heartbreaker wrote:For what it's worth, I regret choosing YLS over the Hamilton at Columbia all the time. I acknowledge that I have done well in large part due to professor connections and other opportunities at YLS (I have two clerkships in very competitive courts). But I was very unhappy at YLS and I resent the albatross of debt.
Having been out of school for a few years, I now think that a lot of the YLS advantage is self-perpetuating. People at YLS are extremely ambitious, talented and successful. They would still be ambitious, talented and successful somewhere else. The Hamilton scholars I know have all done very well and are clerking on the same courts I am and practicing in the same fields that I am interested in. I have no way of knowing if I would have done as well professionally at Columbia as I did at Yale, but I am fairly certain that I would have been much happier.
If you have these choices, you will do well wherever you go. Try to make a decision based on more than theoretical advantages for unicorn job opportunities. Learn more about the culture of the schools, the curriculum, what it is really like to be a student there. YLS is a great law school, but it is not right for everyone.
To offer a contrasting opinion: I have mixed feelings about YLS, and there are a lot of things that I absolutely despise about the professorate and administration, but ultimately I'm happy that I made the decision to attend school there over a full scholarship at Columbia. This is because I learned, after enrolling in law school, that I'm not very good at issue-spotter exams. I don't write quickly enough to be at the top of the class and I tend to analyze issues for depth instead of breadth (or so I tell myself). I killed the LSAT and I did fine in undergrad across a breadth of subjects, so my mediocrity at this skill isn't something I would have predicted before law school. Speaking with fellow YLS students, this is more common than one might think.
Despite being easily in the bottom quarter of YLS students at taking exams, I managed to score a job at an elite firm that I'm very happy with (think W+C, Munger, Wachtell, Susman) and a very good COA clerkship. Sure, I would probably have invested more time and energy into exam studying and strategy at another school, but I seriously doubt that I would have the same opportunities if I had taken the scholarship money.
This is something to seriously consider when you're choosing between the schools. Law school exams are different, and you just might not be that great at them.