Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

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UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

UCLA with small Dean's Scholarship
4
6%
Michigan with small Dean's Scholarship
50
81%
GW with 100K
8
13%
 
Total votes: 62

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roundabout
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Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby roundabout » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:13 am

Okay, I'm jumping in. The prize for awesome advice is . . . cookies if you end up at the same law school as me, a totally sweet e-card if you don't. Exciting, I know.

So I've narrowed down my options to UCLA, Michigan, and GW. With the scholarships and factoring in COL in Ann Arbor and LA, debt for those two would be equivalent. Debt from GW would be about 60K less. Considerations (other than the general ranking stuff):
- I'm committed to public interest work (and have four years of PI work experience in the US and abroad)
- Not sure where I want to settle, but pretty sure Chicago, East Coast, or international (clears it right up, huh?)
- I'm definitely planning on rocking some LRAP action after law school, but I'm still afwaid of the debt. I can't commit to maintaining a house plant, let alone a ten-year plan. I have no interest in doing anything other than PI right now, but I suppose things can change- so debt is in the picture.

UCLA pros and cons:
- I've been admitted to the Public Interest Scholars Program at UCLA. I got in touch with some of the students in the program, and they are all crazy enthusiastic and love it- the idea of a dedicated public interest community I can just slip right into, chock full of people who have already worked and are like-minded, is super tempting.
- LA is messed up- sweet! Great public interest work experience opportunities.
- Far from the fambly
- National reach? I'm almost positive I don't want to settle in SoCal. 1Ls I talk to seem to feel it does have a good national reach, but they're 1Ls, so . . .

Mich pros and cons:
- Amazeballs law school with obvious national reach, freeing me up to go wherevs and do whatevs
- Close to home
- Work experience during the year? I know there are clinics and whatnot, but I just have a hard time imagining that there are as many chances to build up practical skills and work experience during the year in Ann Arbor- plz to correct me if I'm wrong
- No dedicated public interest/work experienced community. No offense to anyone not doing PI or those coming straight from UG, but it's really important to me to have a group of some like-minded people- I'm sure they're around at Mich, but will it be hard work to find them?

GW:
So I'm not considering G Dubs as much, because I'm not super excited about DC and a friend at GW was recently telling me about her PI friends who can't find work, but it's a ton less debt and there would be a lot of work experience opportunities.

Thank you for any thoughts! I make some mean cookies, I promise.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby Blindmelon » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:22 am

Easy, Michigan. Not much of an argument otherwise. Mich >>>>> UCLA>> GW - and if you don't like DC, then stay away from GW.

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nealric
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby nealric » Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:11 am

If you are doing PI, you will be doing LRAP anyways. Go for Mich.

fwaam
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby fwaam » Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:17 pm

As far as work experience during the year.... Michigan might have fewer options, but how many would you really have time to take advantage of anyway? Do they at least have enough to keep you occupied, even with fewer choices?

It seems like it would help if you could get PI placement statistics from both career officers. The 0L TLS conventional wisdom is always going to be going with the T14 as opposed to the non-T14, but if you're seriously considering UCLA, seems like you'll want to get some concrete evidence that winding up in the bottom half your class doesn't mean you're stuck in LA afterwards, and that they can get you the kinds of jobs you're looking for.

GW doesn't sound like much good if the people in your field can't find jobs.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby Blindmelon » Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:49 pm

fwaam wrote:As far as work experience during the year.... Michigan might have fewer options, but how many would you really have time to take advantage of anyway? Do they at least have enough to keep you occupied, even with fewer choices?

It seems like it would help if you could get PI placement statistics from both career officers. The 0L TLS conventional wisdom is always going to be going with the T14 as opposed to the non-T14, but if you're seriously considering UCLA, seems like you'll want to get some concrete evidence that winding up in the bottom half your class doesn't mean you're stuck in LA afterwards, and that they can get you the kinds of jobs you're looking for.

GW doesn't sound like much good if the people in your field can't find jobs.


He doesn't want to settle is SOCAL, so I would strongly recommend not going to UCLA. While its a really strong regional school, its still regional.

keg411
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby keg411 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:55 pm

UCLA sounds like what you're looking for -- except that it's a regional school (albeit a strong one) in a region you don't want which should be a deal breaker.

Go to Michigan since it's the most portable and feeds strongly into the region you do want (Chicago). Maybe you could ask Mich about putting you in contact with some 1L/2L/3L's who are PI-focused so that you can get involved in the PI community there and I'm sure they could answer your questions about PI opportunities during the year (and summers) from Michigan better than us 0L's can.

