SLS v HLS

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rosen
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SLS v HLS

Postby rosen » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:21 am

Hi all, I am completely stuck between SLS and HLS. I want to choose a law school based on the people who will be there and the opportunities to get involved in activities beyond academics. I know that my earning potential/professors/opportunities will be basically the same at both great schools.

I have the impression that SLS students are more laid back than HLS students; anyone know if this is true?

SLS seems to be stuck in a suburb, with not much to do outside of Stanford itself. Are there cool things to do in the area? Cambridge has tons of cool restaurants, places to dance, drink, shows to go to, etc. Does Stanford have any of this within 30 minutes (no car).

Since SLS is so small, do students tend to bond together and spend a lot of time together? Do HLS students bond, or, since so many have been out of school for a while, do they go their separate ways after classes?

I'd really appreciate any thoughts!

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RunnerRunner
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby RunnerRunner » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:27 am

rosen wrote:Do HLS students bond, or, since so many have been out of school for a while, do they go their separate ways after classes?


I've got a friend at HLS who says students there are very close actually. She says everyone bonds with their 1L section and you keep those friends throughout your time there. It's a huge school so you wouldn't know everyone well, but you'd still have a group to socialize with.

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nothingtosee
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby nothingtosee » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:31 am

If you want to be super social at HLS you can live in the dorms and have friends around 24/7. If you want to go out as much as possible, you'll find those people early on (going out a lot at either school can start to get pricy but it is what it is).

hdunlop
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby hdunlop » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:47 am

If you can at all afford to visit both, do it. The vibes are immediate and obvious at each.

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Mack.Hambleton
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:56 am

COA at both?

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LoganCouture
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby LoganCouture » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:11 pm

rosen wrote:SLS seems to be stuck in a suburb, with not much to do outside of Stanford itself. Are there cool things to do in the area? Cambridge has tons of cool restaurants, places to dance, drink, shows to go to, etc. Does Stanford have any of this within 30 minutes (no car).


No, but Caltrain is close to campus and you can head to SF pretty easily. There are also plenty of zipcars on campus so I'd recommend getting a membership if you're not bringing a car. There are students who bike everywhere (and campus is well suited for biking) but everything is kind of spread out and a car makes things more convenient (particularly since most campus buses don't run on the weekends).

Palo Alto is pretty much generic suburbia, although 5x more expensive.

CanadianWolf
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:30 pm

My first impression was that the original post in this thread was an ad for Harvard Law School; then I thought that to be ridiculous as HLS doesn't need to advertise. Is Stanford dominating the yield for students who are admitted to both schools ?
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

abl
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby abl » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:35 pm

What do you want to do post-law school? Not all job opportunities are equivalent out of the two schools.

Edit: but to second an earlier post, the best way to get a sense of students and culture at the two schools is to visit. There are obviously friendly folks at both places and lots of great ways to get involved both in and out of the classroom, but the two schools have very different vibes and cultures. People here can abstract the differences down to things like "Cali is more chill" until they're blue in the face, but until you actually go to the respective schools, it's going to be hard for you to know which school vibe or area YOU prefer.

Regarding Palo Alto, it's a pretty wealthy suburban town with a big downtown and an amazing location, and, although it has just about everything you'll need to make your life comfortable, it doesn't have a whole lot of character (although I don't, lots of other people really dig it). Then again, I've never really liked Cambridge either, which I've generally found to be the wrong combination of gritty, touristy, and undergrad-heavy (but lots of other people really like Cambridge too). The Bay Area, however, is pretty incredible, and is easily accessible via a zipcar from SLS (and SF, which is also great, is fairly accessible via public transit). Personally, I'd probably give Cambridge a slight edge over Palo Alto, but I'd give the Bay Area/SF a huge edge over Boston/the surrounding area of Mass (and this would overall push me into the Palo Alto/Bay Area camp). This, too, will be a pretty personal decision.

