Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

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Warren
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Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

Postby Warren » Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:43 pm

Would it be better to go with a higher ranked school that is less well regarded in a specialty area or should you go with the best law school in your specialty area.

ie. Would someone be better off going with U of Chicago over Georgetown if they were interested in International Law?

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Ken
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Go to the Highest Ranked Law School

Postby Ken » Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:49 am

Excellent question. Generally, I would recommend that you go to the higher ranked law school instead of the school more known for that specialty.

This is mainly because what area of law you end up practicing oftentimes differs from what you initially believe. I originally felt that I would practice environmental law as I loved environmental economics and environmental policy debates. However, after taking several environmental law classes I found that for me the actual study and practice of environmental law was boring and to be well paid you have to work for the "bad guys" defending large corporations against environmental protectionist. Additionally, I loved the practice of intellectual property law, which I found very exciting and cutting edge.

It is quite common to change your initial interest after being exposed to the classes and actual legal practice. Law schools expect this and encourage you to take a broad range of classes in your last two years so you can truly determine what areas of law are of greatest interest.

Thus, while you may choose Georgetown Law School over the University of Chicago Law School to focus upon international law, if you decide that you are not interested in international law you will have graduated from a less prestigious school as a result and reap no benefit from Georgetown's expertise in international law.

Most top law schools will offer sufficient classes in your area of expertise and while your professors may not have written the casebook, the coveted degree will allow you choices into whatever field you choose.

However, one should certainly factor in expertise in the legal field of interest with overall rank. For example, if one were debating between attending Berkeley's Boalt Hall and the U. of Pennslyvania Law School, two schools that both have excellent academic ratings, I would choose Boalt if I were interested in intellectual property law and U.Penn if I were interested in business law (with the ability to take classes at Wharton a huge plus).

Thus, expertise in a field should definitely be a factor and definitely a tie-breaker, but do not turn down a top 10 law school to attend a top 25 law school simply due to expertise in one field.

A quick note on law school rankings. I do mention them here and show them on this site because they are important, but rankings vary (I personally think the Educational Quality Rankings by Prof. Leiter are better than the US News Law School Rankings) and should only serve as a guide. There is no objectively great law school, but instead what law school is best for someone depends their goals, interests, and where they want to practice law.

Thanks for the excellent questions.

Warren
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What if you don't change your mind

Postby Warren » Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:40 pm

I certainly understand your point and I will consider it, but what if you don't change your mind. Would it be better to go to a higher ranked school or one that is more well regarded in a specialty area if you stick with your career choice throughout? Will employers know that George Washington is more well regarded (according to the EQR) than U of Chicago?

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Ken
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Value of the Subject Area

Postby Ken » Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:25 am

If you are quite certain that you want to focus upon a legal specialty in law school and then practice in that field of law, you clearly do want to be aware of what law schools are expert in your field of choice.

However, I would let the strength of the subject matter override the rank of the law school only if the differential is great. For example, in the Leiter rankings in international law, Georgetown is 4th and GW is 10th, while the U. of Chicago Law School is 12th (but perhaps dropping due to the loss of a pretty key faculty member). Given that Chicago is still in the top 15 for international law and so well respected, I would value the overall ranking more than the subject ranking. I believe most law firms feel that they can train you and expect to as most top law schools teach theory and not practice.

However, if the difference were that a school you were looking at was amongst the top 2 in that field and the other school you were considering was not in the top 20, then I would feel that the specialty ranking is of greater value than the overall ranking. Obviously, the weight you give these two rankings is subjective, but I think most law firms will focus upon the overall ranking as paramount.

Note that I am not wild about the U. of Chicago, which is an amazing law school academically, but has a poor quality of life for most students. There is a total focus upon studying, with no outlets for release. The UC is located in Hyde Park, not a very good or safe park of Chicago, so there is no nightlife close by and this adds to the sense of academic seculsion. I love law and economics and consequently really considered UC, but in the end found that its other factors weighed heavily against it.

