Michigan vs Berkeley

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Michigan vs Berkeley

Michigan
18
32%
Berkeley
39
68%
 
Total votes: 57

matt66dc
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Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby matt66dc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:05 pm

Each acceptance letter that has come in over the last month has worked to raise both my level of elation at having got into some great schools and stress over where I want to spend the next three years studying law. I applied to over ten schools because I was open to any possibilities. So far I have been accepted to Michigan, Georgetown, Berkeley, UCLA, and Texas-Austin. A variety of factors are making the decision tough for me. I don't necessarily know what kind of law I want to practice, I'm originally from Michigan and this is where my family lives, due to health issues I have during the winter, I detest the cold and therefore am strongly biased towards warmer climates, and, finally, I don't know where I want to settle down after law school and I don't want to rule out NYC, DC, or California.

In terms of what type of law interest me, I wrote about international law in my personal statement. I know I know, the amount of lawyers who practice "international law" is minuscule compared to everyone who originally wants to go to into it. However, my undergrad major was in International Affairs, I have spent the last ten years studying foreign language, and I have a coauthor role in a text book revolving around international conflict. I can not help the fact that I am interested in Foreign Policy and being that I could think of no other area that interested me other than public interest, I appealed to what I knew. I realize I will know more of what I want after my first year. That being said, if I had to select a dream job it'd be somewhere in the field of international law in the government or public sector. Again, this does not mean I'm totally opposed to a position at a big law firm if the opportunity presented itself because I know the money will be appealing.

In the end I think I want the school that is going to give me the most options and opportunities though I'm slightly skewed towards international law. I understand Berkeley has the higher ranking but I have thus far been unable to find any characteristic that makes it the better school. Do you know of one? I have heard that Michigan is the most national school and sends their graduates to the most diverse amount of cities whereas the majority of Berkeley grads stay in California, but is that just because there is no job market in Michigan and California is, well, California? I have also seen varying reports on which school is more prestigious in international law so I see no clear cut winner there either. I am also attracted to the culture at both schools which seem to be similar in a lot of ways.

Instead of rambling on anymore about my complete indecisiveness I will turn the floor over to anyone who can offer some level of insight regarding what they would do in this situation or better yet what they did.

Help me please!

P.S. I am awaiting decisions from Harvard, Yale, and Stanford and was wait-listed at Columbia. I'm not really banking on getting into any of these schools but if I were to get into Harvard or Yale I think my choice would be a little clearer. I had originally put Columbia above Berkeley because I love NYC and they are a clear leader in international law, but what about Stanford vs Berkeley?!

Ti Malice
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:49 pm

A few things:

1. A truncated version of this post will draw more replies. Fewer people read long posts. You should edit it down.

2. You can have your international law aspirations, however unrealistic they may be, but do not evaluate schools through that lens. For one thing, specialty rankings mean nothing at all for legal hiring. For another, you're exceedingly unlikely to work in the field, so you should be looking to traditional placement/employment measures. Also, every top school will have several "international law" offerings because every school understands that this is what a plurality of 0Ls are interested in.

3. Berkeley's higher ranking than Michigan in and of itself means nothing. Michigan was ranked higher the year before. It meant nothing then, either. Northwestern is always ranked lower than Michigan, but I would feel better about my employment prospects from NU.

4. Your suspicion is correct that the pablum about Michigan being a "national school" is simply due to the fact that Michigan has no home market. In this economy, that's a disadvantage.

5. All else being equal, you should take any of Columbia, NYU, or Chicago before Berkeley or Michigan. You should take Yale, Stanford, or Harvard over anything. The possible exceptions to these rules only apply when certain schools offer you large scholarships. Again, USNWR's specialty rankings are utterly meaningless here.

6. Did you apply to NYU or Chicago? Any other T14 schools? If you haven't applied to NYU, today is the deadline. Send an app.

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helix23
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby helix23 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:51 pm

Do you have any scholarship monies at either?

matt66dc
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby matt66dc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:03 pm

Thanks for the insight Malice, but no I did not apply to NYU or Chicago. Mainly because I picked a certain number of T14 schools that interested me the most, and to be honest I couldn't afford anymore app fees from schools that didn't offer me waivers.

