Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

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greta
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Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby greta » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:22 pm

I know that I am extremely fortunate to have this dilemma, but I am having a very difficult time making this decision. I did some browsing on this forum and saw that there were already a few Harvard vs. Stanford threads that touch on a few of my concerns. But I was wondering if anyone could give advice on choosing between them which may be applicable to my particular situation.

I have lived on the East coast for most of my life and I hope to work in NYC (and maybe Europe for a few years), ideally doing some sort of int'l arbitration or trade law before going in-house or maybe working in the public sector. I very much prefer city life to suburban life, so Harvard seems like the most obvious choice.

I visited both schools outside of their admit weekends and I didn't fall in love/hate with either. For Stanford, I would chalk that up to being overwhelmed with the prospect of driving everywhere. For Harvard, I was a bit stressed out by the more intense vibe given off by some of the students.

Most of the people I speak with tell me, "unless you have a really strong reason not to go to Harvard, you should just do it. The name stays with you forever." And I will admit that Harvard's lay prestige and massive network have a very strong appeal for me -- especially since I may want to work in Europe, for local government in the Northeast, or to leave law altogether. I have zero desire to work at a firm for over 5 years, and I get the impression that outside of the law firm world, Harvard is almost peerless.

But I am very much attracted to Stanford's superior job/clerkship placement, the ability of even students with straight Ps to get jobs at their pick of NYC firms, and its less gunner-ish vibe. I often have trouble dealing with stress, so I am wary of doing worse at Harvard than at Stanford and having a lower chance of getting a job at a firm I prefer.

Although most people have told me not to consider cost because I'd be in a ton of debt regardless, I got more financial aid for 1L from Stanford (I tried to negotiate with Harvard, but they wouldn't budge). So barring unforeseen circumstances, I will have to take out around $135,000 in loans for Stanford vs. $185,000 for Harvard. Part of me thinks that it's no big deal since I'll be more or less guaranteed a high-paying job from either school, but I also would feel like a chump for paying $50,000 (+interest) more for Harvard than a peer school which may even give me slightly better job prospects.

I guess my real dilemma is that I can't figure out whether going to Harvard could actually open doors later in my career that would otherwise be closed if I went to a school lacking the same cache, prestige, and (more importantly) network outside of the West Coast. If Harvard is really a better long-term investment than Stanford, despite its slightly inferior "first job" placement, it might in fact be the right choice... But I don't know.

Thanks for your forthcoming advice.

TL;DR: I am uncertain about my career path after law school, but I am interested in international things and will probably end up in NYC in the long run. My priorities are to minimize stress during law school, optimize my ability to work at a firm of my choice, and gain access to an alumni network that would be helpful during my probable transition away from big law and in the event that I decide to stop practicing law altogether. Stanford will cost me $50,000 less than Harvard.
Last edited by greta on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Nelson
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby Nelson » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:25 pm

greta wrote:Stanford will cost me $50,000 less than Harvard.

Go to Stanford.

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NinerFan
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby NinerFan » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:34 pm

Stanford. Stanford has plenty of prestige. Stanford is in a beautiful location. Stanford has better weather. Stanford is cheaper. And, you'll likely have no problem getting to NYC from Stanford.

chasgoose
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby chasgoose » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:45 pm

Not even a debate. Stanford.

greta
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby greta » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:49 pm

Nelson wrote:
greta wrote:Stanford will cost me $50,000 less than Harvard.

Go to Stanford.


I should add that I have no idea if this will actually pan out. It's just based on tripling the amount of aid that each school gave me for 1L. If I work at a big firm my 2L summer, they might take away all of that income to reduce their aid package. That's what Harvard does and I'd be surprised if Stanford didn't do it, too.

Also, I would probably have to buy a car at Stanford. So that cost differential will be even smaller after that.

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dingbat
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby dingbat » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:58 pm

In Europe, a lot less people have heard of Stanford, and it certainly isn't held in as high a regard.
But what exactly do you plan to do in Europe? Where do you plan to do it?

There are not many jobs in Europe that hire straight out of U.S. law schools, in which case what you do after law school is far more important.
For the jobs you can get straight out of law school, you should check out last year's OCI for both Stanford and Harvard. My guess is Harvard would give you more opportunities in that regard, but I don't know for sure.

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Nelson
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby Nelson » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:01 pm

greta wrote:
Nelson wrote:
greta wrote:Stanford will cost me $50,000 less than Harvard.

