H v. T10 for appellate lit

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What should DetroitRed choose?

HLS (~150-175k debt at graduation)
37
28%
Columbia (~100k debt at graduation - Butler)
4
3%
Duke (0 debt at graduation - Mordecai)
84
64%
UVA (~45k debt at graduation)
7
5%
 
Total votes: 132

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DetroitRed
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H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby DetroitRed » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:31 am

I know there are a lot of threads addressing similar topics, but my goals and questions are slightly different from what I've seen.

After law school I want to practice appellate litigation at a top D.C. firm like W&C, Covington, or WH. These types of jobs require top grades, generally from top schools, and generally also a clerkship or two. Failing that, I want to do some sort of firm litigation. I really don't want generic transactional Biglaw. So, given this goal, which of the following options makes the most sense:

1. HLS (~150-175k debt at graduation)
2. Columbia (~100k debt at graduation - Butler)
3. Duke (0 debt at graduation - Mordecai)
4. UVA (~45k debt at graduation)

(Note: I haven't heard about aid from Chicago. A Ruby would effectively end this dilemma.)

My decision boils down to two questions:

(1) Performance: Would it be appreciably easier to get top grades at a place like Duke vs. Harvard? I imagine it would, but people say that 1L performance is so unpredictable that this might not be a fair assumption.

(2) Long-term benefits of HLS: I understand that HLS definitely has an advantage at OCI, but how strong is the HLS advantage after that? Is the alumni network/name recognition really worth an additional 50-175k? I feel like accelerating pace of globalization will make HLS's name more valuable in the future, but I really don't know.

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smaug
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby smaug » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:56 am

I feel like you need someone from H to talk about how common your outcomes are, but you're aiming really high.

In order to get a job at a top D.C. firm doing appellate lit, you're going to need a clerkship. Although that's more likely to happen at Harvard than at Duke, I still don't know whether spending 150k+ on the chance that you'll get a clerkship and end up at Covington is worth it.

It's good to have goals. Goals give you something to strive for. But, I think you need to make peace with the fact that, just as a matter of odds, you're unlikely to end up at W&C/Cov/WH D.C. out of any of these schools. They're superlative outcomes.

So, before you decide to go to law school at all, I think you should also ask yourself "am I OK doing biglaw lit other than appellate work for a top D.C. firm?" If that's unpalatable to you, maybe you shouldn't go to law school at all.

Just something to consider.

badaboom61
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby badaboom61 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:58 am

The difference between a typical Duke admit and a typical Harvard admit is having to piss during the wrong section of the LSAT. (That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much). I wouldn't count on getting better grades at Duke.

For a top DC appellate shop, and the federal clerkship that you will almost certainly need to get into their appellate group, Harvard gives you a distinctly better chance than Duke. It's far from 100%, but if I were to pull numbers out of my ass it's probably a difference of 20-25% vs 5-10%. You have a very high chance of getting into a lit group at a NY biglaw firm from either school. If you're content with that goal, then it's Duke by a landslide.

Is the greater chance at your dream job worth $175k in non-dischargeable debt? I would say "No, it's not," but it wouldn't be an irrational choice to take H.

I'd rule out Columbia and UVA. I also don't think that the Harvard name will take you anywhere that Duke won't, holding job outcome equal. This is especially true if you stay in the South.

LSCHI
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby LSCHI » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:02 am

badaboom61 wrote:The difference between a typical Duke admit and a typical Harvard admit is having to piss during the wrong section of the LSAT. (That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much). I wouldn't count on getting better grades at Duke.

For a top DC appellate shop, and the federal clerkship that you will almost certainly need to get into their appellate group, Harvard gives you a distinctly better chance than Duke. It's far from 100%, but if I were to pull numbers out of my ass it's probably a difference of 20-25% vs 5-10%. You have a very high chance of getting into a lit group at a NY biglaw firm from either school. If you're content with that goal, then it's Duke by a landslide.

Is the greater chance at your dream job worth $175k in non-dischargeable debt? I would say "No, it's not," but it wouldn't be an irrational choice to take H.