I think you'll also find that the vast majority of SLS students own their own cars, so even if you do not, getting to some of the better things to do in the area will generally not be difficult -- you'll just catch a ride with your friends when you all go together: I suspect that you're not going to frequently want to hit Napa or Tahoe or Half Moon Bay by yourself (and if you do, you can just get a zipcar for the day). I wouldn't let not owning a car (and therefore having a slight obstacle standing between you and the rest of the Bay Area) be the deciding factor -- because I think you'll find that it'll have a pretty negligible impact on your exploration of the surrounding area.
Last edited by abl on Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

albpert
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby albpert » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:48 pm

lc39 wrote:
rosen wrote:Palo Alto is pretty much generic suburbia, although 5x more expensive.


Having grown up in a generic suburbia, I'm gonna have to disagree w/ this. Generic suburbs aren't a 25 minute train ride from one of the world's best cities, they don't house, arguably, the top university in the country, they aren't an hour from the snow, or a half hour from the beach, they don't have the equivalent of a University Ave (could be a good or bad thing lol), and they definitely don't have a free public transportation bus system. Generic suburbs are a minimum 15 minute drive before the closest...anything.

Palo Alto certainly isn't CA's culture capital, but it's not as lame as people claim. Hit the library, make friends, and hop on that hedonic treadmill (whether at H or S).

FSK
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby FSK » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:51 pm

You have no idea what an actual suburb is, haha. 25 minutes to the discount shopping mall is my suburb's idea of fun.

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LoganCouture
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby LoganCouture » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:59 pm

albpert wrote:
lc39 wrote:
rosen wrote:Palo Alto is pretty much generic suburbia, although 5x more expensive.


Having grown up in a generic suburbia, I'm gonna have to disagree w/ this. Generic suburbs aren't a 25 minute train ride from one of the world's best cities, they don't house, arguably, the top university in the country, they aren't an hour from the snow, or a half hour from the beach, they don't have the equivalent of a University Ave (could be a good or bad thing lol), and they definitely don't have a free public transportation bus system. Generic suburbs are a minimum 15 minute drive before the closest...anything.

Palo Alto certainly isn't CA's culture capital, but it's not as lame as people claim. Hit the library, make friends, and hop on that hedonic treadmill (whether at H or S).


I was definitely being hyperbolic but just warning OP that PA is really not great. However, I grew up in generic suburbia in CA and there's a reason I'm trying to stay in the Bay. I still think PA is preferable to the suburbs I grew up in.

Train ride - it's 39 minutes if you're on a bullet. Otherwise it's more like 45-50 minutes. SF is the GOAT though, and I love Stanford more than most (been living here for 5 years now).

What snow are you getting to in an hour? If it's Tahoe you want, that's more like...3-4 hours. But the beaches/nature stuff in general around the area are great. Half Moon Bay is like 30 mins away, Santa Cruz is ~45 mins.

I was just being up front with OP that most things are a bit of a trek (which they will hopefully see if they visit) and a car is definitely preferred because as awesome as the Marguerite is, you're not getting to most of these things (e.g. snow, beaches) on public transit alone. AFAIK Margy takes us from campus, to shopping or Caltrain, and back. And weekends only the SE runs, no?

Instinctive
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby Instinctive » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:12 pm

Palo Alto is awesome. It just depends on what you are looking for. Suburbs are my jam, and here there are some really cool places to eat (way more cultural options than, say, many midwest suburbs). People split Ubers to and from bar review every week, anything you actually need is within walking or biking distance...and downtown is a neat place to walk around.


Whatever above poster said 25 minutes to SF is nuts. Bullet is about 45, and normal train is around an hour. But you can drink on the caltrain (if you're going with a group for an event, for example) and there are places to plug in phones/laptops if you're alone.


I'll echo the need to visit, although I did not when making my decision (I really disliked the vibe at HLS and HBS). One thing I would say is that the energy and attitude is very different. To me it feels kind of like the difference between "Old money" and "New money." Neither is better or worse as a general rule, but it depends on your upbringing and what you like.


You might also consider what it is that you want to do after law school...for a career, location, etc. The two schools have some very different (dis)advantages there.

albpert
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby albpert » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:17 pm

Instinctive wrote:Whatever above poster said 25 minutes to SF is nuts. Bullet is about 45, and normal train is around an hour.


My bad, feels like 25 minutes with a 40oz in hand.

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MistakenGenius
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rpupkin
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:05 pm

MistakenGenius wrote: It's nicer than most cities but there are way cooler cities just in the US, let alone the world.

