Life Decision...need some help on this one

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

What should I do?

UVA ($59-$80k debt)
20
24%
Chicago ($78k-$105k debt)
35
41%
Duke/NU ($38k-$63k debt)
9
11%
Columbia ($130-$165k debt)
5
6%
Stay at current job and forget law school
16
19%
 
Total votes: 85

firstimer
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:22 pm

Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby firstimer » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:33 am

Here's the deal...

Current situation: I work in finance / accounting at a large company in NYC making a great salary (little over $100k, though cost of living is pretty high as well). Boss is nice and I work 60-65 hours per week, but I definitely can't see myself doing this long-term, and job security is not good. I have a degree from a strong undergrad business school.

Interests: I've done a fair amount of research and I want to make the switch to a legal career. I believe I would most enjoy a career in public interest (legal aid, prosecution, JAG in particular), but would be fine working in biglaw / midlaw firms for a little bit to gain firm experience. If you asked me what my ideal career would be, it would be a judge. Would love to get a clerkship, but understand that these are extremely difficult (and no HYS for me).

Geographic Interest: From MD / PA originally and would like to live on the East Coast long-term, preferably not NYC region, Boston, or south of Atlanta.

Fallback plan: If I completely strike out everywhere, I could get a CPA by taking about 4-5 more classes on the side in law school (I come from an accounting background), and return to the accounting world. As I've said before, this might be naive of me (given that I'll have a three-year gap on my resume, though I imagine knowledge of tax law would have some benefit in certain accounting jobs). I also have more savings that I'm not using for law school as well as a healthy (for now) retirement account, so I won't be completely broke.

School: The school options are presented below (the range represents the best and worst case debt scenarios, depending on how much tuition goes up and earnings from side / summer jobs). I'm leaning toward UVA now, because it's in the region I want, has a good public interest network, has a relatively good cost, and I strongly prefer the campus life. Let me know if I'm completely off base here.

Thoughts? Advice? Btw, I made a previous thread just focusing on UVA (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=208364) (though my estimates at the time included higher starting tuition numbers). The reason I'm reposting is to make my opportunity costs and other options fully clear. Thanks in advance!

BigZuck
Posts: 10853
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby BigZuck » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:38 am

Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.

User avatar
TaipeiMort
Posts: 874
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:51 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby TaipeiMort » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:47 am

BigZuck wrote:Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.


This isn't right. Chicago at 50k more is worth the difference in employment prospects. The combined AIII and big law numbers have to be at least 20% higher.

PM2353
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:33 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby PM2353 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:48 am

I would say UVA or Duke. The debt load is very reasonable for both of those schools. And if you have savings when you get out of Law School then your in a pretty good position. You also have good work experience and accounting skills to fallback on.

I think more than the debt, your decision probably comes down to opportunity coast and if you want to spend 3 years in school. If you really want to practice law then I would say definitely go for it. But only for UVA/Duke/NU. The debt you would be carrying could be serviced quite comfortably assuming you get biglaw.


Edit: Didnt see Chicago, that is very reasonable as well. For me id go with in order Chicago UVA / Duke / NU.

OP
On a side note: Would you care if I pm you asking about how you scored a job like that in finance and some advice on the employment prospects? Im fresh out of undergrad with a finance major, Im still in the process of making my own law school decision.

BigZuck
Posts: 10853
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby BigZuck » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:58 am

TaipeiMort wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.


This isn't right. Chicago at 50k more is worth the difference in employment prospects. The combined AIII and big law numbers have to be at least 20% higher.


Fair enough, I think Chicago is more than reasonable. I guess I was thinking about him staying on the east coast but then I did say NU so I guess that doesn't make any sense.

I'm really debt averse and I love Duke so that's why I said I would do Duke but that's a great cost for an even better school in Chicago so if he's willing to live in the Midwest for three years then by all means do Chicago.

User avatar
untar614
Posts: 646
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:01 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby untar614 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:18 am

I'd say UVA. Chicago's Fed clerkships + biglaw is about 8% higher than UVA's, but UVA's is still over 60%. Always hard to speculate on this, but UVA has a particularly high PI rate, so there may be a good amount of self selection there too. Also, UVA has more placement in DC, which seems like the best place I can think of to meet OP's criteria, and he would already be nearby. Plus saving some money (hard to tell based on ranges, but this is assuming UVA is a decent chunk of change cheaper).

User avatar
SoberHobo
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:29 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby SoberHobo » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:21 am

So..... you haven't been admitted to any of these schools yet?

