University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

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Sesame_Jesus
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Sesame_Jesus » Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:54 pm

1) what other law schools did you get into and why, in the end, did you choose Chicago?

2) To what extent does the chicago school of economics inform the law school curriculum? I know the law and economics model is big, obviously, but what of the ideological bent of faculty, etc? Or is it basically irrelevant?

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:59 pm

etwake wrote:I'm not a UofC grad, but I can definitely recommend attending a bulls or hawks game. Grabbing a drink at the 95th restaurant on the top of the John Hancock Building (beware, ~15 dollars per drink, but worth it for 1 or 2 drinks), visiting Millennium park/soldier field area, Go visit the art institute in Chicago, and go shop on Michigan Avenue.


Those are all great things, and I think I did all of them at least once while I lived in Chicago. Definitely get a feel for the town if you have time, but I wouldn't recommend the touristy stuff unless you have more time. For an ASW-type weekend, I would just get a feel for the Uni as a whole. Take a stroll right through the middle of the main campus, entering through Harper and checking out the quadrangles and then grabbing some coffee at the Reynolds Club. Get a tour of I-House and New Grad. Walk over to 53rd street and get some lunch at Medici. Have a drink at Jimmy's or the Pub in the Basement. Check out the inside of Rockefeller Chapel and think about what it would be like to have your commencement ceremony there. If you want to go downtown, jump on the Metra or take the Jeffrey Express, Route 6, but don't drive. Ah, nostalgia.

Sure, you can visit some classes and do all the ASW planned stuff as well but, IMO, you only spend a couple hours a day in class and most of your time in and around the rest of campus and where you live. I'd say get a feel for what your life would actually be like.

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:32 pm

Sesame_Jesus wrote:1) what other law schools did you get into and why, in the end, did you choose Chicago?

2) To what extent does the chicago school of economics inform the law school curriculum? I know the law and economics model is big, obviously, but what of the ideological bent of faculty, etc? Or is it basically irrelevant?


1) I got in everywhere I applied, but I didn't exactly know what I was doing when I applied and I relied too much on fee waivers. I actually chose and made my deposit to Chicago without visiting any schools, except USC. After doing all the research on placement, reputation, professors, and the history of the school, and after getting basically the biggest scholarship award they had, I was sold and didn't want to allow myself to be persuaded by other things. I found the leiter reports to be very persuasive, actually, and just made my own decision that Chicago was the best school in the nation despite USNWR. I wish I would have applied to Harvard just so that I can say I got in (I have a strong feeling I would have), but I think I would have made the same decision so long as I had done all the research and so long as Harvard didn't match or beat the money. I remember just being in complete awe of the education and history of great professors at Chicago, and wanting to take on the biggest challenge possible to prove myself. I don't think anything would have changed that. In hindsight, I am completely satisfied with how things worked out. I have a close relative who went to Harvard Law and most of my coworkers went there. I like that I stand out from them and have a unique experience that I feel is superior to theirs. I also like the connection I have with other Chicago Alum, and I run into a lot more than I thought I would, which is stronger in my perception than a lot of other alum have with their peers.

2) I had Epstein and Richard Posner as professors, but I don't really recall being bombarded by Law and Econ. My impression is that it is one of many ways that we had to learn to approach policy issues, and this is true at all law schools I think. Law and Econ originated at U of C, I think U of C gets a lot of credibility for that. However, I suggest you simply view it as evidence of Chicago's ability to be on the forefront of greatness. I honestly don't think it is coincidence that Barack Obama was a Professor there and Michelle Obama worked for the U of C Hospital. It is an exciting place where amazing and original ideas can blossom.

Nonetheless, you probably get a basic understanding of some broad economic principles like supply and demand, oversaturation, bargain power, and transaction costs just from attending. Basic econ is just plain useful, in my opinion. I was a sociology undergrad, and I am a tax lawyer now, but I didn't do math beyond Gen ed in college. I don't think having a math background has much to do with it. You just become very good at looking at a problem in a number of different ways to effect equity, justice, and policy goals. If you don't learn law and econ as part of your legal education, your ability to do that will be incomplete. Even Sunstein would talk about the resolution of land and air pollution issues in a case between a residential land owner and the polluting company in terms of just compensation, bargaining power, transaction costs, etc. He would bait the class with a question like "what should the law be, assuming there are no transaction costs and the parties are acting rationally?" and you'll know by your third year that the answer to this question, no matter what class you are in, is "it doesn't matter where you put the law in that case because the parties would contract to the optimal outcome." Of course, you would then proceed to discuss problems with that like unequal bargaining power or people's inability to properly determine the value of the harm caused to them, and latent harms. I never thought of things this way before, but it really gets me far now. Just one of many reasons I feel incredibly indebted to my Chicago education (I would point out that although Sunstein apparently left for personal reasons, I don't attribute my education to individual professors so much as things like school size, close interaction with profs, and pedagogy, as this interaction was typical to all my courses).
Last edited by USAIRS on Tue May 12, 2009 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sesame_Jesus
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Sesame_Jesus » Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:32 pm

Thanks for such a detailed reply.