Strong words for a guy who lives in New Haven.

Let's see your list, dude. You can limit it to all the "way cooler cities" in the US.

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abl
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby abl » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:18 pm

MistakenGenius wrote:
albpert wrote:
lc39 wrote:
rosen wrote:Palo Alto is pretty much generic suburbia, although 5x more expensive.


Having grown up in a generic suburbia, I'm gonna have to disagree w/ this. Generic suburbs aren't a 25 minute train ride from one of the world's best cities, they don't house, arguably, the top university in the country, they aren't an hour from the snow, or a half hour from the beach, they don't have the equivalent of a University Ave (could be a good or bad thing lol), and they definitely don't have a free public transportation bus system. Generic suburbs are a minimum 15 minute drive before the closest...anything.

Palo Alto certainly isn't CA's culture capital, but it's not as lame as people claim. Hit the library, make friends, and hop on that hedonic treadmill (whether at H or S).


So much is wrong with this statement. Let's ignore the fact that I question your sanity for saying that San Francisco is one of the "world's best cities". It's nicer than most cities but there are way cooler cities just in the US, let alone the world. You can take a baby bullet train to get there in about 45 minutes, but every other train is an hour (either 53 or 63 minutes depending on the train). Meanwhile, you can take the train from Cambridge to Boston (an incomparably better city) in 19 minutes. Also, while it's a fantastic school, only California homers would have the audacity to say Stanford is even arguably the top university in the country. At the same time, we're talking about it against Harvard, which is the indisputable top university system in the world (and most people know I'm not a Harvard homer by any means). Every single suburban college town I've ever encountered has a free bus system, so that argument is invalid as well. I do grant that Stanford has very easy access to some extremely beautiful beaches (though most are not the best for swimming), and is about an hour and a half to the mountains and snow. And I know you didn't make this argument, but no one can argue that Palo Alto isn't insanely expensive. You're going to pay far more for virtually anything than you would in Cambridge.

OP, both schools can be very tight-knit. Harvard is very tight-knit if you want it to be, especially if you stay in the dorms (Also, to be fair to Stanford, I will say that I've heard Munger is awesome). I've also heard the rumor that Stanford is more laid-back, and there might be some truth to it since the East Coast attitude is more high-strung, achievement-focused than the West Coast chill personality. However, every school is going to have both gunners and laid back people. You don't get into a T14 not being serious about your studies and competitive. I would not make this decision based on student culture, since they'll be very similar and culture in law school is what you make of it.

Instead, I would compare cost of attendance and what you actually want to do. While they are both very good schools, they have different strengths. I would say Harvard wins out against Stanford for most legal fields, primarily because its large size allows it to do well in virtually every field while Stanford's small size and smaller endowment holds it back. Perhaps that is why Harvard has a higher yield rate and generally wins more cross-admits. However, Stanford does place noticeably better in clerkships if you really want to do one, and they are likely even better than Yale for IP law. Someone else can probably speak to this, but I believe they are also the best for environmental law if that's your interest. And of course, as you can tell by albpert, Stanford enjoys a wonderful reputation out west while Harvard (a truly national school), wins in the East (that famous East Coast bias)

But the bottom line is that they are both excellent schools, and you really can't go wrong with either. Visit both and see what you think. When I was choosing schools, I enjoyed both schools and their respective cities, and I would have been happy either way, I just chose to go another way. While I'm sure you'll enjoy both, maybe you'll like one a little bit more.


No. So much bad in here. Are you a troll?

First, having spent a significant amount of time in both cities, I absolutely disagree that (1) Boston > SF, or that (2) most people would say that Boston > SF. My sense, as an east-coaster, is that most folks who have had the chance to spend a real amount of time in both cities prefer SF. Obviously you'll have homers in both places, and this will be a very personal judgment (they are certainly very DIFFERENT cities), but you can't just make the conclusory statement that Boston is incomparably better than SF. I've spent equal parts in my life living similar distances from both cities, am culturally an east coaster, and have a strong preference for SF.

