Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

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

Northwestern ($135k) vs. Columbia vs. Boalt

Northwestern ($135k)
39
66%
Columbia (sticker)
14
24%
Berkeley (sticker)
6
10%
 
Total votes: 59

frankjones
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Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby frankjones » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:46 am

I am interested in doing international public interest law. I received a $135k scholarship at Northwestern. I have been admitted to Columbia and Boalt, and have yet to hear back regarding financial aid from either. For the purposes of this post, let's assume they give me nothing.

Another piece of relevant information is that I have been admitted to a Law and Diplomacy program at Tufts University, which has a dual degree arrangement with Berkeley. I believe it may be possible to arrange an ad hoc joint degree program for the other two schools and Tufts, but they do not have an established, formalized joint degree program.

I'm interested in doing legal work for the UN or another NGO. I'm also more interested in living in NYC and San Francisco, but am by no means opposed to Chicago, and will not base much of my decision on location unless it relates directly to employment prospects upon graduation.

I am definitely debt averse, but am also ambitious and am willing to consider paying if the employment prospects are significantly different.

Berkeley probably has a student body with viewpoints most similar to my own. I am a bit worried by the fact that only 3% of Columbia grads go into PI. I am also worried by Northwestern's generally business-oriented program. That said, a near full ride is an enormous offer.

Given my career goals, what do you folks think is the best choice?

acdisagod
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby acdisagod » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:48 am

The ranking difference seems relatively negligible, the money is not. You can get a great PI job out of NW.

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4for44
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby 4for44 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:04 am

If you are truly interested in PI, debt shouldnt matter from Columbia- They have a pretty substantial LRAP program for PI, I'd look into it.

thisguy456
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby thisguy456 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:04 am

Supposedly Columbia has a pretty good LRAP. It's in New York, so networking with UN is possible. The "only 3%" of students who do PI means you'll have less students to compete with. You can attend NYU's PI-fest pretty easily. And it's got the name recognition, important for prestigious PI jobs like international stuff. I'd go Columbia.

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ravens20
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby ravens20 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:36 am

If you want PI, then just go to Columbia or Berkeley (both of which have great LRAPs). You won't have to worry about the debt with the LRAP + IBR. Plus you said you are interested in living in NYC/San Fran and those schools are obviously more connected to those cities than Northwestern is.

PoliticalJunkie
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:46 am

The best LRAP program can't even compete with the NW opportunity. Financially, the NW decision would be ideal, though you may have to work a bit harder to make the right connections (as opposed to Boalt where they have a record of good PI recruitment).

elmagic
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby elmagic » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:56 am

OP do you have to defer your admission to Northwestern? I know they give these huge scholarships to people out of undergrad with high numbers on the condition that they defer for a year. I am not sure if they require you to get work experience, but it may be a good idea to take that option and enroll at Tufts for a year. It may help you decide if law is something you even want to do, and if after a year you still think that your opportunities would be greater going to law school then you can attend Northwestern and also finish your degree at Tufts.

Of course this requires a lot of ifs and what thens but you might want to look at it. Otherwise I'd go with Columbia. It's in NYC and a lot of public interest is in NYC, especially the most prestigious. They also have a great LRAP as someone mentioned earlier.

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:59 am

Voters will generally tell you to take the money, but CLS' LRAP program pretty much negates that factor in my mind. Basically the question should be would you rather have a degree from Columbia or Northwestern.

As a side note, you also need to consider the relative opportunities you will have coming out of school. While Northwestern is an elite institution, I don't think anyone is going to argue with me when I say that CLS will offer you more opportunities coming out of the gate.

Planning on becoming an international public interest lawyer is pretty naive in its own right, but if you're going to have a shot at it the rank of your graduating institution will matter, at least initially.
HTH.

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:00 pm

PoliticalJunkie wrote:The best LRAP program can't even compete with the NW opportunity. Financially, the NW decision would be ideal, though you may have to work a bit harder to make the right connections (as opposed to Boalt where they have a record of good PI recruitment).


This is just wrong. LRAP programs at NYU/Boalt/CLS/Yale are designed to compete with opportunities like this one.

Z3RO
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby Z3RO » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:04 pm

I would give up my dream of being a public interest lawyer, take the money at NW, work in Chicago biglaw, and spend the rest of my days swimming in pools full of silver dollars.

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clintonius
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby clintonius » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:09 pm

badfish wrote:Voters will generally tell you to take the money, but CLS' LRAP program pretty much negates that factor in my mind. Basically the question should be would you rather have a degree from Columbia or Northwestern.