Helix I have received 30k from Michigan but I don't believe Berkeley has sent merit based offers yet. I just received my acceptance letter today btw

matt66dc
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby matt66dc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:09 pm

5. All else being equal, you should take any of Columbia, NYU, or Chicago before Berkeley or Michigan. You should take Yale, Stanford, or Harvard over anything. The possible exceptions to these rules only apply when certain schools offer you large scholarships. Again, USNWR's specialty rankings are utterly meaningless here.[/quote]

Considering that I don't yet have offers from any of these schools, do you have an opinion on Michigan vs Berkeley?

Ti Malice
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:10 pm

I would still suggest getting an app together for NYU. It's good strategy to apply broadly in the T14, if at all possible, even if you would never attend some of the schools, because you can use acceptances and scholarship offers as leverage in scholarship negotiations at your preferred schools. I would consider doing the same for Northwestern (deadline today).

I'm surprised that you didn't apply to NYU, by the way, since it is (meaninglessly) ranked #1 in international law. It also draws a much more PI-oriented crowd than Columbia.

(ETA: edited for typo)
Last edited by Ti Malice on Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dsn32
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby dsn32 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:11 pm

matt66dc wrote:5. All else being equal, you should take any of Columbia, NYU, or Chicago before Berkeley or Michigan. You should take Yale, Stanford, or Harvard over anything. The possible exceptions to these rules only apply when certain schools offer you large scholarships. Again, USNWR's specialty rankings are utterly meaningless here.


Considering that I don't yet have offers from any of these schools, do you have an opinion on Michigan vs Berkeley?[/quote]

It's largely where you want to work and to a lesser degree where you want to spend three years. I hope to have this same question in a few weeks, and for me it'll come down to $$$ and which school I think gives me the best chance to do well at OCI.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:12 pm

At around the same cost, Berkeley is better than Michigan if your goal is a desirable job outcome. Did you apply to Penn?

Ti Malice
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:14 pm

matt66dc wrote:Considering that I don't yet have offers from any of these schools, do you have an opinion on Michigan vs Berkeley?


I would go with Berkeley, myself. (As you can see in my profile, I applied to Berkeley but not to Michigan.) It commands tremendous respect in CA, is at least Michigan's equal elsewhere, and I would much prefer living in the Bay Area to Ann Arbor. Michigan's lack of a home market is a significant negative for me.

But a large part of the decision will hinge on your final scholarship offers from these schools.

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby JamesDean1955 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:14 pm

First of all, it would be nice if people would wait to post versus threads until AFTER they have received all decisions AND merit awards.

Secondly, do not base your decision on "international law rankings." That's absurd. All of these schools will have great international law curriculums, while none of them (with possible exception of HYS) will give you an edge in an international law field, to the extent that these jobs even exist...

Finally, to be helpful in some way, at this point given 30k at Mich vs. hypothetical nothing at Berkeley, if you want California --> Berkeley. Anywhere else ---> Michigan.

And TI Malice's entire big post above is credited.

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Crowing
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Crowing » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:17 pm

Ti Malice wrote:
matt66dc wrote:Considering that I don't yet have offers from any of these schools, do you have an opinion on Michigan vs Berkeley?


I would go with Berkeley, myself. (As you can see in my profile, I applied to Berkeley but not to Michigan.) It commands tremendous respect in CA, is at least Michigan's equal elsewhere, and I would much prefer living in the Bay Area to Ann Arbor. Michigan's lack of a home market is a significant negative for me.

But a large part of the decision will hinge on your final scholarship offers from these schools.


I agree with Ti - Michigan's stats have suffered considerably over the past couple of years; speculation says it's due to its lack of a home market. But at equal cost I would definitely choose Berkeley because it has better employment outcomes and is just a nicer place to be for 3 years.

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Rahviveh
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Rahviveh » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:19 pm

matt66dc wrote:Thanks for the insight Malice, but no I did not apply to NYU or Chicago. Mainly because I picked a certain number of T14 schools that interested me the most, and to be honest I couldn't afford anymore app fees from schools that didn't offer me waivers.


This was a huge mistake. You could be missing out on big scholarship offers that can be used as leverage for M and B. See if you can apply now if its not too late.

