I'm looking for some feedback on my situation. I'm currently deciding between Loyola Chicago and USF. I live in Southern CA and believe I'd like to return here to practice. It's possible that I could change my mind about that as I don't necessarily have any major ties to So. Cal. in terms of family living here (although my family is MUCH closer to CA than IL), but I've loved the 2.5 years I've spent in Los Angeles and if I had to guess where I'd want to practice law, it would be here in LA.
I'm 100% sure I'll be pursuing public interest law, and am leaning toward child advocacy. I applied to Loyola Chicago primarily because of their highly-ranked, comprehensive child law program through the Civitas ChildLaw Center. I attended ASD at Loy. Chi. and really fell in love with a lot of aspects of the school, but the child law program is the primary draw for me (in addition to its Jesuit identity, which indicates its commitment to public service, social justice, smaller class size, etc. - something it has in common with USF).
I visited USF this weekend. I had a nice visit, but there's nothing in particular that stands out to me about USF other than the aforementioned Jesuit identity and thus natural emphasis on social justice. Because of that, they have plenty of opportunities for public interest students, but again, there's nothing that stands out to me in particular the way the Civitas Center at Loy. Chi. does.
Still, I am mostly concerned about USF's ranking. At #98 (which I recognize isn't a HUGE gap between Loyola's rank at #78), I am concerned that there is a possibility it will fall off of the top 100 while I'm attending. USF did, in fact, fall off of the top 100 a few years ago. On the contrary, Loyola's ranking climbed nine spots from 2010 to 2011, and seems poised to stay there or move up rather than move down. Should I choose USF and if it were to fall off of the top 100, I worry that my job prospects would be more limited, etc. The admissions director whom I met with at USF this weekend acknowledged this when I asked what her opinion was on the situation, telling me that "perception is everything" and that while the rankings don't change who they are or the quality of education I'd receive there, they are "everything" in some ways, something I'd already considered heavily.
Loyola's third largest alumnae base is the state of CA. They gave me honest answers when I asked about the regional nature of the the school during ASD, stating that of course a great deal of graduates stay in Chicago. However, they also said that if you're committed to going back to a certain state after law school, you can make it happen. You just have to make an effort to intern there during the summers, build connections, etc.
So my question is this: should I choose USF over Loyola Chicago knowing that my decision would be almost 100% based on location alone? Is it worth it to give up the things I like about Loy. Chi. and risk the rankings situation with USF because of USF's geographical location being so much closer to where I intend to practice?
Any input is appreciated. Thanks so much!
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I live in Southern CA and believe I'd like to return here to practice.
If that is what you want you need to go to Loyola/Pepperdine or even Southwestern (I'm excluding UCLA/USC/UCI, because I figured you would not have the choices you did if you could get into one of those schools). USF is a Bay Area school and Loyola Chicago is NOT in SoCal and will not likely get you a job there.
Law school isn't undergrad. If you don't get into a T13, then it's all about location.