UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

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

UVA, Duke ($) or Michigan ($)?

UVA
6
23%
Duke
13
50%
Michigan
7
27%
 
Total votes: 26

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unicorntamer666
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UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:39 pm

-The schools you are considering

UVA, Duke, Michigan

-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships. Here is a helpful calculator.

These numbers estimate total cost incurred by me in the form of loans after scholarships and family contributions:
UVA: $70,000
Duke: $10,000
Michigan: $10,000

-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings

Tuition: Family
Living expenses: merit scholarships ($20k/year from both Duke and Michigan), or, in the case of UVA, loans.

-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)

I almost definitely want to work in NYC

-Your general career goals

Litigation; I do have a sense of what specific practice area, but so as not to self-identify, I'll simply say that I'm interested in practicing a type of law that I consider socially/politically beneficial and that pays a lower starting salary than big law. However I could be perfectly content working in big law, at least for a few years. Either way, I want to practice litigation at a firm, as opposed to anything technically classified as PI.

I'm also highly likely to want to clerk.

-Your LSAT/GPA numbers

169/3.6

-How many times you have taken the LSAT

2

The dilemma:

I think I prefer UVA, based primarily on a sense that it's a pretty pleasant place to spend three years. I'm slightly concerned about the relative conservatism of the faculty (most conservative in the country according to Leiter) and student body, but on the other hand the environment seems quite intellectual and friendly, and of these three schools it's the only one that strikes me as having a genuinely warm and collegial environment. Students and faculty at Michigan and Duke all seem equally nice and intelligent, but for some indefinable reason the schools felt more impersonal, less socially cohesive, and generally less enjoyable. It also seems that UVA may be gaining a *slight* edge in placement, selectivity, and prestige, but this may not be appreciated by anyone save law students who applied this cycle, so it's probably a non-factor. They do, however, seem to do slightly better in getting students clerkships, which is something I'm likely to be interested in.

I gather that the conventional wisdom on this forum would suggest Duke - but that may be on the assumption that all/most of CoA would be funded via loans. In my case there is less of a concern that the debt would be unmanageable in the long term, and more of a question of whether, in absolute terms, my preference for soft QoL factors at one school might be worth $60,000. Essentially, the question is, am I crazy to take on $70K rather than $10K in debt based on my vague sense that UVA might be a more enjoyable experience? I could also simply be wrong that it would be more enjoyable, as I am socially/culturally quite liberal and may in that sense be slightly out of place. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:49 pm

unicorntamer666 wrote:Essentially, the question is, am I crazy to take on $70K rather than $10K in debt based on my vague sense that UVA might be a more enjoyable experience?

Yeah, probably. By the way, all of the top schools, including UVA, are socially/culturally liberal. I don't think you should worry about feeling out of place as a liberal at any of the schools you are considering.

Anyway, your sense that UVA might be more enjoyable is vague; $60K of additional debt, on the other hand, is quite concrete. I'd say go with Michigan or Duke. For that choice, feel free to allow vague notions of culture and cohesiveness to influence your decision.

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swampman
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby swampman » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:50 pm

I love UVA, I think it's the greatest school in the world, and I don't think you would have any problem as a liberal here. But you would be insane to pay 60k more than Duke.

arklaw13
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby arklaw13 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:51 pm

For NYC biglaw Duke is tcr here

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:53 pm

arklaw13 wrote:For NYC biglaw Duke is tcr here

Note that the OP doesn't want NYC big law.

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swampman
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby swampman » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:01 pm

rpupkin wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:For NYC biglaw Duke is tcr here

Note that the OP doesn't want NYC big law.

What? OP wants to work in new york, practicing litigation at a firm -- realistically this is NYC big law. OP also wants to do socially/politically beneficial work while litigating at that firm, which I'm assuming means OP wants to keep investment bankers employed and well-fed.

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:33 pm

swampman wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:For NYC biglaw Duke is tcr here

Note that the OP doesn't want NYC big law.

What? OP wants to work in new york, practicing litigation at a firm -- realistically this is NYC big law. OP also wants to do socially/politically beneficial work while litigating at that firm, which I'm assuming means OP wants to keep investment bankers employed and well-fed.

That's not how I read it. Here's what the OP wrote:

"I'll simply say that I'm interested in practicing a type of law that I consider socially/politically beneficial and that pays a lower starting salary than big law."

I assume this means that the OP is interested in some sort of plaintiff-side work. Do you honestly think that Duke gives anyone an advantage over Michigan for this kind of thing in NYC?

arklaw13
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby arklaw13 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:53 pm

Keep reading:

"However I could be perfectly content working in big law, at least for a few years."

