Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

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thj23

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Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby thj23 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:05 pm

Hey Y'all,
I've been reading through these forums for a while and I just wanted to see if I could get some opinions on law school choice for Louisiana. I'm from Louisiana and will graduate undergrad from LSU. I'd like to work in Louisiana and settle down in the state. I know that I've seen a lot of people on this forum and other places emphasize the importance for Louisianans to stay in-state because of the networking and civil/common law difference but I wonder if it's ever worth it for forgo those benefits and go to a top-ranked school. When I apply I my stats will be at least a 3.91 GPA and 174 LSAT (LSAT retakes could change that). Those numbers put would put me in the conversation for a better-ranked school than LSU, Tulane, and the other LA schools but idk if it's worth it. Some of the schools I'm interested in are Texas and Vandy but I wouldn't want to go there if I couldn't end up working where I wanted to live.

Does anyone have any perspective on going out of state and coming back to LA?

Also, I'm interested in clerking after law school. I've seen that according to the LST reports, none of the LA schools have good numbers for clerkships. Does anyone know about clerkships in LA coming from Louisiana schools versus out of state? It would make sense to me that the Louisiana school's clerkship stats are low because they only produce clerks within the state.

Thanks for all your help!

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby QContinuum » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:39 pm

Congrats on your 3.91/174. That's tremendous. That's admission-to-Harvard, $$$ at Chicago/Columbia/NYU, full-ride at lower T13 stats.
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What do you want out of law school, besides working in Louisiana? What kind of lawyer do you want to be? What salary are you looking to make?

thj23

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby thj23 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:21 pm

Thanks for the reply!
I'm interested in transactional law and constitutional law but I can't say specifically that I have it narrowed down to a definite area. I've had some experience working in state government and spent a summer working on the hill as an intern and I enjoyed that work with legislation and the like. I have some family members that have a small firm that does M&A work in Atlanta so I've had interest in that too. But again, I can't say for certain what my chosen area is. I really just want to explore my options.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby thj23 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:32 pm

QContinuum wrote:Congrats on your 3.91/174. That's tremendous. That's admission-to-Harvard, $$$ at Chicago/Columbia/NYU, full-ride at lower T13 stats.

What do you want out of law school, besides working in Louisiana? What kind of lawyer do you want to be? What salary are you looking to make?


Also, as for my salary: I really have no idea. Obviously, I'd love to make a decent amount out of school but I grew up pretty modest (single mother) so I don't need hundreds of thousands.

And to add on to what I want out of law school, I'm interested in some of the more "national schools" because I've heard they offer a bit more flexibility in job prospects. That being said, I don't want to go into insane debt for a degree - especially if it won't give me an edge on the market for LA.

Hope all of that makes sense! Thanks!

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:42 pm

So I have good news and bad news, OP. The good news is that with your numbers, you can easily get a transactional law gig and have a realistic chance of getting a constitutional law/impact litigation role. You can get those positions from a T13, which you can get with your GPA and LSAT. And you'll likely net a hefty scholarship at Chicago/Columbia/NYU/Penn, and a bigger scholarship (possibly even a full-tuition scholarship) at a "lower" T13, such as Michigan, UVA, Duke, Northwestern, or Cornell. (Berkeley is legendarily stingy with scholarships, and Yale/Stanford/Harvard don't award merit aid at all.) Check out the numbers in the table in my earlier response.

Transactional law is best done in BigLaw, and probably the single most common outcome out of a T13. Constitutional law/impact litigation is also realistic out of a T13, though in that case you'd start out making in the mid-five figures instead of BigLaw money.

The bad news is that I'm not really aware of good transactional or con law roles in Louisiana. The closest major market would be Houston, which really isn't that far. You could easily land a very good transactional gig in Houston. Atlanta's also possible, but is a smaller market than Houston and probably works on smaller deals, and the pay will be less (the top of the Atlanta market pays new grads $165k, whereas Houston follows the New York $190k scale - and the difference is even a bit bigger than that, because Texas has no state income tax whereas Georgia does). If you want impact litigation, you'll probably be in D.C. or NYC. I don't really know of good con law positions in the South, or really anywhere other than D.C./NYC. (Maybe a few in California, but not many.)

If you're 100% set on working in Louisiana, then I don't see a huge advantage to attending a T13. As you note, Louisiana has a unique legal system and is probably one of the most insular legal markets in the States. You'd probably be well-served attending the best school in the state, and networking. You'd likely end up at a small law firm, making in the low-mid five figures, or in a state government position (e.g., local prosecutor's office), again making a similar salary.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby thj23 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:12 pm

QContinuum wrote:So I have good news and bad news, OP. The good news is that with your numbers, you can easily get a transactional law gig and have a realistic chance of getting a constitutional law/impact litigation role. You can get those positions from a T13, which you can get with your GPA and LSAT. And you'll likely net a hefty scholarship at Chicago/Columbia/NYU/Penn, and a bigger scholarship (possibly even a full-tuition scholarship) at a "lower" T13, such as Michigan, UVA, Duke, Northwestern, or Cornell. (Berkeley is legendarily stingy with scholarships, and Yale/Stanford/Harvard don't award merit aid at all.) Check out the numbers in the table in my earlier response.

Transactional law is best done in BigLaw, and probably the single most common outcome out of a T13. Constitutional law/impact litigation is also realistic out of a T13, though in that case you'd start out making in the mid-five figures instead of BigLaw money.

The bad news is that I'm not really aware of good transactional or con law roles in Louisiana. The closest major market would be Houston, which really isn't that far. You could easily land a very good transactional gig in Houston. Atlanta's also possible, but is a smaller market than Houston and probably works on smaller deals, and the pay will be less (the top of the Atlanta market pays new grads $165k, whereas Houston follows the New York $190k scale - and the difference is even a bit bigger than that, because Texas has no state income tax whereas Georgia does). If you want impact litigation, you'll probably be in D.C. or NYC. I don't really know of good con law positions in the South, or really anywhere other than D.C./NYC. (Maybe a few in California, but not many.)

If you're 100% set on working in Louisiana, then I don't see a huge advantage to attending a T13. As you note, Louisiana has a unique legal system and is probably one of the most insular legal markets in the States. You'd probably be well-served attending the best school in the state, and networking. You'd likely end up at a small law firm, making in the low-mid five figures, or in a state government position (e.g., local prosecutor's office), again making a similar salary.



Thanks for the reply. A lot of what you said was similar to what I've read and heard other people say. Is there any way you think I could almost split the difference? By that I mean - do you think going to maybe Tulane (I figured that's the best viewed Louisiana school by other states) would let me dip into that Houston market you were talking about?

Or on the flip side, do you think going out of state and working in a market like Houston for a while and then lateraling to another job in LA would be a better plan? I do see a lot of value in making connections in the LA market since I am pretty sure that I want to be here once I'm older (like late 30s to 40s) but I do see the realities of the market in Louisiana when compared to Houston/Atlanta/NYC/DC.

Also, do you know anything about what it would take to reach my goal of clerking? I know that the top schools would have the best placement but any other insight would be great to add to my pros/cons list of staying in-state vs leaving. One last thing - I've seen some small firms in New Orleans and Baton Rouge that list transactional work on their website as services so those might be an option for lateralling after gaining some experience.

Again, I know you might not have a great knowledge of all the different markets but I really appreciate your perspective and thoughts.
Thanks so much for your help!

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby Mullens » Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:36 pm

Go to Harvard if you don’t get a full ride at Duke or UVA. Definitely don’t stay in-state.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby Wubbles » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:32 pm

Mullens wrote:Go to Harvard if you don’t get a full ride at Duke or UVA. Definitely don’t stay in-state.

Seconding leaving the state and going to a very good school for cheap.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby laliforevar » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:21 am

Wubbles wrote:
Mullens wrote:Go to Harvard if you don’t get a full ride at Duke or UVA. Definitely don’t stay in-state.

Seconding leaving the state and going to a very good school for cheap.


As you get into OOS schools (or even as you are applying, honestly) I would ask admissions offices to put you in touch with current students or alumni who wanted to end up back in LA like you. I'm sure those folks will have had a ton of the same questions you do/gone through a lot of the same calculus, and in my experience folks are always happy to chat.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby VirginiaFan » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:48 pm

Mullens wrote:Go to Harvard if you don’t get a full ride at Duke or UVA. Definitely don’t stay in-state.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby nealric » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:48 pm

While I'm not an expert in Louisiana (though I've worked on some matters in the state), I think you'd certainly be able to jumpstart yourself into a higher-end career by going to HYS (or a tier under with scholarship). While it's certainly an insular market, a born and raised local who went to Harvard is almost certainly still a very good prospect for any of the midlaw firms in New Orleans. You'd also be a prime pick for a federal clerkship in the state provided your grades are in the ballpark (and grades wouldn't even be much of a factor for HYS). I don't think the civil/common law differences are nearly as stark in practice as it might first seem- nothing you won't be able to pick up in bar study and a few years practicing.

If you are willing to live in Houston, you'd be a shoe-in for biglaw there. There is transnational work in Louisiana, but it is nowhere near as sophisticated as what you get in a larger market. Their bread and butter will be local middle-market work. For larger deals, local firms may get brought in as second fiddle for local advice with a big national firm handling the lions share of the issues.

If I were in your shoes, I'd throw in apps to most of the T14 (perhaps exclude Cornell, Northwestern, Berkeley, Georgetown if you want to narrow things down) + Texas. Throw in a Tulane app if you want to keep your Louisiana options open, but I would expect a full ride and/or substantial money at a national school.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby QContinuum » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:01 pm

nealric wrote:While I'm not an expert in Louisiana (though I've worked on some matters in the state), I think you'd certainly be able to jumpstart yourself into a higher-end career by going to HYS (or a tier under with scholarship). While it's certainly an insular market, a born and raised local who went to Harvard is almost certainly still a very good prospect for any of the midlaw firms in New Orleans. You'd also be a prime pick for a federal clerkship in the state provided your grades are in the ballpark (and grades wouldn't even be much of a factor for HYS). I don't think the civil/common law differences are nearly as stark in practice as it might first seem- nothing you won't be able to pick up in bar study and a few years practicing.

I agree with all of the above, but for midlaw in NOLA, would it really be a good idea to attend HYS, as opposed to a Louisiana school or a non-HYS T13 on scholarship? OP will almost certainly get substantial $ up to full tuition at a non-HYS T13 or Tulane, so while Harvard certainly wouldn't hurt their Louisiana goals, I'm not sure it'd be worth the COA. It seems like H's sole advantage over a non-HYS T13 would be in federal clerkship placement in Louisiana, but I'm not sure that's worth it (and a fed clerkship isn't really guaranteed even from H).

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby nealric » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:16 pm

QContinuum wrote:
nealric wrote:While I'm not an expert in Louisiana (though I've worked on some matters in the state), I think you'd certainly be able to jumpstart yourself into a higher-end career by going to HYS (or a tier under with scholarship). While it's certainly an insular market, a born and raised local who went to Harvard is almost certainly still a very good prospect for any of the midlaw firms in New Orleans. You'd also be a prime pick for a federal clerkship in the state provided your grades are in the ballpark (and grades wouldn't even be much of a factor for HYS). I don't think the civil/common law differences are nearly as stark in practice as it might first seem- nothing you won't be able to pick up in bar study and a few years practicing.

I agree with all of the above, but for midlaw in NOLA, would it really be a good idea to attend HYS, as opposed to a Louisiana school or a non-HYS T13 on scholarship? OP will almost certainly get substantial $ up to full tuition at a non-HYS T13 or Tulane, so while Harvard certainly wouldn't hurt their Louisiana goals, I'm not sure it'd be worth the COA. It seems like H's sole advantage over a non-HYS T13 would be in federal clerkship placement in Louisiana, but I'm not sure that's worth it (and a fed clerkship isn't really guaranteed even from H).


The risk of a Louisiana school on scholarship is grades. Those firms are only looking at the top of the class for local schools, and one badly timed bout of the flu or grading fluke could sink you. As for non-HYS national schools, that's a judgment call. There's a certain cachet that Harvard has that a school like Penn does not (especially in places like Louisiana), and I doubt any of those firms would attempt to parse Harvard's opaque grading system like they might for other top schools. But it's hard to give specific advice without more specific goals and school choices. For now, it makes sense to apply and see where the chips fall.

I also think I have a somewhat different perspective on loans from a lot of folks on this site given that I freed myself of that albatross years ago. They most certainly do suck, but the difference between $100k and $200k or even $300k seems relatively insignificant in hindsight. If you told me today that I could trade my diploma for one from Harvard for a $100k, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Survivor bias and all that, but I think vast majority of HLS grads who want remunerative jobs in the private sector are able to get them.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby miskellyjohnson » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:32 pm

Given that you aren't really sure what you want to do, I'd think it is best to keep as many doors open as possible, which means leaving the state for a T13. Especially since you are willing to work in other markets for a while before moving back to Louisiana (so you could pay off any loans by working in a high paying market like Houston, then move back after loans are paid off). I may consider UT Austin (if they give you a full scholarship) above a non-HYS T13 if you are sure about staying in the Texas / Lousiana area. And, of course, you can never go wrong at H.

Also, have you ever actually lived anywhere else? You might like it more than you thought and not actually go back. I'd hate to see you closing doors now given that you seem unsure of what exactly you want to do in the future.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby jbp15860 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:19 pm

I'm from Louisiana, went to school in New Orleans, grad school in Lafayette, and now live in Houston. I'll be attending law school this fall either in Houston or Austin. Here's my take: if you know for sure, without a doubt, that you want to practice in Louisiana, then I can't see any reason why you would want to shell out six figures to go to an Ivy League school. You're from Louisiana, so surely you know, to most people in Louisiana, even lots of Lawyers, Tulane might as well be Cornell. Unless you're trying to get a Federal clerkship first, or something like that, I can't imagine why you would need that degree. Unless, also, you think someday you might want to leave the state, but by then, your reputation will carry more weight than the school you went to 20 years prior. I was born and raised in Louisiana, went to Catholic school, (so was raised around lots of lawyers) and now, a lot of my friends are lawyers, and even the most successful ones all went to LSU or even Southern, which is one of the worst schools in the US. I honestly couldn't imagine a more insular state as far as law goes. And not because of the Civil Law thing... but because Louisiana is like that in almost every respect. I would personally take a full ride from Tulane, which you would certainly get with those numbers, over a 50% scholarship at a t-13, where you'll have to shell out 75k in tuiition, plus the COL to live in New York City or DC or Austin or something. Then, you'll move back to LA, MAYBE make 100k starting out at a good firm in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, have 150k of debt for a job you could have gotten with your free Tulane degree and no one is gonna give a shit that you went to Vanderbilt. That's just my take.

I would add, though, that if you wanted to work elsewhere before you settle in Louisiana, then obviously you would be better off going somewhere else. And if you wanted to stay close (like I do), I would go for UT. UT is like Harvard to people in Texas and you can get any job you want. It's also cheap compared to any other school close to it. Texas, for one, is an amazing state, and the COL is cheap and the pay is as high as NYC. I live in Houston, which is amazing, and the rent is cheap and the salaries are high and I'm only 2.5 hours from home. As far as a Tulane degree working here... it most certainly does. I know someone at Kirkland and Ellis here who went to Tulane. And he has a whole network of Tulane Alumni here in Houston who all work at big name firms. The thing you'll have to do, though, as they did, is come to Houston (or Dallas, wherever) for the summers.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:33 pm

jbp15860 wrote:I'm from Louisiana, went to school in New Orleans, grad school in Lafayette, and now live in Houston. I'll be attending law school this fall either in Houston or Austin. Here's my take: if you know for sure, without a doubt, that you want to practice in Louisiana, then I can't see any reason why you would want to shell out six figures to go to an Ivy League school. You're from Louisiana, so surely you know, to most people in Louisiana, even lots of Lawyers, Tulane might as well be Cornell. Unless you're trying to get a Federal clerkship first, or something like that, I can't imagine why you would need that degree. Unless, also, you think someday you might want to leave the state, but by then, your reputation will carry more weight than the school you went to 20 years prior. I was born and raised in Louisiana, went to Catholic school, (so was raised around lots of lawyers) and now, a lot of my friends are lawyers, and even the most successful ones all went to LSU or even Southern, which is one of the worst schools in the US. I honestly couldn't imagine a more insular state as far as law goes. And not because of the Civil Law thing... but because Louisiana is like that in almost every respect. I would personally take a full ride from Tulane, which you would certainly get with those numbers, over a 50% scholarship at a t-13, where you'll have to shell out 75k in tuiition, plus the COL to live in New York City or DC or Austin or something. Then, you'll move back to LA, MAYBE make 100k starting out at a good firm in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, have 150k of debt for a job you could have gotten with your free Tulane degree and no one is gonna give a shit that you went to Vanderbilt. That's just my take.

Thanks for the valuable perspective above. I think all of it is pretty much right, except that I don't think the advice necessarily suits OP, because 1) OP isn't 100% sure they want to stay in LA; 2) OP wants to practice transactional law or even constitutional law, neither of which are particularly present in LA; and 3) OP wants to clerk. All three of these key factors point away from attending a Louisiana law school. A T13 - or even a T20 - would give OP a far better chance at practicing transactional law or con law, and a far better chance at clerking at the federal level. And a T13/T20 wouldn't harm OP's chances of practicing in LA, while preserving the option to practice elsewhere (whereas attending, say, LSU or even Tulane would effectively lock OP into practicing in LA post-graduation).

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby Wubbles » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:27 pm

OP is also looking at a full ride to a t13..........

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby Npret » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:32 pm

Wubbles wrote:OP is also looking at a full ride to a t13..........

Seriously OP. Go to school out of Louisiana. Broaden your opportunities.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby leejh38 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:21 am

Awesome #s!

I’m an LSU law grad. I came from Alabama and I currently work in Alabama. I’m barred in LA, AL, and hopefully soon to be FL. I say that not to brag, but to give you some background on why I think what I’m about to say.

If you want to work in LA, and you are almost certain of that, I would stay in LA. The way LSU approaches their curriculum, you will be able to learn the civil law and the common law and differentiate enough to be able to go between the two if you want to. It’s like being bilingual. But if you go out of state and get a pure common law education and then come back, you’ll be at a severe disadvantage.

LSU is unique in that they will drill you in both common law and civil law. Last I heard (and when I was in law school) Tulane made you pick a path. Thus, you almost have to make a career decision early on. Given the difficulty of the LA Bar Exam and the unique language civilian lawyers speak, I’d make it a priority to stay in LA for law school if you want to work there.

Lastly, if you want to live and work in LA, I wouldn’t worry too much about taking off to a T-14. The diploma will look nice on your wall, and it might be useful in a market like Nola, but networking wise LSU, and to a lesser degree Tulane (because so many of their students are out-of-state transplants that go back out-of-state) will serve you much better. And with those #s, you should be able to secure a free ride, which, trust me, you can’t beat that.

Good luck with whatever you do. I hope the advice is helpful and doesn’t sound too biased. I absolutely loved my time at LSU and wouldn’t go back and change my decision to attend there. And I think that unique education has opened career doors for me that my colleagues that attended schools like Alabama, Tulane, Ole Miss, etc. just miss out on. You’ll feel the same way with whatever you do. You can’t make a wrong decision as long as you’re comfortable with whatever you do.

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Re: Help With School Choice? - (Louisiana Career Goals)

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:06 pm

Why does OP want to clerk if they are mostly focusing on transactional law? Clerking is usually only relevant if you want to do litigation or academia.



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