Michigan vs. Berkeley

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commerceclause
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Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby commerceclause » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:04 am

Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed at length...

I am deciding between Michigan and Berkeley, and am really looking for people's thoughts on the academic experience - courses, interaction with professors and classmates, competitiveness, etc. While other factors like quality of life matter, I am trying to work that out on my own based on having visited both.

To give some context, I want to work in government and am primarily interested in where law and policy intersect. Constitutional law, public law, etc. are of serious interest to me, and I have little interest in working in private practice. (I know... "you say that now...".) I am definitely interested in journals and moot court, as well as clinics (appellate litigation or anything with a public policy angle.

Anyway, it is important to me to have a compelling academic experience. I know you'll get that at either school, but if anyone thinks one place has a particular edge in any or all areas, I'd love to hear it. I do get the impression that, because of the grading system, Berkeley Law students might have less of a competitive edge....would love to hear what people think about that.

Thanks!

P.S. The money offered is comparable, so not a big factor in this decision, either.

commerceclause
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby commerceclause » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:06 am

Oh -- just to add, I would love to get a take on the first-year experience and how the required 1L courses at these schools compare. Looking to the 2nd year, I will probably be drawn to seminars with the policy/government orientation, as well as those with a focus on jurisprudence and judicial philosophy.

09042014
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby 09042014 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:44 am

commerceclause wrote:Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed at length...

I am deciding between Michigan and Berkeley, and am really looking for people's thoughts on the academic experience - courses, interaction with professors and classmates, competitiveness, etc. While other factors like quality of life matter, I am trying to work that out on my own based on having visited both.

To give some context, I want to work in government and am primarily interested in where law and policy intersect. Constitutional law, public law, etc. are of serious interest to me, and I have little interest in working in private practice. (I know... "you say that now...".) I am definitely interested in journals and moot court, as well as clinics (appellate litigation or anything with a public policy angle.

Anyway, it is important to me to have a compelling academic experience. I know you'll get that at either school, but if anyone thinks one place has a particular edge in any or all areas, I'd love to hear it. I do get the impression that, because of the grading system, Berkeley Law students might have less of a competitive edge....would love to hear what people think about that.

Thanks!

P.S. The money offered is comparable, so not a big factor in this decision, either.



Nobody has gone to both.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:39 am

What Desert Fox said.

Also, if the schools are equal price, I see no reason to pick Michigan over Berkeley.

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MrSparkle
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby MrSparkle » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:23 am

I know this is not answering your questions, but if all else is equal (experience/academic wise) I'd pick Berkeley. Nationally and internationally, the Berkeley name goes much farther than UMich, though I don't know if rep figures much into your calculations. For the sake of personal practice though, if you're working with lay people, they will 9/10 times not know the UMich reputation if you don't practice in the region.

I say this after having traveled Asia, most know Berkeley, and I had no idea how much of an international rep it has.

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ScrabbleChamp
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby ScrabbleChamp » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:35 am

MrSparkle wrote:I know this is not answering your questions, but if all else is equal (experience/academic wise) I'd pick Berkeley. Nationally and internationally, the Berkeley name goes much farther than UMich, though I don't know if rep figures much into your calculations. For the sake of personal practice though, if you're working with lay people, they will 9/10 times not know the UMich reputation if you don't practice in the region.

I say this after having traveled Asia, most know Berkeley, and I had no idea how much of an international rep it has.


Are you on crack? Serious question. If you take into account lay prestige, Michigan wins. Michigan is a bigger school (so, presumably, more alumni [both law and in general]), and Michigan has a much better athletic program, which a lot of lay prestige is built upon. Further, Michigan is the flagship school in its state, not so for Berkeley. And, look at the placement numbers for each law school. Berkeley doesn't place more than 40 people into any region except the Pacific, whereas Michigan places more than 40 people into 4 different regions, and Michigan had more than double (12) the number of foreign bound attorneys than Berkeley (5) for the most recent class. So, not really sure why you believe it to be the other way around.

