Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

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

Where should I go?

Chicago ($125k total COA)
17
16%
Northwestern ($0 COA)
92
84%
 
Total votes: 109

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:23 am

I'm debating Northwestern for free or Chicago for $125k COA. I received $210k at NU and $75k at UC. The debt numbers won't appear to make sense because I'm tallying both mine and my wife's cost of living, her annual stipend for her own school, and I'll be using some fellowship money in addition to scholarships. I also had a Dillard at UVA, Darrow at Mich, and a few other scholarships I used as leverage (For non-negotiable reasons I will attend a school in Chicago, fyi). I have renegotiated w/ both of these schools. For all the details visit my LSN page (http://lawschoolnumbers.com/floridacoastalorbust). The TL;DR is

1) Gunning for Chicago biglaw, where I plan to spend no more than 3 years (all other markets are not possible, due to wife starting a 5-year PhD in Chicago this year)
2) Will eventually transition to public interest litigation, of which I have sufficient ties that will negate any prestige between UC/NU
3) Interested in clerking, and academia if I win law school. Here UC will obviously confer a much greater advantage.
4) I think there could be a part of me that regrets not going to UC a decade or two down the road, for a few reasons (clerkships, academia, prestige). Assuming a modest average salary of $100k over the course of my 40-year lawyering career, I'll make about $4 million pre-tax and before any investments. Perhaps the $125k difference seems negligible with that in mind.
5) Wife will enter a sector after obtaining PhD where she'll average $100k/yr.

-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships.
Northwestern COA - Approximately $-21,119 (I'll end up being able to net about $21k)
U Chicago COA - Approximately $126,500 before interest on a standard 10 year repayment plan.

-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
A combination of a fellowship, scholarships, wife's stipend, and savings, including a hypothetical $15,000 from 2L SA

-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
From Denver, now work (and have serious ties) in DC, but it is essential to work in Chicago after graduation. Wife is born and raised Chicago, and I'll be staying there for the long haul, so Chicago ties shouldn't be an issue.

-Your general career goals
Short term career goals are biglaw for 3 years (must be in Chicago). After that I plan on doing litigation in a small public interest shop that specializes in 1st/5th/14th amendment stuff. I plan on transitioning into a legal career in politics in my late thirties. Dream scenario is clerkship->biglaw->academia->politics.

I have sufficient connections in the arcane political areas where I hope to eventually practice that make the prestige difference between UC and NU a moot point (small political firms that care far less about prestige than demonstrated interest and connections, which I have throughout undergrad and 3 years post-grad) Also, I expect to have sufficient connections to get an interesting job (starting at about $80k/yr) if I am below median after law school graduation. I sound like I'm ahead of myself in terms of estimating my career chances but don't have the time or energy to justify my confidence here.

-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
169 and above a 3.9

-How many times you have taken the LSAT
Four (cancel, 166, 169, cancel). Retaking is off the table.

Thanks!
Last edited by FloridaCoastalorbust on Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:06 am, edited 4 times in total.

KangarooCourt13
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby KangarooCourt13 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:25 am

This isn't a debate. Go Northwestern.

Also, while I wish you the best of luck, never bank on 2L SA money. Anything can happen.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:31 am

Is there any argument in support of Chicago ? The answer is clearly Northwestern.

Nevertheless, it's an interesting post. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations !

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ILoveYou
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby ILoveYou » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:34 am

Gotta be NU here man! Congrats!

arklaw13
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby arklaw13 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:40 am

I've read posts arguing that NU students have a easier time staying in Chicago than UC students because firms assume you went to UC because it's a T6, but among the various schools in the DCNG range, if you picked NU you must want Chicago. I don't know whether that's really true or not, but whatever. Go to NU.

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Clemenceau
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Clemenceau » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:46 am

You're a veteran around here. You know the right answer

Congrats on a fantastic outcome

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Mal Reynolds » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:46 am

arklaw13 wrote:I've read posts arguing that NU students have a easier time staying in Chicago than UC students because firms assume you went to UC because it's a T6, but among the various schools in the DCNG range, if you picked NU you must want Chicago. I don't know whether that's really true or not, but whatever. Go to NU.


This is wrong, but you should still go to NU.