Since 90% of the first litigation jobs people get out of law school will be biglaw, it's safe to say that it makes sense for him to choose based on NYC biglaw placement vs. costs

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:55 pm

Thanks for all the responses so far!

rpupkin is more or less right. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I've pretty much concluded that no top law school is particularly connected to that field (probably in part because those jobs don't really exist as an option straight out of law school). It's not clear that Michigan's PI bent really crosses over into firm jobs - seems to be a pretty sharp PI/private sector dichotomy. So the relevance of that career preference is maybe less about placement prospects than about the possibility that *if* I could get one of those jobs straight out of school (unlikely), my salary might be $70-120k, such that even relatively little debt could become a bit unpleasant.

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:03 pm

unicorntamer666 wrote:Thanks for all the responses so far!
rpupkin is more or less right. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I've pretty much concluded that no top law school is particularly connected to that field (probably in part because those jobs don't really exist as an option straight out of law school). It's not clear that Michigan's PI bent really crosses over into firm jobs - seems to be a pretty sharp PI/private sector dichotomy.

I'm not sure about Michigan, but there's definitely some PI/Plaintiff-Side crossover at HYSNB. That might be true at some other schools as well. If all other things are equal for you (which they may not be in your case), I'd go to the school with the stronger PI presence.

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:28 pm

rpupkin wrote:
unicorntamer666 wrote:Thanks for all the responses so far!
rpupkin is more or less right. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I've pretty much concluded that no top law school is particularly connected to that field (probably in part because those jobs don't really exist as an option straight out of law school). It's not clear that Michigan's PI bent really crosses over into firm jobs - seems to be a pretty sharp PI/private sector dichotomy.

I'm not sure about Michigan, but there's definitely some PI/Plaintiff-Side crossover at HYSNB. That might be true at some other schools as well. If all other things are equal for you (which they may not be in your case), I'd go to the school with the stronger PI presence.


Ah, yes, Berkeley. The one that got away (via rejecting me). :oops: I visited Berkeley when I first started looking at law schools and let me tell you that place is a paradise. They even have Brita "Hydration Stations" instead of water fountains.

I'm on the waitlist at NYU and would probably go in the unlikely event I'm admitted, partly for the reason you suggest, also because I currently live in NYC and love it here. But for all intents and purposes I'm assuming Duke/UVA/Michigan are my choices.

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cron1834
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby cron1834 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:45 pm

I can't tell what jobs you're actually going to apply for, which leads me to believe that you should eliminate the most expensive option. Whichever you prefer bt Duke and Mich is fine, given parent contributions.

Kittyesquire
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby Kittyesquire » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:39 pm

While 60k is quite a gap, your overall debt is relatively low. I think it's low enough to allow other factors apart from money to influence your decision. If you strongly prefer UVA, three years of your life can certainly be worth a small share of debt.

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TFALAWL
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby TFALAWL » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:03 pm

I go to UVA. You should go to Duke unless you want to work in MidWest, in which case I would recommend Michigan.

People sometimes ask if quality of life is worth paying more. For me, if I were choosing between UVA and Duke, and happened to like UVA more (which in hindsight, I doubt), I decided then that I would be willing to pay a premium of 10k. For me, 10 extra K could maybe be worth being slightly happier for 3 years, but that is where I drew the line.

60k on the other hand, is an insane difference.

Lastly, when you consider quality of life, you also have to factor in the stress of law school. Anecdotally, there seems to be a HUGE link between how stressed people are, and how much they have taken out in loans. Duke for 10K sounds like great F&*ing kool-aid. Hell, a school funded job will pay that off.

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TFALAWL
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby TFALAWL » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:07 pm

rpupkin wrote:
swampman wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:For NYC biglaw Duke is tcr here

Note that the OP doesn't want NYC big law.

What? OP wants to work in new york, practicing litigation at a firm -- realistically this is NYC big law. OP also wants to do socially/politically beneficial work while litigating at that firm, which I'm assuming means OP wants to keep investment bankers employed and well-fed.

That's not how I read it. Here's what the OP wrote:

"I'll simply say that I'm interested in practicing a type of law that I consider socially/politically beneficial and that pays a lower starting salary than big law."

I assume this means that the OP is interested in some sort of plaintiff-side work. Do you honestly think that Duke gives anyone an advantage over Michigan for this kind of thing in NYC?


I think that dude was just assuming that OP (like most) is entering law school w/ a unicorn dream (OP: not saying it won't happen), and will likely exit with big law .... just like all of us. Duke is better than Michigan in that respect.

