Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

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

Michigan or NU?

Michigan
12
41%
NU
15
52%
Hard call - I don't know either!
2
7%
 
Total votes: 29

sunshiiine
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Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:02 pm

My search of forums hasn't yielded a comparable thread addressing my concerns, so I'm soliciting the insight and wisdom of TLS-ers. Thanks in advance!

My cycle has whittled down to a decision between Mich and NU, both of which I've visited and liked pretty equally. I would be entering straight from undergrad. Assume sticker at both, and that scholarships/debt are irrelevant for the purpose of making this decision. I consider their respective rankings to also be irrelevant, as the differences between the two schools that result in those rankings are unlikely to be qualitatively substantive.

I am primarily interested in an apples-to-apples comparison of their academic and experiential programs, cultures/environments/social lives (if they exist?), faculty/students, and clerking/employment prospects, not of their COA. That being said, I would greatly appreciate the opinion of anyone who currently attends, did attend, or simply knows about either school on these matters. After all, there is only so much one can glean from glossy promotional books and self-serving websites.

One of the central challenges of this decision for me is the difference between attending law school in an urban vs. suburban setting. Is it beneficial to be in a big city during law school - to have a presumably broader set of externship, clinical, and networking opportunities? Is it better to not have the "distractions" of a city? I realize that this aspect of the decision is very personal, but it would also be helpful to hear the reasoning of other law students who had to make the same decision between Mich and NU, or between other law schools.

I am planning to clerk and subsequently work in BigLaw in a major metropolitan area (specifically - NYC, DC, Chi, SF, LA). In terms of practice areas, I am broadly interested in business/corporate law. I am relatively indifferent with respect to region/location and have some form of a tie to each city listed (some stronger than others).

Please let me know if there is any additional information needed that I forgot to address. Thank you, again!

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bk1
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby bk1 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:25 pm

A UMich friend of mine interned in Detroit, though I'd imagine that isn't the easiest thing to do due to the distance.

Random thoughts:

1. You're unlikely to clerk coming out of either one so I don't think that's relevant.
2. I'd give NU an edge if you really wanted to work in Chicago but if you are just interested in any large city then I think it's a wash.
3. If the city is that much of a distraction then I think you have bigger issues to worry about. Normal people can and do buckle down for finals.
4. I could see externships being a draw for NU since it's easier to do them in Chicago, but they're not really important for job prospects so I personally wouldn't factor them in that highly.
5. Law school isn't that much work. Of course people have social lives. I haven't been to AA but I imagine the social scene there is more college-esque whereas NU is more city bar sort of thing, whichever you are into.

Honestly I'd pick one if it were substantially cheaper. If close then I'd pick NU if you really wanted Chicago. After that I'd just pick whichever is your personal preference.

The only thing I would add is that there might be a concern that you'll be at a slight disadvantage in terms of OCI at NU due to being a K-JD compared to people with work exp. Granted I haven't done 2L OCI yet, it seems to me that this disadvantage is minimal. But I don't really have a full picture of it.

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:57 pm

bk1 wrote:A UMich friend of mine interned in Detroit, though I'd imagine that isn't the easiest thing to do due to the distance.

Random thoughts:

1. You're unlikely to clerk coming out of either one so I don't think that's relevant.
2. I'd give NU an edge if you really wanted to work in Chicago but if you are just interested in any large city then I think it's a wash.
3. If the city is that much of a distraction then I think you have bigger issues to worry about. Normal people can and do buckle down for finals.
4. I could see externships being a draw for NU since it's easier to do them in Chicago, but they're not really important for job prospects so I personally wouldn't factor them in that highly.
5. Law school isn't that much work. Of course people have social lives. I haven't been to AA but I imagine the social scene there is more college-esque whereas NU is more city bar sort of thing, whichever you are into.

Honestly I'd pick one if it were substantially cheaper. If close then I'd pick NU if you really wanted Chicago. After that I'd just pick whichever is your personal preference.

The only thing I would add is that there might be a concern that you'll be at a slight disadvantage in terms of OCI at NU due to being a K-JD compared to people with work exp. Granted I haven't done 2L OCI yet, it seems to me that this disadvantage is minimal. But I don't really have a full picture of it.


The problem, as it stands, is that my personal preference is equally divided between the two. Each has their own merits/demerits that, for the time being, balance the other pretty evenly and cost is not an influential factor...which is why I'm here asking for advice.