I'd rule out Columbia and UVA. I also don't think that the Harvard name will take you anywhere that Duke won't, holding job outcome equal. This is especially true if you stay in the South.

Haha, that is EXACTLY what happened to me... I took the LSAT for the first time and had to pee during one of the sections and I missed 8 questions during that section. I got into Duke with that score. I retook it and managed my fluid intake and got into HLS with that score.

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baal hadad
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby baal hadad » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:02 am

Take Duke and reevaluate your unicorn employment goals

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nothingtosee
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby nothingtosee » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:04 am

Serious question:

How can you possibly know you want to do appellate litigation?

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DetroitRed
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby DetroitRed » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:04 am

Jason Taverner wrote:I feel like you need someone from H to talk about how common your outcomes are, but you're aiming really high.

In order to get a job at a top D.C. firm doing appellate lit, you're going to need a clerkship. Although that's more likely to happen at Harvard than at Duke, I still don't know whether spending 150k+ on the chance that you'll get a clerkship and end up at Covington is worth it.

It's good to have goals. Goals give you something to strive for. But, I think you need to make peace with the fact that, just as a matter of odds, you're unlikely to end up at W&C/Cov/WH D.C. out of any of these schools. They're superlative outcomes.

So, before you decide to go to law school at all, I think you should also ask yourself "am I OK doing biglaw lit other than appellate work for a top D.C. firm?" If that's unpalatable to you, maybe you shouldn't go to law school at all.

Just something to consider.


I totally acknowledge that my lofty goals are likely not going to pan out. My general questions (esp. #2) still stand.

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DetroitRed
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby DetroitRed » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:06 am

nothingtosee wrote:Serious question:

How can you possibly know you want to do appellate litigation?


I've talked to lawyers in the field and it seems interesting.

Not sure what sort of response you expect given my 0L status.

mvp99
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby mvp99 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:10 am

DetroitRed wrote:
nothingtosee wrote:Serious question:

How can you possibly know you want to do appellate litigation?


I've talked to lawyers in the field and it seems interesting.

Not sure what sort of response you expect given my 0L status.


Exactly. So take the path with less debt.

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Winston1984
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Winston1984 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:12 am

baal hadad wrote:Take Duke and reevaluate your unicorn employment goals

I'd second this. I can't imagine graduating debt free from Duke. That's one of the best outcomes you could get.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:17 am

DetroitRed wrote:
nothingtosee wrote:Serious question:

How can you possibly know you want to do appellate litigation?


I've talked to lawyers in the field and it seems interesting.

Not sure what sort of response you expect given my 0L status.

So based on this you'd pay me at least 175k right now if I could promise you a first year job at Covington?

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DetroitRed
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby DetroitRed » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:22 am

mvp99 wrote:
DetroitRed wrote:
nothingtosee wrote:Serious question:

How can you possibly know you want to do appellate litigation?


I've talked to lawyers in the field and it seems interesting.

Not sure what sort of response you expect given my 0L status.


Exactly. So take the path with less debt.


I'm not sure what you're saying "exactly" to. Just because I'm not in law school doesn't mean that I can't meaningfully discriminate between different employment outcomes and the more/less plausible routes by which I might reach my preferred employment outcome.

Moreover, I don't think a year, or two, or even three of law school would give me a significantly better understanding of the different types of legal employment or the likelihood of obtaining them. I mean, I'd be able to talk to current law students and alumni. Oh wait, that's what I'm doing already.

timbs4339
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby timbs4339 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:22 am

I was an appellate clerk on a SSC for two years. Aside from being a law professor being a clerk on a court of last resort is the purest form of law you can get into. It was fun, but by the end of it I was tearing my hair out to get on a doc review or write a motion to compel.

I'm not saying turn down H- it definitely has better placement into elite clerkships and DC lit firms, but "sounds interesting" isn't really a great justification to spend 175K. I wonder if you're more interested in the perceived prestige of the practice area than the actual work. At almost any large firm's lit department, if you are put on the right cases you can help out on the appeal or you can do pro bono appeals where you'll actually get to write the brief instead of doing legal research for midlevels/seniors.

