CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

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CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Poll ended at Sun May 01, 2011 10:05 am

CLS
32
49%
Berkeley
10
15%
NYU
23
35%
 
Total votes: 65

scheherezade
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CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby scheherezade » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:05 am

Like many on TLS, I need to make a deposit decision by May 1.

My goal is to become a law professor. I am most interested in international/comparative and constitutional law, although I know that these are competitive fields and oversubscribed by 0Ls whose interests may change. So, while I would like to find the best mentors and programs in these fields, some flexibility of options would be a plus.

Regrettably, because I am abroad, I haven't had a chance to visit any of the schools for a gut check.

I'm not a big fan of New York City (un-laid-back ethic, far from the outdoors, high costs and consumption culture whilst should be living like a monk); in many ways I feel that the West Coast would suit me better, even if it's not necessarily where I want to work afterward. Nevertheless, I am down to NYU and CLS based on a perception that Berkeley is not as good a choice for an academic career, that its network/reach is too West Coast focused, and that NYU and CLS have the strongest international programs. I would also like to defer for a year, and Berkeley's policy seems to be only to grant this "in the case of extreme unforeseen circumstance". I am including Berkeley here, though, in case I've judged too hastily.

NYU has offered me $25k; $0 at the others. Total cost of attendance at each over 3 years (including cost of living as calculated by the schools):
Columbia: $222,000
NYU: $187,598
Berkeley: $223,870 (does not reflect an in-state tuition adjustment after 1L)

I have heard that NYU's culture is more laid back and CLS's toxic, although I have also heard that NYU has some palpabale inferiority complex. I wonder to what extent that is born out by other people's experience. I also wonder how NYU's new laxer grading curve (31% As at NYU vs. 23% at CLS) affects the culture of competition and job prospects.

In terms of academic placement, the three schools seem to be roughly on par. Besides Brian Leiter's academic placement data (http://leiterrankings.com/new/2011_LawTeachers.shtml), this data (which I think is much more useful, as it accounts for self-selection) suggests parity between the schools: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archi ... iring.html
I'm not sure why I have a lingering impression that Berkeley is at a legal academia disadvantage, despite the data...
Clerkships (http://www.leiterrankings.com/new/2010_ ... ment.shtml) are also of definite interest, though it's a hard road anywhere.

A final consideration: I am quite concerned about debt. So concerned that the jury is still out about whether I will enroll anywhere; the trajectory to legal academia is not a sure one at all, and, should that not work out, I'm not yet sure I would want to confine myself to firm or public interest work (+ an LRAP) because I have become indentured to the debt. Unfortunately, all three of the schools restrict their LRAPs by job category (unlike Yale's, which notably has no such restrictions).

Thank you greatly for reading this far and giving constructive and informed input!

bdubs
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby bdubs » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:47 am

Go get a PhD, then apply to Yale.

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Rotor
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby Rotor » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:48 am

I'm not interested in academia, so won't comment (or vote) on the overall where should you go question. I do have two comments though: 1) don't worry what Berk says on its website re: deferrals. There are plenty here who have deferred a year. I think being overseas will be more than sufficient explanation and 2) the school is actively working to improve its academic placement through a dedicated track of classes (e.g. quantitative research methods) and close mentorship. Still relatively new I think, but something you could ask about during your deferral.

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Rotor
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby Rotor » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:51 am

bdubs wrote:Go get a PhD, then apply to Yale.

My post above presumed you have or are planning a doctoral degree of some sort. Of course Yale is TCR in an unconstrained scenario.

Renzo
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:57 am

bdubs wrote:Go get a PhD, then apply to Yale.

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thunderflesh
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby thunderflesh » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:40 am

My decision came down to NYU vs. CLS, no money from either school.

The most important thing: both NYU and CLS are great schools. You will in all likelihood receive a great education and have a wonderful time at either one. There is no wrong choice here.

I ended up picking CLS for the following reasons, in descending order of importance (to me):
1) I've been at NYU for six years, so a change of scenery was really in order.
2) I want to go into government law, and it seems to me that CLS might have a slight edge in this field.
3) I had a wonderful experience at the CLS ASW.

