UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

For PI Work

Poll ended at Mon May 14, 2012 2:49 pm

NYU (Sticker)
21
40%
UCLA (90k)
7
13%
Berkeley (Sticker)
24
46%
 
Total votes: 52

Voldemort
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UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 2:49 pm

I want to do public interest. I have worked for a large firm before and KNOW that I could not handle the intense hours and stress. I really need a work life balance! Given that I want to do public interest, which school do you all think is best for me? I am from California, and really like Berkeley, it is my number 1, but unfortunately they are not giving me any aid. UCLA is enticing because of the aid they gave me, but if I am pretty set against big law, would it even be worth it, particularly because it doesn't have as good a reach as Cal? Any input welcome!

Edit: If you vote NYU please explain why!
Last edited by Voldemort on Fri May 04, 2012 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nelson
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Nelson » Fri May 04, 2012 2:52 pm

Any cheaper options?

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 2:53 pm

Nelson wrote:Any cheaper options?


Than UCLA? No.

CanadianWolf
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri May 04, 2012 2:55 pm

Have you asked UCLA for more money based on your NYU & Berkeley acceptances ? My understanding is that NYU has great repayment plans for those entering public interest work.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Fri May 04, 2012 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SaintFond
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby SaintFond » Fri May 04, 2012 2:56 pm

Do not go into 150K+ debt in the hope that you will end up doing PI. Just...please don't.

However, if you insist on doing it, I think Berkeley is the obvious choice.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:00 pm

SaintFond wrote:Do not go into 150K+ debt in the hope that you will end up doing PI. Just...please don't.

However, if you insist on doing it, I think Berkeley is the obvious choice.


I know, trust me, I don't want to go into that kind of debt. But, I would rather have a job I enjoy and risk everything, then be confined to a Big Law life. I seriously could not handle it. I plan on gunning in school so that I stand the best chances for any job. Is PI that hard to crack? Is it that big of a gamble? Berkeley I thought was renowned for PI?

And as far as NYU being great, I know it is. However, isn't its focus less on PI then Berkeley. I believe berkeley's LRAP even has a 100,000 cap (paying 35% of your marginal income above 65,000) whereas NYU's cap is 80,000, and I don't believe it is as comprehensive with its LRAP. UCLA has not responded to me asking for more AID. However, would it even be worth it if I am pretty sure I would hate Big Law?

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Nelson
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Nelson » Fri May 04, 2012 3:02 pm

I don't really like any of these options. If you won't take a biglaw job, I don't know how paying this much is justifiable. I guess I vote NYU for the best job prospects. Pray everything breaks your way, you land in eligible employment for 10 years, and you can use PILF to get rid of your loans.

CanadianWolf
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri May 04, 2012 3:05 pm

Seems like you are willing to gamble on having a continued focus on PI. If so, you have two outstanding options with colossal debt waiting for you upon graduation. What if your interests & plans change over the course of the next several years ?

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:07 pm

Nelson wrote:I don't really like any of these options. If you won't take a biglaw job, I don't know how paying this much is justifiable. I guess I vote NYU for the best job prospects. Pray everything breaks your way, you land in eligible employment for 10 years, and you can use PILF to get rid of your loans.


I'm confused by this. I wouldn't be paying that much if I didn't take a big law job. If I went to Berkeley and got a PI or Government job, I would pay nothing at 65,000, then 35% of my marginal income up to 100,000. I am not paying THAT much. I have lived comfortably for over 2 years on a 45,000 a year salary FYI.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:09 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Seems like you are willing to gamble on having a continued focus on PI. If so, you have two outstanding options with colossal debt waiting for you upon graduation. What if your interests & plans change over the course of the next several years ?


Good question. I guess it depends on what several years is. if it is 10 years, my debt at Berkeley will be gone, and its prestige should afford me some options. If it is UCLA, I think I would just be in a similar situation with less debt, but also less options. With NYU, the situation would probably be the same as Berkeley. The fact that my interests and plans may change is actually why I think going to the more prestigious school may be worth some extra debt.

CanadianWolf
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri May 04, 2012 3:10 pm

PI jobs are competitive, although a law degree from any of these law schools plus demonstrated interest & committment should enable you to land a PI position.

Several years in this context means next three (3) to ten (10) years (13 years if seeking full repayment of your law school loans). Therefore it is best to get financially viable options now, in my opinion. This includes a willingness to work in NYC biglaw for 4 or 5 years after finishing NYU in order to pay down your student loan debt, for example.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Fri May 04, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nelson
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Nelson » Fri May 04, 2012 3:15 pm

Voldemort wrote:
Nelson wrote:I don't really like any of these options. If you won't take a biglaw job, I don't know how paying this much is justifiable. I guess I vote NYU for the best job prospects. Pray everything breaks your way, you land in eligible employment for 10 years, and you can use PILF to get rid of your loans.


I'm confused by this. I wouldn't be paying that much if I didn't take a big law job. If I went to Berkeley and got a PI or Government job, I would pay nothing at 65,000, then 35% of my marginal income up to 100,000. I am not paying THAT much. I have lived comfortably for over 2 years on a 45,000 a year salary FYI.

