Duke vs. Vandy

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Duke vs. Vandy

Duke - 90K debt at graduation
Vandy - 60K debt at graduation
Total votes: 30

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Duke vs. Vandy

Postby BobSacamono » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:22 pm

Total debt at Graduation will be Duke with approximately 90K and Vandy at approximately 60K.

For those interested I used a debt calculator (which figures a 6.8% interest rate and a repayment rate of 8% of income) to get the following repayment details:

Duke (90K debt): 10 yr repayment schedule = $1,035/month requiring a 155K salary
20 yr repayment schedule = 687/month requiring a 103K salary

Vandy (60K debt): 10 yr repayment schedule = 690/month requiring a 103K salary
20 yr repayment schedule = 458/month requiring a 69K salary

I'm 30yrs old, married and planning on starting a family soon. I've lived and worked in NYC for almost 8 years as a paralegal. First at a small practitioner doing mostly torts and for the last 4.5 years doing corporate law for the in-house team of a large media corporation. I have ties to the midwest and my wife has ties to the South. We haven't completely ruled out NYC as a long term destination but we are definitely more interested in going elsewhere. New Orleans is a huge draw fo the both of us and is our defacto number one choice, but we also have a strong interest in DC. Nothing is set in stone, however, so portability warrants some consideration.

I'm very wary of doing big law. At this point in my life the alure of a fancy job in NYC or a comperable big market is essentially meaningless. My current job has plenty of perks and pays well but the day to day is soul crushingly boring and ultimately pretty useless. I have no interest in resuming this type of situation but with a decent raise in thre years. My goals for post law school work are primarily based on quality of life and maybe even moreso doing work that I care about and am invested in. I have a very strong interest in policy making and governmental process as well as litigation. I am hoping to clerk but obviously there are no guarantees with that. I am not ruling out Big Law but I am definitely not one of those Big Law or bust type of people. It would have to be the right kind of fit.

With those details and intersts in mind, I would love to get the TLS opinion on whether or not Duke is worth the extra $$ over Vandy. I'm especially intersted in hearing from anyone currently working or anyone who has attended or is currently attending either school, but any and all imput is greatly appreciated.


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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby gaud » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:47 pm

I'd take Duke.

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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby HeavenWood » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:08 pm

Duke's worth the $30k. Biglawl or not, getting a job will be markedly easier.

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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby masochist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:12 pm

Fair warning, I am a Duke student so my advice might be biased.

Given your interest in clerking and government work, I'd take Duke. LRAP will make the difference in debt meaningless if you do go for a qualifying government job, and the extra portability will come in handy for both clerking and employment if you have thoughts of leaving the South.

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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby rad lulz » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:16 pm

Neither school is really portable to places you don't have ties, and they're both fairly portable to the places you do have ties, so that's pretty much a wash.

Also it's not really smart to go to law school to do "policy making and governmental process," unless by that you mean representing clients in from of state and federal agencies. Law school is not a good avenue to policymaking.

Basically the only goal I can clearly surmise from this is "get a job that I don't hate [lol you and everyone else] somewhere hopefully doing litigation" which isn't really a lot of to go on. You maybe wan't biglaw. You maybe don't want biglaw. Fit is important to you, but I have no idea what you would consider a good fit. You wan't govt? You don't want govt? I have no freakin idea. Basically in re clerkships, Vandy does normally 10% AIII or so, and Duke maybe a little more, but since the chances of getting an AIII clerkship are so small, it's nothing to really base a decision on. Might help if you really thought about what you want out of law school.

So that only thing I'll say is this. Chances of just getting A job from both these schools are pretty solid. The problem is that thanks to the bimodal salary distribution curve, if you're not in big firms, you're probably starting at $50k. Most salaries of $100k are going to be paid by large firms or elite boutiques. I'm guessing this is about what you're making as an experienced paralegal. It's gonna be a lot easier to pay down $60k making $50k than $90k making $50k. Govt is a little bit of a different story thanks to LRAP, but like I said before, I have no idea what you want.

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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby bk1 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:36 pm

I think the debt calculator overestimates the required salary (caveat: you are planning on a family so that changes the calculus). Would it suck to pay 12k/year for year 10 years in debt payments on a 50k/year salary? Yes, but it is feasible. I do not see 90k debt as "requiring" a biglaw salary.

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Re: Duke vs. Vandy

Postby mmk33 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:01 pm

I think Duke is a clear choice, unless you have some personal/professional reasons for being in Tennessee in the future. I was at ASW last weekend, and I came away with a very positive impression of Duke. If you weren't there, they announced that they anticipate they will be able to keep the medians for the class of 2015 and shrink the class size to 200 students (it has been between 215-230 the last few years), and both of these things would be good for current 0Ls if they happen.

btw, I'm also an older student like you, and if you haven't seen it you might be interested in this thread:

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