Second, I don't think it's a controversial point to say that Stanford's arguably the best university in the country. I'd be surprised if it wasn't in the top three or five by just about any meaningful metric (and #1 by many). This is like arguing whether Cambridge or Oxford is better. Without a doubt, Stanford and Harvard are two of the best--if not the two best--universities in the world. Your implication that only Harvard is a "truly national school" is ridiculous. Harvard may well have a slight edge in total university quality. Or Stanford may. I think it's pretty well-accepted that they're pretty neck and neck.

Third, nobody is arguing that only Stanford has some tight-knit groups. The fact that both schools will have SOME gunners and SOME laid back people is not a reason to disregard school culture--which is very, very different. Besides geography (both have advantages and disadvantages) and school size (same), I can't think of a better way to choose between the two schools than school culture--at least assuming the same COAs and no particular program interest (for example, clerkships or advanced degrees weigh in favor of Stanford, politics weighs in favor of Harvard).

Fourth, this idea that Harvard "wins out against Stanford in most legal fields" is, well, wrong (and the idea that Stanford's "small size and small endowment [<--???} holds it back" is ridiculous). Most of the numbers I've seen show Stanford with an edge in "most legal fields"--and clerkship placement, probably the best way to really differentiate the tippy-top schools, show SLS has a clear edge over Harvard.

Fifth, Harvard's yield is a function of its size: it shares far more cross admits with lower-ranked schools, and therefore is impacted much more minimally by folks choosing Yale/Stanford than Stanford is by folks choosing Yale/Harvard. At least several years ago, when I last spoke with admissions deans at both schools, I was told that the Harvard/Stanford cross-admit split was something like 45-55 (Harvard-Stanford). Do you have any indication that this has flipped?

mono172000
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby mono172000 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:29 pm

Grappled with the same choice last year, so I figured I'd provide my thoughts. On the whole, Stanford students seemed much happier, or at least Stanford had done a much better job of forcing them to drink the koolaid. Students were effusive about their experience at the school and seemed genuinely perplexed when I pushed them on things I didn't like about the school (overly west-coast focus, narrow course selection, suburban campus, etc.). While it sometimes felt a little over the top, I did ultimately come away feeling like they had a strong, tight-knit community of students who were about as happy as you can be going to law school. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the grades. Maybe it's the size of the school. Who knows? But those students seemed really really happy.

Harvard didn't feel that way. Not that there weren't happy students, but folks were definitely more willing to give "real talk" about the school's draw backs. For every student I met who was super passionate about their Harvard experience, there was another who was simply "meh" on the whole thing. Overall, students seemed to feel like Harvard was a great place, but at the end of the day, just a law school. You find some friends that you like, some coursework you enjoy, and you make the most of a great opportunity. But it's certainly no Disneyland.

Despite that difference, I chose Harvard, for a few reasons:

* The burbs: Tried to go out drinking on a Sunday night in Palo Alto, and struggled way more than I would have liked. Almost failed completely. Places don't stay open late and getting to downtown was really difficult without a car. I know law school shouldn't be about Sunday night boozing, but coming from a big city I like having the option of taking a friend out for a drink at 11 on a Sunday if someone comes to visit.

* Narrower course selection at Stanford: Harvard has every course and clinic you could ever want and more. If you suffer from intellectual ADD, Harvard will feel like ToysRus (or potentially just really overwhelming). Stanford felt a lot more constrained with the law courses that were available to you. Fewer cool clinics (IMO), fewer cool seminars, fewer luminary professors (again, IMO). Interested in politics? Harvard's got it. Poverty Law? Harvard's got it. Health care, urban policy, water law, real estate, consumer protection, sports law, roman law, telecom, ed policy, foreign policy..you name it, Harvard had it in spades.

* Extracurricular options were narrower at Stanford: Fewer cool speakers came for lunches (unless you're a tech person, then Stanford was pretty cool), fewer cool clubs, etc. Obviously this is what you get when you go to a smaller school. And you could argue that Stanford has more cool things per capita than Harvard. But regardless, if you're looking to explore some narrow aspect of the law, Harvard will probably have a course, a clinic, and a club that can scratch that itch, while Stanford might not have anything formal for you.