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DetroitRed
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby DetroitRed » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:26 am

timbs4339 wrote:I was an appellate clerk on a SSC for two years. Aside from being a law professor being on a court of last resort is the purest form of law you can get into. It was fun, but by the end of it I was tearing my hair out to get on a doc review or write a motion to compel.

I'm not saying turn down H- it definitely has better placement into elite clerkships and DC lit firms, but "sounds interesting" isn't really a great justification to spend 175K. I wonder if you're more interested in the perceived prestige of the practice area than the actual work. At almost any large firm's lit department, if you are put on the right cases you can help out on the appeal or you can do pro bono appeals where you'll actually get to write the brief instead of doing legal research for midlevels/seniors.


My reasons are actually more sound than "sounds interesting." I just didn't want to submit these reasons to the (generally derisory) TLS crowd for fear of derailing the thread.

timbs4339
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby timbs4339 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:32 am

DetroitRed wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:I was an appellate clerk on a SSC for two years. Aside from being a law professor being on a court of last resort is the purest form of law you can get into. It was fun, but by the end of it I was tearing my hair out to get on a doc review or write a motion to compel.

I'm not saying turn down H- it definitely has better placement into elite clerkships and DC lit firms, but "sounds interesting" isn't really a great justification to spend 175K. I wonder if you're more interested in the perceived prestige of the practice area than the actual work. At almost any large firm's lit department, if you are put on the right cases you can help out on the appeal or you can do pro bono appeals where you'll actually get to write the brief instead of doing legal research for midlevels/seniors.


My reasons are actually more sound than "sounds interesting." I just didn't want to submit these reasons to the (generally derisory) TLS crowd for fear of derailing the thread.


FWIW, I don't think you can really go wrong with HLS here. You'll just have a lot less fun for the first few years of your career while you're sending 70% or more of your income to the government in loan payments and taxes. If that's worth it for a reasonably higher chance at a COA clerkship (FYI not just any clerkship is going to get you elite DC appellate work) then that's up to you.

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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby omegaweapon » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:41 am

LSCHI wrote:
badaboom61 wrote:The difference between a typical Duke admit and a typical Harvard admit is having to piss during the wrong section of the LSAT. (That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much). I wouldn't count on getting better grades at Duke.

For a top DC appellate shop, and the federal clerkship that you will almost certainly need to get into their appellate group, Harvard gives you a distinctly better chance than Duke. It's far from 100%, but if I were to pull numbers out of my ass it's probably a difference of 20-25% vs 5-10%. You have a very high chance of getting into a lit group at a NY biglaw firm from either school. If you're content with that goal, then it's Duke by a landslide.

Is the greater chance at your dream job worth $175k in non-dischargeable debt? I would say "No, it's not," but it wouldn't be an irrational choice to take H.

I'd rule out Columbia and UVA. I also don't think that the Harvard name will take you anywhere that Duke won't, holding job outcome equal. This is especially true if you stay in the South.

Haha, that is EXACTLY what happened to me... I took the LSAT for the first time and had to pee during one of the sections and I missed 8 questions during that section. I got into Duke with that score. I retook it and managed my fluid intake and got into HLS with that score.


Yale admits drink their own urine though stillsuits of their own design. The rest can't compete.

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Dog
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Dog » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:42 am

I had to choose between a chance at H and lower t14 $$$ through the NU ED not long ago. I feel kind of similar to you, although my chances at H were not great and my career goals are different. If both options panned out I would have been looking at ~150k debt at H vs. 0 debt at NU.

I decided no debt would be the better option, as it is quantifiable and very significant whereas better employment would have only been a possibility.

You're already staring H in the face and have more unicorn like goals than me. If I had not applied ED and got dinged by H, it could have cost me 50k in scholarship money, so my decision clearly wasn't the same. That said, good luck. Both are good options.

Also, I imagine it's at least somewhat easier to get higher grades at Duke. People on full rides outperform median on average even though TLS likes to pretend they don't. Whether that should impact your decision to any meaningful degree is another question.

