GW vs BU

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citylawschool
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GW vs BU

Postby citylawschool » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:41 pm

Hi everyone,

I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Public Health Studies, and have decided to go to law school because I am very interested in health law. After graduating from Hopkins I worked for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and have decided that I would like to one day work as General Counsel in a large health system, although some people say you need to start out in a firm first (I'm not sure how much this will apply given my work experience).

I was planning on attending GW, but only received a Merit Scholarship of $5,000 per year.

I had originally applied to BU Early Decision hoping to get the full scholarship but unfortunately I was waitlisted. I was just admitted to BU, and received a Merit Scholarship of $18,000 per year.

I would be taking out loans to pay for the difference, and the cost of living in the cities are pretty equivalent so that is not really a factor here. I believe GW tuition is also about $5,000 more than BU.

GW is currently ranked 22 but is not ranked for health law, and BU is 26 but ranked 5 for health law. Both schools have health law programs, but GW's is through the School of Public Health, so I would probably have to take courses over the summer to complete the concentration in health law. BU has The American Journal of Law and Medicine, an externship program, and faculty devoted to health law.

As for location, I really wanted a city school, so I am getting that with both, and while GW does offer many opportunities with health policy as the nation's capital, I not really interested in federal agency work (I am more interested in how federal policies impact health systems and other companies). I am hoping to end up in New York when I graduate.

Should I go to GW or BU?? Thanks for all of your help in advanced!!

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usn26
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby usn26 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:04 pm

BU of the two, but people are going to tell you to sit out/retake because those options with those goals don't sound terribly promising. Provide the rest of these for better responses:

-The schools you are considering
-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.
-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
-Your general career goals
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
-How many times you have taken the LSAT

collegebum1989
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:14 pm

Before you get tons of responses telling you to retake and apply...

Assuming you're not interested in retaking the LSAT and reapplying, I'd choose BU over GW in your situation for a couple of different reasons. First, and most importantly, it will be significantly cheaper to attend BU and both schools are peer schools with similar employment numbers.

Second, specialized rankings are meaningless and employers really don't care much for them regardless of whether they are actually meaningful or not. BU and GW are viewed by most employers as T25 schools and that's pretty much all that will matter. What is more important is geography since employers in Boston will be more familiar with BU and employers in DC will be more familiar with GW.

Third, Boston has a stronger healthcare industry than DC does. As such, you'd probably have stronger prospects outside OCI if you were a BU student looking for positions in Boston, compared to a GW student in DC.

Fourth, BU has a much smaller class size than GW and that's very important. As a current GW student, I can tell you that this place feels like a factory since GW keeps increasing its class size without regard for the employment prospects of its graduates. Given its sheer size and location within the most competitive legal market in the nation, it makes it difficult to get a job coming out of GW unless you are either a) at the top of your class (top 25%), b) have an engineering degree, or c) have previous ties to an employer.


Finally, you should base your decision to attend law school entirely based on what you will actually do when you graduate vs. what you think you'll do when you graduate. The only "consistent" employment prospects for law school graduates are law firms, which are also the most competitive to get into (especially the larger ones). Although your work experience may be relevant, it's not "legal experience," and as such, you'll need to join a firm to learn how to practice or get extremely lucky and find a job within a company. The later is extremely rare because companies know fresh JDs don't have actual legal skills unless they've previously worked at a law firm, and usually don't have consistent hiring schedules to regularly hire entry-level attorneys.

dontrogerthat
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby dontrogerthat » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:38 pm

GW is very very highly regarded in public health and just built a gorgeous new Public Health building with top of the line technology. Just something to think about.

citylawschool
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby citylawschool » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:00 pm

Thank you for all of your help!! I definitely do not want to take the LSAT again, I am not a strong test taker and took it twice already, but my GPA should make up for that. I also wrote an addendum to explain how my SAT score was also on the lower side of the range for Johns Hopkins but how I excelled once I got here.

I will be paying for the rest of school with loans.

I think this answers all of the questions for now!

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chuckbass
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby chuckbass » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:07 pm

citylawschool wrote:Thank you for all of your help!! I definitely do not want to take the LSAT again, I am not a strong test taker and took it twice already, but my GPA should make up for that. I also wrote an addendum to explain how my SAT score was also on the lower side of the range for Johns Hopkins but how I excelled once I got here.