* West-coast focus: I think the west coast is awesome, and I get why people go out there and never want to leave. But if you do want to leave, it may be tough leaving over half of your graduating class on the west coast. Furthermore, if you want to come east of the Mississippi, outside of NY and DC, Stanford's alumni network and brand is greatly reduced. Stanford people don't really work in the SE of the United States, or the Rust Belt, or a lot of places in New England (maybe with the exception of Boston, but given that we're comparing it to Harvard I'm not sure how much that matters).

Couple other points:

* SF vs. Boston: I didn't get the sense that this debate mattered that much, to be honest. Most of the Stanford students I met said they almost never made it to SF. Pretty much everyone said that while you may make the trip a few times a semester, you'd better get comfortable being in Palo Alto, because that's where you're going to spend most of your time. And Palo Alto is NOT SF.

* Jobs: I only met a handful of people at both schools. But it did seem like the Stanford students felt much more comfortable from a job perspective. Multiple 1L SA's, multiple cool non-legal jobs (met a surprising amount of people going to MBB consulting), ridiculous amount of clerkships. Not really the case at Harvard. Obviously plenty of people there were doing very very well, but I was surprised by how many people I spoke with were nervous. Maybe it's it's just a cultural thing (it's not like I met anyone who had struck out at Harvard), but people there seemed a little more on edge.

Obviously this is all my opinion, but it may be valuable for someone who doesn't have the opportunity to get out to visit both campuses.

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rpupkin
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:35 pm

MistakenGenius wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
MistakenGenius wrote: It's nicer than most cities but there are way cooler cities just in the US, let alone the world.

Strong words for a guy who lives in New Haven.

Let's see your list, dude. You can limit it all the "way cooler cities" in the US.


First of all, I don't see how my city is relevant to the discussion. I wasn't comparing New Haven to San Francisco, since I'd prefer SF to it.
[ . . .]

All right, I realize this is subjective, but my favorite city in the US is Charleston, SC. Other cities I'd put ahead of San Francisco (which is still a nice place and would be in my top 10) are Chicago, Boston, Houston, and DC. I'd probably have SF next, though I'm also a big fan of New Orleans, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

Dude, I was joking about New Haven. I of course assume you are there for YLS, not for the city.

And, yeah, this is highly subjective. As a working adult (i.e., not a student), I lived for years each in Chicago, DC, and San Francisco. Although I like aspects of all three cities, the idea that someone would put either Chicago or DC ahead of San Francisco seems absolutely bonkers. To each his own, I suppose.

albpert
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby albpert » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:41 pm

MistakenGenius wrote:Boston (an incomparably better city).


Lololololol

MistakenGenius wrote:Stanford's small size and smaller endowment can hold it back.


See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/education/americas-it-school-look-west-harvard.html?pagewanted=all

hdunlop
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby hdunlop » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:50 pm

Houston over SF. Blatant trolling.

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goldenflash19
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby goldenflash19 » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:31 am

LOL at Boston being incomparably better than SF, or Houston even being mentioned in the same post as SF...

OP, as others have stated, you should visit both and consider the schools in relation to your personal goals, including where you want to work after school. For me, I wanted to work on the West Coast after school, and that was the biggest factor in my decision. Personally, I think SLS does tend to a lot attract less gunners and prestige whores (though there will be those everywhere), prefer jogging outside in January to freezing my ass off in a polar vortex, like a laid-back culture that realizes that there's more to life than bottom-lines, think SF is the greatest city in the world, and shiver at the thought of anything related to NYC- and this all pointed towards S.

In all likelihood, you're going to get a great job out of either and make a lot of friends. The schools are really different, and you should visit them both to find out which one suits you better and is best for your goals.

Good luck!

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whippersnappery
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby whippersnappery » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:20 am

They're both excellent and you can't go wrong. That said, I also made the same decision last year, and chose SLS, so I thought I'd share my two cents. Hope it helps!

First, and I think another poster mentioned this, SLS students are just so much happier. There's a very real sense of "you're here, so you're off the treadmill." Since there are only 180 in a class, pretty much everyone who wants a particular kind of job can get it, even if you were the very absolute bottom of the class. Second, there definitely is a more laid-back vibe here-- people take their work very seriously and everyone works hard, but they don't take themselves seriously, which I think is absolutely ket.

