Berkeley $$ vs. Columbia sticker

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

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Berkeley $$ vs. Columbia sticker

Postby badlefthook » Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:24 pm

Hoping to spend 2-3 years working for a big law firm, and then ultimately transition into the USAO either in LA, where I'm from, or Nor Cal. I recognize there are many paths to achieving this goal, such as working in a big firm for a few years, state AG's office, local DA, etc. Geographically I'd pick Berkeley hands down to be close to the fam. I'm hoping to do white collar prosecutions, and I think Columbia would be great for this being in nyc and all. Thanks in advance to anyone who can provide me with wise council.

Edit: Berkeley offering $25K per year plus CA discount. Columbia offering nothing.
Last edited by badlefthook on Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:33 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
orangered

New
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 4:49 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby orangered » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:45 pm

First off, becoming an AUSA is hard. A decent number of people coming into law school want to do it, but only a fraction will be able to. This is especially true in LA and SF -- markets that have a lot of smart attorneys looking to get off the biglaw track.

That aside, given that your goals are generally CA focused, you should go to Berkeley. USNWR notwithstanding, Berkeley is regarded as just as good if not better than Columbia in NorCal. Also, you'll have an easier time getting a NorCal job from Berkeley because you'll have more ability to (a) network and (b) apply to smaller firms that don't go to Columbia's OCI. And being close to family can't be ignored even if you're just asking about employment prospects, because you'll get better grades in school—and thus better employment opportunities—if you're happy.

badlefthook

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby badlefthook » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:41 pm

many many thank yous for this, very helpful

User avatar
jbagelboy

Diamond
Posts: 10276
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:07 am

Scholarships? Costs? What kind of firm? Are your geographic interests restricted to just california?

badlefthook

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby badlefthook » Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:50 pm

As of now no scholarships offered, need to get the ball rolling on that. I do get a slight discount at UCB since I'm a CA resident.

Not sure on the type of firm. Haven't thought that far ahead, but I would like to spend a couple years building a little financial nest egg as I currently have no assets to my name.

I've been working in DC the past few years, and would also consider coming back after school to work in the federal government. Other than that hoping to be in CA.

jackstraw92

New
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jackstraw92 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:41 pm

bump. also deciding between these two schools. no ties to norcal and my goal is SF biglaw, but since I can't really predict how I'll do in terms of grades should I accept the better shot at biglaw from Columbia? and would that pretty much mean no chance at SF without ties? fwiw I'd like to do corporate work and am interested in tech/IP. still waiting on aid offers.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter

Diamond
Posts: 17152
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby Tiago Splitter » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:39 am

jackstraw92 wrote:bump. also deciding between these two schools. no ties to norcal and my goal is SF biglaw, but since I can't really predict how I'll do in terms of grades should I accept the better shot at biglaw from Columbia? and would that pretty much mean no chance at SF without ties? fwiw I'd like to do corporate work and am interested in tech/IP. still waiting on aid offers.

See how much money you can get. If you really want to be in the Bay Area and don't have ties Berkeley will help quite a bit.

Where are your ties?

User avatar
KMart

Gold
Posts: 4368
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:25 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby KMart » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:42 am

jackstraw92 wrote:bump. also deciding between these two schools. no ties to norcal and my goal is SF biglaw, but since I can't really predict how I'll do in terms of grades should I accept the better shot at biglaw from Columbia? and would that pretty much mean no chance at SF without ties? fwiw I'd like to do corporate work and am interested in tech/IP. still waiting on aid offers.

i'd probably do Berk but see what the offers look like.

lamimi

New
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:29 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby lamimi » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:10 am

Honestly, Berk makes the most sense for your career goals. If you wanted to pursue a fed clerkship or gov position, you have to work your butt off. The way I see it, Berk makes that goal most possible for ya. If you happen to be an individual that strives in test taking (talking that over 90% LSAT), then I say take the best bet b/c there are limitations to each school and why waste your time on a school that won't deliver your needs best than Columbia? TLS is super debt adverse, but consider the income benefit of going to one school over another at medium, while on scholly $$$. ANY ONE can be at medium or better with enough hard work, look at me for example.