You had some awesome profs - epstein and posner were the guys I had in mind, but I'd forgotten that Sunstein used to be there too. I just think of him being at hls.

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etwake
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby etwake » Sun Jan 04, 2009 8:54 pm

USAIRS, thanks for the detailed replies, I've gotten a lot of information out of reading your posts.

I'm from the Chicago area, and am hoping to stay in the Midwest for law school. U of C, Michigan, and Northwestern are my top 3 choices right now. When people call UChicago the place 'where fun goes to die', how bad is it compared to other schools, if you have any knowledge, specifically the other 2 mentioned? As well as U of C places in clerkship, academia, biglaw, etc..., I would really like to see if those benefits would be able to outweigh the fact that UofC is as sad of a place as it's hyped up to be.

Also, would it be feasible to live in a condo in the downtown area (southern to mid Lake Shore Drive) and still commute to school everyday, or is it going to be a bigger inconvenience than it should be? Thanks again!!

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:48 am

Any student that attends Chicago will have equally impressive professors, and the opportunity to get to know them well. I really think class size has a lot to do with it, as well as the quarter system.

As to other schools' placement in the midwest, I'm not exactly the expert on that. I'm out here on the west coast and I can say that I have never run into anyone who went to Northwestern or Michigan for law school. I did receive one call from a Mich 2L late in the spring who was interested with an internship with us, and was having problems coming out to Cali, but that is a problem with the insular California market more than the school itself. I have run into and work with graduates of all the other T6 schools, though. So, if it helps at all, I do question the national reach of non-T6 schools relatively speaking, or at least their experience with placing grads out west. But your question is more about quality of life, right?

Your experience may vary. Some people absolutely love it. Some people hate it. I don't think this is unique to Chicago, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that the Law School's combination of intensity, competition, close quarters, and a number of other factors made it a difficult social experience. Do I think it is so bad that you should attend a school that offers a lesser education? No. In fact, I think you could hardly have one without the other. It is hard to fade into the background at Chicago and you are forced into the limelight just by showing up to class and sitting all the way in the back. Everyone seems to know your name. A humiliating exchange with a professor in your first year class is immediatley known by the half of the class attending then immediately communicated to the other half. But, you know, you live and come back and deal with it. You work harder because you fear embarrassment or falling behind the pack or whatever. You know about everyone else's accomplishments so you try and learn from them and match them and raise your game. You grow up and toughen and learn to deal with the jerks or bullshitters or whatever. Let me tell you, I hated law school more than anyone I know, but I am better for it. Lawyers and judges can be way worse. I keep my cool in the face of danger, I work harder when challenges arise, I don't complain, and raise my game. Failure doesn't scare me. Nothing can phase me, there isn't any challenge that I can't overcome, I can get along with the most wretched of people or the most elite snobs, and a judge can yell at me all day. None of it means spit. I went to U Chicago.

I knew it would be tough going in. I recently told an old alum friend of mine that going to Chicago was like being in 'Nam together, insofar as we are bonded by this survival experience. He told me he always compared it to boot camp. I think it is like training to be a Navy SEAL. You know you are going to get mentally and physically abused and go through the hardest experience of your life. Yet, you volunteer for it-not drafted-because you know that you will be the best for all that pain and will forever separate yourself from the pack. What do they always say..."pain is fear leaving the body" or something like that. So, yeah, it's rough, but I believe worth it all. I have to deal with unreasonable jerks and idiots and elitists and cranky judges who want no more than to make my life harder all the time as a litigator, not to mention working in an office with less than 200 attorneys and less than 20 in my group of differing personalities and quirks. I can navigate this no problem. I'm glad I wasn't coddled in law school. Oh, yeah and Chicago does place better, yada, yada.

