Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

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

Where should I go?

Duke
69
68%
Harvard
32
32%
 
Total votes: 101

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eileenbae

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Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:04 am

Hi TLS Family,

I am undoubtedly very lucky and grateful to be in this position. You got me through LSAT prep, you got me through law school applications, and I need your help one last time in choosing a school.

HLS COA: Appx 90K per year
Duke COA: Appx 25K per year

Since my parents have recently passed away, I will be financing these costs through loans and a few private scholarships (no more than a few thousand dollars each; still waiting on their status). I believe my fiance might be willing to pitch in, he works in media, but I do not want him absorbing most/all of my debt.

I do not have significant ties to either Boston or Durham but would like to remain in the East Coast, preferably NYC. I'd like to pursue a federal clerkship after law school, with the hopes of working primarily in competitive PI/Big Gov. Long term goals include working as an AUSA and potentially running for political office in a decade or so.

I'm no longer considering retaking the LSAT. These are the best options I have. Please help! Thanks! :)

Edit: For those in the know, I am especially interested in hearing more about experiences with LIPP and perhaps any "special" doors/treatment the Mordecai would net me with respect to clerking or PI.

ponderingmeerkat

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby ponderingmeerkat » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:22 am

So, the question boils down to "Is Harvard worth an extra $195,000 when compared to Duke?"

My answer to this would be no. Short of a burning desire to do something like ACLU/SPLC impact lit or a drive to pursue academia, Duke will offer very similar outcomes to Harvard when it comes to your odds of getting placed into PI/Big Gov/clerkships and AUSA follow ups. This option at Duke will also open doors to you because you won't have an insane debt-beast you have to constantly feed. So, if a career-building job presents itself that doesn't pay exactly what other options are offering, you'll be in a much better position to consider it.

Anyway, great options. Good luck!

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eileenbae

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:05 am

ponderingmeerkat wrote:So, the question boils down to "Is Harvard worth an extra $195,000 when compared to Duke?"

My answer to this would be no. Short of a burning desire to do something like ACLU/SPLC impact lit or a drive to pursue academia, Duke will offer very similar outcomes to Harvard when it comes to your odds of getting placed into PI/Big Gov/clerkships and AUSA follow ups. This option at Duke will also open doors to you because you won't have an insane debt-beast you have to constantly feed. So, if a career-building job presents itself that doesn't pay exactly what other options are offering, you'll be in a much better position to consider it.

Anyway, great options. Good luck!


Thank you for this advice!

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TexasENG

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby TexasENG » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:26 am

eileenbae wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:So, the question boils down to "Is Harvard worth an extra $195,000 when compared to Duke?"

My answer to this would be no. Short of a burning desire to do something like ACLU/SPLC impact lit or a drive to pursue academia, Duke will offer very similar outcomes to Harvard when it comes to your odds of getting placed into PI/Big Gov/clerkships and AUSA follow ups. This option at Duke will also open doors to you because you won't have an insane debt-beast you have to constantly feed. So, if a career-building job presents itself that doesn't pay exactly what other options are offering, you'll be in a much better position to consider it.

Anyway, great options. Good luck!


Thank you for this advice!


If you are 100% set on a fed clerkship you might want to consider Harvard, just because that 10% difference is pretty significant. You'll have to hustle a bit more at Duke to get one.

That being said, I think Duke is the right choice, a mortgage payment of law school debt is something I personally wouldn't be able to justify.

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proteinshake

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby proteinshake » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:32 am

I'd definitely take Duke here. way too much debt for H when Duke is near free. also how'd you get Duke at 25K a year when your tuition is covered? I think that might be a big overestimation.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby ponderingmeerkat » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:42 am

TexasENG wrote:
eileenbae wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:So, the question boils down to "Is Harvard worth an extra $195,000 when compared to Duke?"

My answer to this would be no. Short of a burning desire to do something like ACLU/SPLC impact lit or a drive to pursue academia, Duke will offer very similar outcomes to Harvard when it comes to your odds of getting placed into PI/Big Gov/clerkships and AUSA follow ups. This option at Duke will also open doors to you because you won't have an insane debt-beast you have to constantly feed. So, if a career-building job presents itself that doesn't pay exactly what other options are offering, you'll be in a much better position to consider it.

Anyway, great options. Good luck!


Thank you for this advice!


If you are 100% set on a fed clerkship you might want to consider Harvard, just because that 10% difference is pretty significant. You'll have to hustle a bit more at Duke to get one.

