Columbia or Harvard? Help.

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crystalized
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Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby crystalized » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:45 am

I'm debating between the two while waiting to hear back from Stanford (my first choice). Assuming I don't get Stanford, I actually have no idea how I will decide between Harvard and Columbia, and I was hoping this forum could be of some help, at least as an intelligent sounding board.

Employment
I'm definitely interested in doing BigLaw, at least for the first couple years out of law school. I have a management consulting background in financial services so I think I'd be relatively comfortable working on Wall St.
I've seen the statistics that show Columbia having higher %-ages going into BigLaw, but is that a matter of preference vs opportunity? I.e. Harvard students have the same opportunities to go into BigLaw but are choosing to do other things?

School Programs
I've read and heard a lot about Columbia's focus on promoting/integrating business and law, which I find fascinating. I'm not sure if Harvard offers the same programs or opportunities, but they certainly haven't been pushed to me. Similarly, I'm considering working in Asia again in the future and Columbia has many comparative legal centres/programs dedicated to Chinese Law, Japanese Law, etc., which I haven't heard of for Harvard.

Location
Having visited both Boston and NYC, I think NYC > Boston hands down. However, NYC is a more expensive place to live (the primary expense being rent) and I will be taking out a private loan to fund my education, so graduating with less debt would be nice.

Reputation
While I'm personally not too fussed about reputation, since both schools are T4, I do think it may make a difference in the following two scenarios:
1) I am currently working in Asia and may want to return to work here in the future. In Asia, and most parts of the world, dropping "Harvard" makes much more of an impression than "Columbia" (Columbia what? Especially outside of law firms)
2) Much farther down the road, I may also consider academia, and in academia, Harvard seems to be a more respected name

Any other factors I should be considering?

Both have pros and cons (perhaps not cons per se, but weaker pros), and so far both schools are coming out equal in my books. But maybe/probably I'm missing something because most people seem to think picking Harvard would be a no-brainer (solely based on "but it's Harvard!", which isn't enough to convince me). Help, please? Thank you!

lessthanjake
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby lessthanjake » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:07 am

I am also an 0L who is into both of these schools.

I think Harvard is a relatively easy choice for me though.

Columbia may have higher numbers going into BigLaw, but I really think that is self-selected. More Harvard students, by far, go into clerkships and other pursuits. Everything I have read has indicated that biglaw firms hire deeper into the class at Harvard than they do at Columbia. While that effect might not be particularly pronounced when it comes to NYC firms, I think it is still an advantage to Harvard and certainly not a pro for Columbia.

The thing that really tips the scales in favor of Harvard for me are the other doors that it opens beyond biglaw though. I think it is far easier to get a clerkship job coming from Harvard. As you mentioned, it is also easier to go into academia. Lastly, government jobs are apparently easier to get from Harvard. To me, this is all really important as I would not ideally spend my whole career in biglaw. It sounds like you're the same, so this is something to consider.

I'm not quite sure about the business and law programs you mentioned, but I think two things are worth saying. First, Harvard offers more classes than virtually any other law school (including Columbia), so I imagine you can find plenty of classes in the things you're interested in. Secondly, I doubt you have considered this, but if you are into business and law, maybe you'd want to consider a JD/MBA? In that case, Harvard would obviously be superior.

Lastly, you mention living abroad. Everything I have read has emphatically stated that Harvard is the hands-down #1 law school when it comes to working internationally due to the prestige factor and the vast alumni network abroad. Of course, Columbia is not shabby in this regard, but this should definitely be a plus for Harvard.

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bk1
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby bk1 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:33 am

Harvard offers far more opportunities than Columbia. Yes, self-selection is why Harvard's percentages don't look as good for biglaw.

The only way I could see CLS being worth it is if it were substantially cheaper than HLS.

chasgoose
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby chasgoose » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:38 am

There is no such thing as T4. Despite Harvard's drop to #3 there is still a much greater difference between Harvard and Columbia than there will ever be between Harvard and Stanford for all important statistics. Columbia might put more people in biglaw, but that is because a) people from CLS overwhelmingly want biglaw and b) HLS people can do things other than biglaw. Going to HLS opens a lot more doors in government, PI, and particularly clerkships for its students. Unlike at CLS, a V5 offer is not the most prestigious thing an HLS grad can do.

For someone who wants biglaw, HLS will make it a lot easier to get a job and will also make it easier to have more options when choosing said job. Furthermore, if you have even an inkling that you might want to do academia, that is going to be much easier to achieve from HLS than it is from CLS. The only reason you should be even considering CLS is if there is significant money on the table. Otherwise, at sticker, CLS is probably even more expensive than HLS and this should be a no-brainer.