JOThompson
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby JOThompson » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:00 pm

nealric wrote:If you are doing PI, you will be doing LRAP anyways. Go for Mich.

+1

byunbee
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby byunbee » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:04 pm

http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/20080414employment_trends.pdf

I know this report is a few years old, but I don't think there's any reason to think that the PI numbers have decreased. As you can see, the top three schools for % of grads in PI seem to be Berkeley, NYU, and Michigan.

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Shaggier1
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby Shaggier1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:15 pm

Go to Mich. You will find a PI community there.

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tallboone
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby tallboone » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:40 pm

I have been facing the exact same choice (adding in GULC), except I am from So Cal so the regional factor of UCLA is less of a consideration. But I'm going to attend Michigan in the fall. So there will be at least one other public interest person there with you. Also, the public interest career talk during ASW was decently attended.

Honestly, I think the Epstein program is absolutely great for California, but you don't want to work in Southern California, so it shouldn't really even be an option for you. One of the main reasons I'm choosing UMich over UCLA is that Michigan places much better in the SF Bay Area than UCLA. That should tell you something about the regional nature of UCLA. Sure, it is POSSIBLE to get out of LA with a UCLA degree, but why make things harder on yourself.

Also, here is a great interview with the GWU public interest dean you might find interesting:
--LinkRemoved--

But yeah, I was initially considering GW because of the huge scholarship, but but loans for the extra $15k per year in tuition plus the COL means you are still going to be taking out $80-90k in loans. If you enter IBR/Federal Loan Forgiveness, you end up with the same monthly payments on $80k as $180k. So it seems to me that you should go to the better school.

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waldodanto
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby waldodanto » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:51 pm

This is really interesting, I was basically in your exact position last year, so maybe you'll take my advice a little more seriously than some of the other random posters. I don't post on here much anymore (you won't either once your a 1L, but I happened to be conversing with a friend on here and saw your post), but consider my absence as a collecting of experience for you to take advantage of.

For you, I'd say go to Michigan. I went to UCLA because it saved me a lot of money, and it was a better fit for me personally (I want to stay on the west coast/LA after graduation). I think UCLA is better training for actual PI practice, given its specific program, location in a sometimes destitute city, abundance of PI clinics, etc., but if you don't want to end up in California I don't think there is much of a debate that Michigan is a better choice either. Just make sure you do your summers in a region you'd like to work in, because PI work is more about networking than most of the other employment prospects people talk about on this forum (really doesn't matter if you know anybody in particular for biglaw or clerkships), and it will be a little tougher to foster those connections from the middle of nowhere. If the east coast/chicago is where you want to be, Michigan for sure.

I will warn you, I visited Michigan for 4 days for an ASW, and I left knowing I couldn't attend the school for the same concerns you express about finding a like minded group. UCLA really does an impressive job of fostering people committed to helping others after school, and Michigan simply doesn't aim for that as much. Nothing against Michigan at all, I have a ton of respect for the school, but it attracts more big law aiming/very elite PI aiming people, and I found those people to be rather pretentious and elitist compared to the company I keep at UCLA. You'll get those people at any top law school, but Michigan doesn't foster the PI community like UCLA does with both its public interest program and its critical race studies program. I still think Michigan is the call for you, but you will probably have to do more legwork to find the people you want to spend time with, and there will probably be fewer of them at Michigan.

edit: Also, I'd ignore most of the advice you get on here anyway. I think this is a great place to get some confidence about your decision making by having people in somewhat similar situations give advice, but the reality is that everybody on here has different priorities, different situations, and (especially for PI) different career goals. Talk to the attorneys you've worked with/know, especially if they have anything to do with hiring in a field you want to enter. Those opinions are invaluable compared to the opinions of random 1Ls who spend 15 seconds considering your situation and then make a grand pronouncement of truth.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:51 pm

waldodanto wrote:I will warn you, I visited Michigan for 4 days for an ASW, and I left knowing I couldn't attend the school for the same concerns you express about finding a like minded group. UCLA really does an impressive job of fostering people committed to helping others after school, and Michigan simply doesn't aim for that as much. Nothing against Michigan at all, I have a ton of respect for the school, but it attracts more big law aiming/very elite PI aiming people, and I found those people to be rather pretentious and elitist compared to the company I keep at UCLA. You'll get those people at any top law school, but Michigan doesn't foster the PI community like UCLA does with both its public interest program and its critical race studies program. I still think Michigan is the call for you, but you will probably have to do more legwork to find the people you want to spend time with, and there will probably be fewer of them at Michigan.