Feel free to pm me on what Berk is like on a daily basis. Keep in mind, I am a URM.

jackstraw92

New
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jackstraw92 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:09 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
jackstraw92 wrote:bump. also deciding between these two schools. no ties to norcal and my goal is SF biglaw, but since I can't really predict how I'll do in terms of grades should I accept the better shot at biglaw from Columbia? and would that pretty much mean no chance at SF without ties? fwiw I'd like to do corporate work and am interested in tech/IP. still waiting on aid offers.

See how much money you can get. If you really want to be in the Bay Area and don't have ties Berkeley will help quite a bit.

Where are your ties?


my ties are to Boston/New England. I lived in SoCal quite a while ago - I imagine that wouldn't help much for SF/SV.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter

Diamond
Posts: 17152
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:59 pm

jackstraw92 wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
jackstraw92 wrote:bump. also deciding between these two schools. no ties to norcal and my goal is SF biglaw, but since I can't really predict how I'll do in terms of grades should I accept the better shot at biglaw from Columbia? and would that pretty much mean no chance at SF without ties? fwiw I'd like to do corporate work and am interested in tech/IP. still waiting on aid offers.

See how much money you can get. If you really want to be in the Bay Area and don't have ties Berkeley will help quite a bit.

Where are your ties?


my ties are to Boston/New England. I lived in SoCal quite a while ago - I imagine that wouldn't help much for SF/SV.

Your ties might be better than you think, especially if you have good reasons for wanting corporate law. I ended up working in the Bay Area despite never having been here prior to my interview, but I did grow up in Southern California. I'd probably lean Berkeley in your shoes but don't think Columbia shuts you out.

4'sup

New
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:42 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby 4'sup » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:18 pm

Also choosing between these two. Have a $150,000 Deans scholly to Michigan so I'm hoping I can leverage it at Berk to be near fam. I visited columbia over the weekend and loved it, much more than Berk. But, I want Berk for SF Biglaw and family/friends proximity. Plus being near SF is cool even if I dislike Berkeley itself.

jackstraw92

New
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jackstraw92 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:27 pm

Got a decent merit aid offer from NYU. I'm planning on trying to negotiate with Berkeley and Columbia using the NYU offer, and obviously if one school ends up being far cheaper than the other two I'll go there. But if the total COA at Berk and CLS end up being similar, is Berkeley still worth the advantage for NorCal? Should B's rankings drop and latest biglaw placement numbers have me a little more hesitant about the school even though I was starting to lean toward Berkeley over Columbia? I guess I'm interested to see the class of 2016 employment reports, which I assume should come out before I need to make a decision.

Rigo

Diamond
Posts: 16642
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:19 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby Rigo » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:34 pm

jackstraw92 wrote:Got a decent merit aid offer from NYU. I'm planning on trying to negotiate with Berkeley and Columbia using the NYU offer, and obviously if one school ends up being far cheaper than the other two I'll go there. But if the total COA at Berk and CLS end up being similar, is Berkeley still worth the advantage for NorCal? Should B's rankings drop and latest biglaw placement numbers have me a little more hesitant about the school even though I was starting to lean toward Berkeley over Columbia? I guess I'm interested to see the class of 2016 employment reports, which I assume should come out before I need to make a decision.

They come out in May iirc

E: I did not remember correctly
Last edited by Rigo on Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cavalier1138

Gold
Posts: 4954
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:36 pm

jackstraw92 wrote:Got a decent merit aid offer from NYU. I'm planning on trying to negotiate with Berkeley and Columbia using the NYU offer, and obviously if one school ends up being far cheaper than the other two I'll go there. But if the total COA at Berk and CLS end up being similar, is Berkeley still worth the advantage for NorCal? Should B's rankings drop and latest biglaw placement numbers have me a little more hesitant about the school even though I was starting to lean toward Berkeley over Columbia? I guess I'm interested to see the class of 2016 employment reports, which I assume should come out before I need to make a decision.