As a side note, you also need to consider the relative opportunities you will have coming out of school. While Northwestern is an elite institution, I don't think anyone is going to argue with me when I say that CLS will offer you more opportunities coming out of the gate.

Planning on becoming an international public interest lawyer is pretty naive in its own right, but if you're going to have a shot at it the rank of your graduating institution will matter, at least initially.
HTH.

This is pretty much what I was thinking. If you want to work for the UN, your best shot is probably Columbia, which has a renowned international law program, not to mention the prestige of the name. And considering that both their LRAP and NYC employment prospects are top-notch, I would take their offer at sticker over the $135k at NW for the things you're interested in doing.

PoliticalJunkie
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:15 pm

badfish wrote:
PoliticalJunkie wrote:The best LRAP program can't even compete with the NW opportunity. Financially, the NW decision would be ideal, though you may have to work a bit harder to make the right connections (as opposed to Boalt where they have a record of good PI recruitment).


This is just wrong. LRAP programs at NYU/Boalt/CLS/Yale are designed to compete with opportunities like this one.


Have you seen the numbers at all? Probably not since NYU's LRAP will only decrease your debt obligation, while significant, less than 135K. NW's offer is full tuition scholly meaning about 60k worth of debt for living expenses as opposed to over 130K of NYU debt even after the LRAP and even more than that with CLS (since anything above 50K you're expected to pay over 30% of your income to loans).

While I agree the LRAPs can help students, financially, the NW offer is best. Though I agree that PI opportunities may be better at CLS or Boalt. Having said that, I wouldn't say that a committed student couldn't overcome the potential PI obstacles coming from NW in order to take advantage of a 5 figure debt obligation rather than a six figure one.

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:34 pm

PoliticalJunkie wrote:
badfish wrote:
PoliticalJunkie wrote:The best LRAP program can't even compete with the NW opportunity. Financially, the NW decision would be ideal, though you may have to work a bit harder to make the right connections (as opposed to Boalt where they have a record of good PI recruitment).


This is just wrong. LRAP programs at NYU/Boalt/CLS/Yale are designed to compete with opportunities like this one.


Have you seen the numbers at all? Probably not since NYU's LRAP will only decrease your debt obligation, while significant, less than 135K. NW's offer is full tuition scholly meaning about 60k worth of debt for living expenses as opposed to over 130K of NYU debt even after the LRAP and even more than that with CLS (since anything above 50K you're expected to pay over 30% of your income to loans).

While I agree the LRAPs can help students, financially, the NW offer is best. Though I agree that PI opportunities may be better at CLS or Boalt. Having said that, I wouldn't say that a committed student couldn't overcome the potential PI obstacles coming from NW in order to take advantage of a 5 figure debt obligation rather than a six figure one.


I love when OL's try to tell me about the LRAP at MY school. NYU's LRAP covers the cost of attendance, which can be significantly more than 135k. This year the salary base and caps are somewhere between 50k and 80k, well within the kind of salary you can expect coming into a pi position in NYC. Furthermore, NYU pegs that salary cap to inflation rates and bumps it at certain points throughout the 10 year program to account for standard raises in PI positions. Honestly, the best LRAP programs (Yale, NYU, CLS) can be completely comprehensive.

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chris0805
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby chris0805 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:44 pm

First, I think you're better off going to Fletcher (at least to start and then maybe add a J.D. afterwards).

Assuming you do go to law school, if you want to work at the UN, I think you almost HAVE to go to NYU/CLS or Yale, not just for the prestige factor, but for the proximity and connections to the UN. CLS, in fact, has an externship with the UN. Almost all UN positions I have seen require "prior UN experience." That externship is a great way to get your foot in a very difficult door.

In RE: to LRAPs, OP would have ~60K in debt from NW and maybe 190K from CLS. In that event, he owes about 8K a year at NW. If you make 70K coming out at Columbia, you pay 6,900. NYU and Yale put you in similar situations and, if you make less, you pay less. In that situation, you're better off at CLS/NYU Yale.

If you make more money (say 100K), then the NW option is better, notwithstanding NYU's salary bumps and Columbia's current proposals at improving their LRAP (sorry top-secret :twisted:).

Still, I think that money will be more of an issue early on in your career when you're likely be making 45 to 55K. In those situations, you're better off financially at NYU/CLS by about 8K a year.

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:48 pm

The powerpoint on this page might help you with the "numbers".

http://www.law.nyu.edu/financialaid/lrap/index.htm

Look specifically at student B who would be in a similar position as OP if they chose to go to CLS. As you can see, 97% of the cost of attendance would be covered by NYU in student B's position, amounting to a monthly payment of $63 to the law school.

