School Selection and Value of a school's degree

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Controversial111
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School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby Controversial111 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:05 pm

I am writing this because I both want to add to the paradigm used to advise 0Ls on school selection as well as correct a flaw I see in how advice is given.

We all know how TLS advises 0Ls to select schools: Candidates generally should not go to law school unless they have maxed out LSAT attempts, scored a 170+, gained some work experience, and thought long and hard about what it means to be a lawyer.

If a 0L does proceed on the law path, and does not go to a top regional for free, then among the T14 (or close to it), it is better to go to the cheaper school assuming similar outcomes. The reasoning goes that when outcomes are similar, it’s smarter to go cheaper so that you can pay off loans faster and quicker, and you won’t hate your life for the 10 years you spend paying it off.
Thus, assuming NYC biglaw as the goal, Cornell with a scholarship is better than Penn at sticker; NYU with a discount is better than Harvard at sticker; George Washington at a discount is better than Georgetown at sticker.

The one fundamental flaw I see with this analysis is the omission of the recognition of a value of particular school name. Though this number value assigned to a particular school name is hard to compute, there nonetheless is an added premium added to a name brand school over the course of a person’s career, not just in the 10 year short run.

For example, let’s say you choose between Duke at 90k and Columbia at 180k when gunning for NYC big law. The easy choice is Duke since the 10 years you spend paying off the debt will be less burdensome and the same outcome will likely result.

However, what if over the course of your career, simply having Columbia on your resume, through alumni/network connections, impressed clients etc., somehow earns you a value of $90,001+the cost of added interest over the course of your career? Then, Columbia was more with it since it earned you much more over the long run. I think that what-if is very likely; the higher the ranking of a school, the more likely it is to earn you more money over the course of your career.

My point in all this is to drive home this point: selection of a school should not solely be driven by the cost over 10 years at pay back. It should account too for the value of a school, its network, reputation, added premium, etc. over the course of a long term career.
Last edited by Controversial111 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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baal hadad
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby baal hadad » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:07 pm

Except that school name really gets a lot less important after your beginning job, and the ability to get that beginning job is already built into the job statistics for each particular school, so I don't know how much that extra fact it really adds

Controversial111
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby Controversial111 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:09 pm

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Last edited by Controversial111 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:14 pm

Trying to distinguish between Columbia & Cornell is largely a difference without a distinction, in my opinion.

UpandDown97
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby UpandDown97 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:15 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Trying to distinguish between Columbia & Cornell is largely a difference without a distinction, in my opinion.


I don't agree. Columbia is much better on all fronts. But this analysis certainly isn't limited to those schools. Where X school is generally known as more prestigious than Y school, but Y school is cheaper, then what I am writing makes sense.

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Nekrowizard
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Post removed.

Postby Nekrowizard » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:19 pm

Post removed.
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CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:22 pm

If someone hires an attorney 10 years out of law school simply because one went to Columbia & the other to Cornell, that would be foolish. Work product, client relationships, relevant experience & other factors should be more important. In short, I think that the Columbia to Cornell comparison is unwarranted since they are both great law schools which place well in the same primary market.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:28 pm

I do agree, however, that there are significant differences in value of a law degree based on regional perceptions. For example, a law degree from Georgetown is probably much more valuable in the Northeast US than is a law degree from the University of Texas, whereas a Georgetown degree in Texas might be significantly devalued versus a UT law degree.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:30 pm

Alternatively, as an example of an absurd result, a Yale law degree might be significantly devalued versus a Harvard degree when dealing with Asian clients according to several experienced TLS posters. But, Columbia & Cornell serve the same primary market with outstanding results.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:38 pm

In support of the OP's position would be a Stanford law graduate seeking a NYC biglaw position versus a Harvard or Columbia or Cornell graduate. The Harvard, Columbia & ornell degrees are probably more valuable in the NYC biglaw market simply due to alumni network & familiarity with each schools' graduates. Again, valid due to regional differences, not due to qualitative differences capable of any objective measurement.

UpandDown97
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby UpandDown97 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:40 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Alternatively, as an example of an absurd result, a Yale law degree might be significantly devalued versus a Harvard degree when dealing with Asian clients according to several experienced TLS posters. But, Columbia & Cornell serve the same primary market with outstanding results.


You're getting to my point but getting hung up on one example. Compare then Columbia and Penn, or Northwestern and Columbia. Chicago and Duke. Either way, I think TLS needs more focus on long term value of a name.

Though we know things like relevant experience, relationships, etc.are more important, that's not always how people make decisions. People are not always rational

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:46 pm

Years ago I created a rating & ranking system for the nation's elite prep boarding schools. I used concrete college & university placement results over one year & five year periods. Success was based on peer assessment ratings compiled for each college & university by USNews. A similar type ranking system could be devised for law schools targeting NYC biglaw firms using the Vault or similar rankings. this could produce current & longterm values based on actual number of attorneys in each NYC biglaw firm in their first, second, third, fourth ,fifth year, etc, as well as those who became partner.