Thus, if you wanted to go to Georgetown over the UC, I would certainly understand that decision, particularly with your emphasis on international law.

orangejulay
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Re: Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

Postby orangejulay » Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:34 am

Yeas the law schools expect it and encourage you to take a broad range of classes in your last two years so you can truly determine what areas of law are of greatest interest on...


:)

the lantern
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Re: Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

Postby the lantern » Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:41 pm

This is a question along the same lines. If you go to school for one specialty (tax, international law, IP, etc.), are you still capable of performing other functions (constitutional law, human/civil rights, criminal law, etc.). Does what you study in law school dictate your entire career path or is it just a starting point?

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:51 am

You mentioned "international law" which is pretty meaningless. Do you mean working for the UN/Hague or do you mean international business law (what most "international" lawyers actually do)? If it's the latter, best school available, period. If it's the former, there's more argument for Georgetown - but not on the program merits. Moreso the government and NGO connections you can work on in Washington.

Most speciality rankings are completely useless.

Will employers know that George Washington is more well regarded (according to the EQR) than U of Chicago?


No. And if they do, they won't care. Look at the different hiring criteria and number of interviewing firms at Chicago and George Washington for the difference in marketability of degree.

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IAFG
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Re: Overall ranking vs. Specialty area

Postby IAFG » Sun Jul 12, 2009 4:00 pm

.

green22
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choosing law schools

Postby green22 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:02 am

Hi, I am having trouble choosing law schools. I have been admitted to Case Western and Pitt, and am waitlisted at Brooklyn. I am very interested in international humanitarian law (though I would also take international business law classes as well), but if that doesn't work out in terms of employment, I am interested in criminal law in a major city (Philly/NYC).

Case seems to have a lot of networks for international law, they said that they have a lot of graduates in that field that provide summer internships. Thus getting a job is not very difficult. But if I'm at Case and decide I like criminal law better, am I disadvantaged in the eastern cities' marketplace?

Therefore, should I go to Brooklyn (which is only better because of the location for criminal law)?

And Pitt (my hometown) has a huge international law program but I'm not sure if they have strong and wide networks. But criminal law wouldn't be bad. Basically, I don't want to live in Cleveland, I'd prefer to live in NYC/Philly/Boston/Washington D.C. or abroad

Could you please help?

270910
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Re: choosing law schools

Postby 270910 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:26 am

green22 wrote:Hi, I am having trouble choosing law schools. I have been admitted to Case Western and Pitt, and am waitlisted at Brooklyn. I am very interested in international humanitarian law (though I would also take international business law classes as well), but if that doesn't work out in terms of employment, I am interested in criminal law in a major city (Philly/NYC).

Case seems to have a lot of networks for international law, they said that they have a lot of graduates in that field that provide summer internships. Thus getting a job is not very difficult. But if I'm at Case and decide I like criminal law better, am I disadvantaged in the eastern cities' marketplace?

Therefore, should I go to Brooklyn (which is only better because of the location for criminal law)?

And Pitt (my hometown) has a huge international law program but I'm not sure if they have strong and wide networks. But criminal law wouldn't be bad. Basically, I don't want to live in Cleveland, I'd prefer to live in NYC/Philly/Boston/Washington D.C. or abroad

Could you please help?


1) this thread is from 2006. lol.

2) None of those schools will give you a snowball's chance in hell of practicing 'international humanitarian law'.

Scheveningen
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Re: choosing law schools

Postby Scheveningen » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:30 pm

disco_barred wrote:1) this thread is from 2006. lol.

2) None of those schools will give you a snowball's chance in hell of practicing 'international humanitarian law'.

While this thread was started in 2006, it is still relevant today.

Case Western has partnerships with every international tribunal in The Hague, a tribunal in Cambodia, and another one in Tanzania, which are among the main fora for practicing pure international humanitarian law (no quotation marks needed). Dozens of Case Western students have interned for these tribunals -- more than from any other law school in the country (if not the world) -- and some alumni now work for them.

If IHL is your career field of choice, you will certainly have better opportunities by attending Case Western than Brooklyn or Pitt.




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