Living in condo downtown would be really easy. Most 2L and 3Ls live there or northside or by McCormick park (where the white sox play, is it US Cellular field or something now? I don't know.). Downtown is far more convenient than those places, and is more convenient than anywhere in Chicago for everything else, really. You can either take the Jeffrey bus, the Metra, or the red line to the UofC shuttle (if they still have it), or drive. I would recommend living closer to, or on, campus first year, just to give yourself an extra hour a day and to make friends. It really is not far from things at all, just 6-7 miles from downtown. I used to ride my bike to downtown. I also really liked hyde park and the greater university population of grad students, many of whom I'd meet at Jimmy's or the Pub or at various functions like the Doc Films or the parties at I-house. I didn't do wine mess or bar review or any of that, but you are free to do the law school stuff if you end up being one of the people who really likes it. I do want to emphasize that I had a great time at the University of Chicago, and in the city of Chicago. I had lots of fun. I hated the law school social environment. The two are not incompatible. So, go there if you want what I think is the best educational experience available, bar none. If you don't like the law school, no one is making you hang out with those people but for a few hours a week.

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jayhawkai
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby jayhawkai » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:35 am

USAIRS, I love your posts. FYI, pain is weakness leaving the body.

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etwake
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby etwake » Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:34 am

USAIRS wrote:Any student that attends Chicago will have equally impressive professors, and the opportunity to get to know them well. I really think class size has a lot to do with it, as well as the quarter system.

As to other schools' placement in the midwest, I'm not exactly the expert on that. I'm out here on the west coast and I can say that I have never run into anyone who went to Northwestern or Michigan for law school. I did receive one call from a Mich 2L late in the spring who was interested with an internship with us, and was having problems coming out to Cali, but that is a problem with the insular California market more than the school itself. I have run into and work with graduates of all the other T6 schools, though. So, if it helps at all, I do question the national reach of non-T6 schools relatively speaking, or at least their experience with placing grads out west. But your question is more about quality of life, right?

Your experience may vary. Some people absolutely love it. Some people hate it. I don't think this is unique to Chicago, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that the Law School's combination of intensity, competition, close quarters, and a number of other factors made it a difficult social experience. Do I think it is so bad that you should attend a school that offers a lesser education? No. In fact, I think you could hardly have one without the other. It is hard to fade into the background at Chicago and you are forced into the limelight just by showing up to class and sitting all the way in the back. Everyone seems to know your name. A humiliating exchange with a professor in your first year class is immediatley known by the half of the class attending then immediately communicated to the other half. But, you know, you live and come back and deal with it. You work harder because you fear embarrassment or falling behind the pack or whatever. You know about everyone else's accomplishments so you try and learn from them and match them and raise your game. You grow up and toughen and learn to deal with the jerks or bullshitters or whatever. Let me tell you, I hated law school more than anyone I know, but I am better for it. Lawyers and judges can be way worse. I keep my cool in the face of danger, I work harder when challenges arise, I don't complain, and raise my game. Failure doesn't scare me. Nothing can phase me, there isn't any challenge that I can't overcome, I can get along with the most wretched of people or the most elite snobs, and a judge can yell at me all day. None of it means spit. I went to U Chicago.

I knew it would be tough going in. I recently told an old alum friend of mine that going to Chicago was like being in 'Nam together, insofar as we are bonded by this survival experience. He told me he always compared it to boot camp. I think it is like training to be a Navy SEAL. You know you are going to get mentally and physically abused and go through the hardest experience of your life. Yet, you volunteer for it-not drafted-because you know that you will be the best for all that pain and will forever separate yourself from the pack. What do they always say..."pain is fear leaving the body" or something like that. So, yeah, it's rough, but I believe worth it all. I have to deal with unreasonable jerks and idiots and elitists and cranky judges who want no more than to make my life harder all the time as a litigator, not to mention working in an office with less than 200 attorneys and less than 20 in my group of differing personalities and quirks. I can navigate this no problem. I'm glad I wasn't coddled in law school. Oh, yeah and Chicago does place better, yada, yada.

Living in condo downtown would be really easy. Most 2L and 3Ls live there or northside or by McCormick park (where the white sox play, is it US Cellular field or something now? I don't know.). Downtown is far more convenient than those places, and is more convenient than anywhere in Chicago for everything else, really. You can either take the Jeffrey bus, the Metra, or the red line to the UofC shuttle (if they still have it), or drive. I would recommend living closer to, or on, campus first year, just to give yourself an extra hour a day and to make friends. It really is not far from things at all, just 6-7 miles from downtown. I used to ride my bike to downtown. I also really liked hyde park and the greater university population of grad students, many of whom I'd meet at Jimmy's or the Pub or at various functions like the Doc Films or the parties at I-house. I didn't do wine mess or bar review or any of that, but you are free to do the law school stuff if you end up being one of the people who really likes it. I do want to emphasize that I had a great time at the University of Chicago, and in the city of Chicago. I had lots of fun. I hated the law school social environment. The two are not incompatible. So, go there if you want what I think is the best educational experience available, bar none. If you don't like the law school, no one is making you hang out with those people but for a few hours a week.