I will be paying for the rest of school with loans.

I think this answers all of the questions for now!

I never understand when people say this and then go to school where grades are based on your performance on one test

FSK
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby FSK » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:12 pm

Good lord you're walking in front of a freight train right now.

The job you want out of law school school is going to mean you almost absolutely need to start in a large firm. Less than 1/3 shot from either school. Your debt is going to be crushing.

Just walk away.

californiauser
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby californiauser » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:44 pm

citylawschool wrote:Thank you for all of your help!! I definitely do not want to take the LSAT again, I am not a strong test taker and took it twice already, but my GPA should make up for that. I also wrote an addendum to explain how my SAT score was also on the lower side of the range for Johns Hopkins but how I excelled once I got here.

I will be paying for the rest of school with loans.

I think this answers all of the questions for now!


If you aren't good at taking tests, going to a non-elite school isn't a great idea. Especially when the job you probably need (big law) to reach your end goal (general counsel) will require you to perform well on law school exams.

collegebum1989
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby collegebum1989 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:45 pm

Agree with all of the above. OP, don't think you understand how minimalistic the legal hiring process is.

Once you start law school, you become a statistic and your job opportunities will predominently be based on 1) the caliber of your law school, and 2) where you rank in your class, and 3) the geographic location you target for jobs.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but it wouldn't be wise to make a decision that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars presuming you will be one of those exceptions.

To address another point, just because GW is well-regarded for public health, doesn't necessarily mean GW LAW is the better choice to attend for a public health-oriented career. That would be like going to Case Western Law because Case Western is well-regarded for medicine. If you're truly interested in Public Health, save yourself the extra tuition and just get a PhD or an MPH.

adil91
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby adil91 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:18 am

Oops rc fail

but that still isn't a bad SAT score, I did worse than that and I did well on the LSAT
Last edited by adil91 on Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ymmv
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby ymmv » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:20 am

adil91 wrote:How'd you get into Johns Hopkins with a subpar SAT score?


What part of "lower side of the range for Johns Hopkins" didn't make sense to you?

citylawschool
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby citylawschool » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:33 am

I should clarify that I am a fine test taker in class, just not the strongest standardized test taker.

Also, I am interested in health policy, and have thought long and hard about my degree choice and how it will help my future career goals, and know that going to law school is my best option.

I don't know where you guys have heard that you need big law before general counsel; I have spoken to many people in the Office of General Counsel for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and most went to University of Maryland for law school! I also spoke to several others from NYC/NJ working for some of the largest health systems in the US, and they had told me they generally care more about how you did in law school rather than where you went. Coming from Hopkins, I am confident I have the skills to do well in law school.

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ymmv
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby ymmv » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:37 am

citylawschool wrote:I should clarify that I am a fine test taker in class, just not the strongest standardized test taker.

Also, I am interested in health policy, and have thought long and hard about my degree choice and how it will help my future career goals, and know that going to law school is my best option.

I don't know where you guys have heard that you need big law before general counsel; I have spoken to many people in the Office of General Counsel for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and most went to University of Maryland for law school! I also spoke to several others from NYC/NJ working for some of the largest health systems in the US, and they had told me they generally care more about how you did in law school rather than where you went. Coming from Hopkins, I am confident I have the skills to do well in law school.


Yes, your anecdotes from a handful of boomers who attended law school in an entirely different era and found success under those conditions are surely more meaningful than the actual working facts of the market today. Ignore the numbers, they don't apply to you.

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chuckbass
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby chuckbass » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:06 am

OP also went to Hopkins and is going to crush the community college kids at BU on the curve

collegebum1989
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby collegebum1989 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:31 am

citylawschool wrote:I should clarify that I am a fine test taker in class, just not the strongest standardized test taker.

Also, I am interested in health policy, and have thought long and hard about my degree choice and how it will help my future career goals, and know that going to law school is my best option.

I don't know where you guys have heard that you need big law before general counsel; I have spoken to many people in the Office of General Counsel for Johns Hopkins Medicine, and most went to University of Maryland for law school! I also spoke to several others from NYC/NJ working for some of the largest health systems in the US, and they had told me they generally care more about how you did in law school rather than where you went. Coming from Hopkins, I am confident I have the skills to do well in law school.