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:18 pm

TFALAWL wrote:I go to UVA. You should go to Duke unless you want to work in MidWest, in which case I would recommend Michigan.

People sometimes ask if quality of life is worth paying more. For me, if I were choosing between UVA and Duke, and happened to like UVA more (which in hindsight, I doubt), I decided then that I would be willing to pay a premium of 10k. For me, 10 extra K could maybe be worth being slightly happier for 3 years, but that is where I drew the line.

60k on the other hand, is an insane difference.

Lastly, when you consider quality of life, you also have to factor in the stress of law school. Anecdotally, there seems to be a HUGE link between how stressed people are, and how much they have taken out in loans. Duke for 10K sounds like great F&*ing kool-aid. Hell, a school funded job will pay that off.


Thanks. I'm sorry to hear that you dislike UVA and in retrsopect might have preferred Duke. Care to elaborate on why? Feel free to PM.

Re: the cost difference - you may be right, and all the replies here have been a really helpful reality check that may sway me toward making the more financially prudent decision. On the other hand, it's hard to put a valuation on three years of one's finite existence...$10K seems a bit low to me :)

That said, maybe $60K is a bit high...

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:10 pm

Is no one else under the impression that UVA may be slightly, but appreciably, better than Duke and Michigan in general? It seems UVA may be ascendant at the moment. Then again that's based mainly on anecdotal impressions of where people got in this cycle, and I guess on the clerkship edge. On the other hand the school-funded jobs thing seems a bit unsavory.

But whatever edge there may be in that regard is probably minor. What I'm more curious about is differences in school culture/experience.

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:20 pm

unicorntamer666 wrote:Is no one else under the impression that UVA may be slightly, but appreciably, better than Duke and Michigan in general? It seems UVA may be ascendant at the moment.

LOL. Right now on TLS, the "ascendant" schools are Penn, Duke, and Cornell. Check back in two years and folks will be fawning over other schools.

When I first lurked on here around 2008, everyone was gaga about Berkeley for some reason. Later, folks were really into NU as a school on the rise. Now, of course, it's OMG Penn/Cornell.

These are all basically peer schools and have been for like 50 years. If you look at reputational surveys from 40+ years ago, you'll find the same top 10-15 schools in essentially the same order, with Michigan a little higher and NYU a little lower. It's remarkable how stable this all is. Nothing is going to really change in your three years.

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swampman
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby swampman » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:30 pm

So I'll address clerkships. UVA has great clerkship placement, professors are committed to helping us get clerkships and the clerkship office essentially requires them to make phone calls to judges. This is nice. The numbers may be a bit misleading for you though because we place especially well with conservative judges.

I think the school-funded jobs are awesome. Our biglaw+federal clerkship rate is similar to Duke and Michigan (I think very slightly worse than duke and a decent amount better than Michigan). So what that means is that you have about the same chance of ending up without a job, but here the school will pay you to work wherever you want for a year. You probably don't want to be in that situation, but it's a nice safety net.

I also really enjoy being here (and I'm writing this during finals). Still, 60k is a ton of money, and I would go to Duke for that amount. Duke is a great school with equivalent job placement. That 60k will essentially be your entire disposable income for your first year of Biglaw (maybe closer to two years if you aren't super frugal). If that's worth it to you, awesome, come to UVA. But it's real money.

ETA: And yeah, picking a school based on who is "trending" is generally a bad idea.

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:59 pm

rpupkin wrote:LOL.


LOL.

Right okay, that seems true. Lost the forest for the trees for a sec there. This is what the law school application process does to people...and why I've decided to squander my meager savings on a few months of travel before law school, during which I'm determined to think about pretty much nothing, law-related or otherwise.

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rpupkin
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:14 pm

unicorntamer666 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:LOL.


LOL.

Right okay, that seems true. Lost the forest for the trees for a sec there. This is what the law school application process does to people...and why I've decided to squander my meager savings on a few months of travel before law school, during which I'm determined to think about pretty much nothing, law-related or otherwise.

For what it's worth, that LOL was more generally directed to the ebbs and flows of law school popularity on TLS. You're asking good questions and it makes sense to get all the information you can while making your decision.

And great idea to take a few months off to travel before law school. I'm jealous!

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:22 pm

swampman wrote:So I'll address clerkships. UVA has great clerkship placement, professors are committed to helping us get clerkships and the clerkship office essentially requires them to make phone calls to judges. This is nice. The numbers may be a bit misleading for you though because we place especially well with conservative judges.