Again, thanks for the well-written response. Very informative and helpful!

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:58 pm

Things are about to get pretty hairy for me at work, so I'll take the next couple hours to answer questions just because I know I won't have time to later. Of course, you can pm me and I'll get notification in my email and get back to you when I can, I just won't be checking in on this forum or cruising the interweb otherwise.

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etwake
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby etwake » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:29 am

USAIRS, thanks for all of your posts. I just got accepted to UChicago and am going to have a very tough decision to make in a little while. Your posts really help me out a lot. I'm curious about how far into the class judges will go for clerkship opportunities and academia. Also, is Biglaw guaranteed out of Chicago if you want it, even if you graduate in the bottom 10% of your class?

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:11 am

etwake wrote:USAIRS, thanks for all of your posts. I just got accepted to UChicago and am going to have a very tough decision to make in a little while. Your posts really help me out a lot. I'm curious about how far into the class judges will go for clerkship opportunities and academia. Also, is Biglaw guaranteed out of Chicago if you want it, even if you graduate in the bottom 10% of your class?


I knew people who had almost exactly the median cumulative who got clerkships and I knew people who were higher than that who simply did not pursue them, opting for law firms instead. I do think recommendations and other factors, such as working as an RA to top profs and publications had something to do with it. These people were very involved and smart, and if you didn't know their grades you would assume they were at the top, but they were average gradewise. About 15-20% of my class clerked, and it wasn't the top 20%, it was 40% of the top 50%, if that makes any sense. This is not unique to Chicago, I knew a slightly below or at average student at Harvard that picked up a federal clerkship with a fairly new judge. The thing is that you have to really want one and keep looking late into your third year. A lot of people with better grades applied in the fall of 3L and stopped, relying on their summer offer, when they probably could have eventually landed something.

On that same note, several people I knew who were at the top of the class are now teaching and one of them is clerking in SCOTUS this year. The ones who I know are teaching are definitely the ones who were visibly at the very top of the class, total gunners, but really the only good kind. There were some who came in with PhDs when they came in and were certain to teach-their stated goal, not gunner types, but also not the type to let the rest of the class know where they are by sending in alumni updates. I don't think their experience would be representative or helpful to most students anyway. Of course, I'm only talking about people seeking full-time teaching positions here. I'm 99% certain I could be teaching a procedure course in a local program once a year, but a lot of my coworkers have done this so it really isn't that big of a deal (at least for my specialty and from my position). Part of my confidence, though, stems from having the UofC degree in addition to the requisite experience, which is also due to my pedigree in part.

I will say that you should definitely try and publish once you are there. I don't think Chicago pushes it enough. You are required to write two major papers to graduate that should be of publishable quality. Harvard has a similar requirement, but I know a lot of the top 20 schools don't have this. I wrote two 50 page papers and never pushed for publication, which was a big mistake. Now that I read a lot more random journals, I see that what they publish isn't really that amazing and almost anyone's major paper at Chicago would have been publishable, you just need to go for it. Employers love it, judges love seeing it, I think it would be one of those things that you keep on your resume for a long time, and it would definitely help for getting a teaching fellowship, which is something you'll want to do if you are interested in teaching. Looking back, Chicago does every thing right in terms of preparing you to do all this stuff, but I lacked the requisite knowledge in terms of how to capitalize on it. I went to this amazing school, had personal relationships and in depth private discussions with amazing profs, I had a research assistant position with one of the top scholars in his field and a very established professor, wrote two 50 page papers, but just kind of drifted through it unaware of what I had going for me. If I had average grades (which I didn't) and some additional knowledge, as I'm imparting upon all of you, I probably would have published at least once and gone right into a clerkship. Well, I still can clerk-it just isn't convenient. I was on the verge of applying before I got my current job, which was too good to pass up.

As far as biglaw, I think everyone in the class can get biglaw and no one from the class should graduate unemployed. I think it is shameful that chicago, although it has great placement, does have a small number of people each year who graduate unemployed (much like its peers, but still a shame). I'd guess 5-10 people. Now, 4 out of 5 of them land a decent job upon or before passing the bar, maybe after a couple of tries at the bar, but there isn't really a good reason that the school can't keep track of the employment status of some of these people who get no-offered or something their second summer, or screw up bidding at OCI, and then help them with their job searches to land something prior to graduation.