Senior attorneys usually have no idea about CURRENT hiring trends unless they actively participate in recruitment. The attorneys you've spoken to probably went to law school in the 80's, 90's or early 2000's before the recession and before the overall value of JDs diminished significantly. Even if you've spoken to younger attorneys, consider this: you may have spoken to individuals with a selection bias. That is, you're only seeing those that got to the position you're targetting, but haven't seen those that didn't. Maybe these individuals got to their positions through mutual contacts, great timing, and/or alternative means. This is why anecdotal evidence is usually unreliable - because you're only seeing the more successful side of the picture without considering the negative alternatives.

Sure, you may not need to go to biglaw to get to the position you want, but that's the best case scenario. Unless you know of a solid recruitment pipeline, you can't predict that you'll proceed with that route. Unfortunately, the only predictable recruitment pipeline for law students is law firm recruitment through OCI, which is why everyone focuses on it. Since you can't predict how hiring trends will be impacted in the next three years when you're in law school, you must be prepared to handle the worst case scenario.

Second, it's a little presumptuous to think you'll do "well" just because you went to JHU. At both BU and GW, there will be are numerous students who went to private undergrad institutions just like you did. They will also be in the same mindset as you are currently in. There will also be some with extensive graduate work, some with work experience, others with dual degrees, and some with a combination of all of the above. The point is, without having taken a single law school class, preparing for a law school exam, or studying the substantive content in 1L coursework, you cannot predict your performance in law school based solely on your undergraduate pedigree.

What you can do, is understand what performance level you need to achieve, understand the stakes, and make a cost-benefit analysis. At both GW and BU, you likely need to be in the top 1/3 of your class to have a realistic shot at a large law firm. Since alternative recruitment pipelines are unpredictable, you should be focused on preparing yourself to pursue a large law firm position given your goals to be GC in the future and because large law firm positions have the strongest exit options.

Good luck.

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Pumpkin-Duke of Pie
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby Pumpkin-Duke of Pie » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:03 am

Flame or, lol, 0L's.

If the latter, stop this madness. Retake or don't go. Unless you know for certain that JH or another institution will hire you after you graduate, don't screw yourself by taking on this kind of debt for anything not in the T-14 (And even then, retake and try to get a good scholly). GW and BU, while decent schools, are not worth that kind of debt, especially given your goals.

Also, there can be quite a few multiple choice tests similar to the LSAT in law school. If you're not a good standardized test taker and you happen to have one or more exams based on that format you're gonna be screwed.

Retake and reapply is tcr in this case.

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TasmanianToucan
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby TasmanianToucan » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:37 am

I don't know about health systems in particular, but I do know that generally it's nearly impossible to go in house right out of LS. The employers don't have the resources/inclination to train baby lawyers, especially when there are tons of burnt out firm slaves chomping at the bit to jump into a well paying gig with more reasonable hours and fewer sociopaths.

So you'll need to go biglaw. The odds of you going biglaw out of either GW or BU are not great. Maybe 1 in 3. Yes, we know that you're a special Johns Hopkins snowflake, but plenty of people at both of those schools went to great colleges and did very well. Assume you'll be median.

Play the odds. If you really have a great gpa, take the time you need to get a good LSAT score and do this right.

Petrichor
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby Petrichor » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:02 am

have you thought about a joint JD/MPH degree? I actually know health law attorneys and around 2/3 of them have a second degree in public health (PhD, DrPH, MSPH, MPH or MHA are the top 5).


Also to reiterate what others have said I think you will need biglaw exp to get that general counsel job and the best shot of getting biglaw is from a t-14

collegebum1989
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Re: GW vs BU

Postby collegebum1989 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:25 am

Another option to consider is going to GW part-time and getting a position with a public health oriented organization (e.g., federal agency or corporation) that has a legal team. Although not necessarily the most attractive option, the added work experience/exposure may reduce your need to go to a large law firm after law school and provide you with some opportunities to make professional contacts that may help you if your grades aren't on par to get a biglaw position. The risk is, of course, that you'll be curved against full-time students and are less likely to perform at the top of your class because of the added distraction of a full-time job.




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