Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

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Rebeccalily
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:21 pm

Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

Postby Rebeccalily » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:45 am

Hey everyone,

I know there's a thread very similar to this one already, but it's for BIGLAW, which doesn't interest me at all. I'm pretty new to TSL, but people here seem to know a lot more about these law schools than I do, and to offer solid advice or links to resources I didn't know about - and, like someone with a similar thread said, I feel like way too much of a douche trying to have this debate with my law-school-bound friends who are mostly staying in the PNW.

I KNOW that these are all amazing schools, and that I basically can't go wrong, but I don't know how much rankings matter for government / non-profit jobs and it's hard to tell how committed these schools are to public interest and how much of it is just fluff because they know potential students are all idealistic but will end up wanting the money and prestige.

Price / Scholarships would be a factor but, though I haven't gotten my aid packages for any of these schools yet, I'm expecting to have to pay full price for any of them. However, all three have really strong LRAP and I'm pretty committed to public interest (currently work at a bigish firm and really don't want to do that with my life) so I think that I will end up being poor but ok.

I think I probably want to settle in the West Coast, but am not sure where I want to be for the next 5-10 years.

I'm visiting all these schools in the next month and a half, but want to be ready to look for the right things and ask the right questions when I go.

Any advice you all can offer would really be appreciated.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3142
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:27 pm

I would say all things equal it's NYU for the east coast, Berkeley for the west coast. I go to NYU so I can't really speak to Berkeley from experience, but my sense is that they are very similar in that they have a large public interest commitment and a community of people genuinely dedicated to it. That's important. You can certainly make an argument for Columbia but they don't have the same institutional focus on public interest and, again, all things equal I don't think you should go there if you are dead set against BigLaw.

(ETA: These were the three schools I was choosing among in the end, and I know a few students at all three, so if you want to talk about it in more depth feel free to PM me.)

chasgoose
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:18 pm

Re: Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

Postby chasgoose » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:17 pm

To a certain extent this depends where you want to be. NYU and Berkeley both have great PI institutional support (although NYU's is in a bit of a shake-up right now), but they tend to have a lot more power in their local areas. While they do have national reach, its just easier for both the organizations and the schools to build relationships with each other if they are geographically close. Both have equally good LRAP and both have pretty good summer funding if I recall for those doing PI work.

I would probably recommend NYU over Columbia since the institutional support is better, but CLS tends to pose problems for those who are ambivalent about PI, not necessarily those who KNOW that's what they want to do. I'd still say NYU makes it easier to find jobs since they do more of the legwork for you, whereas at CLS you are going to have to do a lot of the work yourself. If CLS gives you more money, it's probably worth it since their LRAP is also good if I recall. Also, NYU just feels more PI friendly than CLS does. At CLS you might feel like an outsider for not gunning for corporate law (at least that's the impression I got at their ASW), whereas at NYU I almost feel like an outsider for not wanting to do PI.

TL;DR version
1. See who gives you the most money
2. If they are similar enough (and they probably will be) then try to figure out whether you would rather be on the East Coast (most likely NYC) or CA (Berkeley places well in both Bay Area and LA)
3. If you decide on east coast, probably take NYU since they probably will give you more money and they are more supportive of PI, unless you really like CLS and are willing to deal with less institutional support

poe
Posts: 301
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:23 am

Re: Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

Postby poe » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:19 pm

chasgoose wrote:To a certain extent this depends where you want to be. NYU and Berkeley both have great PI institutional support (although NYU's is in a bit of a shake-up right now)


Could you elaborate on this, please?

nbagirl73
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:37 pm

Re: Public Interest at NYU vs. Columbia vs. Berkeley?

Postby nbagirl73 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:18 pm

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