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Redamon1
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Redamon1 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:29 pm

I go to Berkeley and I'm interested in international law. So there's my bias. That said, a few points to consider:

* Both are good schools and I agree with others that the quality of education you receive will be equivalent, so don't sweat over that. Berkeley has excellent offerings in international law, but Michigan likely does as well. FWIW, you can take international law as a 4-credit class your first year.

* Regarding the geographical location of grads, let me emphasize what Ti Malice said: Michigan places more widely geographically because grads have no sunny California to stay in. And I can confirm that a lot of people at Berkeley just decide to stay. I realize it sounds like a suspicious argument but consider that (1) the region IS amazing and even people like me who moved from the East Coast find it super appealing after three years (2) people who do decide to leave CA generally do just fine: large alumni networks in the big cities in the East, and for example I found a summer gig in one of said cities with no difficulty (as have many others) (3) other top schools similarly place most of their grads in the city in which they are located, but we don't infer that their degree is not transportable e.g. Stanford, Columbia, NYU to name a few.

* In light of this, I would say if you want to work in CA, Berkeley has a clear edge. If you want to work elsewhere, the degrees are probably equivalent; I don't think Michigan has a particular edge.

* If you want to work overseas (if you manage to break into international law), consider the UC Berkeley brand is much more widely known than Michigan. Having lived overseas, I knew this going in and this was a factor in my decision.

* Money matters of course. Wait and see how much you can get from each school. Be sure to apply to Berkeley's matching program.

Good luck!

09042014
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby 09042014 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:39 pm

Why aren't you taking the foreign service test? You are smart, so you should dominate. Foreign policy isn't created by law, it's created by diplomats.

Ramsey
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Ramsey » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:41 am

Redamon1 wrote:* If you want to work overseas (if you manage to break into international law), consider the UC Berkeley brand is much more widely known than Michigan. Having lived overseas, I knew this going in and this was a factor in my decision.


This.

If you are sure about international law, name certainly matters. I live overseas, and I was surprised that pretty much everyone (including a number of diplomats, P2-P4 level staff at major international organizations, and "international" lawyers) told me to go to Georgetown when I told them about my acceptance to Michigan, Northwestern and Georgetown.

I really hope that you followed the advice given above and applied to NYU. If international law is what you really want to go into, only Harvard can beat NYU in terms of lay prestige and relevant networking opportunities.

matt66dc
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby matt66dc » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:10 pm

Thanks for the great input everyone. To answer a few questions, yes I did push through an application to NYU so we'll see where that goes.

Jamesdean yes I realize stressing over this choice now may seem ridiculous considering that an acceptance from HYS could change everything. However, I have a unique situation in that I am confined to a wheelchair and will require a significant amount of planning ahead in order to figure out things like accessible living, transportation, and in-home care. Because of this I am trying to get the best idea possible of where I'm going to be in the fall.

I forget who asked but yes I did apply to Penn but haven't heard back. I submitted my apps to Penn and HYS all in the last week of November and haven't heard back so I'm expecting some decisions soon. I wasn't a super strong applicant because I took the LSAT 3 times. I struggled with using a scribe with such a short time frame (not able to physically write on my own.) Another reason of why I am not expecting many more acceptance letters and imagine that Berkeley vs Michigan will be my final choice

Redamon1 what is Berkeley's matching program?

Upon thinking more and reading these responses, I think Berkeley is the right choice for me if I can make the move happen

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:58 pm

Redamon1 wrote:* If you want to work overseas (if you manage to break into international law), consider the UC Berkeley brand is much more widely known than Michigan. Having lived overseas, I knew this going in and this was a factor in my decision.

For some disciplines, perhaps, but the people who actually make legal hiring decisions (even internationally) are rarely familiar with Berkeley but not Michigan.

JamesDean1955 wrote:Secondly, do not base your decision on "international law rankings." That's absurd. All of these schools will have great international law curriculums, while none of them (with possible exception of HYS) will give you an edge in an international law field, to the extent that these jobs even exist...

Agreed entirely on the "international law rankings" bit. As far as an edge in an international law field, I think Michigan's Geneva program is actually head and shoulders above anything else any other T14 has in terms of giving you an opportunity to network. Sure, you can always do a summer externship or try to set up a 2L/3L semester-long externship, but Michigan has standing placements where the school has guaranteed slots with some of the leadings IOs and NGOs in Geneva.