That being said, the question is about Biglaw specifically. The answer is "No." There is no guarantee that you will get biglaw (note that biglaw as I speak about it hear is a market-paying job in a firm with at least 100 attorneys). You can totally screw that up. Chicago can't make it failsafe. Things like bidding strategy, job-hunt strategy, interview strategy, your desired market, and your focus are really the difference between the person who gets a law firm job and the one that doesn't. However, assuming you are at the bottom 25% of the class, your grades will prevent you from getting the most selective firms, but only those, and that should really be part of your bidding strategy anyway. I wrote a big thread on this a long while back. To illustrate the non-relationship between getting a firm job and quality of candidate, I did know one classmate who landed a clerkship after getting no-offered from his 2L summer and failing to land another firm job at 3L OCI. Having gone through the inter processes over several years and being on the recruiting end myself, and dealing with headhunters, etc., I now see that you are basically set once you get into Chicago but the biggest problem is figuring out how and when to market yourself in that short window between fall of 2L and Fall of 3L. If you seek out the resources to take advantage of it, then I think a guarantee is in order-I could give you that.

That's a lot of rambling. I hope I answered your questions somewhere in there.

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jayhawkai
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby jayhawkai » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:04 pm

Bumping this for awesomeness

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Tue May 19, 2009 6:50 pm

It looks like I've got a little time this week, as a couple concessions fell into my lap. If anyone has any questions, be they about UofC or anything at all about life after law school, let me know.

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etwake
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby etwake » Tue May 19, 2009 7:55 pm

Can you give us a quick picture of what a UofC graduate is doing 10 years after graduating (is that how long you've been out)? Are a majority of your classmates parters/judges/academics, or do some people sway completely from the legal field? Do you hear of people regretting attending UofC, or are most of your classmates glad that they took the opportunity? Thanks. (Also, I sent in my letter confirming my spot in the class of 2012 ~2 weeks ago, and can't wait to start)

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Tue May 19, 2009 8:48 pm

etwake wrote:Can you give us a quick picture of what a UofC graduate is doing 10 years after graduating (is that how long you've been out)? Are a majority of your classmates parters/judges/academics, or do some people sway completely from the legal field? Do you hear of people regretting attending UofC, or are most of your classmates glad that they took the opportunity? Thanks. (Also, I sent in my letter confirming my spot in the class of 2012 ~2 weeks ago, and can't wait to start)


I'm 5 years out. None of my classmates are partners yet. At about year 4, most of my classmates were reconsidering firm life, and were either moving to smaller firms or to the DOJ, and some of them made babies and are taking a break from work altogether. A lot of them are actually sticking it out with the firms and doing very well. It seems like there was a mass exodus around year 4 from big firms, with maybe 3/4 of associates leaving. It seems like most of my friends stuck it out and are looking at the idea of making partner more comfortably, and they talk about having clients and bringing in business a lot more. There were actually more people going to DOJ than I expected, probably 6 or 7 that I am in contact with. I don't know anyone who hasn't at least thought about leaving their firm at some point, even if the tune has changed. FWIW, I only know of one person who lost his/her job, and that person was working in a corporation rather than a law firm. I have heard lots of stories, but so far it has not affected any of my friends. I tend to think that the lower years of associates are getting hit harder, although I have heard of at least one partner being asked to leave.

10 years is far too early to become a Judge, although I know several Judges I work around are from UofC.

No one expresses regret for going to UofC. Everyone seems pretty successful, so there is little use in thinking about what could have been. That is not to say the experience was totally pleasurable. I talked to a couple alumni from different years recently, and we laugh about how difficult and painful it sometimes was, but there is little doubt about the benefits we've received for having that experience. It did lend to us bonding immensely, though, having all gone through this experience that few others can appreciate.

lewis louis
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby lewis louis » Tue May 19, 2009 9:14 pm

Could you speak on some of the other law schools in Chicago, and their reputations amongst other law students from other schools (or perhaps employers/Colleagues you have worked with from other schools)? I.E. Depaul, Kent, Northwestern, UICU ( I know not chicago), or any others i may be leaving out? thanks!

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Wed May 20, 2009 12:21 am

lewis louis wrote:Could you speak on some of the other law schools in Chicago, and their reputations amongst other law students from other schools (or perhaps employers/Colleagues you have worked with from other schools)? I.E. Depaul, Kent, Northwestern, UICU ( I know not chicago), or any others i may be leaving out? thanks!