Because if you leave qualifying employment at any point, the Feds change the terms of PILF, or your school's LRAP changes, you will be royally screwed. You're not going to make any payments on 200k in principal that will gain interest for 10 years. That should make you uncomfortable.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:16 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:PI jobs are competitive, although a law degree from any of these law schools plus demonstrated interest & committment should enable you to land a PI position.

Several years in this context means next three (3) to ten (10) years.


Curious what information you can give me as far as the competitiveness of PI. I know that government jobs are very much so, but I have always believed that there are lots of NGOs looking for PI attorneys from top law schools, much more so then BIG LAW firms, which I would call much more competitive. And again, I really value my life and don't want to be working 60-80 hour weeks; I find it hard to imagine myself working at a big law firm ever. Maybe later in my career, if government or PI doesn't go my way, I will try to move into in-house counsel, but that isn't really on my radar yet.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:21 pm

Nelson wrote:
Voldemort wrote:
Nelson wrote:I don't really like any of these options. If you won't take a biglaw job, I don't know how paying this much is justifiable. I guess I vote NYU for the best job prospects. Pray everything breaks your way, you land in eligible employment for 10 years, and you can use PILF to get rid of your loans.


I'm confused by this. I wouldn't be paying that much if I didn't take a big law job. If I went to Berkeley and got a PI or Government job, I would pay nothing at 65,000, then 35% of my marginal income up to 100,000. I am not paying THAT much. I have lived comfortably for over 2 years on a 45,000 a year salary FYI.

Because if you leave qualifying employment at any point, the Feds change the terms of PILF, or your school's LRAP changes, you will be royally screwed. You're not going to make any payments on 200k in principal that will gain interest for 10 years. That should make you uncomfortable.


Can I have more information about this? I think PILF is unique to NYU, what about Berkeley? I'm not sure why I would leave qualifying employment if I knew that debt would come back with full force (I don't believe it comes back in full, just the remaining balance isn't covered by LRAP?). I think the moral there is to stay in PI or Gov work and NOT leave qualifying employment. As far them changing the terms, those will only effect future classes. Each classes LRAP is different, when it is changed, it is not retroactive (so far as I know).

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Nelson
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Nelson » Fri May 04, 2012 3:28 pm

Voldemort wrote:
Nelson wrote:
Voldemort wrote:
Nelson wrote:I don't really like any of these options. If you won't take a biglaw job, I don't know how paying this much is justifiable. I guess I vote NYU for the best job prospects. Pray everything breaks your way, you land in eligible employment for 10 years, and you can use PILF to get rid of your loans.


I'm confused by this. I wouldn't be paying that much if I didn't take a big law job. If I went to Berkeley and got a PI or Government job, I would pay nothing at 65,000, then 35% of my marginal income up to 100,000. I am not paying THAT much. I have lived comfortably for over 2 years on a 45,000 a year salary FYI.

Because if you leave qualifying employment at any point, the Feds change the terms of PILF, or your school's LRAP changes, you will be royally screwed. You're not going to make any payments on 200k in principal that will gain interest for 10 years. That should make you uncomfortable.


Can I have more information about this? I think PILF is unique to NYU, what about Berkeley? I'm not sure why I would leave qualifying employment if I knew that debt would come back with full force (I don't believe it comes back in full, just the remaining balance isn't covered by LRAP?). I think the moral there is to stay in PI or Gov work and NOT leave qualifying employment. As far them changing the terms, those will only effect future classes. Each classes LRAP is different, when it is changed, it is not retroactive (so far as I know).

NYU and Berkeley's LRAP are both based on Federal IBR, so you will be making very little dent, if any, in the principal. You're counting on the Federal government making your loans disappear after 120 qualifying payments.

Of course no one plans to leave qualifying employment, but shit happens. I think you're greatly overestimating how easy it is to get a non-firm legal job and then to hang onto it for ten years. Those jobs are incredibly competitive and the idea that the work-life balance is so much better than biglaw is wishful thinking. If anything, most DA offices/government agencies and nonprofits are woefully overworked and understaffed.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 3:43 pm

Really appreciate all the feedback everyone. Anybody got anymore opinions on the matter? Keep in mind, I want to end up on the west coast. NYU, unless it offers some substantial advantage in PI/Gov placement in Berkeley (please tell me why if it does), seems to not be up my alley.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Fri May 04, 2012 8:28 pm

Bumping this. I'm afraid everyone is either trolling for Berkeley or picking it because I said it was my #1. Give me some perspective all you TLS contrarians!

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri May 04, 2012 10:55 pm

Voldemort wrote:Bumping this. I'm afraid everyone is either trolling for Berkeley or picking it because I said it was my #1. Give me some perspective all you TLS contrarians!


I'll play. California is tough right now. I'd like to end up there myself but am attending law school in NYC because I'd rather have a good job on the east coast than a crappy one in California. Just something to think about.

chasgoose
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby chasgoose » Fri May 04, 2012 11:57 pm

Voldemort wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:PI jobs are competitive, although a law degree from any of these law schools plus demonstrated interest & committment should enable you to land a PI position.

