Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

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lgsr106

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Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby lgsr106 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:13 pm

I've been planning on attending law school since I graduated undergrad in 2016. I'm currently in my second year of teaching special education with Teach for America. In December 2015 I scored a 169 on my LSAT, but I took it again this month and am confident I scored 170+ (PT ~175 range). I've only seriously been considering T14 schools. I am from the east coast, but attended USC undergrad (3.72 GPA) and have been living in LA for 5 years. One of the main reasons I was striving for T14 schools is so that I'd have geographical flexibility in case I want to practice bicoastally.

However, the more I seriously consider going to law school in the next year, the more important it feels for me to stay in California. One notable reason is due to a health condition that flares up in the cold. If I limit myself to T14, I will not be going to law school next year unless I get into Stanford or Berkeley.

Do you think it's worth it for someone in my position to apply to USC or UCLA? Prestige does play a role for me, but I think at this point I'm willing to look past it if it would be a practical decision- especially if I could get a full ride. Are they significantly less worth it than Berkeley/Stanford?

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unicorntamer666

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby unicorntamer666 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:52 pm

Assuming you have no family/other financial support-- Unless you're determined to clerk for a Supreme Court justice or become a professor, I would advise you to take the full ride UCLA is likely to offer you, or go with Berkeley if given a significant scholarship (i.e. close to full ride). If you go the UCLA/USC route, just be sure to work hard during your first year to ensure you graduate high enough in the class to get a big law firm job (assuming that's what you want). Basically with a school like UCLA you run the outlier risk of unemployment or "shit law" (if your 1L grades are awful) but in return you open up the much more likely outcome of a free path to the same jobs everyone else will be getting at a cost of approx. $300,000. Your LSAT score suggests you should have no trouble getting a job out of UCLA if you even minimally apply yourself there.

And, if you end up at the very top of your class, virtually no options will be closed to you by virtue of your school so long as you stay in the T20. This will be especially true in California. In my experience dealing with NY firms, I've noticed the best of them - including Wachtell, Cravath, etc. - routinely hire top students from schools ranked in the 30s or lower so long as they're in New York (St. John's, Cardozo, Fordham).

The decision is even easier if Berk, UCLA, or USC offer you some fancy named scholarship that you can put on your resume, making it obvious to future employers that you could have gone to a higher ranked school had you wanted to.

cavalier1138

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:15 pm

unicorntamer666 wrote:Assuming you have no family/other financial support-- Unless you're determined to clerk for a Supreme Court justice or become a professor, I would advise you to take the full ride UCLA is likely to offer you, or go with Berkeley if given a significant scholarship (i.e. close to full ride). If you go the UCLA/USC route, just be sure to work hard during your first year to ensure you graduate high enough in the class to get a big law firm job (assuming that's what you want). Basically with a school like UCLA you run the outlier risk of unemployment or "shit law" (if your 1L grades are awful) but in return you open up the much more likely outcome of a free path to the same jobs everyone else will be getting at a cost of approx. $300,000. Your LSAT score suggests you should have no trouble getting a job out of UCLA if you even minimally apply yourself there.

And, if you end up at the very top of your class, virtually no options will be closed to you by virtue of your school so long as you stay in the T20. This will be especially true in California. In my experience dealing with NY firms, I've noticed the best of them - including Wachtell, Cravath, etc. - routinely hire top students from schools ranked in the 30s or lower so long as they're in New York (St. John's, Cardozo, Fordham).

The decision is even easier if Berk, UCLA, or USC offer you some fancy named scholarship that you can put on your resume, making it obvious to future employers that you could have gone to a higher ranked school had you wanted to.


The last part is just flat-out wrong, and the rest of this is bordering on dangerous. For starters, a number of top firms (especially Wachtell) don't even consider applicants from lower-ranked schools. And while LSAT does have a bit of a correlation to 1L performance, it's hardly enough of an indicator to stake your future career on it. Telling an applicant that they can pretty much guarantee a biglaw job out of UCLA as long as they "minimally apply" themselves is ridiculous. It's not like people who strike out at UCLA are a bunch of slack-jawed idiots.

OP: Yes, there is a categorical difference in job opportunities between these schools. Your GPA might take you out of the running for Stanford, but you should have a great chance at Berkeley. It will ultimately come down to money, but if you have career goals that involve biglaw, competitive government/PI, etc., you should be focusing on the T13.

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Platopus

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby Platopus » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:16 pm

,
Last edited by Platopus on Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby Rigo » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:39 pm

It'd be nuts not to at least apply.

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unicorntamer666

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby unicorntamer666 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:53 am

Platopus and Cavalier both make reasonable objections. My general point is just that once you remove "prestige" from the equation, and are simply seeking a decent market-paying biglaw job (or even more attainable midlaw, certain types of PI/plaintiff-side stuff), it's not a no-brainer to choose HYS at full cost over UCLA/USC for free. I'm simply trying to push back against the tendency of law school applicants to weigh dubious intangibles that in most cases will not materialize more heavily than $$$ which has a direct and immediate impact on your freedom. To get a bit psychoanalytical about it, this is likely in part because school/firm prestige are "enjoyed" immediately while loans are paid later. Also because people are prone to dick measuring.

Anyway, FWIW I have a feeling Berkeley would be the sweet spot for someone with these numbers. Preserves almost all "unicorn" job possibilities if you really kill it, risk of striking out (which can never be eliminated) is tolerably low, and will likely be offered substantial scholarship.
Last edited by unicorntamer666 on Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

cavalier1138

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:55 am

unicorntamer666 wrote:Platopus and Cavalier both make reasonable objections. My general point is just that once you remove "prestige" from the equation, and are simply seeking a decent market-paying biglaw job (or even more attainable midlaw, certain types of PI/plaintiff-side stuff), it's not a no-brainer to choose HYS at full cost over UCLA/USC for free. I'm simply trying to push back against the tendency of law school applicants to weigh dubious intangibles that in most cases will not materialize more heavily than $$$ which has a direct and immediate impact on your freedom. To get a bit psychoanalytical about it, this is likely in part because school/firm prestige are "enjoyed" immediately while loans are paid later. Also because people are prone to dick measuring.

Anyway, FWIW I have a feeling Berkeley would be the sweet spot for someone with these numbers. Preserves almost all "unicorn" job possibilities if you really kill it, risk of striking out (which can never be eliminated) is acceptably low, and will likely be offered substantial scholarship.


No one has mentioned "prestige" at all. The OP hasn't defined any specific job goals except regional flexibility, and everyone is pointing out that Berkeley is categorically better in that area and has demonstrably better job outcomes than UCLA/USC. No one said that money shouldn't come in to play (quite the opposite, actually), but if all we're looking at is placement power outside of California, then it's pointless to pretend that a T13 school doesn't have more pull than a top regional school.

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MichiganHoosier

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby MichiganHoosier » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:55 pm

lgsr106 wrote:Prestige does play a role for me

HamlinMcgill

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Re: Worth applying/attending USC/UCLA with 3.72/17x?

Postby HamlinMcgill » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:28 pm

If you want to work in California, you should definitely apply. It's hard to predict exactly how law school admissions will shake out (especially in terms of scholarships), so you might as well increase your chances of a good offer.



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