I wouldn't think that Berkeley's drop has much to do with it suddenly not being able to get its students jobs. They had a fairly well-publicized scandal that is the likely source of the shakeup. Especially if your goal is to be in California, it's still one of your best bets.

That said, NYU still places decently in CA, especially for students with ties. If these schools won't match, NYU isn't a bad choice here.

jackstraw92

New
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jackstraw92 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:40 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
jackstraw92 wrote:Got a decent merit aid offer from NYU. I'm planning on trying to negotiate with Berkeley and Columbia using the NYU offer, and obviously if one school ends up being far cheaper than the other two I'll go there. But if the total COA at Berk and CLS end up being similar, is Berkeley still worth the advantage for NorCal? Should B's rankings drop and latest biglaw placement numbers have me a little more hesitant about the school even though I was starting to lean toward Berkeley over Columbia? I guess I'm interested to see the class of 2016 employment reports, which I assume should come out before I need to make a decision.


I wouldn't think that Berkeley's drop has much to do with it suddenly not being able to get its students jobs. They had a fairly well-publicized scandal that is the likely source of the shakeup. Especially if your goal is to be in California, it's still one of your best bets.

That said, NYU still places decently in CA, especially for students with ties. If these schools won't match, NYU isn't a bad choice here.


Ah ok, thanks - guess the rankings shift had me a little rattled today. I'm surprised the dean's scandal is such a big factor for the school's ranking.

whysooseriousbiglaw

New
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:44 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby whysooseriousbiglaw » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:11 am

Rankings don't really matter on their own..Berkeley's shittier employment prospects (lowest fed clerkship plus biglaw percentages out of top 14 aside from Georgetown) is what makes it more concerning. They also seem to not care about maintaining their matriculant stats, so Berkeley ends up with a 166 average LSAT score....lol

Regardless, I'd go where you got the most $$$$. Biglaw is awful and you will want out soon, I can guarantee that.

User avatar
rpupkin

Platinum
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby rpupkin » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:50 am

jackstraw92 wrote:Ah ok, thanks - guess the rankings shift had me a little rattled today. I'm surprised the dean's scandal is such a big factor for the school's ranking.

The rankings of a magazine don't matter. They just don't.

I'm not even sure you have to resort to a "dean's scandal" to explain Boalttt's drop. Once you get past the top five or six schools, the T14 schools are separated by tiny differences in USNWR's calculated score. If one input shifts up or down a bit, it can change a school's ranking by several spots. Last year, Berkeley was tied for eighth with three other schools. Berkeley's drop to 12th can be explained by statistical noise.

Look at the history of the USNWR rankings. Boalttt has bounced around between 6 and 13 over the past thirty years, shifting up and down and up and down again over time. It's a similar story with Penn. None of these schools are changing in a meaningful way. If you're letting a magazine's "rankings" affect your decision, you're doing it wrong.

jackstraw92

New
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:01 am

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby jackstraw92 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:03 am

rpupkin wrote:
jackstraw92 wrote:Ah ok, thanks - guess the rankings shift had me a little rattled today. I'm surprised the dean's scandal is such a big factor for the school's ranking.

The rankings of a magazine don't matter. They just don't.

I'm not even sure you have to resort to a "dean's scandal" to explain Boalttt's drop. Once you get past the top five or six schools, the T14 schools are separated by tiny differences in USNWR's calculated score. If one input shifts up or down a bit, it can change a school's ranking by several spots. Last year, Berkeley was tied for eighth with three other schools. Berkeley's drop to 12th can be explained by statistical noise.

Look at the history of the USNWR rankings. Boalttt has bounced around between 6 and 13 over the past thirty years, shifting up and down and up and down again over time. It's a similar story with Penn. None of these schools are changing in a meaningful way. If you're letting a magazine's "rankings" affect your decision, you're doing it wrong.


