Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

Deathmatch Pick

SMU ($48k, 3yr total)
21
38%
W&M ($42k, 3yr total)
35
63%
 
Total votes: 56

AP-375
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Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:27 pm

I've come to the fountain of all knowledge for help with this decision. A lot of due diligence goes into this decision, and I'd love some objective opinions. Not surprisingly, since cost is roughly equal, my main two concerns are quality of life and job prospects. A couple of background notes:

1) I'm interested in corporate law, thinking about a JD/MBA, and wouldn't mind slaving away for the biggest law possible for a while.
2) I'm from Texas and wouldn't mind practicing here, but I'm up for change. I currently work at a well-established Texas firm that recruits at both schools (same class rank cut-off), and I've made really good connections here so I think that I could probably get back if I'm dying to. But if I fall in love with the east, that's cool too.
3) I've got a wife and two kids, so QOL is a huge factor, and the idea of a beautiful, old, rural town on the east coast sounds much more appealing than another big Texas city.
4) If the stars aligned and I had a chance to transfer to a T10, I probably would.

I've visited SMU and am planning a trip to W&M next month.
I really appreciate your opinion.

(HT for the "deathmatch" title: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=149679)

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Justathought
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby Justathought » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:47 pm

I love that I have inspired folks. All law school debates should be determined via Deathmatch, imo.

To your question: If I had William and Mary on the table I'd probably go there. For me, its closer to home, and the employment numbers look good. That said, I still think SMU offers more command of its region.

TyrodTaylor
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby TyrodTaylor » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:50 pm

what is that class rank cut off if you dont mind sharing?

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snapdragon
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby snapdragon » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:54 pm

I voted SMU for regional command, ssssslight biglaw edge, and although the quality of life may be delightful in Williamsburg, I would be concerned about my spouse finding employment (if necessary) without driving the hour+ to Richmond.

If your spouse does not need to work, I might lean more towards W&M

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Justathought
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby Justathought » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:05 pm

You know, not to start a heated debate, but I wonder if SMU really has a biglaw edge. W&M seems known for placing people in the public sector, so the 1% edge SMU enjoys could be self-selection.

W&M is so going to wait list me. Oh well, time to buy a hummer and move to Texas.

AP-375
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:06 pm

TyrodTaylor wrote:what is that class rank cut off if you dont mind sharing?

PM'd

AP-375
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:12 pm

snapdragon wrote:I voted SMU for regional command, ssssslight biglaw edge, and although the quality of life may be delightful in Williamsburg, I would be concerned about my spouse finding employment (if necessary) without driving the hour+ to Richmond.

If your spouse does not need to work, I might lean more towards W&M


That's a really good point on the spouse working, and definitely scores points for Dallas. My wife is an interior designer, so she has a lot of flexibility and could probably make it work in either place. Taking care of the kids is the priority, however, and we're both happier with that.

Thanks to all for the opinions so far.

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Justathought
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby Justathought » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:13 pm

Oh this one is close so far. Not like my 3-way battle royal, where SMU promptly bit off the head of Miami and maimed Rutgers beyond recognition.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:31 pm

Justathought wrote:Oh this one is close so far. Not like my 3-way battle royal, where SMU promptly bit off the head of Miami and maimed Rutgers beyond recognition.

Yes, at the moment it's tied. I wish people would chime in with their reasons for voting one way or another. Otherwise, I'll probably just keep posting pros and cons as I think this through, and that doesn't make for a very exciting thread.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby xyzbca » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:43 pm

OP - I voted SMU. My thoughts (in hopes that you'll PM me the class rank cutoff):

The kids break the tie for me. I presume you have family near Dallas that can help with the kids if you get caught in a bind? Trust me, it will happen.