Other impressions/thoughts:
-Academically, both schools are incredibly strong. Determining which is really "better" is probably a wash. CLS does have a lower acceptance rate and a higher yield, but class medians at the two schools are almost identical.

-Columbia's admitted student program impressed me more than NYU's. Different people on TLS have had different experiences, but I felt a huge inferiority complex at NYU. I heard deans, faculty members, and current students all rag on CLS multiple times, which really turned me off. NYU wasn't really mentioned much at CLS; the one or two times it was, it was in a very respectful way (e.g. "NYU has a great program"). Granted, this shouldn't be a huge factor in your decision, but I'm not the only person who walked away with this impression. I did still have a great time at NYU, and met a lot of really cool people.

-At times, I've wondered whether I would fit in better at NYU. I think it is possible that there might be slightly more people with similar interests there (music, art, literature, etc.), and the vibe might be more laid back, but when it comes down to it, both schools are full of future lawyers with similar credentials; they can't be THAT different, on balance.

-I think that anyone who says that Columbia's atmosphere is "toxic" is a troll. I met a lot of awesome current students who were very happy at Columbia, and you'll find scores of current students on both TLS and in person who will attest to CLS having a great atmosphere. It's certainly possible that NYU might be a better fit for you, but don't go around thinking that CLS is where fun goes to die, or anything.

scheherezade
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby scheherezade » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:49 pm

Rotor wrote:I'm not interested in academia, so won't comment (or vote) on the overall where should you go question. I do have two comments though: 1) don't worry what Berk says on its website re: deferrals. There are plenty here who have deferred a year. I think being overseas will be more than sufficient explanation and 2) the school is actively working to improve its academic placement through a dedicated track of classes (e.g. quantitative research methods) and close mentorship. Still relatively new I think, but something you could ask about during your deferral.


Thanks for the information, Rotor. I will try to read more about the deferral policy (maybe from informal forum posts, if the formal policy isn't transparent) and the academic preparation. (I do not have / am not yet planning on a PhD.)

thunderflesh, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the ASW and atmosphere/people at the schools.

Any other advice, kind TLS surfers? :)

Curry

Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby Curry » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:51 pm

I'm not sure I understand how you can want legal academia without ever taking a law class.

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bk1
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:53 pm

Curry wrote:I'm not sure I understand how you can want legal academia without ever taking a law class.


A combination of:

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bk1
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:57 pm

Don't go to law school other than Yale (maybe H/S... maybe) if you want academia because you have a snowball's chance in hell of it actually happening.

Since all of these three are exorbitantly expensive, I'd go with CLS in general. Maybe Berkeley if you have a hankering for CA, maybe NYU if you have a hankering for PI.

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voice of reason
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby voice of reason » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:00 pm

Two notes about Berkeley:

1. I had no problem when I asked to defer enrollment. I sent an email concisely stating my reason and making the request, and I got a "no problem" email back from the admissions dean right away.

2. There are some young faculty who are trying to encourage students interested in academic careers. I didn't attend this month's admit day, but at last year's they had a breakout session on the subject. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/8104.htm

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worldtraveler
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:15 am

voice of reason wrote:Two notes about Berkeley:

1. I had no problem when I asked to defer enrollment. I sent an email concisely stating my reason and making the request, and I got a "no problem" email back from the admissions dean right away.

2. There are some young faculty who are trying to encourage students interested in academic careers. I didn't attend this month's admit day, but at last year's they had a breakout session on the subject. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/8104.htm


Berkeley has a "club" or program for students interested in academia. During your 2L year you can take a year long seminar course aimed at people wanting to become professors. They match you with a mentor and help you prepare a paper that you can publish. They're also doing "bootcamps" for recent graduates to help them get ready to find jobs. Last year, they told us that half the people who participated in the bootcamps found tenure track academic positions, which is remarkably good considering the odds.

However, I think it is really difficult to know for certain that you really want legal academia without attending law school first. It might not be quite what you think it is, and lots of people change their minds.

scheherezade
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby scheherezade » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:54 am

worldtraveler wrote:Two notes about Berkeley:

1. I had no problem when I asked to defer enrollment. I sent an email concisely stating my reason and making the request, and I got a "no problem" email back from the admissions dean right away.