CLS' program is every bit as good (some might even argue better) than NYU's. Since I don't go there, I'll defer to a student who does to talk about the particulars.

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chris0805
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby chris0805 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:53 pm

Yea, unless you're a numbers geek (and care about the difference between paying 3,800 or 3,500 a year) or have a REALLY unique situation, you can pretty much guarantee that NYU + CLS LRAP will be about the same right now.

frankjones
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby frankjones » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:53 pm

elmagic wrote:OP do you have to defer your admission to Northwestern? I know they give these huge scholarships to people out of undergrad with high numbers on the condition that they defer for a year. I am not sure if they require you to get work experience, but it may be a good idea to take that option and enroll at Tufts for a year. It may help you decide if law is something you even want to do, and if after a year you still think that your opportunities would be greater going to law school then you can attend Northwestern and also finish your degree at Tufts.

Of course this requires a lot of ifs and what thens but you might want to look at it. Otherwise I'd go with Columbia. It's in NYC and a lot of public interest is in NYC, especially the most prestigious. They also have a great LRAP as someone mentioned earlier.


No, I don't have to defer my admission. I have some work experience; I think the deferrals are for the folks who don't.
Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.

frankjones
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby frankjones » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:56 pm

badfish wrote:Voters will generally tell you to take the money, but CLS' LRAP program pretty much negates that factor in my mind. Basically the question should be would you rather have a degree from Columbia or Northwestern.

As a side note, you also need to consider the relative opportunities you will have coming out of school. While Northwestern is an elite institution, I don't think anyone is going to argue with me when I say that CLS will offer you more opportunities coming out of the gate.

Planning on becoming an international public interest lawyer is pretty naive in its own right, but if you're going to have a shot at it the rank of your graduating institution will matter, at least initially.
HTH.


badfish, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on why you feel it's naive to plan on being an international public interest lawyer. Extreme competition? You could be right, but I would potentially be coming out of school with a law degree from Northwestern and a Master's from Tufts, one of the most highly regarded IR schools in the country, with excellent placement in its own right. That said, perhaps I am being naive; I've certainly had that thought before. Feel free to elaborate.

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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby Renzo » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:18 pm

frankjones wrote:badfish, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on why you feel it's naive to plan on being an international public interest lawyer. Extreme competition? You could be right, but I would potentially be coming out of school with a law degree from Northwestern and a Master's from Tufts, one of the most highly regarded IR schools in the country, with excellent placement in its own right. That said, perhaps I am being naive; I've certainly had that thought before. Feel free to elaborate.

I'm not Badfish, but I'll elaborate.
From the UN Office of Legal affairs:
There are presently some 160 staff members in OLA


Since the UN is the biggest employer of the type you are considering, and there are only 160 jobs there, the statistical probability of you getting one is basically zero. Sure, you could add in a few NGO jobs, and that would bring the statistical probability up to around zero. Not literally zero, but around that. It's sort of like wanting to play for the NFL--yes, there are actually NFL players, and they had to come from somewhere, but the number of players as a fraction of aspirants is basically zero.

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beef wellington
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby beef wellington » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:27 pm

This is an interesting choice. Of the 3 schools CLS has the worst LRAP. The weird thing about NU's new LRAP is it actually incentivizes more debt by paying your unpaid interest on top of your IBR payments. Since OP would have a smaller amount of debt from NU than someone going there at sticker he'd actually benefit less from their LRAP. Berkeley's is good enough to plausibly translate to a full ride. Columbia's is just good but obviously they have the location and prestige in their favor. I'd say it's between Berkeley and Columbia (and Tufts).

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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby Killing-Time » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:29 pm

N U FTW

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:29 pm

Renzo wrote:
frankjones wrote:badfish, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on why you feel it's naive to plan on being an international public interest lawyer. Extreme competition? You could be right, but I would potentially be coming out of school with a law degree from Northwestern and a Master's from Tufts, one of the most highly regarded IR schools in the country, with excellent placement in its own right. That said, perhaps I am being naive; I've certainly had that thought before. Feel free to elaborate.

I'm not Badfish, but I'll elaborate.
From the UN Office of Legal affairs:
There are presently some 160 staff members in OLA


Since the UN is the biggest employer of the type you are considering, and there are only 160 jobs there, the statistical probability of you getting one is basically zero. Sure, you could add in a few NGO jobs, and that would bring the statistical probability up to around zero. Not literally zero, but around that. It's sort of like wanting to play for the NFL--yes, there are actually NFL players, and they had to come from somewhere, but the number of players as a fraction of aspirants is basically zero.


