whitman wrote:I have a question about this. I am currently considering GULC, Penn, Cornell, Northwestern, Texas, Vanderbilt (with $50k), and UW (expecting small scholarship); waiting on Michigan, NYU, USC, Duke, and Chicago.
First, I have no international work experience. I spent a semester studying Spanish in Spain, but I know that is not helpful. I have a year of domestic AmeriCorps work and some good basis for demonstrating PI focus. Should I defer a year and get some international work experience? I am very interested in Latin America in particular. I thought about the Peace Corps, but it is a long committment. I am not sure how else to get such good, hands-on, prestigious experience abroad, though. If you do think this would behoove me, any suggestions?
Second, between those schools, is Penn significantly better than GULC? Georgetown seems to have better name recognition, which might help abroad, but Penn seems to be a strong school overall. And should those definitely be my top two choices regardless of money? Or should I consider Texas, Vandy, UW with scholly?
If I were you, I would defer. Once you're in law school, you're on a train that doesn't stop. If you have an inclination to go abroad for a year, now is the time. It's one year of your life, and law school can wait. It's not going anywhere.
Having significant experience abroad can really aid your resume. It also just enhances your perspective. Even if your time abroad never helps you get a job or an internship (unlikely, but let's consider it), your education will be enhanced just by seeing the world from a different point of view. If you end up in a job with a Latin America focus, the more experience you have on the ground, the better off you will be.
I also say to defer because you've picked a fairly competitive region of the world to focus on. In my opinion, Spanish is a necessity. So is on the ground experience. It's incredibly difficult to find lawyers with expertise random, obscure places like the Central African Republic. Latin America is far more common. From what I've seen, the vast majority of internships and jobs in the region require fluent or at least proficent Spanish. Most other regions are not that picky because there just isn't that much competition. Being an applicant who says "I'm fluent in Spanish and I lived for a year doing xxxx in xxx country" is a far better candidate than what you would say now.
Don't worry about the "prestige" of what you'll do. Just find something if this is what you really want. Teach English. If you can swing it financially, offer to volunteer somewhere for a few months. It matters less what you do and more that you were there. Most of my experience abroad has nothing to do with law, yet employers still really, really care about it.
For your second question, that school list is huge. Think about where you want to live, the kind of lifestyle you want, and whether you're doing LRAP or if you need a scholarship. I don't think I can answer whether Penn is that much better than Gtown. For certain purposes, probably yes. Others, not so much.
Also, I'm clearly biased, but why is Berkeley not on that list? If you want Latin America, then you should try and come here. A lot of our international stuff is Latin America focused. In my opinion a bit too focused.