Berkeley vs. Northwestern

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CaliBiglaw
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Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Thu May 07, 2015 10:27 pm

The schools you are considering: Berkeley w/ 94k going in plus 2L+3L need (approx. 114-128k for all 3 yrs), Northwestern w/ 165k.
-How you will be financing your COA: Hopefully external scholarships, personal savings, loans if I need to.
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any): From southern california (born and raised); Nor Cal undergrad. Want to do practice in California but may be open to DC as well.
-Your general career goals:
Cali biglaw for a couple of years (SF, LA, or SD) to save up $ and hopefully eventually lateral to a federal agency or go in-house.

I would mention stats but then would prob get "retake" messages for a shot at HYS and I'm set on starting in the fall given my career goals and scholarship offers. Had sizable offers from other schools but have already been discarded so no point in mentioning them.

Side Note: My #1 going in was Berkeley but sort of hard to turn down that full ride/being able to potentially pocket that SA $.
Please leave your comments below! All feedback is highly appreciated :)

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Thu May 07, 2015 10:29 pm

NU. Congrats!

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rpupkin
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Thu May 07, 2015 10:39 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.

CaliBiglaw
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Thu May 07, 2015 10:50 pm

rpupkin wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.


I was wondering the same thing; for tuition, I would end up paying around 16-30k total at Cal as an-instate; the latter's if I summer at a firm both 1L and 2L (doing cali SEO this summer so may be able to return to my firm after 1L year), the former assuming I only do so 2L summer. Obviously at northwestern, I would only pay the 1.6k/yr for tuition given that 55k/yr scholarship) and could potentially pocket all of my summer earnings, whereas at Cal, you have to contribute part of it. Hope that makes sense :D
Last edited by CaliBiglaw on Thu May 07, 2015 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rpupkin
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Thu May 07, 2015 11:06 pm

CaliBiglaw wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.


I was wondering the same thing; for tuition, I would end up paying around 16-30k total at Cal as an-instate; the former's if I summer at a firm both 1L and 2L (doing cali SEO this summer so may be able to return to my firm after 1L year), the latter assuming I only do so 2L summer. Obviously at northwestern, I would only pay the 1.6k/yr for tuition given that 55k/yr scholarship) and could potentially pocket all of my summer earnings, whereas at Cal, you have to contribute part of it. Hope that makes sense :D

So, in other words, I was right that your tuition over three years will cost a total of only $10K - $25K more at Boalt. If you're as serious about California big law as your user name suggests, that sure seems worth it.

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Fri May 08, 2015 8:57 am

rpupkin wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.


My bad. Didn't take into account in-state tuition. I was picturing the difference being closer to 50-60k, which I didn't see as worth it, but I can see how others might disagree. 10-25k definitely seems more appropriate. Sorry, OP! (In all fairness, though, you'll get much better advice listing your total cost of attendance and then posting those numbers, rather than relying on current/former/potential law students to do math.)

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Winston1984
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby Winston1984 » Fri May 08, 2015 9:50 am

Berkeley.

CaliBiglaw
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Fri May 08, 2015 10:07 pm

Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).

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rpupkin
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby rpupkin » Fri May 08, 2015 10:17 pm

CaliBiglaw wrote:
Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).

This is getting weird, dude.

What's worth more to you: a better chance at a job in California or $30K?

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Redamon1
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby Redamon1 » Fri May 08, 2015 10:24 pm

CaliBiglaw wrote:
Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).


Three months' pay in Biglaw seems like a reasonable additional cost to increase your odds of getting your preferred market. But I suppose if you'd be just as happy in Biglaw outside CA, then save yourself 30k?

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri May 08, 2015 10:47 pm

rpupkin wrote:
CaliBiglaw wrote:
Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).

This is getting weird, dude.

What's worth more to you: a better chance at a job in California or $30K?

I'd get it if he had a strong preference for Northwestern and wanted to spend a few years elsewhere, but that's not the case. Not sure why we need to talk this OP into Berkeley.