My kid has been sick a few times to the extent that he couldn't go to daycare. My wife maxed out her personal days at work and my MIL has been able to bail us out of tough spots. My MIL happened to be out of country on two days that I had call back interviews scheduled back to back and my mom bit the bullet and flew into town from six states away to watch the little one. I would have rescheduled the interviews if I had to but having family nearby in a position to help makes a huge, huge difference. My parents were happy to help out and my dad ended up flying into town with my mom that time we needed the help but I still felt guilty asking for the help (my mom owns a small business and my dad is in semi-retirement).

Additionally, you'll be a bit of an absentee parent, especially during 1L. It is good for your spouse to be able to have a support network nearby that he/shee can lean on. By second semester my spouse realized it wouldn't hurt anything for her to go see family for the weekend. She would be less frustrated with my unavailability and I felt less guilty about not seeing the family.

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Justathought
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby Justathought » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:52 pm

AP-375 wrote:
Justathought wrote:Oh this one is close so far. Not like my 3-way battle royal, where SMU promptly bit off the head of Miami and maimed Rutgers beyond recognition.

Yes, at the moment it's tied. I wish people would chime in with their reasons for voting one way or another. Otherwise, I'll probably just keep posting pros and cons as I think this through, and that doesn't make for a very exciting thread.


I now believe the poll prompts laziness.

I'll offer some more thoughts. W&M is serene, but with a family, I think Dallas probably offers a lot more - especially if you're already comfortable in the state. I know you brought up transfer chances, and of course we all know that should be last on your list of considerations. Still, I think top 10% puts you in a good position from either school. Yeah, maybe W&M gets a little slack, maybe Yale is in reach from W&M, but its not such a great disparity. I think top students from either school will be viewed as close to equal.

Career prospects: I still believe they might be a little stronger from W&M, but obviously you're steered toward the east coast now. I don't know that you can bank on Texas from W&M. Will there be big Texas firms there? Sure, you work for one that recruits from W&M, but how many more come? Certainly, most employers at W&M are located on the east coast.

I don't think you can make a terrible choice here. I think its going to come down to your lifestyle preferences, and just hoping for the best.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:25 pm

Justathought wrote:I don't think you can make a terrible choice here. I think its going to come down to your lifestyle preferences, and just hoping for the best.

You make some really good points. Definitely, I'm not hinging my hopes on transferring, but I figure I'd probably rather be top quarter at W&M than SMU, for whatever that is worth.
This is shaping up to be a tough decision, so it will probably come down the the visits and whatever my astologer says. But it's good to have the input from TLS. (And I welcome more of it!)

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:56 pm

I appreciate all of the votes, folks. It was tied at 10, but W&M seems to be regaining the lead. Very interesting...

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nealric
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby nealric » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:42 pm

1) I'm interested in corporate law, thinking about a JD/MBA, and wouldn't mind slaving away for the biggest law possible for a while.


Retake and try to get into Texas. SMU if you must.

AP-375
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:16 pm

nealric wrote:
1) I'm interested in corporate law, thinking about a JD/MBA, and wouldn't mind slaving away for the biggest law possible for a while.


Retake and try to get into Texas. SMU if you must.


Unfortunately, retaking is not an option for a number of reasons, otherwise, I definitely would. In terms of corporate law, I think you're definitely right that SMU has the edge. They're pretty proud of their corporate law program and their 3 Fortune 50 CEOs, and the Cox School o Biz ranks as high as #12 in Businessweek. Advantage SMU.
On the other hand, most people will say that law school specialty doesn't matter much, and I likely wouldn't use my MBA to find a job out of the gate, so I'm not sure how big an advantage it is.

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patrickd139
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby patrickd139 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:22 pm

OP: I'm afraid you might be seriously underestimating how difficult it is to break into a small market halfway across the country (where you've never lived, presumably; maybe even where you've never physically been present) simply by going to law school in that region.

Given your career aspirations, significant ties to Dallas, the support network to help you (and your wife) with the kids during the grueling grind that is law school, and the roots you've put down there, I would strongly urge you to pick SMU. Get a JD/MBA if you must, but I implore you not to make this decision based on the fact that you might fall in love with a region halfway across the country where you have not ties. Law school is a professional school, not vacation school.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby Justathought » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:28 pm

patrickd139 wrote:OP: I'm afraid you might be seriously underestimating how difficult it is to break into a small market halfway across the country (where you've never lived, presumably; maybe even where you've never physically been present) simply by going to law school in that region.