Another major consideration for me was less internal competition. For example, if you want to do Law Review, there are roughly the same number of spots available at either HLS or SLS, but WAY fewer students competing for it at SLS. If you want to run for a Board position for a student organization, again, you're way more likely to get it. The classes are generally smaller so you can get to know your professors better/you have more chances for one-on-ones in office hours, etc. I think that pretty much extends to everything.

Finally, try to go to both school's ASWs. I found them incredibly helpful both in getting a better sense of the schools and also in thinking about comparing them.

Edit: About going into San Fran/Palo Alto being boring: (1) A lot of 3Ls live in SF, so if you want to get out of PA you can pretty easily by then, (2) you'll be pretty busy as a 1L wherever you go, (3) I go into SF about once every other week, and go hiking/to Tahoe/wine tasting in Napa/etc. pretty regularly. It's totally doable. Also, the fact that it's ridiculously nice out all the time makes it way easier to plan trips, as in you can say "oh this weekend I'll go to the beach" on Monday, knowing with reasonable certainty that it will be good beach weather on Saturday, and you won't have to reschedule. It makes it WAY easier to get out and do stuff.

Fred Norris
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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby Fred Norris » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:45 am

I'm facing the same decision. First, in addition to the above NY Times article, there has been a ton of coverage elsewhere. It most certainly seems like the future is out west. There is a consistent trend weighing in Stanford's favor. To see things otherwise, we'd have to assume that this is just a very long fluke.

Aside from the prestige factor, I do have some personal anecdotes backed by data.

EVERY professor that I have reached out to at SLS has gotten back to me personally within 2 hours. My hit rate at HLS is about 50/50. I've had some excellent communication with Harvard Professors (including a 2 page e-mail on HLS vs. SLS), but I've also been bounced off to a secretary/assistant or simply ignored. I understand that professors are super busy, and in NO WAY do I feel entitled to a modicum of their time, but obviously it is nice to know how accessible SLS professors are.

The above sentiment is backed by Princeton Review's student polls. Stanford beats out HY and is in the top 10 for Best Professors, Best and Classroom Experience (it's first).

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog ... iews-.html

I'd have to dig up the full stats, but I am willing to bet that for any QOL/Quality of education metric, S beats out HY.

For more data on professor accessibility:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog ... eview.html

In terms of the Harvard advantage, I don't think anyone would deny that Harvard probably has the advantage if you want to practice in Augusta. My hunch is things are changing.

In terms of overall prospects, I find it hard to believe that while SLS very slightly outperforms Harvard in Supreme Court clerkships, Harvard would nonetheless beat out SLS elsewhere.

I think any reasonable employer would recognize that the decision between HYS boils down to personal preference, not qualification.

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Re: SLS v HLS

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:29 am

abl wrote:
MistakenGenius wrote:
So much is wrong with this statement. Let's ignore the fact that I question your sanity for saying that San Francisco is one of the "world's best cities". It's nicer than most cities but there are way cooler cities just in the US, let alone the world. You can take a baby bullet train to get there in about 45 minutes, but every other train is an hour (either 53 or 63 minutes depending on the train). Meanwhile, you can take the train from Cambridge to Boston (an incomparably better city) in 19 minutes. Also, while it's a fantastic school, only California homers would have the audacity to say Stanford is even arguably the top university in the country. At the same time, we're talking about it against Harvard, which is the indisputable top university system in the world (and most people know I'm not a Harvard homer by any means). Every single suburban college town I've ever encountered has a free bus system, so that argument is invalid as well. I do grant that Stanford has very easy access to some extremely beautiful beaches (though most are not the best for swimming), and is about an hour and a half to the mountains and snow. And I know you didn't make this argument, but no one can argue that Palo Alto isn't insanely expensive. You're going to pay far more for virtually anything than you would in Cambridge.

OP, both schools can be very tight-knit. Harvard is very tight-knit if you want it to be, especially if you stay in the dorms (Also, to be fair to Stanford, I will say that I've heard Munger is awesome). I've also heard the rumor that Stanford is more laid-back, and there might be some truth to it since the East Coast attitude is more high-strung, achievement-focused than the West Coast chill personality. However, every school is going to have both gunners and laid back people. You don't get into a T14 not being serious about your studies and competitive. I would not make this decision based on student culture, since they'll be very similar and culture in law school is what you make of it.

