Berkeley vs Northwestern

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
FinalDecision1
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:55 pm

Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby FinalDecision1 » Tue May 05, 2015 5:22 pm

Hi all, I'm deciding between Berkeley and Northwestern. Would appreciate some insight:

-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each: Berkeley 150k; Northwestern 25k
-How you will be financing your COA: loans for the remaining COA indicated above
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties: From CA and want to stay in CA
-Your general career goals: CA big law, particularly in the SF Bay Area. This makes Berkeley tempting
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers: LSAT lower-mid 170s, GPA high 3.7x
-How many times you have taken the LSAT
maxed out

I understand Northwestern is the more financially viable option, but I really want to work in CA and I understand Berkeley has the best placement for that. I also liked the feel of Berkeley more when I visited, and it was my top choice throughout the whole LSAT/applying phase the past 2 years so I have a strong emotional draw there. That being said, is anyone aware of glaring student culture differences between the two schools? Both schools seemed to have collegial, friendly etc students but I had a terrible experience with the Berkeley financial aid/admissions office while NU's was wonderful to deal with. Not sure if this extends onto how life at these schools would be but I appreciate any insight. Thank you!

User avatar
OhBoyOhBortles
Posts: 2254
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Tue May 05, 2015 5:25 pm

Do you have ties to Cal? If you do, NU can get you there. ETA: I can't read. Sorry, OP. With your ties I'd definitely take the $ at NU. That said:


Have you tried negotiating with Berkeley?

FinalDecision1
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:55 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby FinalDecision1 » Tue May 05, 2015 5:28 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:Do you have ties to Cal? If you do, NU can get you there.
Also, have you tried negotiating with Berkeley?


Yeah I have ties in the sense that my family lives here and I grew up here. I tried negotiating with Berkeley and unfortunately no dice :( They were also pretty rude/unprofessional about the whole thing which kinda turned me off. A family friend (attorney) told me the extra money would be worth it for the better CA firm offers so I'm still drawn there a bit

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Tue May 05, 2015 5:34 pm

It's definitely easier to get SF Big Law out of Berkeley. But $125K is a lot of money. Also, Berkeley isn't Stanford: you could end up below median and still strike out in SF.

If I were you, I'd choose Northwestern, but I would go with the awareness that SF big law is possible but unlikely. Make sure you're ok with the likelihood of working in another big law market (e.g, NYC, LA, Chicago).

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14396
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby Desert Fox » Tue May 05, 2015 5:49 pm

Northwestern. Big law isn't work 100k in debt, even if you are certain, and Boalt ain't a certainty.

krads153
Posts: 632
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:18 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby krads153 » Tue May 05, 2015 5:51 pm

Northwestern.

Also, you're probably going to need to be at least top third to get SF biglaw from Berkeley. SF is one of the most competitive markets in the country. LA is a lot easier.

User avatar
Winston1984
Posts: 1789
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:02 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby Winston1984 » Tue May 05, 2015 5:56 pm

That's a sweet deal for NU.

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Tue May 05, 2015 6:00 pm

krads153 wrote:Northwestern.

Also, you're probably going to need to be at least top third to get SF biglaw from Berkeley. SF is one of the most competitive markets in the country. LA is a lot easier.

Like I said, I think the OP should go to NU, but the bolded is what makes Berkeley tempting. The thing is, you don't need "at least top third" grades to get SF big law from Berkeley. You need at least top-third grades (or even better) from most other non-HYS T14 schools, but Berkeley students at median can get SF big law. Although a median Berkeley student certainly isn't a lock for SF big law, it's a realistic possibility.

That's why if the cost difference here was significantly less, Berkeley would make sense. But I agree with DF: $125K of debt is too high of a premium to pay for the somewhat better chance at SF big law.

User avatar
L’Étranger
Posts: 315
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:27 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby L’Étranger » Tue May 05, 2015 6:21 pm

rpupkin wrote:
krads153 wrote:Northwestern.

Also, you're probably going to need to be at least top third to get SF biglaw from Berkeley. SF is one of the most competitive markets in the country. LA is a lot easier.

Like I said, I think the OP should go to NU, but the bolded is what makes Berkeley tempting. The thing is, you don't need "at least top third" grades to get SF big law from Berkeley. You need at least top-third grades (or even better) from most other non-HYS T14 schools, but Berkeley students at median can get SF big law. Although a median Berkeley student certainly isn't a lock for SF big law, it's a realistic possibility.

That's why if the cost difference here was significantly less, Berkeley would make sense. But I agree with DF: $125K of debt is too high of a premium to pay for the somewhat better chance at SF big law.


I posted this in another thread. I may just post this in every Berkeley v. SomeOther Law thread. krads seems to be trolling B. I have no idea where that top 1/3 stuff comes from.

The tldr version of the common wisdom that I've seen/heard and that I strongly agree with is that if you want to work as an attorney in CA and you don't get HYS, B is the way to go. How much attending B is worth to a person, in my mind, depends on how much certainty a person wants in terms of landing a job in CA.