Given your career aspirations, significant ties to Dallas, the support network to help you (and your wife) with the kids during the grueling grind that is law school, and the roots you've put down there, I would strongly urge you to pick SMU. Get a JD/MBA if you must, but I implore you not to make this decision based on the fact that you might fall in love with a region halfway across the country where you have not ties. Law school is a professional school, not vacation school.


I'm actually inclined to agree with this. Frankly its why my Deathmatch featured SMU and Rutgers. Those are currently my two best options. One is more cost affective and close to home, and the other features far better employment prospects and is more expensive. That being said, in my case, I think the disparity is enough to warrant SMU. You have quite a different situation, but some compelling aspects of the decision are similar.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:32 pm

patrickd139 wrote:OP: I'm afraid you might be seriously underestimating how difficult it is to break into a small market halfway across the country (where you've never lived, presumably; maybe even where you've never physically been present) simply by going to law school in that region.

Given your career aspirations, significant ties to Dallas, the support network to help you (and your wife) with the kids during the grueling grind that is law school, and the roots you've put down there, I would strongly urge you to pick SMU. Get a JD/MBA if you must, but I implore you not to make this decision based on the fact that you might fall in love with a region halfway across the country where you have not ties. Law school is a professional school, not vacation school.


All very valid. I do think that SMU seems like the safer, more practical choice here. A point of clarification is that my professional ties, family, and roots are in San Antonio, which only slightly weakens your argument, but makes SMU less of a lock. I appreciate the imploring, and trust me, I'm trying to make this decision as objectively as possible with respect to my personal, family, and professional goals.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby kalvano » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:31 am

AP-375 wrote:3) I've got a wife and two kids, so QOL is a huge factor, and the idea of a beautiful, old, rural town on the east coast sounds much more appealing than another big Texas city.


Edited for stupidity.
Last edited by kalvano on Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

TyrodTaylor
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby TyrodTaylor » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:31 am

Are you thinking of W&L....

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby patrickd139 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:29 am

kalvano wrote:
AP-375 wrote:3) I've got a wife and two kids, so QOL is a huge factor, and the idea of a beautiful, old, rural town on the east coast sounds much more appealing than another big Texas city.



Just so you know, my wife hated Lexington for this very reason. It's too small, and it's quite a ways to anything. While you'll be busy with law school stuff, there is only so much to do there, and it's going to get real old, real fast for her.

See also, Waco, Norman, Lubbock, et al.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby patrickd139 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:32 am

I notice W&M is winning Charlie Sheen style in this poll, but no one but OP seems to be explaining why they prefer W&M over SMU. Iz suspicious this ain't none of that there rank-whoring.

People (who are not the OP) who voted W&M care to explain your votes?

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby TyrodTaylor » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:35 am

Williamsburg is not like any of those places

AP-375
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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby AP-375 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:56 am

TyrodTaylor wrote:Are you thinking of W&L....

No, I never really considered W&L, mainly because I had never really heard about it. On the other hand, I feel like W&M has much more national recognition, and I'm hoping, placement. While recognizing that as a non-T14 it has considerable limitations, I feel like W&M is much more nationally portable for its rank. That's based on discussions with attorneys and the recruiter at my Texas firm, as well as alumni and students at W&M.
Of course I've got rose-colored glasses, but I think the national portability of a W&M degree is a debate that is central to my decision.

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Re: Another LS Deathmatch: SMU v. W&M

Postby TyrodTaylor » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:08 pm

Oh no, I didn't mean to ask if u had applied to W and L. I was replying to the above posters comment talking about how their spouse hqated lexington, which I was asking if she meant lexington,va ie W and L. Lexington va is awful and there is nothing to do there. Wmbg isn't like that




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