I will say that if for some reason you did really want Northwestern it's a fine choice. Little debt and your SEO status means you are in great shape for CA biglaw wherever you go.

CaliBiglaw
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Sat May 09, 2015 12:24 am

rpupkin wrote:
CaliBiglaw wrote:
Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).

This is getting weird, dude.

What's worth more to you: a better chance at a job in California or $30K?


Haha my bad! Just want to get as much info as possible; I'm somewhat paranoid w/ Berkeley's need-based grants since you have to reapply for them on an annual basis; but point taken.

captainplanet
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby captainplanet » Sat May 09, 2015 1:59 pm

I just graduated from NU and did Berkeley for undergrad, so I know both schools.

Assuming you're guaranteed to get that extra $ at Berkeley for 2L & 3L, an extra 10-30 grand is not a big difference in the scheme of things, especially if you want to do BigLaw. But if that money could fall through and the $ gap ends up being much bigger, that's something to consider.

Plenty of people from NU do California BigLaw (including me), so I don't think you'll have a problem finding a job. Berkeley might have an edge for CA BigLaw though simply because more firms do on-campus recruiting and the school probably has more local connections.

Since it's basically a tie cost-wise, here are some things I recommend considering:

1. Local ties: While Nu profs and career advisors had ties to CA, they knew much more about the Chicago market, and I'm sure the same would be true in Berkeley. Also, many more of your classmates will end up in CA so it'll be easier for networking in the future. This is not a major factor, but more of a tie breaker to consider.

2. Living expenses and experience and moving in the summer:
Living expenses: Overall, Chicago is less expensive than the Bay Area. I haven't lived in Berkeley for a while so I don't know how rents are but you would probably pay less living in Chicago, depending where you live. If you live near Campus in Chicago, that area is pretty expensive so rents are probably around $1,500. But, the area near campus is all high rises so they're pretty nice and have a lot of amenities (my building has a view of the lake, a pool, 24-hr doorman, gym, etc.), whereas living near campus in Berkeley probably means paying around the same amount for an old, small, basic apartment. If you live farther away from campus, you can easily find a place for $1,000 or less ... so that could mean savings of $5,000 per year.

Moving in the summer: If you do NU, you'll have to move to CA for your summer job. It's not a huge inconvenience, and you might have to move from Berkeley too if you do LA in the summer, but something to consider.

Experience: Would you rather live in a city or a college town? Do you want to have a car? I personally love Chicago, it's a great city. The area near campus is much safer than Berkeley (although obviously parts of Chicago are really unsafe). Chicago has a lot of opportunities to work with judges or legal non-profits, although San Francisco will have that too. On the other hand, OMG Chicago winters are death, so weather is definitely a plus for Berkeley.

3. School experience: Have you visited both campuses? I think whether you like your classmates and the school vibe can have a big impact on your experience and your success. I actually hated Berkeley as an undergrad and was unhappy there, while I love NU. Of course, every person's experience and preferences are different, and the law school could be very different from the undergrad experience. I know people at Berkeley law who love it. If you haven't visited these schools, I highly recommend reaching out to current law students to ask about their experiences. Also, Berkeley's law school is part of the main campus, while NU law is in downtown Chicago next to the medical school and a few grad programs, while the rest of the school and all the undergrads are in Evanston. So it depends on whether you'd prefer to have a more college-like experience or not. For example, I would guess Berkeley Law is much more political than NU, because you get all the protests from the rest of campus, while NU law certainly has political organizations and many people who are passionate about all types of things but I've never seen a protest on our campus (though I'm sure they have them on the main campus in Evanston). As an undergrad, Berkeley is really big student population-wise and as a public university, you're sharing limited resources with a lot of people and funding is limited. At NU, the law school has its own services since it's a separate campus and it's small (every class is about 240 people) and it's a private school with a lot of resources so I felt like it was much easier to get help here from career services to figuring out health insurance to support when you're freaking out 1L year. I really felt supported here, while at Berkeley I felt I had to fight for things sometimes and figure out for myself where to get services. However, Berkeley law could have a totally separate situation with regard to services from the rest of the campus. When I toured Berkeley law, it was about 100x nicer than the rest of the campus, so I would guess they have a lot of law school funding and maybe their own endowment funds and might have great resources too.

4. Classes and specialization: Is there a particular type of law you want to practice? NU is pretty heavy on business law, and there are a lot of great classes for transactional law (and plenty litigation classes too). I'm sure both schools have all the main types of classes you might want, but one school could be better than the other for certain areas of law. I don't know much about what Berkeley law offers, but what I like about NU is that there are a lot of classes that offer opportunities to get practical experience and skills. For example, this semester I took a structuring transactions class where our professors were practicing attorneys with a lot of experience and we actually got to do a whole deal start to finish and put together all the legal documents. Or, the Bluhm Legal Clinic lets students work on actual cases under the supervision of attorneys. And students can do externships for school credit with non-profit legal organizations, government agencies, or judges. (But again, Berkeley could have a lot of the same opportunities, I just don't know what they offer).

Either way, you have two great choices. I would lean a little toward Berkeley since you want to stay in CA, but try to talk to students and think a lot about what your experience will be like and whether you'd like both schools. Good luck!

CaliBiglaw
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Sun May 10, 2015 2:14 pm

^thanks for such a thorough response @ captain planet! definitely all points worth considering. I'm definitely reaching out to the financial aid office at Berkeley to inquire on just how guaranteed the additional funding is to make sure I won't be screwed over during 2L and 3L. Once again thank you! :D

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starry eyed
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby starry eyed » Sun May 10, 2015 2:55 pm

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.


My bad. Didn't take into account in-state tuition. I was picturing the difference being closer to 50-60k, which I didn't see as worth it, but I can see how others might disagree. 10-25k definitely seems more appropriate. Sorry, OP! (In all fairness, though, you'll get much better advice listing your total cost of attendance and then posting those numbers, rather than relying on current/former/potential law students to do math.)


agreed

it's a simple as "School A will cost me this much over 3 years; School B will cost me this much."
Last edited by starry eyed on Sun May 10, 2015 2:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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starry eyed
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby starry eyed » Sun May 10, 2015 2:56 pm

rpupkin wrote:
CaliBiglaw wrote:
Winston1984 wrote:Berkeley.


What if the amount was for sure $114k at Berkeley vs NU's $165k scholarship award? (In other words, 30k more by attending Berkeley).

This is getting weird, dude.

What's worth more to you: a better chance at a job in California or $30K?


30k put into an index fund (like ^gspc) will be worth almost 2 million in 50 years.

CaliBiglaw
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Re: Berkeley vs. Northwestern

Postby CaliBiglaw » Sun May 10, 2015 6:40 pm

starry eyed wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
OhBoyOhBortles wrote:NU. Congrats!

Huh? Can you explain your thinking? It sure seems like Berkeley is the better choice here.

OP is getting $114K - 128K from Boalt and $165K from NU. But because OP is a California resident, his tuition will be $8K/yr cheaper at Berkeley. So over three years, the OP is looking at a total COA difference of between $10K and $25K. For someone who wants to practice law in California, I think Berkeley is easily worth an extra $10k - $25K over Northwestern.


My bad. Didn't take into account in-state tuition. I was picturing the difference being closer to 50-60k, which I didn't see as worth it, but I can see how others might disagree. 10-25k definitely seems more appropriate. Sorry, OP! (In all fairness, though, you'll get much better advice listing your total cost of attendance and then posting those numbers, rather than relying on current/former/potential law students to do math.)


agreed

it's a simple as "School A will cost me this much over 3 years; School B will cost me this much."


The reason why I'm focusing exclusively on tuition differences is that, having done berkeley for undergrad, I know I can live well below the 'average cost'; was spending approx. 7k/ yr for everything due to subsidized student housing, which I will be taking advantage of by doing cal again. In other words, I don't project this being too different at either school.




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