Betharl wrote:The way I see it, if we are only concerned with getting Big Law/not getting Big Law, there are 4 possible scenarios.
Student A 20% chance at Big Law = Takes large scholarship at UIUC/ND/WUSTL
Student B 60% chance at Big Law = Pays sticker or close to sticker at a t14, pays 175K more than student A.
Scenario 1, 8% probability: A gets Big Law B doesn't. Student A wins financially in the long run.
Scenario 2, 12% probability: Both get Big Law. Student A wins financially in the long run.
Scenario 3, 32% probability: Both do not get Big Law. Student A wins financially in the long run.
Scenario 4, 48% probability: B gets Big Law A doesn't. Student B wins financially in the long run.
Student A wins 52% of the time. Now, this is a very simple analysis and does not take into account other advantages of attending a t14 school (greater lay prestige, possibly better Big Law exit opportunities, better flexibility/mobility, etc.). Of course, 60% Big Law probability is also generous for some t14s (I'm looking at you Michigan and Georgetown). I have also not attempted to place a numerical value on how much one student beats the other by (for instance, in scenario 1, A crushes B financially, in Scenario 2 the difference isn't nearly as great), which is important, because it's possible student B beats student A by enough in scenario 4 to make up for the fact that student B only "wins" 48% of the time. Regardless, if one really wanted to look at this from an expected value point of view, it gets a little murky and certainly isn't a slam dunk for choosing the t14.
Your analysis gives equal weight to the 32% of cases where student A "wins" by not getting big law as the 48% of cases where student B "wins" by getting big law. Which is obviously non-sensical. You'd much rather "win" in the latter way than the former way. You have to weigh the probability of each outcome with the value of each outcome.
Also it presumes that these probabilities are independent of each other, they aren't. They are based on the same person so they will be heavily dependent. Scenario 1 is a lot less likely than 8% because you'd roughly do equally well at both schools. There are probably a few freak scenarios where that could happen, but generally, if you could big law at A, you could have at B.
And to give hypothetical guesses to the values Rayiner is talking about:
Scenario 2) A beats B by about 200K
Scenario 3) A beats B by about 200K
Scenario 4) B beats A by a lot. 5 years of salary in big law is about a million dollars. 5 years in shit law is probably a quarter million. And the exit options are a lot better.
Also, I'd guess the real chances are more like 25% at the T30s, and 75% at the T14 after you take out PI people.