Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
Inquiry

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Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Inquiry » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:59 pm

Hey guys,

I need some law school decision advice. Here's my predicament: I’ve been admitted to Cornell with a 60k scholarship and GW with a 90K scholarship. I’ve also been waitlisted at GULC and Columbia, and NYU emailed me saying my application “remains under review” and that they’ll give me an update by the end of April.

I want to go work for the federal government after law school and focus on technology and national security law. I’d particularly like to work for an intelligence agency, the State Department, the Pentagon, or in Congress in a counsel position. I have no interest in Big Law. I might like to work as in-house counsel or teach at some point.

What do you think I should do if I don’t get into any of the schools I’m waiting to hear from, and what do you think I should do if I do get into any of them? (bonus points if you have any insight into the likelihood of getting into GULC, Columbia or NYU for people in my situation)

Thanks in advance for your input.

Wubbles

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Wubbles » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:29 pm

We're going to need your numbers to give you any likelihood of chances to get in off of waitlists. Also to know if you should have applied to more T14 schools, as some stat combos can make candidates better suited for money at certain schools like UVA, Michigan, etc.

As for where you should go for your goals, assuming you're not a retake candidate and it's your LSAT carrying you and not your GPA, Cornell hands down over GW. Your career goals are pretty lofty as far as federal government work goes. And just as an aside, for State, CIA, Pentagon, etc. you will need a squeaky clean record and will have to go through extensive background checks to work at them. Just a heads up so you don't accidentally set yourself up for disappointment. These are also difficult to get a job out of even from good schools, are you happy with other bigfed work?

Edit: just saw the teaching and in house thing. Almost no shot at in house without biglaw, and basically no shot for anyone at teaching if you mean teaching law. Definitely need to have a backup in case you don't reach your lofty goals with how much you'll be paying for school

Inquiry

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Inquiry » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:19 pm

In addition to Cornell, GULC, NYU, and Columbia, I also applied to Penn and Harvard and was rejected.

My LSAT 166 and my GPA was 3.67 (political science major, computer science and business minors). I'm a URM applicant. I'm not currently planning on taking the LSAT again (I took it twice).

I might like to work in-house or teach, but I'm not dead set on either of those. I am set on working for the federal government though. My record is clean, so I'm not worried about background checks. I might be open to other bigfed roles, but my preference is definitely for government organizations that deal with national security.

Wubbles

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Wubbles » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:50 pm

You probably would have gotten into Berkeley or Duke with similar money to Cornell, and probably still have a decent shot at NYU.
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But as you'll see from this chart, just TWO more points on the LSAT as a URM will produce bountiful rewards.
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Inquiry

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Inquiry » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:47 pm

These numbers are interesting but I'm not sure this is a large enough sample size to draw any kind of conclusion. Also, why do you think going to Cornell would better for getting into the federal government than GW? It's definitely more prestigious, but GW is in DC and has alumni in various places in the government.

cavalier1138

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:38 am

Inquiry wrote:These numbers are interesting but I'm not sure this is a large enough sample size to draw any kind of conclusion. Also, why do you think going to Cornell would better for getting into the federal government than GW? It's definitely more prestigious, but GW is in DC and has alumni in various places in the government.


Competitive federal offices (the only kind you mentioned) place a lot of weight on school rank, grades, clerkships, etc. In other words, they look at all the traditional markers for hiring that a biglaw firm does, and most of the more competitive offices want you to have a few years of biglaw under your belt before they'll seriously consider your application. Incidentally, you absolutely need biglaw experience for in-house counsel spots at big companies, and you'd probably need to work in a totally different practice area than you would to be well situated for your government goals.

GW is in DC, but all things considered, a median graduate from Cornell has a much better shot at eventually getting a government position. It would still be an uphill climb for the Cornell student to get anything in national security, where they'll be competing with other T13 grads who placed at the top of their class. I think you're viewing this as a networking challenger, where you can charm your way in if you just know enough people. That's not how these places work. You do need to be able to network, but you also need to have stellar credentials to even be in a position where the networking will help.

In all honesty, if your only real career goals are in the most competitive of fedgov offices (which is what national security is), I'd retake and reapply next year. Cornell is certainly better than GW, but you really want to get HYSCCN or UVA (maybe Michigan?) to set yourself up for those spots. And brace yourself for 3-4 years of biglaw, because you absolutely cannot count on getting an honors program slot.

Inquiry

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby Inquiry » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:52 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
Inquiry wrote:These numbers are interesting but I'm not sure this is a large enough sample size to draw any kind of conclusion. Also, why do you think going to Cornell would better for getting into the federal government than GW? It's definitely more prestigious, but GW is in DC and has alumni in various places in the government.


Competitive federal offices (the only kind you mentioned) place a lot of weight on school rank, grades, clerkships, etc. In other words, they look at all the traditional markers for hiring that a biglaw firm does, and most of the more competitive offices want you to have a few years of biglaw under your belt before they'll seriously consider your application. Incidentally, you absolutely need biglaw experience for in-house counsel spots at big companies, and you'd probably need to work in a totally different practice area than you would to be well situated for your government goals.

GW is in DC, but all things considered, a median graduate from Cornell has a much better shot at eventually getting a government position. It would still be an uphill climb for the Cornell student to get anything in national security, where they'll be competing with other T13 grads who placed at the top of their class. I think you're viewing this as a networking challenger, where you can charm your way in if you just know enough people. That's not how these places work. You do need to be able to network, but you also need to have stellar credentials to even be in a position where the networking will help.

In all honesty, if your only real career goals are in the most competitive of fedgov offices (which is what national security is), I'd retake and reapply next year. Cornell is certainly better than GW, but you really want to get HYSCCN or UVA (maybe Michigan?) to set yourself up for those spots. And brace yourself for 3-4 years of biglaw, because you absolutely cannot count on getting an honors program slot.


Is there strong evidence that going to a higher ranked school than Cornell would actually make a big enough difference in getting federal gov't jobs to warrant retaking the LSAT and re-applying? I know that HYS open the doors to the universe, but outside of those schools (which I probably won't get into) would it really make that much of a difference?

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Cornell vs. GW for Federal Government Work

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:06 pm

Inquiry wrote:Is there strong evidence that going to a higher ranked school than Cornell would actually make a big enough difference in getting federal gov't jobs to warrant retaking the LSAT and re-applying? I know that HYS open the doors to the universe, but outside of those schools (which I probably won't get into) would it really make that much of a difference?


1) Yes, it would make a big difference to go someplace like UVA or Columbia as opposed to Cornell. They have stronger alumni networks in DC as well as better placement into positions that feed into competitive fedgov roles. Cornell is a great law school but its bread and butter is generic NYC biglaw outcomes.



2) As the above chart shows, you have a decent shot at HYS with just a few more points on the LSAT - more importantly, you have a great shot at T14 full rides if you can get on the sunny side of 169.



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