Several years in this context means next three (3) to ten (10) years.


Curious what information you can give me as far as the competitiveness of PI. I know that government jobs are very much so, but I have always believed that there are lots of NGOs looking for PI attorneys from top law schools, much more so then BIG LAW firms, which I would call much more competitive. And again, I really value my life and don't want to be working 60-80 hour weeks; I find it hard to imagine myself working at a big law firm ever. Maybe later in my career, if government or PI doesn't go my way, I will try to move into in-house counsel, but that isn't really on my radar yet.


First, I wouldn't necessarily choose PI because you don't want to work 60-80 hour weeks and you want more work/life balance. With the notable exception of government employees, most PI jobs are pretty grueling in the time expected. Also, again with the exception of government work sometimes, a lot of the work is far more emotionally draining than BigLaw (it's harder to get worked up about some faceless multinational corporation merging with another faceless multinational corporation, than watching the justice system totally fuck someone over) so even if you work less, it takes a bigger psychological toll. If you don't want to put in the time and commitment that it takes to do big law, you might want to reconsider going to law school at all. You sound like you just want an easy career, but you don't go straight to the cushy government work, in-house positions, or even the cushy non-government PI work without putting in some serious time doing long hours of bitchwork. Most government jobs and in-house positions are usually only open to people with some big law experience (it's very rare for people to go straight in-house) and increasingly PI positions are receptive to that as well.

Second, big law firm jobs are going to be significantly easier to get from at least Berkeley and NYU than decent PI work that pays (by pays I mean like $40-60k). The federal government is currently in a hiring freeze so a lot of those jobs are out and there just isn't enough funding to pay for many more PI lawyers than there already are. At NYU I know people who are above the top 20%, normal, and had significant PI WE that are working the type of jobs that 1L's get during their 2L summer, simply because nothing else is available.

Given your profound misconceptions about post-law school career opportunities, I would caution paying sticker anywhere (or whatever UCLA costs) until you get a better idea of what options are going to be available to you after law school and how much you are going to have to actually work.

grimfan
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby grimfan » Sat May 05, 2012 12:38 am

chasgoose wrote:First, I wouldn't necessarily choose PI because you don't want to work 60-80 hour weeks and you want more work/life balance. With the notable exception of government employees, most PI jobs are pretty grueling in the time expected. Also, again with the exception of government work sometimes, a lot of the work is far more emotionally draining than BigLaw (it's harder to get worked up about some faceless multinational corporation merging with another faceless multinational corporation, than watching the justice system totally fuck someone over) so even if you work less, it takes a bigger psychological toll. If you don't want to put in the time and commitment that it takes to do big law, you might want to reconsider going to law school at all. You sound like you just want an easy career, but you don't go straight to the cushy government work, in-house positions, or even the cushy non-government PI work without putting in some serious time doing long hours of bitchwork. Most government jobs and in-house positions are usually only open to people with some big law experience (it's very rare for people to go straight in-house) and increasingly PI positions are receptive to that as well.


Most non-lawyer jobs that pay decently will probably end up taking up 60-80 hours a week anyway, right?

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worldtraveler
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby worldtraveler » Sat May 05, 2012 4:34 am

PI jobs can be just as many hours as big law and prestigious PI (and right now, really any PI) is harder to get than big law, even at a top school.
Do you want PI just for the hours? That is a terrible reason to do it.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat May 05, 2012 9:28 am

If you leave NYU's LRAP before 10 years you will receive a credit toward your principle to put you in a position as though you had been making standard repayments. Feel free to check me on this but I believe it is true, and I also believe this is unique among the many IBR-linked LRAP programs that are out there. This means that if you do qualifying PI for 5 years, then drop out, you get your principle repaid to the extent it would have been if you made standard payments.

goodthings
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby goodthings » Sat May 05, 2012 1:20 pm

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Last edited by goodthings on Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DerekTokaz
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby DerekTokaz » Sat May 05, 2012 1:56 pm

If your goal is to do public interest work, the smartest thing to do is pick a school that will give you a full ride.

Voldemort
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Re: UCLA, Berkeley, or NYU

Postby Voldemort » Sat May 05, 2012 2:07 pm

I apologize if my posts have came across cavalier or naive. I am fully aware I am going to have to bust my ass to get to where I want to be. However, is it so far-fetched that my main goal coming out of law school, second to becoming a lawyer and being well educated, is to have a job that lets me have a life? I tend to think a lot of the people posting on TLS have never worked full time jobs and 60 hour weeks, so assume that the OP hasn't either and doesn't fully understand what hard work a lawyer is going to be, as though they haven't already experienced hard work. Hard work in life is a given, I'm not looking for a cushy job, I am looking for a WORK life balance. PI, more than big law, would allow this. I am yet to see any evidence that it does not, and having worked at multiple think tanks, I can (anecdotally say), it does. I also understand PI is competitive, but when dollar amounts are not my sole goal, it is much less so, and if someone is going to school planning on working hard, is it again, so-far fetched of a goal? Is Berkeley not elite enough to provide the opportunities I'm looking for? (as well as a chance to pay off debt?)




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