User avatar
romothesavior
Posts: 14772
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby romothesavior » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:44 am

TaipeiMort wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.


This isn't right. Chicago at 50k more is worth the difference in employment prospects. The combined AIII and big law numbers have to be at least 20% higher.

We have numbers for you to go and check this out.

According to LST, Chicago placed ~71% of their c/o 2012 into federal clerskhips + firms of 100 or more. UVA placed 63% and Duke placed 64%. Chicago does seem to place better into the truly big, higher-rated Vault firms. By using the NLJ 250 instead of firms of 100+, Chicago has about a 7% edge on Duke and about a 13% edge on UVA. But as has been discussed over and over on TLS, the NLJ 250 is a pretty flawed metric given the firm data that's missing.

There may be good reasons for these differences, nd Chicago is probably better at placing into the really elite firms and really elite clerkships. Chicago may be worth 50k+ more over Duke/UVA. But unsupported statements like "their biglaw placement must be 20% higher" really has no place in the discussion. It's not 2009 anymore. We've got really good data nowadays, we might as well consult it.

User avatar
Nelson
Posts: 2061
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Nelson » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:38 am

East Coast, not NYC, not Boston, doesn't leave you with many markets to work with. DC is brutally grades and prestige oriented so if that's where you're looking, Chicago seems to be the choice.

User avatar
untar614
Posts: 646
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:01 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby untar614 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:02 pm

Nelson wrote:East Coast, not NYC, not Boston, doesn't leave you with many markets to work with. DC is brutally grades and prestige oriented so if that's where you're looking, Chicago seems to be the choice.

UVA placed 22% in DC vs 7% from Chicago.

Of course we have no way of knowing how much self-selection was going on, and I don't know if there is a big difference in firm quality, but UVA did place much more in DC. Duke placed almsot twice as much %-wise in DC as Chicago did as well.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby NoodleyOne » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:07 pm

romothesavior wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.


This isn't right. Chicago at 50k more is worth the difference in employment prospects. The combined AIII and big law numbers have to be at least 20% higher.

We have numbers for you to go and check this out.

According to LST, Chicago placed ~71% of their c/o 2012 into federal clerskhips + firms of 100 or more. UVA placed 63% and Duke placed 64%. Chicago does seem to place better into the truly big, higher-rated Vault firms. By using the NLJ 250 instead of firms of 100+, Chicago has about a 7% edge on Duke and about a 13% edge on UVA. But as has been discussed over and over on TLS, the NLJ 250 is a pretty flawed metric given the firm data that's missing.

There may be good reasons for these differences, nd Chicago is probably better at placing into the really elite firms and really elite clerkships. Chicago may be worth 50k+ more over Duke/UVA. But unsupported statements like "their biglaw placement must be 20% higher" really has no place in the discussion. It's not 2009 anymore. We've got really good data nowadays, we might as well consult it.

Thank you. I was wondering about that 20% thing.

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby twenty » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:10 pm

None of these choices are bad. If you pick one based on "feel" alone, no one should come down on you. Even Columbia/not going are objectively good choices here.

That said, I think Chicago, UVA, and Duke are basically tied for best decision. If you're super debt adverse, Duke/UVA, if you're looking for the best options come 2L, Chicago.

Congratulations on your choices. :)

firstimer
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:22 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby firstimer » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:56 pm

Thank you for the thoughts. One last question: NYU just offered me 62.5K (75k with public interest). That would put total cost of attendance for NYU at $80k - $120k. I'm guessing this option loses to Chicago right?

Btw, UVA offered 75K and Chicago offered $60k, and with slightly higher cost of living, it comes to ~$20k over UVA.

This would be much easier if UVA just increased scholarship offers in response to other schools.

User avatar
Dany
Posts: 11580
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:00 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Dany » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:01 pm

A couple questions -

I'm not sure how getting a CPA works, but have you looked at the options at each school for taking classes outside the law schools? A lot of UChi law students take classes at the Booth School, and you can register for up to 12 hours (4 classes) for any grad-level class at UChicago, and those hours count toward graduation requirements, so you wouldn't really have to take the classes "on the side." I'm not familiar with how it works at the other schools, but it's definitely worth looking into, IMO.

Have you negotiated with UChicago? They are usually pretty open to negotiating, so it can't hurt to ask.
Last edited by Dany on Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Blessedassurance
Posts: 2081
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:42 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:01 pm

firstimer wrote:Thank you for the thoughts. One last question: NYU just offered me 62.5K (75k with public interest). That would put total cost of attendance for NYU at $80k - $120k.


this is incorrect. you're missing something from the total. the total should be at least 20k higher.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby NoodleyOne » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:02 pm

firstimer wrote:Thank you for the thoughts. One last question: NYU just offered me 62.5K (75k with public interest). That would put total cost of attendance for NYU at $80k - $120k. I'm guessing this option loses to Chicago right?