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Pneumonia
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Pneumonia » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:56 am

The potential for doing better class rank wise should be a non-factor in this decision

Sure, people on full rides outperform median on average. But even if you ignore the "aggregation" fallacy and assume that you'd be top 10% at Duke, it's a real safe bet that you'd be top 10% at Harvard as well.

Also, are your parents paying for all of your living expenses? Its significantly cheaper to live in Durham than it is to live in Cambridge. Either way, make sure your debt calculations include cost of living loans if you're going to need them. They really add up.

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Dog
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Dog » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:12 pm

There's nothing fallacious about adding relevant info in predicting class rank. An estimate that uses relevant info such as GPA and LSAT will be more accurate than one that just assumes median for everyone. While the difference in students at Duke and H might not seem significant, median students and top 20% students at a school may not seem significantly different either. Small advantages help.

Also, being top 10% at Duke does not make you a "real safe bet" at top 10% at Harvard, especially if you're towards the bottom of that 10%.

If you factor something like 10% increased employment odds into your decision, it's not absurd to consider small class rank advantages. What if easier class rank cancels out 5% of that advantage? That's 50%. That's huge.

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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby suppy183 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:21 pm

Dog wrote:
People on full rides outperform median on average even though TLS likes to pretend they don't. Whether that should impact your decision to any meaningful degree is another question.


Hopefully this won't derail the thread too much, but I was curious what you were basing this off of. Or do you just mean that combined LSAT/uGPA has something like .4 correlation with 1L GPA, and thus, on average, those with full rides will be likely be better off than those without?

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nothingtosee
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby nothingtosee » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:23 pm

My point about appellate lit is that you don't know if you enjoy something until you do it.
Maybe you'll like bankruptcy, maybe you'll like capital markets. You can't know until you've done it.

My guess is that you like the sound of appellate lit because 1) you understand what it is and 2) it feels SCOTUS-y.

I mean, obviously you don't love teaching, otherwise you'd have kept teaching. But going in, I bet you thought you were going to want to stay in education for your career. Making another life decision based upon a job you might not like (H) versus a really great opportunity to have the flexibility to not feel constrained (Duke) might not be right.

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Dog
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby Dog » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:27 pm

suppy183 wrote:
Dog wrote:
People on full rides outperform median on average even though TLS likes to pretend they don't. Whether that should impact your decision to any meaningful degree is another question.


Hopefully this won't derail the thread too much, but I was curious what you were basing this off of. Or do you just mean that combined LSAT/uGPA has something like .4 correlation with 1L GPA, and thus, on average, those with full rides will be likely be better off than those without?


Yeah its not so much based off of a big data set about full ride students as it is off of LSAT/uGPA correlation. At schools with stips, it can be seen in scholarship retention rates. Of course, I'm still talking about averages here.

suppy183
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby suppy183 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:31 pm

Dog wrote:
suppy183 wrote:
Dog wrote:
People on full rides outperform median on average even though TLS likes to pretend they don't. Whether that should impact your decision to any meaningful degree is another question.


Hopefully this won't derail the thread too much, but I was curious what you were basing this off of. Or do you just mean that combined LSAT/uGPA has something like .4 correlation with 1L GPA, and thus, on average, those with full rides will be likely be better off than those without?


Yeah its not so much based off of a big data set about full ride students as it is off of LSAT/uGPA correlation. At schools with stips, it can be seen in scholarship retention rates. Of course, I'm still talking about averages here.


Got it. I thought maybe there was some secret data specifically on full rides out there that I wasn't aware of, which would have been pretty exciting.

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052220152
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby 052220152 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:35 pm

Go to Duke because it's free. I have no idea why you'd even entertain any other options.

kaiser
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Re: H v. T10 for appellate lit

Postby kaiser » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:41 pm

In your circumstances, I would have picked Duke yesterday. Easy choice. Enjoy going to a T10 school with zero debt, you lucky bastard. You are gonna have great career prospects, and career/financial flexibility that you will thank your lucky stars for years down the line.
Last edited by kaiser on Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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