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AreJay711
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:59 am

Chicago is clearly better for your goals, but you need to make a realistic assessment. Other than Chicago biglaw, none of them are likely enough to turn down money for.

1) Clerkship -- Chicago is better for clerkships. If you want academia though, you are going to need to shoot for a COA deal. There are like eight 7th Circuit judges in Chicago. Some of them are only going to be available if you are at the very tip-top of your class, even from UChi. If you were willing to clerk somewhere else, then maybe Chicago would give you an edge that's worth money. Since you aren't, it's not.

2) Academia -- You recognize that you need to win law school to get this. The thing is, if you win at NU and are able to get a Chicago COA clerkship, NU isn't going to hold you back. What you are going to need to do is publish shit.

3) Public interest -- I don't think it's Chicago's prestige that makes it better for public interest, but rather the connections it has with the public interest community. But you say you have your own connections, so the difference doesn't matter.

4) Biglaw -- This is a reasonable outcome from either school. The thing is, you won't need biglaw to come out financially ahead from NU. You'll be $125k ahead already. Taking a job at $80k, the biglaw job is only bringing in 50k more after taxes in year one. Assuming all that goes to loans, after 3 years, the biglaw person is only up $32k + bonuses. I doubt expenses would be equal though. Would you really deal with a longer commute for 3 years if you could afford to drop the extra $? You might as well buy your wife a new car instead of replacing the transmission, right?

5) Politics -- An extra $125k (assuming you make biglaw and bank the difference you would have paid in loans) would do a lot to help a fledgling political career.

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:12 am

AreJay711 wrote:Chicago is clearly better for your goals, but you need to make a realistic assessment. Other than Chicago biglaw, none of them are likely enough to turn down money for.

1) Clerkship -- Chicago is better for clerkships. If you want academia though, you are going to need to shoot for a COA deal. There are like eight 7th Circuit judges in Chicago. Some of them are only going to be available if you are at the very tip-top of your class, even from UChi. If you were willing to clerk somewhere else, then maybe Chicago would give you an edge that's worth money. Since you aren't, it's not.

2) Academia -- You recognize that you need to win law school to get this. The thing is, if you win at NU and are able to get a Chicago COA clerkship, NU isn't going to hold you back. What you are going to need to do is publish shit.

3) Public interest -- I don't think it's Chicago's prestige that makes it better for public interest, but rather the connections it has with the public interest community. But you say you have your own connections, so the difference doesn't matter.

4) Biglaw -- This is a reasonable outcome from either school. The thing is, you won't need biglaw to come out financially ahead from NU. You'll be $125k ahead already. Taking a job at $80k, the biglaw job is only bringing in 50k more after taxes in year one. Assuming all that goes to loans, after 3 years, the biglaw person is only up $32k + bonuses. I doubt expenses would be equal though. Would you really deal with a longer commute for 3 years if you could afford to drop the extra $? You might as well buy your wife a new car instead of replacing the transmission, right?

5) Politics -- An extra $125k (assuming you make biglaw and bank the difference you would have paid in loans) would do a lot to help a fledgling political career.


Great analysis. Thanks for your comments. FWIW I could do a 1-year COA clerkship in a different region than Illinois, so perhaps that would change your calculus. Also, I'm planning on biglaw even if attending NU so I can amass a mini war chest heading into my thirties.

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Mack.Hambleton
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:00 pm

NW

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Hand
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Hand » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:04 pm

Whether you'll achieve what you're hoping for (viz., politics, academia - big law should be attainable either way) is going to depend so much more on how and what you do in and after school than on whether you go to NW or Chi, so I'd pocket that 125k if I were you. Good job on getting them to offer you that much with those #s btw.

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transferror
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby transferror » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:11 pm

You clearly don't need TLS, but "NU" b/c you asked and for the reasons AreJay stated.

Sounds like you are winning at life, so congrats.

BigZuck
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby BigZuck » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:18 pm

Northwestern seems like the right answer here.

Enjoy UChicago

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:18 pm

BigZuck wrote:Northwestern seems like the right answer here.

Enjoy UChicago


lol

BigZuck
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby BigZuck » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:19 pm

FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Northwestern seems like the right answer here.