Btw, UVA offered 75K and Chicago offered $60k, and with slightly higher cost of living, it comes to ~$20k over UVA.

This would be much easier if UVA just increased scholarship offers in response to other schools.

You're telling me bro.

Still, I would say that Chicago is worth the difference. You have a better chance (like 8% based on CO 2012 data) of a "good outcome", and probably a better chance at good non-traditional outcomes too. I don't think either decision is BAD, but in your shoes I'd probably take Chicago.

User avatar
Blessedassurance
Posts: 2081
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:42 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:07 pm

re: the nyu numbers

http://www.law.nyu.edu/financialaid/bud ... /index.htm

this doesn't take yearly increases or interest into account.

User avatar
TaipeiMort
Posts: 874
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:51 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby TaipeiMort » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:59 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Enjoy your choice of Duke, NU, or UVA. If these were me I would do Duke.


This isn't right. Chicago at 50k more is worth the difference in employment prospects. The combined AIII and big law numbers have to be at least 20% higher.

We have numbers for you to go and check this out.

According to LST, Chicago placed ~71% of their c/o 2012 into federal clerskhips + firms of 100 or more. UVA placed 63% and Duke placed 64%. Chicago does seem to place better into the truly big, higher-rated Vault firms. By using the NLJ 250 instead of firms of 100+, Chicago has about a 7% edge on Duke and about a 13% edge on UVA. But as has been discussed over and over on TLS, the NLJ 250 is a pretty flawed metric given the firm data that's missing.

There may be good reasons for these differences, nd Chicago is probably better at placing into the really elite firms and really elite clerkships. Chicago may be worth 50k+ more over Duke/UVA. But unsupported statements like "their biglaw placement must be 20% higher" really has no place in the discussion. It's not 2009 anymore. We've got really good data nowadays, we might as well consult it.

Thank you. I was wondering about that 20% thing.


Thanks for the real data. In addition to this data, I would like to point out that roughly 15% of Chicago's class has other acceptable outcomes: 10% are JD/MBAs, JD/MPP or PhD Econ or MS who do business, policy, lobbying and other relevant outside the law field work, another 5% or so of JDs do management consulting, financial services, or direct in-house positions.

Big Dog
Posts: 1191
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:34 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Big Dog » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:12 pm

get the CPA. The quality of life is much better.

envisciguy
Posts: 311
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:15 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby envisciguy » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:18 pm

If you're truly interested in JAG work (and I have no idea how you would know that at this point, but I'll take your word for it) I'd point out that the JAG school is right next to UVA. UVA law students can take courses at the JAG school as well. I'm not sure how helpful this is for getting an actual JAG job, but it might be a benefit.

User avatar
moonman157
Posts: 1039
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:26 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby moonman157 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:24 pm

Just out of curiosity, how do people feel about factoring opportunity cost into the equation? These options at these prices are fantastic for someone who doesn't have a six-figure job as an alternative to law school, but I don't think that fact can be ignored (though neither should the lack of stability or high COL)

thelawdoctor
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:12 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby thelawdoctor » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:42 pm

For me it came down to this question:

Given the choice would you rather make more money being the assistant
or less money being the boss?


If you wouldn't be willing to take a pay cut to be the boss, then don't go to school to be one.

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9635
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:28 pm

Voted Chicago.

I wish I could go to UChicago with that little debt.

User avatar
Doorkeeper
Posts: 4872
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:25 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby Doorkeeper » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:03 pm

Duke/NU, UVA, and Chicago are all defensible here.

I would go Chicago for the better AIII + biglaw chances, but I would totally understand it if you want the lower debt figure.

Have you visited all of the campuses? Any preferences?

firstimer
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:22 pm

Re: Life Decision...need some help on this one

Postby firstimer » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:56 am

Doorkeeper wrote:Duke/NU, UVA, and Chicago are all defensible here.

I would go Chicago for the better AIII + biglaw chances, but I would totally understand it if you want the lower debt figure.

Have you visited all of the campuses? Any preferences?



Preferred UVA's campus pretty strongly, then Duke's, and then Chicago's. Looking at the stats, I'm not even sure why Duke is ranked so below UVA - it seems to outperform or perform in line with UVA on almost every employment metric.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest