it's allgood wrote:How important is quality of life for the 3 years you will be at law school? If it were me, I would choose Harvard because a) Cambridge and Boston are awesome and I prefer those to Chicago/ Hyde Park b) Harvard while larger in class size also offers more law courses, has more law professors, has more centers, and has many experts in other fields (in case you would like to take a class outside of the law school and do a little exploration). Those are all things that are important to me and why I would choose Harvard over Chicago; and Harvard would be worth the debt for me. But it really depends on what is important to you and what your priorities are. If having the lowest debt possible is a priority, the go to Chicago! Also, if a clerkship is a priority, then you may want to consider whether your chance is better at Chicago than Harvard. But are you getting a Ruby at Chicago? Because it seems like from your edit that may not be the case. If you are not getting the Ruby, then what is your chance for a clerkship any better at Chicago than at Harvard? Further, it seems like you have a stronger connection to Harvard. I recommend going with the place that feels best for you. Because both are great schools!
None of the stuff you just listed should really matter in the least in making this decision when talking about major debt vs. free.
1. Location. You won't be spending all that much time playing around the city, but to think that taking on six figure debt because you like Boston/Cambridge better than Chicago/Hyde Park would be silly. Both cities give you substantially the same opportunities to do the things that interest you (not saying they are at all the same cities, but just that most
macro interests can be accomplished in any city of this size).
2. More law courses/experts teaching law courses. I know you don't realize this yet, but while a given school may offer a few more courses in a given field of law, or might allow you to take classes in a range of topics outside of the law school, this is another pointless reason that will have no impact on your future for the average student. Harvard has more professors with serious pull for getting Fed. Clerkships, which should be considered if clerking interests you. But taking a couple extra "Constitutional Law" taught by Tribe or taking one class at Kennedy because you can will be such a fleeting thing in the grand scheme of your career to put this as only a cost tiebreaker. If you are lucky enough to get a clerkship recommendation from a professor like Tribe will pay off in the clerkship chase, but those types of recommendations are extremely difficult to get (heard anecdotally from friends who went HLS, so take that FWIW).
Harvard can very reasonably be worth some debt over going to UChi, but the city it is in and number of professors or course offerings are not among them when the cost differential is six figure debt. (I also find it a bit silly to pick Harvard to get a one year Fed. Clerkship that will most likely end up in...you guessed it, Biglaw. But that's a digression and there are certainly certain clerkships that open up more unicorny jobs like appellate boutiques or particular practice groups that do really rare legal work).
This is a professional school designed to get you to your particular choice in career. You should pick based on which school gives you the best chance for the career you want, while weighing the cost of debt you'll take on to get it. Taking six figures of debt for an increase from ~15% fed clerk to ~25-30% fed clerk placement is worth something if you really want a fed clerkship, and that amount will vary subjectively from person to person, but no rational person can justify taking on that much additional debt for that kind of increase in chance of a short-term career milestone.