Go to Stanford.


I should add that I have no idea if this will actually pan out. It's just based on tripling the amount of aid that each school gave me for 1L. If I work at a big firm my 2L summer, they might take away all of that income to reduce their aid package. That's what Harvard does and I'd be surprised if Stanford didn't do it, too.

Also, I would probably have to buy a car at Stanford. So that cost differential will be even smaller after that.

You don't seem to have a distinct geographic preference and your immediate career goal is NYC biglaw. Money is money, take it.

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Chucky21
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby Chucky21 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:52 pm

I think Harvard is the best option here. You mentioned that you don't know how to drive, and the lifestyle change of moving to Stanford may not be what you want during 1L. You also mention working in Europe, Harvard will definitely open more doors for you in this regard. I agree that unless you have a strong reason not to go to Harvard, you should definitely go. The difference in cost isn't all too bad, and you will make a good amount of money during your career.

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soj
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby soj » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:05 pm

Job and clerkship placement and ability to form close relationships with professors are more relevant than international reputation unless you're planning to do something international straight out of law school.
Last edited by soj on Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

marckrock
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby marckrock » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:22 pm

From your description, it sounds like you would like SLS more but may have difficulty turning down the Harvard name. Pick the one that's right for you and I am sure everything will work out. And if you've been on the east coast your entire life it might be a good idea to come to the west for a while just to give it a real try (not to mention get a possible taste of the entrepreneurial culture of the bay area)

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:11 pm

greta wrote:I may want to work in Europe

This is the only reason for picking Harvard over Stanford. How big a deal is this for you? $50,000 + interest is a lot of money for a mild preference.

That said, as someone who has lived in Europe, Harvard is in a completely different league than any other US school, and generally recognized as the best university in the world. After Harvard, most educated Europeans have a strong respect for the Ivy League, but could probably only name a few of the other schools within it (Yale, thanks in part to the Clintons and Bushs, and perhaps schools like Princeton and Columbia). Schools like Chicago and Stanford aren't that well known, except in specialized circles (e.g., academia).

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dingbat
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby dingbat » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:53 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:That said, as someone who has lived in Europe, Harvard is in a completely different league than any other US school, and generally recognized as the best university in the world. After Harvard, most educated Europeans have a strong respect for the Ivy League, but could probably only name a few of the other schools within it (Yale, thanks in part to the Clintons and Bushs, and perhaps schools like Princeton and Columbia). Schools like Chicago and Stanford aren't that well known, except in specialized circles (e.g., academia).

Credited. in Europe, it's Harvard -> Yale, Princeton, Columbia -> any other school they might have actually heard of (typically UCLA, NYU, and one or two other good schools such as Vanderbilt, Georgetown or Dartmouth) -> any other school

marckrock
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby marckrock » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:58 am

I think the above posts are correct, if they are referring to lay prestige. But I think it's a bit silly to think that a reputable European business or any other institution will not know the strengths and qualities of an SLS grad/Stanford name (not to say that was what others were implying). I guess I just often think that discussions around the power of prestige just lack concreteness. It's very much a feeling. Once you are competing for high-level jobs, the best applicant tends to get the position. Of course the intruding factor in that are alumni networks. Harvard's is bigger, Stanford's is smaller (which is a bad thing, and also a good thing in that alumni get less requests and are thus more likely to stick their neck out for you).

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dingbat
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby dingbat » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:29 am

marckrock wrote:I think the above posts are correct, if they are referring to lay prestige. But I think it's a bit silly to think that a reputable European business or any other institution will not know the strengths and qualities of an SLS grad/Stanford name (not to say that was what others were implying). I guess I just often think that discussions around the power of prestige just lack concreteness. It's very much a feeling. Once you are competing for high-level jobs, the best applicant tends to get the position. Of course the intruding factor in that are alumni networks. Harvard's is bigger, Stanford's is smaller (which is a bad thing, and also a good thing in that alumni get less requests and are thus more likely to stick their neck out for you).

Nope, even many (most) top lawyers in Europe haven't heard of Stanford, but everyone's heard of Harvard. If they have heard of Stanford, it's reputation certainly isn't on par with Harvard.
(without doing any research) can you name the top 3 law schools in Europe?
On that note, can you name 3 top european universities that is not Oxford or Cambridge?

