Former Yalie here. My comments:
1) I'm a bit puzzled by the career path you're planning when juxtaposed with your professed interest in corporate work. DOJ is not the best in to top-level corporate firms for a 2L summer (probably something like SEC, if you really want government, or better yet a 1L summer at a big law firm with a corporate practice). Nor is a DC firm during 2L summer; the best corporate firms are all in NYC (Wachtell, S&C, Skadden, Cravath, Davis Polk, Simpson, Cleary). Even the ones who have DC offices have relatively small corporate practices, or practices that basically work on NYC deals remotely. The only DC firms that really have great corporate practices, off the top of my head, are Latham, Skadden, and Hogan. Nor does a federal clerkship make all that much sense, other than for the prestige value (admittedly something that a firm like Wachtell cares about to some extent, but plenty of YLS students go there without clerking).
2) Aside from the desire for government, why the attachment to DC? Is it for personal reasons, e.g., spouse or significant other who works there? And, if it is, why so insistent on clerking? You'll be going long distance for three years in law school, and then the reality is you'll have relatively little ability to control where you land a clerkship, and the more narrowly you apply (e.g., DC only), the higher the likelihood of striking out. D.C. Cir. clerkships are by far the hardest to get (and since Obama isn't getting any appointments through or even nominating as many as he could, it's the hardest it's been in a long while), and D.D.C. is no cakewalk either.
Those are comments unrelated to your school choice, however. There, the answer is quite simple. Go to Yale. If you want to work at Wachtell, it's easier to get there from YLS (there are usually more interviews than there are bids at FIP, and they will take you as long as your academic record is decent and you express a genuine interest for, and knowledge about, corporate work). If you want DC firms, which are more selective, it's easier from YLS. If you want federal clerkships, it's easier from YLS, even without close professor relationships (not that those will be easier to develop at HLS). I didn't have any, nor do most people who land clerkships.
edamame wrote:Hi, everyone. I'm currently struggling with this decision and wanted to ask for your input.
I'm interested in DOJ work after my 1L summer, wish to work with a D.C. firm during my 2L summer, and wish to have a federal clerkship after graduation.
I am very risk averse and do not want to strike out. That being said, I want to continue doing firm work after my clerkship and then perhaps transition to the government.
HLS downside: Huge, easy to get lost in the shuffle. I'll have to work really hard to get noticed before I can get professor recommendations. Conversation with OCS seemed like D.C. was a tough market to crack -- they told me I should network and rely on my ties. Also, Harvard Law Review is tougher to get than Yale Law Journal is.
YLS downside: New Haven -- haven't visited, but haven't heard good things. I'm K-JD from a state school (finance major), and I'm scared that there will be so many people that are much better at law, speaking with professors, getting ahead than I am. Also, I don't fit the typical YLS student mold. I'm interested in corporate work and intend to thrive off it if I can find a practice area that truly engages me.
Let me know what you think. I like COAP -- it's more generous (inherently) and has better provisions for children and child care. COAP and LIPP can be somewhat similar in how they treat spouses, depending on individual circumstances. (Yes, I have looked into these things on the behalf of Mr. Edamame aka my boyfriend).
Excited to hear your thoughts!