(An interesting result of this rating system based on objective factors showed that St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire & Phillips Academy (Andover) in Andover, Massachusetts greatly outperformed the storied & revered Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire in terms of elite college & university placement.)
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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baal hadad
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby baal hadad » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:51 pm

Controversial111 wrote:
baal hadad wrote:Except that school name really gets a lot less important after your beginning job, and the ability to get that beginning job is already built into the job statistics for each particular school, so I don't know how much that extra fact it really adds


I don't agree. Name brand matters throughout the course of your career. Let's say you're in T&E: A client has no idea what it means to work at Skadden Arps or any other V10 firm, but they probably know the difference between Columbia and Cornell. They might be more likely to go with you as an attorney since you went to Columbia and they are impressed.

Edit and addition: if that client does ultimately go with you, and it results in a net gain of 90,001 (when the difference in price was 90,000), then Columbia was the right choose and not Cornell.

So this client is a high net worth retard?

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:55 pm

While you correctly assess me as being hung up on one comparison, it is your example. With respect to Northwestern versus Columbia, Columbia will outshine NU in the NYC biglaw market largely due to location in its prime market which also happens to be your sole focus (NYC biglaw). Northwestern's prime target market is Chicago & then the Midwest, not NYC biglaw. Duke is even more varied as it is the premier law school in the South. Long-term value of a Duke law degree is probably significantly greater in the Atlanta market than is a Columbia law degree.

Nevertheless, NYC is by far the largest market for attorneys, but not all elite law school graduates target or want NYC biglaw.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:59 pm

If I were to test OPs position, I would start with the nation's second largest law market--Washington DC. This might be a better indicator because the Top 13 ranked law schools in the US are based outside of this area. My initial guess is that Virginia would shine in such a rating system in search of long-term degree value.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:02 pm

In short, I believe that TLS posters have pounded each other into the best & most appropriate method of determining the relative value of choice of law school when COA & target market preference are used.

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Clemenceau
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby Clemenceau » Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:13 pm

This thread is impossibly stupid.

Some businessman/woman who hasn't practiced law a day in their life differentiating between columbia and cornell law and using that differentiation to pick an attorney. Yeah. Totally.

Enjoy sticker wherever you're going, op.

timmyd
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby timmyd » Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:46 pm

I actually read a somewhat recent study (maybe like 2012) that showed law school grades were a greater indicator of career success than the school. It was trying to serve as an argument against the perceived beneficial nature of affirmative action, but thats besides the point. This is a really fruitless argument, however, because it all comes down to employer preferences. That is, some employers are going to want the local top 10% kid over some guy from a great school that has shown absolutely no propensity for legal analysis. Others will adopt the reasonable argument that the competition was stiffer at the elite school which could explain lower grades. I don't think either is right or wrong, they just have different beliefs likely influenced by their career paths. I will agree that when comparing students of equal class rank or gpa, assuming this isn't somewhere ties are heavily stessed, the kid at the elite school will have the edge. My point is there are many situations in which they won't.

CanadianWolf
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:02 pm

OP's focus is the long-term value of a law degree. A reasonable argument can be made that a law degree is a depreciating asset while bar membership combined with experience is an appreciating asset.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:11 pm

OP, you can be Controversial111 or you can be UpandDown97, but you can't be both those people at once.

And figuring out the long term monetary value of a law school name is ridiculously pointless if you're looking to draw minute distinctions within the T14. I can't imagine any client who cares about the difference between Cornell and Columbia (should they exist) isn't also going to be someone who cares about silly things like Vault rankings and what it means to work at Skadden v. [insert fancy law firm here].

But if you want to pay sticker for the better name, go for it. Maybe it's worth it to you, which is what matters. I just don't think you're going to convince anyone else.

californiauser
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby californiauser » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:04 pm

Controversial111 wrote:
baal hadad wrote:Except that school name really gets a lot less important after your beginning job, and the ability to get that beginning job is already built into the job statistics for each particular school, so I don't know how much that extra fact it really adds


I don't agree. Name brand matters throughout the course of your career. Let's say you're in T&E: A client has no idea what it means to work at Skadden Arps or any other V10 firm, but they probably know the difference between Columbia and Cornell. They might be more likely to go with you as an attorney since you went to Columbia and they are impressed.

Edit and addition: if that client does ultimately go with you, and it results in a net gain of 90,001 (when the difference in price was 90,000), then Columbia was the right choose and not Cornell.


If someone has enough money to hire an attorney with "V10" credentials they aren't trolling Columbia Law alumni on LinkedIn. They'll call up a buddy from the country club or a business partner and ask for an attorney recommendation. It's a pipe dream to think they'll look at your firm bio and say "he only went to T14 and not a T6 law school--I need someone else for my sophisticated trust & estates work."

nerd1
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby nerd1 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:20 pm

I concur. I think most people act rationally and do choose their schools based not only on monetary considerations but also the other intangible factors you mentioned.

However, really, except the prestigious schools (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, Penn and maybe Duke), I think the analysis would boil down to just cost considerations because the prestige value would be so small. I can't imagine someone choosing Cornell or GULC over UVA because of some other value considerations in spite of a scholarship offer from UVA.

nerd1
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Re: School Selection and Value of a school's degree

Postby nerd1 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:31 pm

Also, people should consider downside risk. It's safer to be below median at Columbia than at Cornell.

I am not advocating for sticker here. Just laying out some factors to consider. I think many posters here simplify too much. There are some other factors to consider beyond cost.




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