Harvard or Stanford over Hamilton IF you want to clerk?

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Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:48 am

Harvard or Stanford over Hamilton IF you want to clerk?

Postby DeepSeaLaw » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:54 am

Longtime lurker, don't hate me.

I know there have been a bunch of Hamilton vs. HYS threads, but the decision seems so personal that I figured I'd annoy all of you by creating a new one. Conventional wisdom seems to be take the Hamilton unless you want academia. But if you aren't burning to be a professor but do have a strong desire to clerk, does Harvard or Stanford become worth the money differential? It's really hard to figure out Columbia's true placement power for clerkships since there's so much self-selection into firms, but it's clear that HYS (and probably a couple of other schools) have a real advantage. Also, anecdotal reports are that CLS clerkship support is sub-par for a school of its caliber. I would think that the answer when Yale is involved is clearly, "yes," but it doesn't seem quite as clear cut for H/S.

I want to eventually work for an elite litigation firm, so a clerkship is almost essential. Still, 150K is a lot of jack. Thoughts?


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Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:13 am

Re: Harvard or Stanford over Hamilton IF you want to clerk?

Postby chevrondeference » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:06 am

I don't think there is any question that HYS (especially Yale) have significantly better clerkship placement than Columbia. If it's helpful, my sense from anecdotal experiences is that the general cutoffs are: YLS: Top 1/2 plus know the right professors (or even below median with the right recs) for COA, district is attainable unless you are close to the bottom of the class, HLS/SLS: top 20% for COA, top 30-35% for district, CLS: top 10% for COA, top 20-25% for district. These are just estimates, but I think that gives you the gist of how you would have to do at the various schools.

Of course, you shouldn't underestimate how competitive clerkships are these days. This past cycle, even some people on the Yale Law Journal were shut out, so no one is really safe. And outside of Yale, you still have to be near the top of your class to get a COA clerkship. (I'm not sure it's that much easier to be in the top 100 people at Harvard than in the top 40 people at Columbia.)

My point is, it's possible you may turn down the Hamilton and ultimately not end up with a clerkship anyway. It's really a personal decision about whether the increased chance is worth 180,000 dollars. (And I think it would be perfectly reasonable to go either way on that question.)

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