That being said, I think Duke is the right choice, a mortgage payment of law school debt is something I personally wouldn't be able to justify.


I know we agree here, but just to unpack this slightly:

The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:

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eileenbae

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:42 am

proteinshake wrote:I'd definitely take Duke here. way too much debt for H when Duke is near free. also how'd you get Duke at 25K a year when your tuition is covered? I think that might be a big overestimation.


I am also factoring in living costs/food/etc from this website https://law.duke.edu/admis/tuition/

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eileenbae

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:43 am

ponderingmeerkat wrote:
TexasENG wrote:
eileenbae wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:So, the question boils down to "Is Harvard worth an extra $195,000 when compared to Duke?"

My answer to this would be no. Short of a burning desire to do something like ACLU/SPLC impact lit or a drive to pursue academia, Duke will offer very similar outcomes to Harvard when it comes to your odds of getting placed into PI/Big Gov/clerkships and AUSA follow ups. This option at Duke will also open doors to you because you won't have an insane debt-beast you have to constantly feed. So, if a career-building job presents itself that doesn't pay exactly what other options are offering, you'll be in a much better position to consider it.

Anyway, great options. Good luck!


Thank you for this advice!


If you are 100% set on a fed clerkship you might want to consider Harvard, just because that 10% difference is pretty significant. You'll have to hustle a bit more at Duke to get one.

That being said, I think Duke is the right choice, a mortgage payment of law school debt is something I personally wouldn't be able to justify.


I know we agree here, but just to unpack this slightly:

The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


Curious as to how much need-based aid/scholarship money would make H competitive in an instance where Fed Clerking is my number one priority.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby ponderingmeerkat » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:57 am

eileenbae wrote: Curious as to how much need-based aid/scholarship money would make H competitive in an instance where Fed Clerking is my number one priority.


That's a tough one (and you're liable to get as many opinions as there are posters). Why? Some people place value on things like prestige, learned skills unique to clerkships, exit options, mentorship, etc.

I think it goes without saying there's value in those things, but it's tough to calculate that value concretely (beyond the well-publicized clerkship bonuses that some firms offer for prestigious clerkships) and everyone is going to place a different premium on these benefits.

But, I DO know for a fact 200K for a 10% increase in placement-probability wouldn't cut it for me. Would 50K for a 50% increase do the trick? Yea, definitely. So, somewhere on that spectrum from "definitely" to "no way man" is where I draw the line. Might be a very fuzzy line, but it's in there somewhere. If you put a gun to my head and made me lay down a figure, I'd say right around $300K. So, $30K more per 10% increase in placement-percentage. Not sure I could defend that concretely and if someone wanted to argue a clerkship is worth $500K to them, I'd probably not argue it with them. But $300K seems reasonable.

All this to say, I'm certain no applicant should value a clerkship at ~$2M.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby guynourmin » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:07 am

ponderingmeerkat wrote:The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


So, I mean, this is obviously terrible logic, right? H places 10% more of their class into federal clerkships -- ~20% compared to ~10%. So that isn't a 10% difference, its a 100% difference or a 50% difference. And the mechanics of a curve are such that being in the top 10% is harder than being in the top 20% in a more than 50% more way, right?

If you wanted to put a dollar amount on it, you probably could, but it is certainly not as simple as you've made it here, nor as drastic.

(I am voting for Duke, though!)

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby ponderingmeerkat » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:21 am

guybourdin wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


So, I mean, this is obviously terrible logic, right? H places 10% more of their class into federal clerkships -- ~20% compared to ~10%. So that isn't a 10% difference, its a 100% difference or a 50% difference. And the mechanics of a curve are such that being in the top 10% is harder than being in the top 20% in a more than 50% more way, right?

If you wanted to put a dollar amount on it, you probably could, but it is certainly not as simple as you've made it here, nor as drastic.

(I am voting for Duke, though!)


Sure, and we could also get into things like "Is there an element of self-selection baked into those numbers?" Do some statistically significant percentage of people at either school want only biglaw or Big Fed or impact lit or etc. and so aren't in the running for a clerkship? Class sizes are massively different. If Duke scaled up to H's size, would it still place a similar percentage?? You can get really into the weeds on this.