Regarding Detroit, it's about a 45 mile drive and doesn't have even remotely as much as Chicago in the way of businesses, law firms, non-profits, etc., so I feel that this is a big stretch in the way of comparison for the two schools. Chi is definitely superior to AA in this way from my point of view.

1. I realize that it is relatively more unlikely when compared with higher ranked schools, but that doesn't answer which fares better for clerkship placement relative to the other, or if they place equally.
2. Agreed. Do you feel that Mich and NU place comparably in all large markets for BigLaw then? I know that the percentage of BigLaw placement differs between the two, but it's hard to account for the existing preferences of students (i.e. Mich places a greater percentage of grads in PI jobs than NU as far as I know).
3. I intentionally placed the word 'distractions' in quotation marks because this is how other law students have referred to their experiences. (For example, a girl who attends CLS told me that she preferred Morningside Heights to the area surrounding NYU because it had less 'distractions'...but she also complained that she thought MH was too insular.) I was born and raised in a big city, and have no issues with discipline along those lines. The urban vs. suburban thing is more about (1) whether the benefits of being in a big city outweigh the costs (financial and otherwise) of being there and (2) whether it would be preferable to be in a suburban/less urban area (i.e. New Haven, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Charlottesville, Ann Arbor, Durham, Ithaca) during law school for whatever reason.
4. Agreed. Regardless of its effect on job prospects, I'm more interested in the value of the experience, so I think it's an important consideration nevertheless.
5. Good to know, especially since I've heard otherwise. I lean toward the latter usually.

Regarding work experience, wouldn't this only be a disadvantage insofar as employers specifically seek out NU law grads because they have post-undergrad work experience, and limit their recruitment of law students without such work experience to all other law schools?

Since you're a student at NU, can you speak to the particulars of your experience thus far with students/faculty/clinics/write-on/summer 1L employment? If you're more comfortable PMing/e-mailing me, I'd really, really appreciate it!

Also, does the strength of intended practice areas matter at all? Do Mich and NU have equally strong business law faculty?

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bk1
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby bk1 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:21 pm

sunshiiine wrote:Regarding work experience, wouldn't this only be a disadvantage insofar as employers specifically seek out NU law grads because they have post-undergrad work experience, and limit their recruitment of law students without such work experience to all other law schools?

Since you're a student at NU, can you speak to the particulars of your experience thus far with students/faculty/clinics/write-on/summer 1L employment? If you're more comfortable PMing/e-mailing me, I'd really, really appreciate it!

Also, does the strength of intended practice areas matter at all? Do Mich and NU have equally strong business law faculty?


I doubt they come to NU specifically because we have more WE. They come to NU because it is a top school like any other top school. They definitely aren't limiting their recruitment to just those people. It's more that people with WE have an advantage everything else being equal and thus NU's biglaw stats are likely slightly inflated by this. That being said, things are rarely equal. The other guy may have decent WE but you might have a higher GPA, or have gone to a prestigious undergrad, or be a better interviewer. While admittedly I am biased, I think rayiner does a good job of explaining why selection bias probably brings down NU's clerkship numbers compared to other T14's (thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=180686#p5328312).

My classmates have been great and I've made some good friends here. I don't really have any comparison to other schools but I honestly doubt that students will be that different. Even between NU which has slightly older students and UChi which draws a bunch of gunners, the difference isn't drastic. Plus UMich has almost 400 students in your class (NU is closer to 250, iirc), I doubt you'll have trouble finding people that you mesh with at either school.

Clinics - 1Ls don't have that option and they weren't a draw for me personally.

Write-on - it fucking sucks. 500 pages mostly printed in small type to the edge of very small margins. It took me almost 3 full days to read the entire packet before I even started writing or editing. We won't find out results until late July. I don't know how many schools have this much work (I know Harvard's is worse whereas Hasting's is 30 pages to read and you get 10 days as opposed to a week). I wouldn't really factor this in since everyone is on a level playing field.

1L Summer - seemed fairly easy to land a gov gig if you put in at least a bit of effort, especially if you're open to relocating for the summer. I know some people who had a bit of trouble but they generally procrastinated a lot. I'm surprised at how many of my classmates have 1L SAs, but I have no clue what percentage of the entire class has them. Maybe the people I know are unrepresentative.

