For big law generally, cls is unquestionably better, but for someone who wants sf and doesn't have ties I would probably advise Berkeley.
Not sure I agree with this, w/r/t SF only. For one thing, small/mid-sized firms miiiight do OCI at CLS, but they ALL do OCI at Cal, so there are more fallback choices for someone who misses biglaw. For another, SF firms care a lot about ties, so for someone without NorCal ties going to Cal might be a good way to establish a connection to SF. Lastly, I'm assuming you were referring to private practice and not PI. I think when you're looking at PI/gov in CA and especially SF, some of CLS's advantage diminishes.
Without a doubt, you're entirely correct that Berkeley is a better choice for students who want the Bay Area and don't have strong ties already. Based on the facts we're presented with (and hence the reason RVP said Columbia >>> Cal), though, the person making this decision already has these ties. With those ties established, I'd also rather be median at Columbia looking for SF biglaw than median at Berkeley. Without those ties, I agree that I'd definitely want to be at Berkeley.Back to OP's question
: The USC/Cornell question is far closer, as Cornell's significantly better placement in biglaw is predominantly because of it's focus on NYC, which is the "easiest" primary market to land a firm job in. It's much tougher to say that a T14 school's placement in NYC is indicative of any placement ability across other primaries merely because of solid NYC placement. That's the reason why people who advocate for schools like Cornell (and Penn, for that matter, which is rather similar to Cornell in this respect) for non-NYC markets doesn't seem to sit as well with me, whereas arguing for a schools like MVNuD for NYC isn't nearly as much of a stretch. Self-selection plays into it somewhat, but you can only claim "we just happen to consistently self-select into the easiest market" for only so long, and I agree that strong NYC placement doesn't by itself make Cornell a better choice for LA.
Being the relatively rare individual targeting LA firms from a better (albeit only slightly, and primarily on the east coast) school like Cornell, however, may prove helpful as compared to being one of hundreds of USC kids clamoring for the same jobs in the same market. Despite this noteworthy (and surprisingly frequently overlooked) advantage, I think I'd personally side with USC on this choice only because of the severely limited number of LA firms that OCI with Cornell. Anywhere north of 13-14 firms and I would feel much more comfortable, but having only 5 firms at OCI (according to NALP) makes me nervous.Back to Adm.Doppleganger's question
: My response, however, was to whether schools like Michigan and Virginia would give you an advantage over USC in LA. Pre-ITE, many of the best LA firms could probably be reached from MV at a class percentile threshold where even landing a firm job from USC wasn't a guarantee. Top 25% at MV gave you a chance at nearly any firm in LA, except Irell and MTO. I would be surprised if the top LA firms weren't going predominantly to the top 10% graduates at USC pre-ITE, and especially so ITE.
Also worth considering is the fact that firms have cut down classes from 25 SAs to 12 SAs, and the brunt of this has frequently been born by great-but-not-exceptional (sorry, non-T14 seemed like a stupid descriptor) local schools like USC that place largely in their market. Whereas pre-ITE USC/UCLA might have accounted for 12-14 students, with 1-2 Loyola/Pepperdine and 9-12 T14ers, many of these firms have tried to keep ties with T14 schools and continued to hire 1-2 students at T14s where they normally recruit. It's much easier for firms to reduce 12-14 USC/UCLA students in a SA class down to 5-7 USC/UCLA students in order to maintain some relationship with these T14 schools. For this reason alone, a school that places in a wide spread of markets can be helpful, and a smaller class size may help as well.
And then there's the Trojan network. USC has put out as many billionaires as Cornell - don't doubt that they have a wealthy and loyal alumni base.
The USC placement numbers already account for this network. It's not like 28% of the class (or whatever it was pre-ITE) gets firm jobs + whatever number is benefitted by the alumni network. These benefits are already internalized by the figures you're looking at. I don't mean to discount the value of having a strong alumni network - it's one of my favorite things about Michigan - but only to suggest that statements that USC "owns" LA because of its alumni network aren't backed up by what it takes to get hired by a firm there as compared to from other national T10 schools, assuming ties.
And this "diversity" stuff is silly. Law firms hire where they have established pipelines - where they've had success before and where a lot of them probably graduated from. For southern California, I'd only take HYS, Berk and maybe UCLA over USC. USC has a death grip on Southern California generally.
See my above posts. Also, are you suggesting that LA firms don't have established pipelines to the other T14 schools with strong California placement?
Let me ask you this: Do you think there are any LA law firms that recruit at Cornell but not USC? Now let me ask you the opposite.
This doesn't necessarily
follow - at USC's OCI you certainly cannot interview with all of the LA law firms that recruit at USC. After you reach a certain threshold number of firms, the total number of law firms at a school becomes less and less relevant. As I mentioned above, though, Cornell's lack of LA firms certainly hurts it, and in this case your statement holds true. However, going back to the schools my initial post responded to (MV), the slightly lower number of LA firms doesn't hurt these schools nearly as much once you have more LA firms than you'll even be able to interview with.