The difficulty of landing these types of positions, even as an intern, certainly should not be understated for American applicants. For somebody with OP's background who may have the sort of credentials these organizations would be looking for, this could actually be an enormous advantage.

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Redamon1
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Redamon1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:11 pm

^ Here's info about Berkeley's DC campus (another good option for IOs and international jobs) and field placement program that would allow you to go to Geneva or elsewhere:

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/14921.htm

Here's the matching scholarship program, through which you can submit your Michigan grant:

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/6957.htm

Ti Malice
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:27 pm

Hey OP, I'm glad to hear you threw NYU an app.

By the way, did you include an LSAT addendum about having to use a scribe? I'm sure it was noted on your LSAC file, but it would be worth mentioning that you felt this was a disadvantage, given the time pressure. LSAT addenda almost never help, but I think your situation constitutes an exception.

Someone else will have to give you advice on the best strategy for the matching program, but it might be a good idea to wait a bit so you can see what your other options are and possibly use those to get Michigan to offer you more money. Then you could apply for the match. On the other hand, it might be better to get that in sooner rather than later. It would be a good idea to ask for advice on the Berkeley thread in the "Ask a Law Student" forum.

Best of luck to you.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:37 pm

Redamon1 wrote:^ Here's info about Berkeley's DC campus (another good option for IOs and international jobs) and field placement program that would allow you to go to Geneva or elsewhere:

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/14921.htm

Sorry, but this program is nothing like Michigan's Geneva program. This is merely a program that lets you do externships for credit at outside organizations - every law school offers that.

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Redamon1
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby Redamon1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:36 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:
Redamon1 wrote:^ Here's info about Berkeley's DC campus (another good option for IOs and international jobs) and field placement program that would allow you to go to Geneva or elsewhere:

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/14921.htm

Sorry, but this program is nothing like Michigan's Geneva program. This is merely a program that lets you do externships for credit at outside organizations - every law school offers that.


I didn't say it was the same. I'm giving OP resources to let him/her know that there are ways to work at IOs during the school year or summer in Geneva or in DC from Berkeley as well. And no, every law school does not have an annex in DC.

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UnamSanctam
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby UnamSanctam » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:58 pm

If you're heavily biased toward warmer climates, then I'm not sure why you think NY and to a lesser extent DC are viable places (especially since the DC market is near impossible to break into). If you know that you want to end up in California, you should go to BOALT. If you have never been to California I would strongly consider getting out there and making an evaluation.

You have no ties in California unless I've read your post wrong. That means if you strike out with employment there (and by extension in other markets) you could still end up using your Michigan connections to get back home. On the other hand, going to Michigan will cement your resolve (in employers' minds) to stay in the state if you're unable to get a job elsewhere. So Michigan is the safe choice for you, and BOALT is the riskier one. Take your pick.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:05 pm

Redamon1 wrote:
FlightoftheEarls wrote:
Redamon1 wrote:^ Here's info about Berkeley's DC campus (another good option for IOs and international jobs) and field placement program that would allow you to go to Geneva or elsewhere:

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/14921.htm

Sorry, but this program is nothing like Michigan's Geneva program. This is merely a program that lets you do externships for credit at outside organizations - every law school offers that.


I didn't say it was the same. I'm giving OP resources to let him/her know that there are ways to work at IOs during the school year or summer in Geneva or in DC from Berkeley as well. And no, every law school does not have an annex in DC.

Fair enough - I read that as being implicit in your post by describing it as "another good option for IOs and international jobs".

If Berkeley has standing placements where positions are reserved for its students at IOs in D.C., then that could be a similarly valuable program for OP (although I would think working in Geneva may be preferable for OP's interests given the community's exclusively international focus). From the website, however, it looks like the students still have to secure their placements and, apart from the seminar aspect, I'm not entirely sure how this differs from a regular externship program in terms of how it would help OP have access to these organizations, regardless of whether Berkeley has a multi-purpose building in D.C.

matt66dc
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby matt66dc » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:12 pm

Are there a lot of big law jobs to be had in California?

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star fox
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Re: Michigan vs Berkeley

Postby star fox » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:25 pm

matt66dc wrote:Are there a lot of big law jobs to be had in California?


Sorta, California is huge but the state is bankrupt and terrible for businesses in general.




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