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Tadatsune
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Tadatsune » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:27 am

CLS's East Asian resources are phenomenal, and I think Columbia's name will go farther in Asia than you think it will. That said, it's difficult for me to see that Harvard won't open more doors for you simply by being Harvard. If you want East Asia, I don't think you will have problems getting in from Harvard. Have you considered talking to the East Asian Studies Program to see what they can do for you?

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Doorkeeper » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:57 am

If you really are interested in living in Asia for a bit, Columbia's East Asian resources (History, East Asian Studies, Law School) really are one of the best in the country. Also, if your goal is NYC biglaw for a few years, I really don't think you need to worry either way. They both put most, if not all, of their students into NYC biglaw that want it. The academia thing is an issue, but if you want to go into academia after practicing, the name will matter less than the work you did after law school. I think this is pretty much a wash for you. Go to both schools and see which one you like more.

Also, see if you can leverage Harvard to get some $ from Columbia, if you haven't already.

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crystalized
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby crystalized » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:46 am

Wow, a lot of great replies already, thank you!

To answer some of the questions raised:

- I would be paying sticker at both schools. Doorkeeper, how do I go about "leveraging Harvard to get $ from Columbia"?

- I am currently working in Asia so I can't make it to either school's Admitted Student Days.

- I would not consider a JD/MBA because I think an MBA would be useless for me, for various other reasons.

- I've definitely read about Columbia's East Asian resources and have been impressed by what I've read. Although I know Harvard has the most classes and clinics out of all these schools, I haven't been able to find comparative Asian law on the HLS website.

- I have no doubt that Harvard has a vast and impressive alumni network. But if Columbia students tend to favour BigLaw going in (and coming out), then presumably Columbia's alumni network would also be in the same scope, and that perhaps may be more relevant.

I guess in the end what it boils down to is whether Columbia does anything better than Harvard. As most of you have pointed out, I can probably do BigLaw coming out of either of these schools. But does Columbia have a better rep in terms of business law or international/Asian law? I've seen Harvard's lecture/seminar list on business law (particularly international business law) and Columbia seems to have more to offer there.

PinkRevolver
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby PinkRevolver » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:49 am

Harvard....especially if you want academia somewhere down the road. And both of those schools will get you to BigLaw.

icpb
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby icpb » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:00 am

crystalized wrote:- I would be paying sticker at both schools.


HYS has been on a tier of their own. The gap between HYS and the rest of the T14 is greater than any other gaps between T14 subgroups. In my opinion, you should consider Columbia over HYS only if you were offered Hamilton, and even then, I would pick HYS unless I have very specific reasons for wanting to attend Columbia.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Doorkeeper » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:04 am

crystalized wrote:- I would be paying sticker at both schools. Doorkeeper, how do I go about "leveraging Harvard to get $ from Columbia"?

Quite simple. "Although I have a great deal of interest in going to Columbia Law School, I have also been admitted to Harvard Law School and I do not think it would be possible to attend CLS unless I receive some sort of scholarship to help fund my studies. Considering this, I would like to ask the Financial Aid office to reconsider their position regarding merit scholarships for my application."

Don't take that word for word, but that's the general structure of a negotiation letter. Columbia has two named scholarships (Butler and Hamilton) that they use to pry kids from HYS. Also, I believe Columbia offers smaller merit scholarships if one submits their financial materials (FAFSA and NeedAccess).

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Dany
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Dany » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:57 pm

If sticker at both, you'd be crazy to go to Columbia. No real grades > anything CLS can offer you.

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izy223
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby izy223 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:03 pm

Dany wrote:If sticker at both, you'd be crazy to go to Columbia. No real grades > anything CLS can offer you.



disagree if you have any tie to NY at all and would not want to leave NY i could see someone choosing Harvard over CLS. Also if you are at sticker HLS is a great negotiating point

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Dany
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Dany » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:05 pm

izy223 wrote:
Dany wrote:If sticker at both, you'd be crazy to go to Columbia. No real grades > anything CLS can offer you.

disagree if you have any tie to NY at all and would not want to leave NY i could see someone choosing Harvard over CLS. Also if you are at sticker HLS is a great negotiating point

Are you in law school? Have you received grades?

kaiser
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby kaiser » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:10 pm

If both are the same price, I would go to Harvard easily. You could get back to NY without any problem, and have the most sterling name in US higher-education permanently emblazoned on your resume. And if you plan to go back to Asia at any point, EVERYONE will know the Harvard name. Columbia is an amazing school, among the very best, but the Harvard name simply carries a worldwide cache that is unmatched.