I really like NU. I don't think you can go wrong with that school. I can't give it the same kudos I give Chicago, of course :) The reactions I get when I tell people that I went to Chicago are more than just "great school," but more like "Jeasus Chreist Almighty that's a great school!" I think people are more affectionate towards NU, though. It seemed like NU, as a whole institution, was more like the class president, who was charming and approachable and smart. UChicago is like this incredibly elitist institution that is not really on an earthly plane. People always seemed really surprised in the city of Chicago to actually meet someone who went to school there, and they always seemed disappointed to find out I wasn't this complete genius.

The rest of the schools you listed are good schools. I can't really comment on them, since I don't have any real experience with them. I had a friend go to Depaul, but he basically had a public interest offer before even starting. I only have experience with a couple people who went to UIUC, and that school has a strong reputation, and people outside of the mid-west are actually pretty familiar with it. Depaul looked like a lot of fun, relatively speaking.

A lot of people have spent time in Chicago, so they know the schools there. I actually attribute a lot of the goodwill I got when I applied for my last two jobs to the city of Chicago. Everyone loves that city, and it seems like 2 out of 3 people in California have some connection to it. That simply isn't the case with New York. A couple of my good friends went to school there, but that is more rare. There seem to be a lot more mid-west transplants who had to spend some time around Chicago than there are people who relocated from the East Coast.

There's also John Marshall. It had a reputation as a mill, but the mill sure did crank out a lot of local judges and highly successful attorneys. I do know someone who went there like 20 years ago. He did not speak highly of it, but he did alright.

zero1
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby zero1 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:35 am

A great man you are, USAIRS.


Question: How portable would you say a Chicago degree is versus a Columbia or NYU degree in general and to employers? I'm asking because my interests are all over the place and I have yet to map out a cohesive future plan.


Edit: Should I take this as your answer?

As far as schools like NYU, Columbia, and Penn, I think those schools are great. However, in my limited experience, I have found that these school seem to primarily place on the east coast. IMO, the most national schools are Harvard (who could fill a small city with their alumni here), Yale, and Chicago. Running into any other alum is a rare occurrence. As a result of the smaller class size, though, I find that Chicago alum feel more connection to their fellow alumni (and students). We are simply more likely to have similar experiences and connections.

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Wed May 20, 2009 2:35 am

zero1 wrote:A great man you are, USAIRS.


Question: How portable would you say a Chicago degree is versus a Columbia or NYU degree in general and to employers? I'm asking because my interests are all over the place and I have yet to map out a cohesive future plan.


Edit: Should I take this as your answer?

As far as schools like NYU, Columbia, and Penn, I think those schools are great. However, in my limited experience, I have found that these school seem to primarily place on the east coast. IMO, the most national schools are Harvard (who could fill a small city with their alumni here), Yale, and Chicago. Running into any other alum is a rare occurrence. As a result of the smaller class size, though, I find that Chicago alum feel more connection to their fellow alumni (and students). We are simply more likely to have similar experiences and connections.


Any difference would not be because of the perceived quality of the peer schools, just that it is rarer for me to run into someone who went to any of those schools here in California, especially given that they NYU and Columbia are much larger than Yale and Chicago. I should say that there are likely a lot of problems with my limited experience. One is that Chicago people probably seek each other out. I also work in a field where they care A LOT about clerking, so Yale and Harvard and Chicago may well be overrepresented. But, like I said above, it is also more rare to run into people who are East Coast transplants in general (that being said, I have been helping a fellow alum move here from NY recently). I do think that employers out here jump on any Columbia or NYU grads, though, just the same as Harvard or Chicago grads. Everyone is well aware of the quality of those schools, and people rarely get hired on school name alone, although it certainly opens the doors.

That being said, a top school is not a substitute for a good cohesive future plan. Employers screen out unfocused people. You realistically have about a year to figure it out. I know some of you guys don't know anything about anything right now, but you've got to nail down some of the real basic stuff like where you want to work, what type of job, litigation or transaction, and just generally why you are in law school. You then need to be able to believably sell it to an employer (who will often know better than you about what you are best suited for in reality) and do things during law school to back it up.

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Core
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Core » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:11 pm

Bump.
I don't know if you're still around, US, but what did you think of Chicago's offerings for and placement in PI? Also, any insight into how Chicago places on the East coast - specifically NYC?
Thanks!

