At the risk repeating lots of other polls on TLS, I wanted to throw mine out there to get some feedback - note that I would be paying sticker at each school.
I am interested in doing public interest related work, specifically in a more national context. I don't see myself at a local legal services clinic or in a D.A.'s office, at least for a substantial amount of time. I would love to work in DC after law school, potentially at the DOJ/other federal department, or at an issue based group - HRC etc. I know those jobs are extremely difficult to come by, but I figured it is worth a try if that is what I am interested in. I work at the DOJ currently, so I am hoping that will help if I try and come back to DC. I am also interested in clerking if possible. I would consider working at a law firm to pay off debt, but it is not a career goal of mine.
My thoughts about each school:
Penn: The atmosphere really appeals to me, I am from the area and would be close to family and friends. I like the smaller size of the school and feel that it would give an opportunity to do well and develop relationships with professors and staff. I also like the friendly attitude of the student body. Philly is also a very manageable city, which I like.
NYU: Has really strong public interest bent. I like the neighborhood in NYC better than Columbia's. My worry is that I won't be able to distinguish myself among others who are potentially more ardent about public interest than me, and that could discourage me from pursuing what I want. I am not sure how valid that fear is though. The class size is also large so I worry about being able to make connections with professors.
Columbia: I like that it is viewed as a bit more prestigious than the other two, and I think that it can offer some opportunities through its name in places outside NYC that the other two maybe can't. I am worried about the reputation it has for having not the most collegial kids / kids who I would not enjoy being in classes with. I also am concerned about being able to form relationships with professors. I really like Columbia's campus, but it is not as conveniently located as NYU's campus.
Any help would be great, I had decided Penn over Berkeley initially, and then I just got off the wait list at Columbia and NYU in the past 5 days and it has thrown me through a loop.
Thanks so much, really appreciate your feedback!
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Since they are all at sticker, based on what you want to do this should probably be between CLS/NYU just because they are probably going to meet your DOJ/federal gov't jobs desires better. If you are really serious about PI, NYU does make it easier because they have a more solid PI career office than CLS (you will have to do more of the legwork yourself). CLS has a slightly better name and may be a wee bit better in DC than NYU, but not enough to pick it over NYU if you like NYU more. It's going to be hard to make close relationships with your professor no matter where you go, unless you kill it in your class so I probably wouldn't worry about that. I would probably pick whichever one you like better between CLS/NYU (Penn isn't that much different either so if you really want to go to Penn that would be good as well, but their PI network/career office doesn't seem as good as even CLS's and its easier to get PI work in NYC than in Philly).