Also, your anecdote about Berkeley being more known in Asia is utterly useless unless you literally walked up to every single person you saw there and asked them if they knew of Berkeley and Michigan, which I doubt you did.

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Nelson
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby Nelson » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:43 am

ScrabbleChamp wrote:And, look at the placement numbers for each law school. Berkeley doesn't place more than 40 people into any region except the Pacific, whereas Michigan places more than 40 people into 4 different regions, and Michigan had more than double (12) the number of foreign bound attorneys than Berkeley (5) for the most recent class. So, not really sure why you believe it to be the other way around.

Considering that Berkeley's class is about 250 and Michigan's is more than 400 this isn't terribly surprising.

OP, these are peer schools. Assuming equal cost and NYC target market, go to whichever you like best.

SaintFond
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby SaintFond » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:59 am

Probably depends upon where you want to end up working.

With that said, I'd do Berkeley.

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ScrabbleChamp
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby ScrabbleChamp » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:02 am

Nelson wrote:
ScrabbleChamp wrote:And, look at the placement numbers for each law school. Berkeley doesn't place more than 40 people into any region except the Pacific, whereas Michigan places more than 40 people into 4 different regions, and Michigan had more than double (12) the number of foreign bound attorneys than Berkeley (5) for the most recent class. So, not really sure why you believe it to be the other way around.

Considering that Berkeley's class is about 250 and Michigan's is more than 400 this isn't terribly surprising.

OP, these are peer schools. Assuming equal cost and NYC target market, go to whichever you like best.


I completely agree. However, the argument made by the previous poster was about Berkeley being much more prestigious than Michigan in the lay community. My point was that Michigan places all over the place in decent numbers, and Berkeley does not, so it is much more likely that Michigan will be better known to lay folk. If Berkeley is only in 3 states in large numbers (hyperbole) and Michigan is in 30 states in large numbers (hyperbole), it is likely Michigan will have more lay prestige due to the fact there are more people that will come into contact with Michigan grads. The sheer fact that Michigan is larger helps out in lay prestige.

dooood
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby dooood » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:05 am

Nelson wrote:
ScrabbleChamp wrote:And, look at the placement numbers for each law school. Berkeley doesn't place more than 40 people into any region except the Pacific, whereas Michigan places more than 40 people into 4 different regions, and Michigan had more than double (12) the number of foreign bound attorneys than Berkeley (5) for the most recent class. So, not really sure why you believe it to be the other way around.

Considering that Berkeley's class is about 250 and Michigan's is more than 400 this isn't terribly surprising.

OP, these are peer schools. Assuming equal cost and NYC target market, go to whichever you like best.

Srsly, these are peer schools. Assuming equal cost and NYC target mkt, though, I'd go with Mich. Browse NY firm websites for where partners/associates went to school, and you'll find many more Mich than Berk. **Cue self-selection arguments** Most objective practitioners would tell you that if you want West Coast, go to Berk. Anywhere else, go to Mich.

SaintFond
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby SaintFond » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:08 am

Look, no offense, but I am almost positive that Berkeley has more lay prestige. Using # and dispersion of graduates as a metric for gauging lay prestige is flawed.

Regardless, lay prestige should not be a determining factor when choosing a law school. If it were, people would be choosing schools like Cornell, Vanderbilt and Georgetown over NYU; but that would be a mistake.

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JoeMo
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby JoeMo » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:15 am

SaintFond wrote:Look, no offense, but I am almost positive that Berkeley has more lay prestige. Using # and dispersion of graduates as a metric for gauging lay prestige is flawed.
Regardless, lay prestige should not be a determining factor when choosing a law school. If it were, people would be choosing schools like Cornell, Vanderbilt and Georgetown over NYU; but that would be a mistake.


Berkeley and Michigan are peer schools, you go based on where you want to practice and the "fit" of the school. Because they're peer schools plenty of people make this decision ever year, some go to Michigan and some go to Berkeley. Some at Berkeley might wonder "what if" they'd gone to Michigan and some at Michigan might wonder "what if" they'd gone to Berkeley. But ultimately, it's your decision to live with.

