In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

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Consultant
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In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Consultant » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:47 pm

So I see a lot of advice given on here directing candidates who want big law to go to a higher ranked school over accepting scholarships from a lower T14. I have just started researching the practice of law so excuse my naiveté, but when someone is directed to pick Columbia or Uchicago at sticker over a Northwestern with a sizeable chunk of tuition promised it concerns me, especially considering when you look at the recent NLJ 250. Sure, most of the top 5 have over 50% of their class going to Big Law, but even USC at 15 has 40+ % going. If you buy the argument that the quality of students at HYS, Columbia, and Chicago is probably going to be better than at a school like USC, it would probably be easier to get a job at big law because it would be easier to graduate higher in your class than at HYS.

I do realize that there are other factors such as where you would like to work and certain specialties of individual programs; but I think choosing a school for ranking while leaving such a large amount of money on the table seems foolish.

What happens if you end up hating law school or graduate in the bottom half of your class? If you only financed 50K, you may be okay paying it back; but what if you paid sticker? How long would it take someone to pay $180K - $250K at a legal job paying less than $100K?

From my perspective, if I ace the LSAT, wanted to do big law, and got 60-100K from NU, I would go there even if I got into HYS at sticker. Just from a lifestyle perspective, that would seem like the more reasonable choice.

Is anyone with me or do you think I am absolutely crazy?

dakatz
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby dakatz » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:52 pm

Consultant wrote:So I see a lot of advice given on here directing candidates who want big law to go to a higher ranked school over accepting scholarships from a lower T14. I have just started researching the practice of law so excuse my naiveté, but when someone is directed to pick Columbia or Uchicago at sticker over a Northwestern with a sizeable chunk of tuition promised it concerns me, especially considering when you look at the recent NLJ 250. Sure, most of the top 5 have over 50% of their class going to Big Law, but even USC at 15 has 40+ % going. If you buy the argument that the quality of students at HYS, Columbia, and Chicago is probably going to be better than at a school like USC, it would probably be easier to get a job at big law because it would be easier to graduate higher in your class than at HYS.

I do realize that there are other factors such as where you would like to work and certain specialties of individual programs; but I think choosing a school for ranking while leaving such a large amount of money on the table seems foolish.

What happens if you end up hating law school or graduate in the bottom half of your class? If you only financed 50K, you may be okay paying it back; but what if you paid sticker? How long would it take someone to pay $180K - $250K at a legal job paying less than $100K?

From my perspective, if I ace the LSAT, wanted to do big law, and got 60-100K from NU, I would go there even if I got into HYS at sticker. Just from a lifestyle perspective, that would seem like the more reasonable choice.

Is anyone with me or do you think I am absolutely crazy?


I absolutely agree. This thinking is totally rational. But many on this board and very starry-eyed and prestige-obsessed. This can get in the way of what would be rational thought. Trust me, no one who goes to a lower T-14 on a nice scholarship is making a "bad" decision, unless of course law school isn't the place for them.

Z3RO
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Z3RO » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:53 pm

You're talking about moderating your risk. It makes sense, but you're also moderating your returns.

It's a personal choice. Tons of people take the money at lower ranked schools, and it all depends on what your stated goals are coming out of Law School.

I will mention, however, that NU's NLJ 250 placement this year might be inflated, because they favor work experience in their applicants, and I'm sure that employers were favoring those with past accomplishments and experience over fresh-from-undergrad type of JD's.

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:54 pm

Consultant wrote:Is anyone with me or do you think I am absolutely crazy?


Lots of people are with you. It's hardly the norm for people on TLS to advise, for example, taking Chicago @ sticker over NU with a huge scholarship (your example). It's a matter of personal preference and of mitigating risk. But it's always a point of debate -- there is definitely *not* a consensus around here that it's more wise to take a T5 at sticker over a lower T14 with a big-ass chunk of money.

Consultant wrote:If you buy the argument that the quality of students at HYS, Columbia, and Chicago is probably going to be better than at a school like USC, it would probably be easier to get a job at big law because it would be easier to graduate higher in your class than at HYS.


Get ready for lots of people to take issue with this statement. It's really hard to predict how well you will do in law school. Bar none, no one will argue that -- under any circumstances -- it's "easier" to get a biglaw job from USC than it is from Harvard.

CanadianWolf
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:56 pm

Northwestern University School of Law does very well every year with law placement. I agree with the original poster, but it is important to realize that most posters on this website are young & inexperienced 21 & 22 year olds who were raised on USNews rankings.
I rate Northwestern as one of the top three or four law schools in the country for employment opportunities, while Yale, Stanford & Chicago offer better federal judicial clerkship opportunities.

miamiman
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby miamiman » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:59 pm

As someone who faced Chicago vs. Northwestern with a scholarship, and chose Chicago, I can tell you PRECISELY what I based my reasoning on:

- I heard from current students at both schools that employers were digging far deeper into the class at Chicago than at Northwestern

- I didnt have as much work experience to draw on as the median NU student

- Chicago was more national and therefore has less competition in every market



It's not as simple as "look at the nlj 250 from 2009!!"