I personally would not have accepted a full scholarship to a school that would have required me to be at the top of the class to get a biglaw job in CA.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 05, 2015 6:51 pm

Northwestern for $25,000 in student loan debt versus Berkeley with $150,000 in student loan debt. Seems like a clear choice even for one seeking San Francisco.

The cultures at the two law schools have, at least in the recent past, been different. But, there are enough students in each school to enable you to find your own crowd.

I suspect that it'll be very hard for you to turn down UCal-Berkeley, but the debt difference is too much for schools with similar placement stats, in my opinion. If you knew for certain that you would get SF biglaw from Berkeley, then the extra cost would be palatable, but that's far from being a certainty.

FinalDecision1
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:55 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby FinalDecision1 » Tue May 05, 2015 7:05 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I had heard that although you can get back to CA from other t14 schools, unless you are in the top of the class it likely won't be at as good as firm as those available to Boalt graduates. Is there any credence to this?

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15464
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue May 05, 2015 7:28 pm

It's just one year and one office but the Bay Area firm I'm headed to has more people from Northwestern in the entering class than from Berkeley.

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Tue May 05, 2015 8:19 pm

FinalDecision1 wrote:Thanks for the feedback everyone, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I had heard that although you can get back to CA from other t14 schools, unless you are in the top of the class it likely won't be at as good as firm as those available to Boalt graduates. Is there any credence to this?

There's a little truth somewhere in there, but I think what you heard is exaggerated. You don't have to be "top of the class" to get CA from a non-HYSB T14. You just have to be somewhat higher in the class. Top 25% + ties will give you a good shot from any school in the T14. Also, note that there's a difference between Southern California and Northern California. The latter is significantly harder to get than the former. Northern California is where Boalt's local pull really shines relative to the rest of the T14. When you're talking about Southern California, I think Boalt still has an advantage over its peer schools, but the advantage is less pronounced.

Oh, and I think that the "won't be at as good as a firm" line was odd. For the most part, the big law firms that hire from Boalt also hire from the rest of the T14. There are a few boutique exceptions (like KVN) that basically hire only from HYSB. But those account for a small percentage of the legal jobs available to grads in California.

User avatar
BiglawAssociate
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:05 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby BiglawAssociate » Tue May 05, 2015 8:20 pm

FLAME THREAD. Nobody can be this stupid.

zaetoroftheprotoss
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:42 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby zaetoroftheprotoss » Wed May 06, 2015 4:27 pm

.
Last edited by zaetoroftheprotoss on Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
usn26
Posts: 800
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:24 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby usn26 » Wed May 06, 2015 4:30 pm

Winston1984 wrote:That's a sweet deal for NU.

kcdc1
Posts: 930
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:48 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby kcdc1 » Wed May 06, 2015 4:44 pm

FinalDecision1 wrote:Thanks for the feedback everyone, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I had heard that although you can get back to CA from other t14 schools, unless you are in the top of the class it likely won't be at as good as firm as those available to Boalt graduates. Is there any credence to this?

Sharing this to help you feel better about saving 125k (aka: the down payment on a 600k condo):

I attend Northwestern, I am not top of my class, I have no ties to CA, and when asked in interviews about said lack of ties, I said things like "the weather doesn't hurt." I received biglaw SA offers in the Bay Area.

I had pretty respectable credentials overall, so your mileage may vary. Just one data point.

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Wed May 06, 2015 5:07 pm

kcdc1 wrote:
FinalDecision1 wrote:Thanks for the feedback everyone, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I had heard that although you can get back to CA from other t14 schools, unless you are in the top of the class it likely won't be at as good as firm as those available to Boalt graduates. Is there any credence to this?

Sharing this to help you feel better about saving 125k (aka: the down payment on a 600k condo):

I attend Northwestern, I am not top of my class, I have no ties to CA, and when asked in interviews about said lack of ties, I said things like "the weather doesn't hurt." I received biglaw SA offers in the Bay Area.

If that's true, then I bet you have a tech background and an IP focus.

I should add, OP: If you've got a tech degree and an interest in patent work, then your grades from NU (or any other T14) will be far less important for landing something in the SF Bay Area.

User avatar
Clyde Frog
Posts: 7050
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:27 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby Clyde Frog » Wed May 06, 2015 5:32 pm

Boalt is full of hippies

kcdc1
Posts: 930
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:48 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby kcdc1 » Wed May 06, 2015 5:38 pm

rpupkin wrote:If that's true, then I bet you have a tech background and an IP focus.

I should add, OP: If you've got a tech degree and an interest in patent work, then your grades from NU (or any other T14) will be far less important for landing something in the SF Bay Area.

I am IP-focused, and like I said, I have pretty solid credentials (tho no CS/EE or advanced bio/chem degree). My point is that Northwestern can get you in the door with CA firms, assuming you have suitable credentials. As to what constitutes suitable credentials, that will vary firm-to-firm and specialty-to-specialty.

Again, YMMV, but I'd recommend saving the money. Your significant other will appreciate the condo.

Indifference
Posts: 535
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs Northwestern

Postby Indifference » Thu May 07, 2015 12:37 am

Money wins, I'd take Northwestern for the COA




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: carlos_danger and 2 guests