Right, of course - I don't care at all what the actual ranking is, I just was concerned if the drop represents rapidly worsening employment outcomes, which it sounds like it doesn't. Thanks for the advice though; if B still gives me the best shot at SF then I'm headed there if they offer me some $$. Otherwise whichever school will be cheapest is where I'm going!

badlefthook

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby badlefthook » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:03 am

Berkeley offering $25K per year. That, plus the CA discount, makes it about $40k per year cheaper than Columbia.

I'm hoping to do white collar work in USAO or CA Attorney Generals Office, and definitely put roots down in CA which is where I'm from. I'm open to any path that gets me to that goal, whether it's a big fancy law firm, clerking, local DA's office, etc. Columbia's location in the world's financial capital and connection to federal prosecutors in NYC is also appealing. I know I would great experience in this field going to school there.

I'm also looking to preserve as many options as possible after graduating, because I recognize much can change in 3 years. Berkeley's drop in rankings is slightly concerning, and a partner at a big firm in LA told me that if choosing between completely equal candidates from both schools, he would give the edge to the one from Columbia. It just seems to have much more of a "wow" factor than Berkeley.

I was 51-49 set on Columbia until this offer came in. I would definitely be much happier in CA compared to NYC, but it's just 3 years, and after visiting both schools, I was pretty blown away by how serious, sharp, and professional students at Columbia seemed. Sorry for the essay but I'm really freakin torn here.

merde_happens

New
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:49 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby merde_happens » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:16 am

What is it with these threads and people taking the word of some one-off boomer partner as gospel?

Look at how many Berkeley grads are at Big Law firms in SF/SV compared to Columbia grads. Sure, some of that is self-selection, but you also can't deny that Berkeley places very well in its home region -- which is where you want to be. The most likely outcome is that you will land at median. Median students from both of these schools are going to have the same opportunities when it comes to SF/SV Big Law.

If it makes you feel better, I've got a rainmaker boomer partner at my firm who's a Berkeley law grad and die-hard fan of the school. I'm sure if you asked he'd say he'd pick a Berkeley student over a Columbia student, all else being equal. There- I countered your useless anecdote with one of my own.

Oh and all of this isn't even to mention that given your goals--and in fact given almost any circumstance--Columbia is NOT worth $120k+ (because that debt is gonna capitalize) more than Berkeley. It's just not.

badlefthook

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby badlefthook » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:27 am

merde_happens wrote:What is it with these threads and people taking the word of some one-off boomer partner as gospel?

Look at how many Berkeley grads are at Big Law firms in SF/SV compared to Columbia grads. Sure, some of that is self-selection, but you also can't deny that Berkeley places very well in its home region -- which is where you want to be. The most likely outcome is that you will land at median. Median students from both of these schools are going to have the same opportunities when it comes to SF/SV Big Law.

If it makes you feel better, I've got a rainmaker boomer partner at my firm who's a Berkeley law grad and die-hard fan of the school. I'm sure if you asked he'd say he'd pick a Berkeley student over a Columbia student, all else being equal. There- I countered your useless anecdote with one of my own.

Oh and all of this isn't even to mention that given your goals--and in fact given almost any circumstance--Columbia is NOT worth $120k+ (because that debt is gonna capitalize) more than Berkeley. It's just not.


Thanks for the advice. Fyi I wasn't taking anybody's word as "gospel," it's just one data point in a complex algorithm. This is a close friend and he makes hiring decisions and that's what he told me. Definitely not super important but not completely useless either. I'm just trying to make the best decision possible with the very limited information available to me.

merde_happens

New
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:49 pm

Re: Berkeley vs. Columbia

Postby merde_happens » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:37 am

The information available to you isn't limited. There are plenty of employment statistics out there that will give you an idea about job placement in California from each school. There are also debt calculators which can show you the impact that $120k more of debt would do for your repayment plan and financial freedom.

And yes, the off-hand, hypothetical notion that he'd give a "slight edge" to a Columbia student over a Berkeley student "all else being equal" from one partner at one law firm in LA (so not even your target market) is a completely useless anecdote.



Return to “Choosing a Law School?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 13 guests