Z3RO
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Z3RO » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:00 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Northwestern University School of Law does very well every year with law placement. I agree with the original poster, but it is important to realize that most posters on this website are young & inexperienced 21 & 22 year olds who were raised on USNews rankings.
I rate Northwestern as one of the top three or four law schools in the country for employment opportunities, while Yale, Stanford & Chicago offer better federal judicial clerkship opportunities.

This is definitely true, and I didn't mean to imply that they do worse than 50% during good years. I was just saying that their status at the top of the pile is probably due to an increase in the importance of WE as well as the wasteland in NYC compared to Chi.

CanadianWolf
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:00 pm

Noone claimed that the process was simple. You made the better choice for your situation.
I agree with the two posts above.
There are several reasons for selecting one top 16 or so law school over another.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:00 pm

On the flipside, consider that only *some* people want Biglaw. A lot of people with HYS numbers are interested in pursuing career paths that are astronomically more likely with a HYS degree -- academia, high-profile clerkships, coveted government positions. If someone is absolutely set on getting a federal court of appeals clerkship or being a law professor or working at the Department of Justice, then there *is* a pretty strong argument to considering a school like Harvard or Yale or even Columbia (all of which have great LRAP programs, by the way) over a big scholarship from a school like Northwestern or Duke.

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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Kong456 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:01 pm

I think the choice would be obvious for everything below HYS (e.g. Columbia at sticker v. Michigan for free).

Harvard v. Northwestern for free, though, would be a tougher choice. The options coming out of Harvard are better, U.S. News rankings aside. Also, when you factor in need-based aid, LRAPS, cost of living, etc., the comparison can get much more complicated.

ze2151
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby ze2151 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:02 pm

it really depends what you want. if your goal is the big firm, and you're willing to do anything to increase your chances of getting there? then you really shouldn't pass up the best school you can get into. but there are other things you can do with a jd. and in my case, i spurned the t-14 for a full scholarship at the erstwhile-top 20, emory.

i really love emory, so that made my decision easier, but let's say i didn't. let's say emory was on equal footing with a t-14 that had accepted me with some money. i'd still pick emory and no debt. at worst, after 3 years, i'm only out lost wages from having gone back to school. that's better than what i consider the risky alternative of loading up on red ink. there are those on this board, however, that would take the risk. they want the big firm. god bless 'em, they won't be getting any competition from me.

Amelie
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Amelie » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:04 pm

Kong456 wrote:I think the choice would be obvious for everything below HYS (e.g. Columbia at sticker v. Michigan for free).

Harvard v. Northwestern for free, though, would be a tougher choice. The options coming out of Harvard are better, U.S. News rankings aside. Also, when you factor in need-based aid, LRAPS, cost of living, etc., the comparison can get much more complicated.


I totally agree. Right now I'm planning on attending MVP with $$ over CCN (even with a scholarship at Chi because I hated it...). For me reducing debt is huge. But should H or S come through, I will definitely be attending one of them.

09042014
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:05 pm

Z3RO wrote:You're talking about moderating your risk. It makes sense, but you're also moderating your returns.

It's a personal choice. Tons of people take the money at lower ranked schools, and it all depends on what your stated goals are coming out of Law School.

I will mention, however, that NU's NLJ 250 placement this year might be inflated, because they favor work experience in their applicants, and I'm sure that employers were favoring those with past accomplishments and experience over fresh-from-undergrad type of JD's.


I think location is a big factor for NU. UChi and NU dominate Chicago, and both have small class sizes, and both send people nationally. It's home turf is one the biggest legal markets in the country.

But work experience is a big part of the plan the law school has. It is being run as a professional school.

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sundevil77
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby sundevil77 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:06 pm

I don't think your crazy, OP. It all depends on personal preferences. Now, you might think I'm crazy. See my thread http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=114684. How about taking T1 with $$$$ v. a mid level T14 with $$?

miamiman
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby miamiman » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:07 pm

Desert Fox wrote:But work experience is a big part of the plan the law school has. It is being run as a professional school.


is this english?

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:07 pm

Consultant wrote:From my perspective, if I ace the LSAT, wanted to do big law, and got 60-100K from NU, I would go there even if I got into HYS at sticker. Just from a lifestyle perspective, that would seem like the more reasonable choice.


Also, I don't want to sound like a jerk, but you're a long way from this happening. If you ace the LSAT and, one year from now, are actually looking at $75,000 from Northwestern vs. the opportunity to go to Harvard or Yale, I would be very surprised if -- after 12 more months of learning more about law schools and the legal market -- you would still be so quick to go with Northwestern.

The NJL250 is one side of a many-sided die (and we're talking some 22-sided Dungeons + Dragons shit here).

Consultant
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby Consultant » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:13 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:
Consultant wrote:From my perspective, if I ace the LSAT, wanted to do big law, and got 60-100K from NU, I would go there even if I got into HYS at sticker. Just from a lifestyle perspective, that would seem like the more reasonable choice.


