straight to a firm can be the better option (i know plenty of my classmates intend to go that route), especially since it means paying off your loans quicker. The issue that comes up is this: will you be ready to take a big pay cut after a few years? If you can, then go for it.

Picking Schools:
1st, Visit! The feeling you get from the school is a big deal, since it's going to be your home for a while. I know when I first came to Champaign, I thought i'd entered the twilight zone (I'm from a 'more developed' part of the country, lol). But, the students and culture at the law school were really inviting, and I know now it was the best choice for me. So, visit and see how you feel :)

Secondly, I'd say location. It's important to go to school where you want to practice: that's where alumni are, that's where the career services folks are connected, and (this one has really been hitting home for me lately) that's where your friends will practice! A number of your classmates will be your new best friends in a year or 2, and the idea of walking away from all of them, possibly forever, is pretty hard. So, if you think you'll want to live in TX (for example), go to UT; if you're fine bouncing around the country, then go where your heart takes you...

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FunkyJD
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Re: Illinois ($$$) vs. USC ($) vs. UT

Postby FunkyJD » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:04 pm

UT's a good school. I just don't believe its career outcomes are good enough to justify paying sticker for it over Illinois. Out of state COA at UT Law is $61k/year. And good luck getting in-state residency here ...

And Austin is a very tough nugget to crack in terms of finding a legal job here. It's just not as big a legal market as Dallas or Houston. If you wouldn't be comfortable working in Texas outside of Austin, UT is definitely not the best choice for you.

Quality of life in SoCal, in my personal experience, is terrible. All the sunshine in the world can't make up for the very high cost of living, crime, impossible traffic, horrible air quality, and general LA hassle.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be pretty tempted to take the Illinois offer.




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