Hmm. I don't know how you can make statements like this when statistical evidence (% of graduates pursuing PI work) clearly demonstrates that you are wrong, so you rely on a personal anecdote involving 4 days at the school. As somebody who has spent a year here, I can tell you that Michigan has a HUGE network of support for PI students, whether that's through groups like the OPS, OPIS, SFF, our guaranteed 2L summer PI funding, our journals specifically aimed at race and gender issues, or our top-notch clinics (almost all of which specialize in providing hands-on PI experience). Michigan (much like NYU and Cal) has quite the reputation for being a PI-friendly school for this very reason - we have a lot of students who come here who want nothing to do with big firms and, as a result, I would say that PI community within the school is quite strong.

OP: If you like UCLA more and you want SoCal, UCLA is the school to go to. If you aren't sure where you want to attend, Michigan with the LRAP is probably your best bet.

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beef wellington
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby beef wellington » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:12 pm

UCLA's LRAP >>>>>>>>>> Michigan's, as I'm sure you know. But if you know you don't want SoCal it seems like you should go to Michigan and hope they upgrade their LRAP. Worse case scenario, they dont and you're just making IBR payments, but at least you know you can get back East with a Michigan degree. (Although I wonder if UCLA isn't more national than people think. TLS CW seems to be that it's regional but how much is self selection? Maybe someone who knows more could address this.)

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waldodanto
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby waldodanto » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:23 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:Hmm. I don't know how you can make statements like this when statistical evidence (% of graduates pursuing PI work) clearly demonstrates that you are wrong, so you rely on a personal anecdote


I like how my anecdotes are less valuable than yours :). I never said you can't go into PI from Michigan (it's a great school, I almost went!). I just said the culture there felt very different, and I'm not sure how raw numbers from 5 years ago on an imprecise chart showing little difference in placement disproves that. I think the culture at UCLA is particularly special, partly because most of the people going into PI here work together in clinics, are aiming to work in the same general region, have access to a public interest journal which is a form of networking in the city in and of itself.... Maybe there is just as strong of a community at Michigan, but it really is a different sort. Michigan is a national school, so the grads are going all over the place, and the clinic you participate in in detroit is probably less valuable to a PI student interested in Chicago from a purely networking standpoint than the clinic you participate in in LA for a PI student who wants to work in LA. Obviously these differences don't dominate if you don't want to work in california, but still, I felt I should defend my observations, with the utmost respect for Michigan as an institution.

UCLA does place primarily in southern california, but every student I know from outside the state who has wanted to leave has had no trouble securing a 1L summer job in that state. That said, its a moot point if the OP wants the east coast; no doubt michigan is the better choice.

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roundabout
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby roundabout » Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:35 pm

You guys are the bomb.com. Thank you all for the advice.

Beefy McBeeferson, why do you say UCLA's LRAP is better than Michigan's? I've looked pretty extensively at Michigan's but I can't find much on UCLA's (and I'm going to get in touch with their PI office soon).

fwaam, when I talked to people at UCLA, it seemed like weekend clinics were a big thing for PI-minded students there. Thanks for the idea about placement stats- I will definitely look into this.

keg411, great idea on contacting current students. Unfortunately Mich has a policy of not putting prospies in touch with current students this close to finals- nice for current students, crap for me (I will be changing my tune if I'm there next year, I'm sure). Part of what's making me so interested in UCLA is the fact that by emailing a couple friends of friends, no fewer than 7 people have contacted me to gush about the public interest program. I know this is not a good reason to choose a law school, but it's really frustrating that I can't talk to like-minded folks at Michigan.

tallboone, waldodanto, and Flight, thanks for sharing your experiences. I guess I shouldn't let my desire to have a ready-made group of like-minded people override the practical problem of the fact that I have no real idea of where I want to go after.

Cookies all around!

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beef wellington
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Re: Win a prize: UCLA $ vs. Michigan $ vs. GW $$$ FOR PI

Postby beef wellington » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:03 pm

roundabout wrote:Beefy McBeeferson, why do you say UCLA's LRAP is better than Michigan's? I've looked pretty extensively at Michigan's but I can't find much on UCLA's (and I'm going to get in touch with their PI office soon).

Just going by what's on UCLA's website. Michigan's soft cap is ridiculously low at $36k. If you make more than $47k then you're pretty much on you're own. UCLA's is a much more reasonable $55k and will increase to $62k by the end of the ten years. This is assuming IBR of course, very few people making PI salaries will be able to afford the standard repayment plan.




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