Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

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Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:26 pm

Hey all.

I'm currently at one of the lower T-14 (~DBVMN range) and roughly in the top 5-10% of my class. If things go well this semester, I'm strongly considering throwing an app to HYS over the next month or so. But I'm having a lot of trouble justifying whether it will actually be in my best interest to do so.

I'm totally torn in terms of what I want to do. I came to LS thinking I want to do corporate work and then move in-house. But recently, I've been wavering at the possibility of doing a clerkship, and either pursuing litigation. I just don't know right now.

Scenario 1 : Stay at my current school
  • Likely same big law employment prospects
  • Keep 1L grades, likely graduate with honors
  • Graduate with around 30K in debt
  • Chance of making LR
  • Not in love with the law school community, but have made a few good friends and professor connections

Scenario 2 : Transfer to HYS
  • "Prestige" factor of graduating from top school, may "keep doors open" for clerkships, academia, better in-house (?), unicorn jobs down the road.
  • Lose 1L grades
  • Graduate with around 80K in debt
  • Likely be on secondary journal, won't make law review
  • Hassle of moving, establishing friends, professor network

If I'm fortunate enough to be accepted, I feel like I'm leaning towards going. The idea of graduating from HYS is very attractive, but I don't want to do that if transferring is an objectively bad move. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this.

Thanks!

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chuckbass
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby chuckbass » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:38 pm

If you repeat your performance or improve, wouldn't you be setting yourself up nicely for a clerkship from your current school?

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:49 pm

scottidsntknow wrote:If you repeat your performance or improve, wouldn't you be setting yourself up nicely for a clerkship from your current school?


OP here.

Yes. Top 5-10% here is definitely enough to get you in the running for D.Ct. and CoA clerkships. Not a guarantee by any stretch, but a very good shot.

I think my question isn't one of black and white, but instead of degrees. There's no question that if I would be able to transfer to HYS, I could also get very good outcomes at my current school. I'm wondering whether, based on the factors I have been considering, HYS gives me access now and down the road to even better opportunities and whether that access (and the risk involved) is worth giving up some $$, grades/LR, and my "comfort" with my current school.

abl
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby abl » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:52 pm

Do you have any aid at your current school? What're the chances that you'll qualify for need-based aid at HYS? Finally, are you close to any of your professors at your school?

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:00 pm

abl wrote:Do you have any aid at your current school? What're the chances that you'll qualify for need-based aid at HYS? Finally, are you close to any of your professors at your school?


OP here.

I have a moderate merit scholarship at my current school. I doubt I will qualify for need based aid at HYS; although my parents aren't wealthy, they combine to make over 100K, have a house, etc... My estimates of 30K if I stay versus 80K if I transfer are my best estimates of how much it'll cost after accounting for the differential in aid, my summer earnings, etc.

I'm friendly, but not close with my professors in the strictest sense. I have LORs lined up and have good rapport with those two profs, but I don't think I have anybody here who would "go to bat" for me in terms of clerkships, etc.

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby SLS_AMG » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:05 pm

I was in a similar position and chose to stay at my school. In my opinion, if you can't articulate why exactly you need to transfer, it's not a good idea. You will have as good or better clerkship chances at your current school, buttressed by the possibility (likelihood?) of law review. And since you have no short-term plans for those other "unicorn" jobs, why pay $50k for them? The farther you are out of law school, the more your actual achievements and competence as a lawyer will matter and the less HYS v. Top-10 school will.

I understand that most law students and lawyers are prestige whores, but when you're going to be paying $50k more for probably the same job at best, you have to start questioning where to draw the line. It sounds like your main motivating factor is really just the idea of saying you graduated from HYS. To me, that's not worth uprooting, trying to re-integrate with the stigma of being a transfer, and paying $50k. But only you can make that decision.

Good luck.

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:19 pm

Apply to all three & see what develops. Also, make sure to participate in your law school's write-on competition for law review.

Clearly if you fail to receive any offers, then there is no decision to be made. If admitted only to Harvard, then a different sort of evaluation might take place before making a decision. If you make law review at your current school, then the scale shifts a bit. If your current school increases your scholarship & you make law review, then the scale shifts even further toward staying. In short, it's too early to offer meaningful suggestions, in my opinion, because there remain several key unknowns.

Nevertheless, if accepted to Stanford or Yale, I suspect that you'll go. And that wouldn't, in my opinion, be an unwise choice.

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Br3v
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Br3v » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:20 pm

80K doesn't seem to bad for an HYS degree, assuming you think you might want something other than Biglaw

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Philafaler
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Philafaler » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
abl wrote:Do you have any aid at your current school? What're the chances that you'll qualify for need-based aid at HYS? Finally, are you close to any of your professors at your school?


OP here.