I think the school-funded jobs are awesome. Our biglaw+federal clerkship rate is similar to Duke and Michigan (I think very slightly worse than duke and a decent amount better than Michigan). So what that means is that you have about the same chance of ending up without a job, but here the school will pay you to work wherever you want for a year. You probably don't want to be in that situation, but it's a nice safety net.

I also really enjoy being here (and I'm writing this during finals). Still, 60k is a ton of money, and I would go to Duke for that amount. Duke is a great school with equivalent job placement. That 60k will essentially be your entire disposable income for your first year of Biglaw (maybe closer to two years if you aren't super frugal). If that's worth it to you, awesome, come to UVA. But it's real money.

ETA: And yeah, picking a school based on who is "trending" is generally a bad idea.


Ah, okay. This is solid info/advice, thank you.

To be more specific re: quality of life, my impression was this: social life seemed more or less non-existent at Duke and Michigan, whereas UVA at least makes an effort. I'm not planning on partying nonstop, nor am I deep into softball or horse races, but people at UVA seemed to really get along and I got the sense everyone knew/cared for each other. At Duke/Mich it felt more like people were just coming and going between classes en route to their biglaw exit; the planned social events seemed kinda forced and sad, and I didn't perceive much going on beyond that. This could be totally wrong, and the schools could ultimately be more or less the same in this regard (it is professional school after all), so I invite correction. But in short UVA seemed to have a better atmosphere - not that the people there are "better," just that the school is doing something right. Even so, maybe not worth the cost difference, as y'all seem to suggest. Viewing it as 1 to 2 years of disposible income upon graduation does throw things into pretty sharp relief...

Another thing is Charlottesville is beautiful and people seem to genuinely enjoy it, whereas the reports on Durham/Ann Arbor are pretty uniformly "it's better than you think!"

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unicorntamer666
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby unicorntamer666 » Fri May 01, 2015 7:42 pm

Fiiine i'm going to Duke. Thanks guys.

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WeeBey
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby WeeBey » Sat May 02, 2015 1:13 am

Duke hands down.

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DetroitRed
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Re: UVA v. Duke ($) v. Michigan ($)

Postby DetroitRed » Sat May 02, 2015 8:37 am

unicorntamer666 wrote:
swampman wrote:So I'll address clerkships. UVA has great clerkship placement, professors are committed to helping us get clerkships and the clerkship office essentially requires them to make phone calls to judges. This is nice. The numbers may be a bit misleading for you though because we place especially well with conservative judges.

I think the school-funded jobs are awesome. Our biglaw+federal clerkship rate is similar to Duke and Michigan (I think very slightly worse than duke and a decent amount better than Michigan). So what that means is that you have about the same chance of ending up without a job, but here the school will pay you to work wherever you want for a year. You probably don't want to be in that situation, but it's a nice safety net.

I also really enjoy being here (and I'm writing this during finals). Still, 60k is a ton of money, and I would go to Duke for that amount. Duke is a great school with equivalent job placement. That 60k will essentially be your entire disposable income for your first year of Biglaw (maybe closer to two years if you aren't super frugal). If that's worth it to you, awesome, come to UVA. But it's real money.

ETA: And yeah, picking a school based on who is "trending" is generally a bad idea.


Ah, okay. This is solid info/advice, thank you.

To be more specific re: quality of life, my impression was this: social life seemed more or less non-existent at Duke and Michigan, whereas UVA at least makes an effort. I'm not planning on partying nonstop, nor am I deep into softball or horse races, but people at UVA seemed to really get along and I got the sense everyone knew/cared for each other. At Duke/Mich it felt more like people were just coming and going between classes en route to their biglaw exit; the planned social events seemed kinda forced and sad, and I didn't perceive much going on beyond that. This could be totally wrong, and the schools could ultimately be more or less the same in this regard (it is professional school after all), so I invite correction. But in short UVA seemed to have a better atmosphere - not that the people there are "better," just that the school is doing something right. Even so, maybe not worth the cost difference, as y'all seem to suggest. Viewing it as 1 to 2 years of disposible income upon graduation does throw things into pretty sharp relief...

Another thing is Charlottesville is beautiful and people seem to genuinely enjoy it, whereas the reports on Durham/Ann Arbor are pretty uniformly "it's better than you think!"


Having spoken to a lot of people at UVa and Duke, I've gathered that the social vibes are remarkably similar. There are obviously some differences (size of city, undergrad demographics, etc.), but I don't think these differences (a) clearly break for UVa, and (b) if they do, warrant an additional 60k of debt.




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