Also, I don't want to sound like a jerk, but you're a long way from this happening. If you ace the LSAT and, one year from now, are actually looking at $75,000 from Northwestern vs. the opportunity to go to Harvard or Yale, I would be very surprised if -- after 12 more months of learning more about law schools and the legal market -- you would still be so quick to go with Northwestern.

The NJL250 is one side of a many-sided die (and we're talking some 22-sided Dungeons + Dragons shit here).



I don't want to sound like a jerk, but that is not what I am getting at at all. I fully expect not to be given these opportunities, I just raised the question for discussion. More than likely, I will get a 165 and not even go to law school. I was merely commenting on the advice I have seen being given from other posters.

I think you would be surprised if this were to happen to me. I am out of school and working a real job in a high cost of living city. I know how hard debt can be on people, how much it can potentially destroy their lives. I would take a full ride at NU over Harvard at sticker any day unless I wanted to be a politician or go for a judicial clerkship as was mentioned above.

creatinganalt
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby creatinganalt » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:14 pm

With respect, you don't know what you would do until you get the offers - and they aren't as predictable as you think. Lots of people getting into HYS with less than 50k at lower schools. Throw in living cost differences or need based aid and it can be a wash.

The admissions process is really weird (says the person who is 99.9% sure about turning down the Hamilton for Harvard - but was rejected at Michigan).

09042014
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:15 pm

You need to consider your long term career. YHS is almost a sure thing. In fact ITE, its more important than ever to maximize your chances.

In 2007, I might have taken NU + 135 over harvard, but no way today. Then almost everyone at the t13 could get big law. Now there'd be a 40% chance I'd fail to get big law, and be stuck in smaller firms forever. It's worth 135K to make that chance shrink to 10%, like it would be at HLS.

So I think HYS is always the right answer if you are looking for big law.

CCN vs the lower T13, isn't the same. I'd take the money at a lower T13.

CanadianWolf
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:15 pm

I too would take a full ride to Northwestern over Harvard Law School.
As someone who attended & graduated law school a long time ago, I have had the opportunity to witness many career paths in law. I know several self employed Yale & Harvard Law grads, & I know many whose world came crashing down around them after years of working very long hours at big law firms and were politely asked to leave. Most had very little in the way of marketable legal skills other than to try to get on with another large firm or with a familiar corporate client.
For those who feel certain that they know what they want from a law school degree & where they want to practice, then great law schools like UCLA & Texas are the better choice over Harvard or NYU.
The most difficult law schools to turn down, in my opinion, are Yale & Stanford due to their combination of top rankings, superior academics & small class size.
And, coincidentally, Northwestern due to its magnificent setting, great career placement, & mature, experienced students.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:29 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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thickfreakness
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby thickfreakness » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:15 pm

Desert Fox wrote:You need to consider your long term career. YHS is almost a sure thing. In fact ITE, its more important than ever to maximize your chances.

In 2007, I might have taken NU + 135 over harvard, but no way today. Then almost everyone at the t13 could get big law. Now there'd be a 40% chance I'd fail to get big law, and be stuck in smaller firms forever. It's worth 135K to make that chance shrink to 10%, like it would be at HLS.

So I think HYS is always the right answer if you are looking for big law.

CCN vs the lower T13, isn't the same. I'd take the money at a lower T13.


Desert Fox, please, the term is T12.

acdisagod
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby acdisagod » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:16 pm

Well I'm in a slightly worse situation than the one brought up by the OP. I'm currently deciding between 25,000 dollars a year at Fordham and Sticker at Cornell. I'm gonna go with Cornell because law for me is likely a lifetime job. I expect to be working at least 50 hours a week and that is a significant portion of my life. I want to put myself in the best position possible to get the highest paying/most enjoyable job I can. Yes, Cornell will cost me an extra 90,000, but 90,000 dollars is a drop in the bucket over a 40+ year career.

It also depends on what you want. If you know you want biglaw, it would be crazy to turn down Harvard or Yale for a full ride at Northwestern. There is a good chance that if you go to Northwestern, you will not get Biglaw, the same isn't true at Harvard. Furthermore, the extra 130k is a drop in the bucket when you are making biglaw money for 10+ years.. Especially when you compare this to the risk of not getting biglaw at all if you go to Northwestern.
Last edited by acdisagod on Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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missvik218
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby missvik218 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:18 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:The NJL250 is one side of a many-sided die (and we're talking some 22-sided Dungeons + Dragons shit here).

:lol: <3

ze2151
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby ze2151 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:15 pm

tangerinegleam- i award you twelve experience points.

hiro86
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Re: In this economy, why wouldn't you go to a lower T14 for $$$?

Postby hiro86 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:52 pm

Your total cost of attendance at most T14s is 210,000+. So, even if you get say 70k, you are still facing a massive amount of debt. There is a huge dropoff in salary if you don't make big law, thus it makes sense to pay a little more to increase your chances of getting big law. Also, a lot of the higher ranked schools have much better programs to help repay debt for those who end up in lower paying PI and gov. Jobs.




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