Strength of specialties isn't important for job opps. NU does give you the ability to take 2 electives second semester, but I think that's because we take 5 classes each semester as opposed to 4 (which I've heard is the norm at other schools).

woeisme
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby woeisme » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:29 pm

Mich is better for west coast and NU is better for Chicago. Otherwise, basically peer schools - pick based on personal preference.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:49 pm

Agree that in your situation it comes down to personal preference. Have you visited both law schools ? If so, what are your impressions ?

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rayiner
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby rayiner » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:07 pm

Given that decision in 2009, when I started LS, I probably would have chosen Michigan, just because of the ranking difference. Knowing what I know now, I'd choose NU, for a couple of reasons:

1) Our CSO is way more competent, from what I can tell. I'm about as plugged-in to the employment/bidding situation as any student you'll find, and my career counselor still gave me some advice that modified my bid list. Michigan's gave people useless callback data that averaged pre-ITE and post-ITE GPA's ranges together.

2) It's not clear that Michigan's placement isn't weaker. I think C/O 2011 was just a bad year for Michigan, but there are plausible explanations for why it might be a more persistent problem. First, Michigan is about a third larger than NU. Firms don't necessarily schedule a third more interview/callback slots to compensate. Second, Michigan is not the core recruiting school in any market. CLS/NYU benefit greatly from being the go-to schools after HYS in NYC, and U Chicago/NU benefit similarly from playing the same role for Chicago. It became clear during the recession that Chicago firms did not see Michigan the same way.

4) Michigan probably has an advantage in feeder clerkships and the like, because judges like its old school prestige. This might matter if you're one of the top 10 people in the class. However, the overall difference in clerkship placement is slim. E.g. for C/O 2010, Michigan had 28 federal clerks for 374 graduates (7.5%). NU had 23 federal clerks for 285 graduates (8%). Northwestern folks tend to self-select out of clerkships. You can see this in the %-age of clerkships that are prestigious federal ones relative to total clerkships. At NU for C/O 2011, 90% of clerkships taken were federal. A typical figure for the other lower-T14 is 70-80%.

4) River North is just a phenomenal place to go to law school. Lively enough to be entertaining early in the semester, quiet enough to buckle down at the end of the semester. That said, I don't like college towns. I much prefer to be surrounded by yuppies rather than 21 y/o kids. YMMV.

That being said, there are legitimate reasons to pick Michigan. It's slightly cheaper, for one. You might like the college town atmosphere better. You might not want to compete with people with WE for jobs at NU. If you do want a feeder clerkship, Michigan has a much more well-developed network to facilitate that, which matters a lot because those clerkships come down to connections in addition to tippy-top grades. If you're interested in PI, Michigan is probably way better. Our PI placement is pretty bad for a T14, and it's not all self-selection. Michigan clearly knows how to place PI folks given how it converted all but 8 of their 40-50 law-school funded temporary PI placements into full-time jobs.

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:16 pm

woeisme wrote:Mich is better for west coast and NU is better for Chicago. Otherwise, basically peer schools - pick based on personal preference.


Thanks for your reply! What do you mean by better for the west coast? NU's website specifies 15% in the "West" (http://www.law.northwestern.edu/career/statistics/), which is the 3rd largest. Mich also shows more prominent placement in the Northeast (http://www.law.umich.edu/careers/Pages/default.aspx) than the West coast (25-99 over the course of 3 graduating classes in CA only), which looks similar to NU's placement in the West.

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:32 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Agree that in your situation it comes down to personal preference. Have you visited both law schools ? If so, what are your impressions ?


I have visited both and enjoyed each pretty equally. The crucial difference, as I alluded to in the first post, is whether being in an urban vs. suburban setting offers any relative advantages while in law school. The answer to this question might solve my dilemma.

Not that I would make a decision on this basis, but I loved both campuses and choosing between a view of Lake Michigan from the library or Mich's famed reading room is a toss-up. There are new students every year, and you rarely meet enough students on a visit to make any definitive conclusions about 'fit'. I like NU's smaller size, but Michigan seems to still offer a strong sense of community and a good amount of individualized attention for a somewhat larger law school.

Controlling for geography, the schools seem pretty similar. The faculty, course selection, student body, clinical offerings, extracurricular opportunities (journals/student orgs), and employment prospects are all comparable, I think...as is to be expected for what an earlier poster called 'peer schools'. I was hoping current or graduated students would be able to shed some light on whether any of this is true, which would undoubtedly impact my personal preferences and hopefully make my decision a little easier.

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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby IAFG » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:37 pm

woeisme wrote:Mich is better for west coast and NU is better for Chicago. Otherwise, basically peer schools - pick based on personal preference.

