So, I'm choosing between Duke (54k) and NYU (nothing). I thought I'd share some of my thoughts so far, and I'd be interested in reading any advice. I'm half doing this to organize my own thoughts, so prepare for a wall of text.
I'd like to work in public interest, with a tentative ambition of working for the DOJ doing white collar crime. I'm open to changing my mind, and I definitely want to have options. I'd prefer to wind up working on the West Coast, but I think given my goals I may wind up working in DC (which I would not mind).
My thoughts on the school's academic reputation and career prospects:
NYU clearly has an amazing program overall, especially for people with my interests. The clinical opportunities with the US Attorney's offices for southern and eastern New York are outstanding. They have a superior faculty. In terms of placing people in prestigious PI work straight out of law school, NYU does about as well as anyone.
Duke also has a very strong reputation, but the edge here probably goes to NYU. With that said, I met and liked the faculty who work in my area of interest. Duke also does very well placing students into federal clerkships, partly because they have a much less competitive home market for that than NYU (which is in pretty much the most competitive place to try to clerk). Duke also strikes me as an institution that is improving overall, and I don't think the law school is an exception.
Quality of life:
To me Duke is the clear winner here. Yes, NYU is in the center of the known universe, Manhattan. But the thought of living in Manhattan on about 20k a year just doesn't strike me as all that appealing. At Duke I can live in a nicer apartment for less money. The area is also quite pretty with some beautiful trails that I intend to use, and it is urban enough that you can go out to eat and such. This is a subjective category but for me the winner is Duke by a wide margin.
Impression of institutional setting, facilities and culture:
I get the feeling that Duke provides students with a bit more personal attention. I was especially impressed by the high quality employment data that they provided at their admitted student event (I was unable to obtain similar info from NYU, and a request for such info gave me--a full 2 days later--nothing but a link to a web page with generic useless data that I had already seen). Their career service center, and the clerkship dude were very thorough, professional and informative. In NYU's favor I have gotten the impression that their public interest career center is very well staffed, and very helpful.
In terms of facilities, both have nice building and such. But again, the advantage goes to Duke in my mind just because they have far more space per student than NYU. This isn't really NYU's fault: expanding in Manhattan is obviously pretty expensive. I also do tend to like having all the offices, the library and the classrooms in one nice building.
I will have more info about this Tuesday, as apparently Duke is rolling out an expanded LRAP then. As it stands NYU's LRAP is vastly superior to Duke's current offering. But, with the new federal program, and with substantially less debt at Duke, it's actually just not clear to me which bet is safer financially.
Currently I'm leaning toward Duke.
(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
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