TheRedMamba
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby TheRedMamba » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:14 pm

People keep harping on the big gap between YHS and the rest of the T14, saying it is the biggest gap in the T14....I know the scores received in the rankings don't mean a whole lot but it would seem as though a 1 point gap separating harvard and columbia is not as huge as some of you are making it out to be

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20130312
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby 20130312 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:18 pm

TheRedMamba wrote:People keep harping on the big gap between YHS and the rest of the T14, saying it is the biggest gap in the T14....I know the scores received in the rankings don't mean a whole lot but it would seem as though a 1 point gap separating harvard and columbia is not as huge as some of you are making it out to be


I don't know what you mean by one point (one rank maybe?), but either way the answer here for OP is really obvious.

timbs4339
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:23 pm

Harvard unless CLS offers money. Schools will reach much deeper into the class at Harvard although with a financial services/consulting background you shouldn't have too much trouble swinging some sort of 160K NYC biglaw from either school. But H has more reach nationally.

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soj
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby soj » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:25 pm

What's the point of these Asian law programs if you're going into biglaw?

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bk1
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby bk1 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:30 pm

soj wrote:What's the point of these Asian law programs if you're going into biglaw?

bigasianlaw?

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Tadatsune
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Tadatsune » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:32 pm

soj wrote:What's the point of these Asian law programs if you're going into biglaw?


First, they can help you get an international SA position the first year.
Second, this in turn can help you get a SA position with a big firm that has an Asian office the second year.
Third, this can lead to either A) a job in Asia directly out of law school, or B) a few years working in the US before transferring to said offices in Asia.

TheRedMamba
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby TheRedMamba » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:47 pm

InGoodFaith wrote:
TheRedMamba wrote:People keep harping on the big gap between YHS and the rest of the T14, saying it is the biggest gap in the T14....I know the scores received in the rankings don't mean a whole lot but it would seem as though a 1 point gap separating harvard and columbia is not as huge as some of you are making it out to be


I don't know what you mean by one point (one rank maybe?), but either way the answer here for OP is really obvious.


the rankings are based on a score out of 100. Y-100, S-96, H-95, C-94.

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20130312
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby 20130312 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:49 pm

TheRedMamba wrote:
InGoodFaith wrote:
TheRedMamba wrote:People keep harping on the big gap between YHS and the rest of the T14, saying it is the biggest gap in the T14....I know the scores received in the rankings don't mean a whole lot but it would seem as though a 1 point gap separating harvard and columbia is not as huge as some of you are making it out to be


I don't know what you mean by one point (one rank maybe?), but either way the answer here for OP is really obvious.


the rankings are based on a score out of 100. Y-100, S-96, H-95, C-94.


Sorry, I thought we were talking about things that mattered.

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izy223
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby izy223 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:42 pm

Dany wrote:
izy223 wrote:
Dany wrote:If sticker at both, you'd be crazy to go to Columbia. No real grades > anything CLS can offer you.

disagree if you have any tie to NY at all and would not want to leave NY i could see someone choosing Harvard over CLS. Also if you are at sticker HLS is a great negotiating point

Are you in law school? Have you received grades?



im a 0L but my friends who are 1L's at HLS say pass and highpass is basically just A and B so it may be a little bit less stressfull but not significantly so

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Dany
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby Dany » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:45 pm

izy223 wrote:
Dany wrote:
izy223 wrote:
Dany wrote:If sticker at both, you'd be crazy to go to Columbia. No real grades > anything CLS can offer you.

disagree if you have any tie to NY at all and would not want to leave NY i could see someone choosing Harvard over CLS. Also if you are at sticker HLS is a great negotiating point

Are you in law school? Have you received grades?

im a 0L

Okay then.

TheRedMamba
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Re: Columbia or Harvard? Help.

Postby TheRedMamba » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:16 pm

InGoodFaith wrote:
TheRedMamba wrote:
InGoodFaith wrote:
TheRedMamba wrote:People keep harping on the big gap between YHS and the rest of the T14, saying it is the biggest gap in the T14....I know the scores received in the rankings don't mean a whole lot but it would seem as though a 1 point gap separating harvard and columbia is not as huge as some of you are making it out to be


I don't know what you mean by one point (one rank maybe?), but either way the answer here for OP is really obvious.


the rankings are based on a score out of 100. Y-100, S-96, H-95, C-94.


Sorry, I thought we were talking about things that mattered.


169? Sorry, I didn't know we were talking about our first diagnostic scores.




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