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sunynp
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby sunynp » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:31 am

Which school has the best connections that can help you get to the career you want? A car isn't going to cost you 50,000 and you can sell it when you leave. I think Stanford is the best choice, but you will probably go to Harvard.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:24 am

For Europe & East Coast prestige, Harvard is the better choice.
For a less pressurized environment, Stanford is the better choice.

Tough call. Probably a lot easier to transfer from Stanford to Harvard then the reverse, although transferring to a lower ranked school is rarely recommended. :D

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acrossthelake
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby acrossthelake » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:35 am

It's funny that HLS kids are the more "gunner"-y ones considering that Stanford has the preference for the high undergrad UGPAs and doesn't take baby splitters very often. :lol:

My impression is that Harvard is very strong internationally, but I'm not sure how much stock you should put into that.

I want to note that driving on the West Coast is generally a lot more relaxed than driving on the East Coast, particularly in Boston. It's more cordial, less aggressive. The streets are easier to navigate. There are far less one-way streets. Streets don't ever constantly change names or somehow have 3 names at once, but no street signs to indicate where you are. You have more than 5 seconds of do or die before merging on the highway. Pedestrians don't bolt out as much. If you have to drive out there, it'll be a lot more pleasant. I love driving when I'm on the West Coast, but prefer public transportation out in Boston by a long shot because you just get lost (aka "Boston-ed") out here.

marckrock
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby marckrock » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:11 pm

dingbat wrote:(without doing any research) can you name the top 3 law schools in Europe?
On that note, can you name 3 top european universities that is not Oxford or Cambridge?


I can't, but I am not an organization looking to hire people with foreign JDs.

greta
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby greta » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:19 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:For Europe & East Coast prestige, Harvard is the better choice.
For a less pressurized environment, Stanford is the better choice.


This is how I see it, too. But I wonder how large the gap between the two schools is in both of these dimensions. For instance, law school is law school. Would it really be that much less intense at Stanford? Also, Stanford is still a highly respected school in the East Coast, even if it doesn't have exactly the same level of prestige as Harvard. Would access to Harvard's network or simply having its name on my resume give me that much more flexibility in terms of post-biglaw employment?

sunynp wrote:Which school has the best connections that can help you get to the career you want? A car isn't going to cost you 50,000 and you can sell it when you leave. I think Stanford is the best choice, but you will probably go to Harvard.


Why do you think that Stanford is the best choice? I would have thought that Harvard would be the answer to your question. Also, I don't think that a car will cost $50,000 but insurance for a new driver is very expensive and it can't be resold. Plus, the $50,000 number isn't anything set in stone.

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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby dc1s » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:44 pm

Why do you think you need a car? Many law students here don't have cars and get by perfectly fine with shuttles or on-campus rentals. The grad housing here is excellent (literally a two minute walk from the school) and has its own market. I have a car and probably drive for groceries once a week (<10 minute drive). For Bar Review, people carpool, taxi or take the free campus shuttle if they are going downtown. It's not that big of a deal.

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dingbat
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby dingbat » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:48 pm

marckrock wrote:
dingbat wrote:(without doing any research) can you name the top 3 law schools in Europe?
On that note, can you name 3 top european universities that is not Oxford or Cambridge?


I can't, but I am not an organization looking to hire people with foreign JDs.

Very few organizations look to hire people with foreign (sic) JDs
Those that do generally fall into 3 camps:

1) those that hire directly out of law school (check the school's OCI data, there are usually a few at each major school (typically a foreign office of a US firm)
2) those that hire experienced JDs (your track record after law school matters more)
3) foreign firms hiring locally (not western Europe - generally you need to have connections, or at least already be living in said country. Prestige of law school barely a factor)

If I'm missing anything, please let me know

greta
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby greta » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:49 pm

dc1s wrote:Why do you think you need a car? Many law students here don't have cars and get by perfectly fine with shuttles or on-campus rentals. The grad housing here is excellent (literally a two minute walk from the school) and has its own market. I have a car and probably drive for groceries once a week (<10 minute drive). For Bar Review, people carpool, taxi or take the free campus shuttle if they are going downtown. It's not that big of a deal.