But I see your point--thanks for correcting my back of the napkin math here. :D

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby Clemenceau » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:33 am

guybourdin wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


So, I mean, this is obviously terrible logic, right? H places 10% more of their class into federal clerkships -- ~20% compared to ~10%. So that isn't a 10% difference, its a 100% difference or a 50% difference. And the mechanics of a curve are such that being in the top 10% is harder than being in the top 20% in a more than 50% more way, right?

If you wanted to put a dollar amount on it, you probably could, but it is certainly not as simple as you've made it here, nor as drastic.

(I am voting for Duke, though!)


You're talking about relative odds, the above poster was referring to absolute odds. I agree the example was hyperbolic, but not "obviously terrible logic". Once OP is enrolled at one of these schools, the relative odds of obtaining a clerkship at that school vs the other are meaningless; only the absolute odds will make a difference.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby TexasENG » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:48 am

ponderingmeerkat wrote:
guybourdin wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


So, I mean, this is obviously terrible logic, right? H places 10% more of their class into federal clerkships -- ~20% compared to ~10%. So that isn't a 10% difference, its a 100% difference or a 50% difference. And the mechanics of a curve are such that being in the top 10% is harder than being in the top 20% in a more than 50% more way, right?

If you wanted to put a dollar amount on it, you probably could, but it is certainly not as simple as you've made it here, nor as drastic.

(I am voting for Duke, though!)


Sure, and we could also get into things like "Is there an element of self-selection baked into those numbers?" Do some statistically significant percentage of people at either school want only biglaw or Big Fed or impact lit or etc. and so aren't in the running for a clerkship? Class sizes are massively different. If Duke scaled up to H's size, would it still place a similar percentage?? You can get really into the weeds on this.

But I see your point--thanks for correcting my back of the napkin math here. :D


If you look at absolute numbers you also have (from 2015)

Duke - 8.7% Federal Clerkship Rate - 18 Students
Harvard - 19% Federal Clerkship Rate - 112 Students

I think due to the size of the classes its pretty easy to infer that Harvard has a significant advantage in placing students into fed clerkships, they place ~5x as many students.

Tbh I don't really know how to quantify how much a federal clerkship is worth to be able to come up with a number that I would feel justified spending for an advantage on it.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby jrf12886 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:02 pm

Does your expected COA include need-based aid from H?

grades??

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby grades?? » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:08 pm

TexasENG wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:
guybourdin wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:The idea of considering a 10% increase in clerkship placement for $195,000 seems indefensible in my mind. That would imply an actual, 100%-guaranteed clerkship is valued by the applicant at $1,950,000. :shock:


So, I mean, this is obviously terrible logic, right? H places 10% more of their class into federal clerkships -- ~20% compared to ~10%. So that isn't a 10% difference, its a 100% difference or a 50% difference. And the mechanics of a curve are such that being in the top 10% is harder than being in the top 20% in a more than 50% more way, right?

If you wanted to put a dollar amount on it, you probably could, but it is certainly not as simple as you've made it here, nor as drastic.

(I am voting for Duke, though!)


Sure, and we could also get into things like "Is there an element of self-selection baked into those numbers?" Do some statistically significant percentage of people at either school want only biglaw or Big Fed or impact lit or etc. and so aren't in the running for a clerkship? Class sizes are massively different. If Duke scaled up to H's size, would it still place a similar percentage?? You can get really into the weeds on this.

But I see your point--thanks for correcting my back of the napkin math here. :D


If you look at absolute numbers you also have (from 2015)

Duke - 8.7% Federal Clerkship Rate - 18 Students
Harvard - 19% Federal Clerkship Rate - 112 Students

I think due to the size of the classes its pretty easy to infer that Harvard has a significant advantage in placing students into fed clerkships, they place ~5x as many students.

Tbh I don't really know how to quantify how much a federal clerkship is worth to be able to come up with a number that I would feel justified spending for an advantage on it.


FYI from the information within Duke, the clerkship rate is much higher now. After a real lack of clerkships, Duke has hired a new clerkship coordinator and I know at least 25 people within the 2l class with clerkships lined up already. Just as a piece of information. There is a real push for clerkships at Duke now with the new coordinator really repairing some relationships that in 2014/2015 were not good.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby whysooseriousbiglaw » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:30 pm

Dook

I know the prestige of Harvard is hard to give up, but a clerkship is ONLY ONE YEAR (unless you become a career clerk) and that's a ton of money...that's at least a few years of savings in biglaw.

