racie23 wrote:Thsi is a great post and awesome info but what about those of us that are choosing between a top 45 school vs. two schools ranked 61?
The way I see it Brooklyn (61) offers best location for the next three years but will cost $59/yr and is third best educationally due to factors such as class size and student/faculty ratio; Lewis & Clark, Portland, OR 61) is by far the cheapest at $45/yr, offers the second best location and second best education; U of A, Tuscon, AZ (43) will most likely provide the best education and will cost $53/yr but offers the worst location.
Assuming I need to be flexible about where I work but I really don't like the idea of being stuck in AZ past law school and I may not be able to do public interest work if it would be unpaid but I know I don't want to follow the Big Law model, what would you choose? Or if you are not comfortable saying that how would you look at and prioritize the factors/schools above?
The sad fact is, once you step outside the top 25 or so (if even that much), you are really looking at regional employment. Sure you could probably get jobs in other markets, but your odds are much lower, especially if you step into a big market like LA, SF, DC, or NY, all of which draw students from elite schools. I can't really say where'd I go, but that's mostly because I decided early on that I wouldn't go to a school outside the t25 (with a few exceptions) based upon the types of career opportunities I wanted. However, my priorities for your situation would be the following (1) Debt. Figure out how much debt you'll accrue at each school and based upon their employment stats (which they ought to give you if you ask), figure out how long that debt will be a burden. (2) Job Market. I'd go in with the mindset that you won't be able to get a job outside of your school's region (though you might
). Ask yourself where you want to be "stuck" after you graduate. (3) Intangibles. Consider your personal factors such as leaving behind family, friends, or a significant other. Consider quality of life and cost of living, and of course which schools have the programs you like. At a regional school, you're best bet may be to work the "specialization" approach and situate yourself in a niche market.