I think I can live without a car for 1L year pretty easily. But I don't want to spend my time during 2L and 3L sitting around on campus and only leaving to do activities like Bar Review or something that my friends are doing en masse. What if I just want to make an impromptu trip to a supermarket or grab a meal off-campus? When I visited SLS, I was disappointed to find that the Marguerite runs very infrequently (because it's broken into a bunch of different routes) and that the Munger market is pretty tiny and overpriced. Also, I don't want to rely on friends with cars for everything and I don't want to have to consider whether or not every trip I take to the supermarket is worth the rental price of a zip car.

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Redamon1
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby Redamon1 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:52 pm

dingbat wrote:
AntipodeanPhil wrote:That said, as someone who has lived in Europe, Harvard is in a completely different league than any other US school, and generally recognized as the best university in the world. After Harvard, most educated Europeans have a strong respect for the Ivy League, but could probably only name a few of the other schools within it (Yale, thanks in part to the Clintons and Bushs, and perhaps schools like Princeton and Columbia). Schools like Chicago and Stanford aren't that well known, except in specialized circles (e.g., academia).

Credited. in Europe, it's Harvard -> Yale, Princeton, Columbia -> any other school they might have actually heard of (typically UCLA, NYU, and one or two other good schools such as Vanderbilt, Georgetown or Dartmouth) -> any other school


I've lived and worked in Europe and support this, though my own non-scientific experience of lay prestige of US universities in Europe is as follows: Harvard >> Yale, Princeton, MIT, Berkeley, Stanford (in no particular order)> Columbia (fewer people have heard of it than you think), Georgetown, UCLA, Chicago > maybe NYU

lol to Dartmouth and Vandy

But as some other posters have said, lay prestige only matters if you're targeting jobs outside the legal field or could be interviewed / evaluated by people that are not US lawyers or recruiters (in international PI in particular this could matter -- I work in this field right now and have witnessed the importance of lay prestige for recruiting and career advancement even in the US). If you're set on private practice and finding an international office somewhere, I have to believe those recruiting American lawyers will be very familiar with the quality of US schools.

Also, for more approximate and highly unscientific assessments, see:
http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU2011.html

http://www.shanghairanking.com/FieldSOC2011.html

greta
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby greta » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:05 pm

Redamon1 wrote:
dingbat wrote:
AntipodeanPhil wrote:That said, as someone who has lived in Europe, Harvard is in a completely different league than any other US school, and generally recognized as the best university in the world. After Harvard, most educated Europeans have a strong respect for the Ivy League, but could probably only name a few of the other schools within it (Yale, thanks in part to the Clintons and Bushs, and perhaps schools like Princeton and Columbia). Schools like Chicago and Stanford aren't that well known, except in specialized circles (e.g., academia).

Credited. in Europe, it's Harvard -> Yale, Princeton, Columbia -> any other school they might have actually heard of (typically UCLA, NYU, and one or two other good schools such as Vanderbilt, Georgetown or Dartmouth) -> any other school


I've lived and worked in Europe and support this, though my own non-scientific experience of lay prestige of US universities in Europe is as follows: Harvard >> Yale, Princeton, MIT, Berkeley, Stanford (in no particular order)> Columbia (fewer people have heard of it than you think), Georgetown, UCLA, Chicago > maybe NYU

lol to Dartmouth and Vandy

But as some other posters have said, lay prestige only matters if you're targeting jobs outside the legal field or could be interviewed / evaluated by people that are not US lawyers or recruiters (in international PI in particular this could matter -- I work in this field right now and have witnessed the importance of lay prestige for recruiting and career advancement even in the US). If you're set on private practice and finding an international office somewhere, I have to believe those recruiting American lawyers will be very familiar with the quality of US schools.

Also, for more approximate and highly unscientific assessments, see:
http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU2011.html

http://www.shanghairanking.com/FieldSOC2011.html


Thanks, this sounds reasonable. I should clarify that if I work in Europe, it will likely be for an American or London-based firm, doing international arbitration work. Harvard is definitely the most well-represented school among those listed in the bios of partners and associates doing this kind of work. Stanford grads are virtually non-existent. How significant is this?

abba12
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Re: Stanford $ vs. Harvard for East Coast and International Work

Postby abba12 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:12 pm

greta wrote:Thanks, this sounds reasonable. I should clarify that if I work in Europe, it will likely be for an American or London-based firm, doing international arbitration work. Harvard is definitely the most well-represented school among those listed in the bios of partners and associates doing this kind of work. Stanford grads are virtually non-existent. How significant is this?


I have similar interests but would like to throw Yale into the mix as well. Thoughts on how these two schools stack up to HLS?




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