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:06 am

Core wrote:Bump.
I don't know if you're still around, US, but what did you think of Chicago's offerings for and placement in PI? Also, any insight into how Chicago places on the East coast - specifically NYC?
Thanks!


You know I could have swore that I put something on this thread where it was supposed to email me if someone posted. I'm sorry I missed this.

I'm not sure how to frame your question about "offerings for PI" because I don't know what you mean. Do you mean classes, lrap, or on-campus interviews? I wouldn't really be the right person to ask about any of those things. I did just hear something from the new dean about improving lrap and bolstering the PI thing, but you should really go to straight to the source, because any information I would have would be pretty outdated. I did know a couple people who were really PI focused. The clinics at Chicago seemed fantastic and the people who were really interested in that stuff early on seemed to get everything they wanted out of it.

It isn't exactly a secret that Chicago places incredibly well across the nation. However, I presume that you are interested in PI placement in NYC. This is a little more complex, but I have to go on a date with my wife because we have babysitting for once. I'll answer this as soon as I can.

jimmyd11011
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby jimmyd11011 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:17 am

Wow, I read this thread a while ago, and I found it extremely helpful. I'm glad you came back.

I believe you said previously that you work in Southern California. I am curious about the difference in reputation in Los Angeles of Chicago and Boalt. Do you think one has an edge over the other in terms of hiring, particularly in big law? I'm currently leaning toward Chicago (I really liked it when I visited, and they offered me a scholarship, making it cheaper than Boalt). I've heard so much about Boalt's amazing reputation in California. I am almost certain that I want to come back to LA after law school, so do you think it would be dumb to take Chicago over Boalt?

Thanks!

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:49 pm

Core wrote:Bump.
I don't know if you're still around, US, but what did you think of Chicago's offerings for and placement in PI? Also, any insight into how Chicago places on the East coast - specifically NYC?
Thanks!


To finish answering your question regarding NY (presumably public interest) placement: Again, Chicago's reputation is really strong nationwide, whether for law firms, clerking, academia, or government. I'm going to say public interest is different. Before I say why, let me define what I am talking about when I say "PI" in this response. I mean things that are not government, not public defenders, and not politics. I mean things where you are giving near-free or free legal assistance to far laborers, fighting for fair wages, helping small local businesses deal with complex regulations, or things like the NAACP or the ACLU.

The thing about these PI positions is that they care a lot less about where you went to school. Although it does help to go to a good school simply because they'll want competent attorneys, they'll take the "righteous" person at Hastings rather than the typical student at Yale. It isn't that they don't want the best candidates they can get, I think it is just that these jobs, even the ACLU jobs, don't pay enough and don't always have interesting work. They know that you have to be 100% dedicated to the particular cause in order to survive these things. Also, the people who work at these places are really pretty righteous. They aren't interested in simply adding another line to some Yale grad's resume, they want to get other righteous people on board. So, the thing is, wherever you go, you need to do as much signaling as possible that you are a true believer and not just some 1L looking for a job during the summer so you can have something to talk about during your OCI interview. Get onto clinics ASAP, join the PI foundations etc., volunteer for community stuff etc. This can all be done at Chicago, and there will be plenty of opportunity for this.

That being said, all these things will be of limited portability. PI places from NY don't typically go to Chicago's OCI. OCI isn't for PI in general. Your job search is going to be the old-fashioned kind, including some mix of job fairs, mass mailings, phone calls, and networking. This is especially the case since PI places are the kinds that take on interns not because they can give them offers at the end of the summer, but because they actually need the help. Perhaps the place that hired you for the summer will point you in the direction of a fellowship or another good PI job, though.

To finally answer your question, in the kind of PI I've discussed here, being local is going to be of the utmost importance. If you are one of these people, and if you want to work in LA, I suggest attending UCLA or USC. If you want to be in San Francisco, then Hastings or Berkeley. If you want to work in Chicago, go to Chicago. In your case, it is New York City or bust.

This answer could all be way off base, though. If you are generally talking about firm placement in New York, Chicago's placement is ridiculously good. At the end of the day, if you want to do political or prosecutor work in NY, the best route would be top NY firm or DOJ, then to the USAO in SDNY. Chicago would do the job without question.

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:36 pm

jimmyd11011 wrote:Wow, I read this thread a while ago, and I found it extremely helpful. I'm glad you came back.