People with California ties do great placing into CA. Are you saying Michigan places people without ties?

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dr123
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby dr123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:45 pm

bk1 wrote:A UMich friend of mine interned in Detroit, though I'd imagine that isn't the easiest thing to do due to the distance.


Lots of people commute from A2 to Detroit everyday, its not that far.

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bk1
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby bk1 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:03 pm

dr123 wrote:Lots of people commute from A2 to Detroit everyday, its not that far.


I defer to someone who knows more than me. :P

I just looked it up and it said 45-50 by car each way and that just seemed annoying when coupled with school and the internship (though I'm just not a fan of commutes).

keg411
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby keg411 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:12 pm

sunshiiine wrote:Not that I would make a decision on this basis, but I loved both campuses and choosing between a view of Lake Michigan from the library or Mich's famed reading room is a toss-up. There are new students every year, and you rarely meet enough students on a visit to make any definitive conclusions about 'fit'. I like NU's smaller size, but Michigan seems to still offer a strong sense of community and a good amount of individualized attention for a somewhat larger law school.


The Michigan reading room is mostly filled with undergrads studying and while it's pretty and great to look at, it's an awful place to study as a law student and the light tends to be weird in there. But it's pretty to look at. But if that's your biggest "pro" for Michigan, I'd go to NU if I were you.

Also, the AA --> Detroit commute isn't far at all if you want to get an internship there. I haven't and don't plan to, but it's certainly possible. I-94 is pretty damn solid for an interstate and keeps Ann Arbor from being totally, completely insular.

Also, the career services office at Michigan has improved significantly since the c/o 2011 disaster. They helped me personally, and I also heard through the grapevine that the Dean made personal calls for the displaced Dewey summers. I also think they really know what they're doing in terms of desirable PI placement.

All that said, OP, it sound like you personally prefer NU to Michigan, so I'd pick NU. I do go to Michigan, but I was a transfer, so the criteria were definitely different.

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:09 pm

keg411 wrote:
sunshiiine wrote:Not that I would make a decision on this basis, but I loved both campuses and choosing between a view of Lake Michigan from the library or Mich's famed reading room is a toss-up. There are new students every year, and you rarely meet enough students on a visit to make any definitive conclusions about 'fit'. I like NU's smaller size, but Michigan seems to still offer a strong sense of community and a good amount of individualized attention for a somewhat larger law school.


The Michigan reading room is mostly filled with undergrads studying and while it's pretty and great to look at, it's an awful place to study as a law student and the light tends to be weird in there. But it's pretty to look at. But if that's your biggest "pro" for Michigan, I'd go to NU if I were you.

Also, the AA --> Detroit commute isn't far at all if you want to get an internship there. I haven't and don't plan to, but it's certainly possible. I-94 is pretty damn solid for an interstate and keeps Ann Arbor from being totally, completely insular.

Also, the career services office at Michigan has improved significantly since the c/o 2011 disaster. They helped me personally, and I also heard through the grapevine that the Dean made personal calls for the displaced Dewey summers. I also think they really know what they're doing in terms of desirable PI placement.

All that said, OP, it sound like you personally prefer NU to Michigan, so I'd pick NU. I do go to Michigan, but I was a transfer, so the criteria were definitely different.


See the boldfaced and italicized part of my statement. The reading room is hardly my biggest 'pro' for Michigan; I gave a partial explanation for why I like Michigan in the rest of that post, though. I was merely answering another poster's question about my "feel" for each school during my visits. If the decision were that simple, I wouldn't be here asking for advice. Moreover, if I was aware of a personal preference for NU, then I also wouldn't be here asking for advice. The decision is difficult, as I noted above, because they each have their own merits and demerits, and I haven't been able to sufficiently differentiate between the two to make the ultimate decision easy.

Since you transferred to Mich, what was your impetus for transferring, and are you happy with your decision? Feel free to PM me if you'd prefer. As a current student, if you can address any of my other questions regarding Mich that I posed in my initial post, that would be fantastic and soso appreciated.

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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby dolfan0516 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:46 pm

If you are so torn, flip a coin. You'll know where you want to go when the coin is still in the air. Go there and ignore the result of the coin.

woeisme
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby woeisme » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:29 am

IAFG wrote:
woeisme wrote:Mich is better for west coast and NU is better for Chicago. Otherwise, basically peer schools - pick based on personal preference.