2. There are some young faculty who are trying to encourage students interested in academic careers. I didn't attend this month's admit day, but at last year's they had a breakout session on the subject. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/8104.htm


Awesome. Was the deferment request very early in the year? I would be making a request in May/June, and I imagine they might be more tempted to stick to the party line at that point.

voice of reason wrote:Berkeley has a "club" or program for students interested in academia. During your 2L year you can take a year long seminar course aimed at people wanting to become professors. They match you with a mentor and help you prepare a paper that you can publish. They're also doing "bootcamps" for recent graduates to help them get ready to find jobs. Last year, they told us that half the people who participated in the bootcamps found tenure track academic positions, which is remarkably good considering the odds.

However, I think it is really difficult to know for certain that you really want legal academia without attending law school first. It might not be quite what you think it is, and lots of people change their minds.


I think the above info shows that H/Y is not crucial to becoming an academic - it helps immensely, but it's also largely a product of self-selection (see the link in my first post). From what I've read, publication/law review is more important.

I agree that it's difficult to know for certain if I want to become a legal academic. Unfortunately, for most the same is true of everything one may assume one will do or love in law school (do public interest work, love firm work, become an international lawyer, hate tax law). I want to leap because I have a clear goal, and I think that helps avoid the OCI complacency trap that many fall into; still, the fact that this is subject to revision (and hard odds) is what makes me tremble at the debt commitment.

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re-applicant
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby re-applicant » Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:19 am

worldtraveler wrote:
voice of reason wrote:Two notes about Berkeley:

1. I had no problem when I asked to defer enrollment. I sent an email concisely stating my reason and making the request, and I got a "no problem" email back from the admissions dean right away.

2. There are some young faculty who are trying to encourage students interested in academic careers. I didn't attend this month's admit day, but at last year's they had a breakout session on the subject. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/8104.htm


Berkeley has a "club" or program for students interested in academia. During your 2L year you can take a year long seminar course aimed at people wanting to become professors. They match you with a mentor and help you prepare a paper that you can publish. They're also doing "bootcamps" for recent graduates to help them get ready to find jobs. Last year, they told us that half the people who participated in the bootcamps found tenure track academic positions, which is remarkably good considering the odds.

However, I think it is really difficult to know for certain that you really want legal academia without attending law school first. It might not be quite what you think it is, and lots of people change their minds.


Doesn't NYU have something like the writing seminar? I missed the careers in academia panel while I was there, but someone relayed to me what they remembered, and it sounded similar. Can anyone confirm/deny this?

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bk1
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby bk1 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:23 am

scheherezade wrote:I think the above info shows that H/Y is not crucial to becoming an academic - it helps immensely, but it's also largely a product of self-selection (see the link in my first post).

I realize this is merely conjecture but I disagree. The reason being is that while success rate is important, it seems highly likely that kids at non-HYS schools realize they don't have a shot at getting hired into academia and thus purposely don't pursue it.

scheherezade
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby scheherezade » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:48 pm

Maybe being around a critical mass of people who are focused on the academic path also convinces people who wouldn't otherwise go for it.

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cucullu
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby cucullu » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:50 pm

re-applicant wrote:Doesn't NYU have something like the writing seminar? I missed the careers in academia panel while I was there, but someone relayed to me what they remembered, and it sounded similar. Can anyone confirm/deny this?


Yes. Florencia Marotta Wurgler teaches the third year seminar for academically-oriented folks. The only requirement is that you have already completed a paper in your second year. It's a full year seminar, and it sounded great.

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voice of reason
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Re: CLS vs. NYU vs. Berkeley

Postby voice of reason » Sun May 01, 2011 3:11 am

scheherezade wrote:
voice of reason wrote:Two notes about Berkeley:

1. I had no problem when I asked to defer enrollment. I sent an email concisely stating my reason and making the request, and I got a "no problem" email back from the admissions dean right away.

2. There are some young faculty who are trying to encourage students interested in academic careers. I didn't attend this month's admit day, but at last year's they had a breakout session on the subject. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/8104.htm


Awesome. Was the deferment request very early in the year? I would be making a request in May/June, and I imagine they might be more tempted to stick to the party line at that point.


I'm not sure of the date when I asked to defer, but it was before the commitment deadline. (Berkeley doesn't require a deposit, but they do require your word.)




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