I believe you said previously that you work in Southern California. I am curious about the difference in reputation in Los Angeles of Chicago and Boalt. Do you think one has an edge over the other in terms of hiring, particularly in big law? I'm currently leaning toward Chicago (I really liked it when I visited, and they offered me a scholarship, making it cheaper than Boalt). I've heard so much about Boalt's amazing reputation in California. I am almost certain that I want to come back to LA after law school, so do you think it would be dumb to take Chicago over Boalt?

Thanks!


I worked both in Northern California and Southern California after law school. First, Berkeley's reputation (I don't think it is called boalt anymore) is great. Anywhere you go, employers will know you went to a top ten school and a lot of doors will be open for you. That being said, across the nation, even in San Francisco, you are going to run across a lot of people who just think Chicago is on another level. This was surprising even for me, but for a lot of people it would not have been better if I had gone to Yale or Harvard or Stanford. Chicago just had a certain place in their hearts and minds. To be fair, I can probably attribute this to a few things, including that a lot of people in LA and SF are not natives, but are actually from the midwest. It can also be attributed to the influence and dominance law and econ in the 70's and 80's, when "the only people who matter when it comes to hiring" went to school.

As far as Berkeley's amazing reputation in California, its reputation is probably commensurate with it being a top ten school. For big firms, there isn't gong to be a regional bias. They hire the top students from across the nation. That is their goal. It isn't to hire the top students from across the nation but then to take the bottom of the class from the local school. Even if they did, I'm in LA, not SF. Unsurprisingly, I run into lots of USC and UCLA grads, and Berkeley law grads are extremely rare. SF is actually pretty far away, it may as well be another world.

For big firms, "alumni networks" aren't going to get you very far anyway. They have cold hard grade and school cut offs, hiring committees, and the reality of the job requirements to keep them in check. It doesn't matter that you are the local boy, if you don't make the grade cut-off at UCLA, you aren't getting an interview at Latham. If you want to work at Latham in LA, or Paul Hastings, or Gibson Dunn, it is simply a matter of going to a school where that firm interviews at OCI, and meeting the grade cut-off, and getting the interview through whatever system the school uses. No networking will be required.

Chicago does incredibly well placing its students into top national firms. There is a flip-side to this, though. You have almost no choice other than top national firms at Chicago's OCI. From california, there will be few, if any, small or mid-sized firms like, say, Allen Matkins flying out to Chicago, and Chicago's OCI typically did not have the space for them. If you go to Chicago, expect to be in a top firm job, clerkship, or top government job. If you don't get those, then nothing. You are going to be looking outside of OCI for jobs in Cali, which will be hard. If you get to the point where you are just looking for a job, any job in los angeles, the kind where you are sending your stuff out by snail mail on a wing and a prayer, then UCLA and Berkeley are probably going to have a significant number of job-postings sent to their schools that don't get sent to schools outside california. That is a small hurdle, though. As a 1L at Chicago, I got my first summer job through an announcement forwarded to me from a friend at UC Davis. Once you get knowledge of these openings, the Chicago name will get you those interviews.

In your situation, though, where you are considering UCB or Chicago, and Chicago has given you money, the choice seems quite clear to me.

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soullesswonder
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby soullesswonder » Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:00 pm

USAIRS wrote:
Chicago does incredibly well placing its students into top national firms. There is a flip-side to this, though. You have almost no choice other than top national firms at Chicago's OCI. From california, there will be few, if any, small or mid-sized firms like, say, Allen Matkins flying out to Chicago, and Chicago's OCI typically did not have the space for them. If you go to Chicago, expect to be in a top firm job, clerkship, or top government job. If you don't get those, then nothing. You are going to be looking outside of OCI for jobs in Cali, which will be hard. If you get to the point where you are just looking for a job, any job in los angeles, the kind where you are sending your stuff out by snail mail on a wing and a prayer, then UCLA and Berkeley are probably going to have a significant number of job-postings sent to their schools that don't get sent to schools outside california. That is a small hurdle, though. As a 1L at Chicago, I got my first summer job through an announcement forwarded to me from a friend at UC Davis. Once you get knowledge of these openings, the Chicago name will get you those interviews.



This is exactly what I'm concerned about. I would like to be an AUSA and I get the feeling that the DOJ looks kindly upon Chicago grads. Chicago (the university, not the law school) is also the best school in the country for a policy issue that I specialize in - a policy issue that has a direct bearing on some USAO work. My hesitation stems from the fact that I would like to work in the South (where Chicago grads appear to be very thin on the ground) and I hate the idea of BigLaw. Since it's extremely unlikely that I just join a USAO straight out of law school (i.e. I would need to take a Southern firm job for at least a couple years), does that mean Chicago is not a good option for me?




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