People with California ties do great placing into CA. Are you saying Michigan places people without ties?


This is anecdotal so should be given the consideration it deserves, buy what I meant was that to land Chicago (with or without ties), you can be lower in class at NU than Mich. the opposite is true to land California. Schools are essentially equal for placement elsewhere.

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IAFG
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby IAFG » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:35 am

woeisme wrote:
IAFG wrote:
woeisme wrote:Mich is better for west coast and NU is better for Chicago. Otherwise, basically peer schools - pick based on personal preference.

People with California ties do great placing into CA. Are you saying Michigan places people without ties?


This is anecdotal so should be given the consideration it deserves, buy what I meant was that to land Chicago (with or without ties), you can be lower in class at NU than Mich. the opposite is true to land California. Schools are essentially equal for placement elsewhere.

I don't think this is really accurate because almost everyone with ties to CA and the will to go back landed biglaw there in my class. The "Michigan dominates CA" flame is older than dirt though.

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rayiner
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby rayiner » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:50 am

IAFG wrote:
woeisme wrote:
IAFG wrote:People with California ties do great placing into CA. Are you saying Michigan places people without ties?


This is anecdotal so should be given the consideration it deserves, buy what I meant was that to land Chicago (with or without ties), you can be lower in class at NU than Mich. the opposite is true to land California. Schools are essentially equal for placement elsewhere.

I don't think this is really accurate because almost everyone with ties to CA and the will to go back landed biglaw there in my class. The "Michigan dominates CA" flame is older than dirt though.


The "you can be lower in the class" thing is total flame, not just for CA. I have observed very little evidence that firms establish GPA cut-offs for schools they don't recruit at for OCI. I doubt a random smaller California firm is making distinctions amongst equally-ranked people at Michigan versus Northwestern (if they even have an idea of what the curves look like precisely), unless they go to OCI at Michigan and not Northwestern. I think the same is true for Chicago firms and non-local non-HYS T14s (say Penn versus Cornell).

Now, I do think Michigan gets more CA firms at OCI, which is important.

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rayiner
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby rayiner » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:03 am

To back up the point I made re: Chicago above, look at Sidley's Chicago office. 1 Michigan associate in C/O 2011, versus 5 Northwestern associates in C/O 2011. At Winston, 1 Michigan associate in C/O 2011, 2 Northwestern associates in C/O 2011. At Jenner, 2 Michigan associates in C/O 2011, 3 Northwestern associates in C/O 2011.

I'm not going to go through all of the Northwestern associates at Kirkland looking at their class years, but according to XO, their SA class for C/O 2011 was 11 Northwestern, 2 Michigan.

As far as I can tell, hiring from Michigan is back up at these firms. E.g. K&E Chicago for C/O 2012 was 9 NU, 9 Michigan. However, it's quite interesting to see what firms do when they have to cut summer classes to the bone as they did in C/O 2011 (K&E Chicago was down from 70 to 32, they're back up to 52 for last year).

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:12 pm

dolfan0516 wrote:If you are so torn, flip a coin. You'll know where you want to go when the coin is still in the air. Go there and ignore the result of the coin.

Somehow, I think that the flip of a coin would resolve this issue only if I invested enough gravity in the potential outcome of the coin toss such that it would reveal my underlying (perhaps subconscious) preference. Thanks for the advice, though! I generally opt for logic and reason when making life decisions.

sunshiiine
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby sunshiiine » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:15 pm

Since the poll has now fallen in favor of Michigan, can some of the people who voted this way please explain their rationale? Thanks!

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rayiner
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Re: Michigan vs. NU - Insight appreciated!

Postby rayiner » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:39 pm

Another thing to look at. Michigan says 55% of C/O 2012 worked at a firm: http://www.law.umich.edu/careers/classs ... stats.aspx. This compares to 77% at U Chicago: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/prospective ... oymentdata.

I don't have hard data for NU, but based on a pretty comprehensive Linked-In stalking of my 1L section (80% coverage), I'd put our number around 67%. The 10% gap between NU and U Chicago is consistent with historical placement numbers.

We also had a surprising number of people (10% of the sample) who either self-selected out of law because they were a JD-MBA or had a job coming in. This seems pretty typical for NU, and should be considered any time Michigan's self-selection into PI is brought up. While Michigan has a lot of people who want to do PI, a full 10% of NU's class is JD-MBA's, the (narrow) majority of which self-select out of law.




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