Remember - most people who pay sticker price have really rich parents.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby quiver » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:43 pm

eileenbae wrote:Curious as to how much need-based aid/scholarship money would make H competitive in an instance where Fed Clerking is my number one priority.
100% agree with Duke for the reasons outlined by others.

Why do you want to clerk so badly? Because you think it's a stepping stone to AUSA/other stuff?

I don't think it's wise to place so much emphasis on something that is (1) somewhat of a crapshoot, (2) not a necessary credential for your goals, and (3) a one-year job in a 40+ year career. Don't get me wrong, clerkships are great; if you have the opportunity and can handle it financially/personally, then you should go for it with your goals. But trying to put a dollar amount on HLS vs Duke based solely on fed clerkships is a little bit silly, in my opinion.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby GoBucks6612 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:45 pm

Go to ASW for both and make your decision from there. Don't listen to TLS no matter what we say. FWIW, my biased recommendation for you is Harvard but my opinion on your situation does not matter.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby PrezRand » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:49 pm

Duke. You probably won't be clerking unless you go to Yale and to bet on H's placement wouldn't be wise imo. If you strike out, you will be close to 300k in debt. If you strike out at Duke, you will still get biglaw and can pay that 75k off in a year if you are really worried about debt.

But, as Gobucks said, don't listen to TLS. Make your own choice based on which you like. I think TLS's opinion is overstated and many of the people here don't give great advice.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby proteinshake » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:55 pm

eileenbae wrote:
proteinshake wrote:I'd definitely take Duke here. way too much debt for H when Duke is near free. also how'd you get Duke at 25K a year when your tuition is covered? I think that might be a big overestimation.


I am also factoring in living costs/food/etc from this website https://law.duke.edu/admis/tuition/

It definitely does not cost 25,000 to stay in Durham for 9 months. I'd say around half that. Duke gives these numbers so students can take out more in loans if they want to (for (emergency) spending money and stuff like that). I'm gonna be paying $650 a month in rent and that's only $5850 for 9 months. There's no way I'm spending $20,000 more other living costs and books.
Last edited by proteinshake on Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:56 pm

I am also curious about the intense focus on clerking. Clerkships are great. I'll probably do one if I can. But why are you building your entire law school decision/career on 1-2 years of work?

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eileenbae

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:08 pm

jrf12886 wrote:Does your expected COA include need-based aid from H?


It does not, I have not received my financial aid package yet. I am not sure how many students receive full need-based aid. Assuming I qualify, would that change the decision calculus?

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eileenbae

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby eileenbae » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:11 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:I am also curious about the intense focus on clerking. Clerkships are great. I'll probably do one if I can. But why are you building your entire law school decision/career on 1-2 years of work?


Someone earlier asked a similar question about clerking so I will try and answer both here. I definitely don't think that clerking is the be-all and end-all. I do think it might be a helpful step in situating myself for a big gov position as an AUSA or eventual work in Main Justice, so I would like to maximize my chances.

Again, I am grappling with whether or not the networks/pipeline of H will outweigh the money offered by Duke. I am also curious as to whether LIPP plays any role in mitigating some of the cost disparity for the posters who are heavily in favor of Duke.

Again, thank you everyone for weighing in. As always, TLS comes through!

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jrf12886

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby jrf12886 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:41 pm

eileenbae wrote:
jrf12886 wrote:Does your expected COA include need-based aid from H?


It does not, I have not received my financial aid package yet. I am not sure how many students receive full need-based aid. Assuming I qualify, would that change the decision calculus?


If you get a decent aid package from HLS, I would take HLS over Duke. Let us know what you end up getting.

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Re: Duke (Mordecai) v. Harvard

Postby existentialcrisis » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:13 pm

PrezRand wrote:Duke. You probably won't be clerking unless you go to Yale and to bet on H's placement wouldn't be wise imo. If you strike out, you will be close to 300k in debt. If you strike out at Duke, you will still get biglaw and can pay that 75k off in a year if you are really worried about debt.

But, as Gobucks said, don't listen to TLS. Make your own choice based on which you like. I think TLS's opinion is overstated and many of the people here don't give great advice.


I vote Duke, barring a bunch of need based aid. But, the part about betting on clerkship placement seems like nonsense. I'll bet the majority of the HLS class could get an article Iii clerkship if they wanted one. It probably wouldn't be D.C. Circuit or SDNY or something like that, but OP didn't say he wanted a super competitive clerkship.

I do agee with the sentiment in this thread that 0Ls seem too hung up on clerkships though.



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