This is basically it.

frankjones
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby frankjones » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:46 pm

badfish wrote:
Renzo wrote:
frankjones wrote:badfish, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on why you feel it's naive to plan on being an international public interest lawyer. Extreme competition? You could be right, but I would potentially be coming out of school with a law degree from Northwestern and a Master's from Tufts, one of the most highly regarded IR schools in the country, with excellent placement in its own right. That said, perhaps I am being naive; I've certainly had that thought before. Feel free to elaborate.

I'm not Badfish, but I'll elaborate.
From the UN Office of Legal affairs:
There are presently some 160 staff members in OLA


Since the UN is the biggest employer of the type you are considering, and there are only 160 jobs there, the statistical probability of you getting one is basically zero. Sure, you could add in a few NGO jobs, and that would bring the statistical probability up to around zero. Not literally zero, but around that. It's sort of like wanting to play for the NFL--yes, there are actually NFL players, and they had to come from somewhere, but the number of players as a fraction of aspirants is basically zero.


This is basically it.



Are you sure you're not underestimating the number of non UN NGO jobs (in law)? Sure, the UN is the largest employer, but I'd still guess its legal positions make up only a relatively small fraction of the positions in the field as a whole.
I'm certainly not suggesting it's easy to land a job in the field, but I also think that there wouldn't be so many international human rights law programs and concentrations if there weren't a related job market of a more than negligible size. Fletcher, for example, has at least two concentrations that revolve around public international law. Maybe they're totally ripping students off who go for those concentrations, but if that's the case, it would be news to me.

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badfish
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby badfish » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:04 pm

frankjones wrote:
badfish wrote:
Renzo wrote:
frankjones wrote:badfish, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts on why you feel it's naive to plan on being an international public interest lawyer. Extreme competition? You could be right, but I would potentially be coming out of school with a law degree from Northwestern and a Master's from Tufts, one of the most highly regarded IR schools in the country, with excellent placement in its own right. That said, perhaps I am being naive; I've certainly had that thought before. Feel free to elaborate.

I'm not Badfish, but I'll elaborate.
From the UN Office of Legal affairs:
There are presently some 160 staff members in OLA


Since the UN is the biggest employer of the type you are considering, and there are only 160 jobs there, the statistical probability of you getting one is basically zero. Sure, you could add in a few NGO jobs, and that would bring the statistical probability up to around zero. Not literally zero, but around that. It's sort of like wanting to play for the NFL--yes, there are actually NFL players, and they had to come from somewhere, but the number of players as a fraction of aspirants is basically zero.


This is basically it.



Are you sure you're not underestimating the number of non UN NGO jobs (in law)? Sure, the UN is the largest employer, but I'd still guess its legal positions make up only a relatively small fraction of the positions in the field as a whole.
I'm certainly not suggesting it's easy to land a job in the field, but I also think that there wouldn't be so many international human rights law programs and concentrations if there weren't a related job market of a more than negligible size. Fletcher, for example, has at least two concentrations that revolve around public international law. Maybe they're totally ripping students off who go for those concentrations, but if that's the case, it would be news to me.


I would like to preface this by saying this is not my direct area of expertise, but I can only tell you what I know and what my best assumptions would be.

I'm saying in order to have a shot at practicing international human rights law coming directly out of law school you need;

1) To be an academic superstar;
2) To go to YHSCCN; and,
3) To get extremely lucky

Furthermore, most positions like that justifiably request that you have a substantial number of years under your belt before they will even interview you.

The problem I think I'm having is general confusion about your actual goals and also your apparent conflation of practicing international human rights law with general involvement in the field of international human rights law.

Just because someone has a public international law degree doesn't mean they are fit to practice international law or that anyone would hire them to do so without a JD. I would assume that most people with degrees from schools like Fletcher get hired to assist in the field but in some other capacity.

frankjones
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Re: Tough Choices for Prospective Intl. Public Int. Lawyer

Postby frankjones » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:13 pm

My last post probably made things more confusing. I wouldn't necessarily have to do human rights law; I'd also be interested in doing other types of international public interest law.
That said, points taken. I guess I just think that those doing dual degrees at top programs in their respective fields must be able to find at least remotely related work. And when it comes to hiring and the need for relevant work experience, I'm not sure those programs would admit people they didn't feel were employable. In other words, in fields where work experience is of paramount importance, I think most successful program applicants already have related experience.




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