Enjoy UChicago


lol

I mean, we might as well all be honest with each other here, right?

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:23 pm

BigZuck wrote:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Northwestern seems like the right answer here.

Enjoy UChicago


lol

I mean, we might as well all be honest with each other here, right?


Of course. Your humor tells me you've done well in law school. Srs.

ilikebaseball
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby ilikebaseball » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:24 pm

This person has been here too long on tls for this shit

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Hand
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Hand » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:25 pm

ilikebaseball wrote:This person has been here too long on tls for this shit


I only now see this 2011 join date; what happened, OP?

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:27 pm

Hand wrote:
ilikebaseball wrote:This person has been here too long on tls for this shit


I only now see this 2011 join date; what happened, OP?


Was deposited at UVA back in 2011, then took a job for 3 years. Now headed to law school.

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Hand
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Hand » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:29 pm

FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
Hand wrote:
ilikebaseball wrote:This person has been here too long on tls for this shit


I only now see this 2011 join date; what happened, OP?


Was deposited at UVA back in 2011, then took a job for 3 years. Now headed to law school.


Well, make that decision count, and take those $$. Do it for all of us.

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:32 pm

Hand wrote:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote:
Hand wrote:
ilikebaseball wrote:This person has been here too long on tls for this shit


I only now see this 2011 join date; what happened, OP?


Was deposited at UVA back in 2011, then took a job for 3 years. Now headed to law school.


Well, make that decision count, and take those $$. Do it for all of us.


I'm so glad I entered the workforce. I was gonna go to UVA w/ only a $45k scholarship back in the day.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:00 pm

I'm actually going to go against the grain here and say UChicago. I'm a high risk/high reward kinda girl, and while this risk would probably be too steep to my mind if you didn't have a soft place to fall, it sounds like you do.

Between this:

FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: 3) Interested in clerking, and academia if I win law school. Here UC will obviously confer a much greater advantage.


this:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: 5) Wife has a few strong investments, so I won't ever be eating rice and beans if I really screw things up. Wife also will enter a sector after obtaining PhD where she'll average $100k/yr.


and this:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: Also, I expect to have sufficient connections to get an interesting job (starting at about $80k/yr) if I am below median after law school graduation. I sound like I'm ahead of myself in terms of estimating my career chances but don't have the time or energy to justify my confidence here.


it sounds like going $125k into debt isn't the enormous risk for you that it would be for other people. You have fallback funds. You'll probably have a job that will at the very least keep you afloat while you pay back loans. And you're interested in clerking/academia, for which UChicago will clearly provide better opportunities. I say go for it.

jd20132013
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby jd20132013 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:26 pm

Hand wrote: you. Good job on getting them to offer you that much with those #s btw.



Lmao this is so bitter

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Hand
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Hand » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:27 pm

jd20132013 wrote:
Hand wrote: you. Good job on getting them to offer you that much with those #s btw.



Lmao this is so bitter


not bitter at all; I'm impressed

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Mack.Hambleton
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Re: Given my goals, Chicago ($125k COA) or Northwestern (free)

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:29 pm

Other25BeforeYou wrote:I'm actually going to go against the grain here and say UChicago. I'm a high risk/high reward kinda girl, and while this risk would probably be too steep to my mind if you didn't have a soft place to fall, it sounds like you do.

Between this:

FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: 3) Interested in clerking, and academia if I win law school. Here UC will obviously confer a much greater advantage.


this:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: 5) Wife has a few strong investments, so I won't ever be eating rice and beans if I really screw things up. Wife also will enter a sector after obtaining PhD where she'll average $100k/yr.


and this:
FloridaCoastalorbust wrote: Also, I expect to have sufficient connections to get an interesting job (starting at about $80k/yr) if I am below median after law school graduation. I sound like I'm ahead of myself in terms of estimating my career chances but don't have the time or energy to justify my confidence here.


it sounds like going $125k into debt isn't the enormous risk for you that it would be for other people. You have fallback funds. You'll probably have a job that will at the very least keep you afloat while you pay back loans. And you're interested in clerking/academia, for which UChicago will clearly provide better opportunities. I say go for it.


~5 percent clerkship increase is worth 125k?

If we were talking about HYS maybe this could work but not with chicago




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