Also, the weather is part of the "fit" so if it's a major concern then you should probably go to Berkeley.

The thing about lay prestige is it's worthless. You only care about how the school is perceived within the law community. Between these two schools it comes down to the location. Michigan is perceived better in the Midwest and the East Coast. Berkeley is perceived better on the West Coast.

If you can stick out the cold go to Michigan if you want NY. If you can't, go to Berkeley and enjoy California because winters in Ann Arbor aren't really that much colder than in NYC so if you can't do A2 for 3 years you'd be sadly mistaken to think you'd love the NY weather for the rest of your life.

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Rotor
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby Rotor » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:21 am

In response to Scrabble Champ--at least one respected international publication disagrees that Michigan has more prestige. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/w ... p-400.html. And UCB *is* the flagship public school in the state--it just so happens that we have a phenomenal private counterpart in a state big enough to hold both of them. The law schools may be in different sub-tiers, but the universities as a whole are essentially peers. As for geographic portability, Berkeley will not keep you from NYC/DC/Chi if that's what you want. (in addition to the numbers game mentioned above, a good chunk of the distribution is a result of self-selection) And picking a school based on football success is probably not the best move. This is not to say Michigan isn't a great school (it is) or that you shouldn't go there, I just think Champ's post is not a fair assessment.

As to OP's original question (and with the caveat that I haven't been to both), if you are interested in journal work, at Berkeley all of the journals (except Calif. L. Rev.) are open and open to 1Ls. I found it a great way to meet people and get experience for law review write-on.

Personally, I love the grading system here and I think it does help foster a great environment. Yes, there are some in the middle who pay a price for those at the bottom of the class--and in at least a couple of classes I know for a fact I've been above median but earned a P just like the dead last person. But, the fact that I didn't have to worry about a C on the transcript was very liberating and enabled me to strategically study for various classes.

As for the policy intersection, you'd do well to come to B. We have lots of JD/MPPs from the Goldman School (a top-10 policy school) and JD only students can take classes there too. Former Secretary Robert Reich is a permanent faculty member there and former Governor Granholm (coincidentally of Michigan) holds a joint appointment to Goldman and the law school. She taught a law & policy class each semester this year (her first year here).

As for the overall advice, if you were able to go to both ASWs, I'd say go with your gut--they are both great schools with similar prospects. But based on what you said in the OP I think you'd be happy at Berkeley.

wolverine10
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby wolverine10 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:47 pm

University of Michigan has the largest alumni base in the country. I go to Michigan for undergrad but am from New England and everywhere I've been around the world people know the Michigan name and I the block M everywhere. I didn't know that Cal and Berkeley were the same until I applied to undergrad. That being said you shouldn't be concerned about that.

AA weather sucks compared to Berkeley but weather in NYC isn't that much better. I can't speak to the comparison of the academics but both are truly excellent school. I can say that the four years spent in Ann Arbor have been truly spectacular. The combinations of the academics, athletics, culture and student life is unmatched. The people are great and down to earth, the city is safe and clean, it is just a great place to go to school.

I am biased and sorry I couldn't help on the question of academics but the friends I have that are 1Ls-3Ls really enjoy it and the ones I know are having success getting jobs all over the country as long as they make the effort to establish ties etc.

I hope it helps

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AreJay711
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:03 pm

Grades are weird at Berkeley. I'd probably be better off with it but I could see issues, for example if someone was consistent being median plus or minus 10% at Berkeley . People who do that at Mich will have a median GPA not much worse than someone who consistently score in the top 40% (3.15 v. 3.3 -- 0.15 difference). At Berkeley, one person has all honors while the other has half honors and half passes. Worse is if someone always has half the class do better and half the class do worse on any given exam -- all passes at B (as bad as possible) but a 3.0 at M.

Boggs
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby Boggs » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:42 pm


commerceclause
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Re: Michigan vs. Berkeley

Postby commerceclause » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:30 am

Boggs wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=153905


siiiiick




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