Instead, I would compare cost of attendance and what you actually want to do. While they are both very good schools, they have different strengths. I would say Harvard wins out against Stanford for most legal fields, primarily because its large size allows it to do well in virtually every field while Stanford's small size and smaller endowment holds it back. Perhaps that is why Harvard has a higher yield rate and generally wins more cross-admits. However, Stanford does place noticeably better in clerkships if you really want to do one, and they are likely even better than Yale for IP law. Someone else can probably speak to this, but I believe they are also the best for environmental law if that's your interest. And of course, as you can tell by albpert, Stanford enjoys a wonderful reputation out west while Harvard (a truly national school), wins in the East (that famous East Coast bias)

But the bottom line is that they are both excellent schools, and you really can't go wrong with either. Visit both and see what you think. When I was choosing schools, I enjoyed both schools and their respective cities, and I would have been happy either way, I just chose to go another way. While I'm sure you'll enjoy both, maybe you'll like one a little bit more.


No. So much bad in here. Are you a troll?

First, having spent a significant amount of time in both cities, I absolutely disagree that (1) Boston > SF, or that (2) most people would say that Boston > SF. My sense, as an east-coaster, is that most folks who have had the chance to spend a real amount of time in both cities prefer SF. Obviously you'll have homers in both places, and this will be a very personal judgment (they are certainly very DIFFERENT cities), but you can't just make the conclusory statement that Boston is incomparably better than SF. I've spent equal parts in my life living similar distances from both cities, am culturally an east coaster, and have a strong preference for SF.

Second, I don't think it's a controversial point to say that Stanford's arguably the best university in the country. I'd be surprised if it wasn't in the top three or five by just about any meaningful metric (and #1 by many). This is like arguing whether Cambridge or Oxford is better. Without a doubt, Stanford and Harvard are two of the best--if not the two best--universities in the world. Your implication that only Harvard is a "truly national school" is ridiculous. Harvard may well have a slight edge in total university quality. Or Stanford may. I think it's pretty well-accepted that they're pretty neck and neck.

Third, nobody is arguing that only Stanford has some tight-knit groups. The fact that both schools will have SOME gunners and SOME laid back people is not a reason to disregard school culture--which is very, very different. Besides geography (both have advantages and disadvantages) and school size (same), I can't think of a better way to choose between the two schools than school culture--at least assuming the same COAs and no particular program interest (for example, clerkships or advanced degrees weigh in favor of Stanford, politics weighs in favor of Harvard).

Fourth, this idea that Harvard "wins out against Stanford in most legal fields" is, well, wrong (and the idea that Stanford's "small size and small endowment [<--???} holds it back" is ridiculous). Most of the numbers I've seen show Stanford with an edge in "most legal fields"--and clerkship placement, probably the best way to really differentiate the tippy-top schools, show SLS has a clear edge over Harvard.

Fifth, Harvard's yield is a function of its size: it shares far more cross admits with lower-ranked schools, and therefore is impacted much more minimally by folks choosing Yale/Stanford than Stanford is by folks choosing Yale/Harvard. At least several years ago, when I last spoke with admissions deans at both schools, I was told that the Harvard/Stanford cross-admit split was something like 45-55 (Harvard-Stanford). Do you have any indication that this has flipped?


Fully endorse abl on this one.

MG just has troll-like personal preferences. For 90% of americans, SF >>>> Boston in quality of life. All the university comparison fluff is garbage - these are all "great universities." No one takes that kind of rhetoric seriously.

The most important QoL factor distinguishing the locations is weather. Stanford crushes hands down: new england weather is utterly awful (SoCal still beats the bay area, but hey). And the major two distinguishing features between the law schools are a) class size and b) clerkship rate. Stanford takes the cake on both, and not by a small margin. In fact, the delta in percentage of students clerking directly after graduation at SLS over those at HLS is significantly greater than HLS over other top schools e.g. chicago. Sure, there are reasons to go to Harvard over Stanford, but not nearly as many as the reverse.




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