I have a moderate merit scholarship at my current school. I doubt I will qualify for need based aid at HYS; although my parents aren't wealthy, they combine to make over 100K, have a house, etc... My estimates of 30K if I stay versus 80K if I transfer are my best estimates of how much it'll cost after accounting for the differential in aid, my summer earnings, etc.


I wouldn't be so certain you won't qualify for need-based aid. I was in a similar position (i.e., expected very little) and was pleasantly surprised. I think the more important question is whether you have any assets, because they'll expect you to deplete them.

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby MarkfromWI » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:09 pm

For your situation, apply for transfer, but I'm definitely leaning towards the "stay" camp. Sure, there's a prestige jump in graduating from HYS, but magna or summa at a T14 is nothing to be scoffed at. The fact that you're still torn between going corporate and clerkships/litigation is only further reason to stay. With your class rank, unless you are the most socially inept person there is, you should be able to land biglaw without breaking a sweat. You said one of the reasons for considering the transfer is the opportunity for "better in-house" positions later on down the road. Your ability to get those jobs is going to be determined more by the quality of the firm you're at and the work you do than the school that you went to. Your ability to get standard biglaw will be the same from both schools; there's not much reason to pay the extra money for the same job. And when you're considering clerkships, it's not just the extra money that you're giving up...

As for the clerkship route- I would argue that given your current school/rank, you've got a better shot at getting a clerkship for right after graduation from your current school. You might not have anyone who will "go to bat" for you right now, but you've still got time to work on that. Starting from scratch at a new school is not fun, easy, or quick. Law review is also a huge plus; unless you want to do two write-ons simultaneously, you won't make LR at H (idk about SLS or YLS, though).

Honestly, you're in a really great situation as it is (low debt/ great grades/ network at current school), and given your indecision on the path you want to take after school I think the downsides outweigh any benefit gained by transferring. On a final note, the stress induced by starting with no GPA at a brand new school is absolutely no fun. 1L sucks enough as it is, having to do it again during 2L sucks even more.

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby abl » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:30 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Apply to all three & see what develops. Also, make sure to participate in your law school's write-on competition for law review.

Clearly if you fail to receive any offers, then there is no decision to be made. If admitted only to Harvard, then a different sort of evaluation might take place before making a decision. If you make law review at your current school, then the scale shifts a bit. If your current school increases your scholarship & you make law review, then the scale shifts even further toward staying. In short, it's too early to offer meaningful suggestions, in my opinion, because there remain several key unknowns.

Nevertheless, if accepted to Stanford or Yale, I suspect that you'll go. And that wouldn't, in my opinion, be an unwise choice.


I'd second this. At least some of HYS allow you to write on to the law review, whereas you may not make law review at your current school. (If you don't, and get into YS at least, I'd probably go to YS.) And your chances of getting need-based aid are probably better than you think. Probably more important than how much your parents make is for how many years have you been financially independent (tax-wise). If you're K-JD and your parents claimed you through college, you're probably out of luck. If you worked for a couple of years, though, you might be in business.

Assuming everything stays as expected, in your position, you probably don't have a wrong option. The costs of going to HYS--$50,000 + the loss of your (admittedly non-extraordinary) developed relationships--are fairly minimal. Given your goals, the gains may also not be huge, which is why either decision is justifiable. Personally, I'd take HYS (especially YS) in your position -- your debt is going to be incredibly manageable either way, and I value experiences far more highly than $$, so the marginal increase in your ability to avoid biglaw (and the marginal increase in the quality of your law school experience) would justify the marginal increase in your debt load (from $30,000 to $80,000).

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:54 am

abl wrote:
I'd second this. At least some of HYS allow you to write on to the law review, whereas you may not make law review at your current school. (If you don't, and get into YS at least, I'd probably go to YS.) And your chances of getting need-based aid are probably better than you think. Probably more important than how much your parents make is for how many years have you been financially independent (tax-wise). If you're K-JD and your parents claimed you through college, you're probably out of luck. If you worked for a couple of years, though, you might be in business.

Assuming everything stays as expected, in your position, you probably don't have a wrong option. The costs of going to HYS--$50,000 + the loss of your (admittedly non-extraordinary) developed relationships--are fairly minimal. Given your goals, the gains may also not be huge, which is why either decision is justifiable. Personally, I'd take HYS (especially YS) in your position -- your debt is going to be incredibly manageable either way, and I value experiences far more highly than $$, so the marginal increase in your ability to avoid biglaw (and the marginal increase in the quality of your law school experience) would justify the marginal increase in your debt load (from $30,000 to $80,000).


OP Here.

Thanks for the advice. Could you speak a little more to the possibility of need-based aid? I'm really confused as to the way HYS calculates it.

I have worked prior to LS for a little over two years, and during that time I've been independent from my parents with respect to taxes. Since I've used my savings from that time to pay down my tuition costs at my current school, I won't really have any savings or assets when the transfer process happens. If the schools don't look at all to my parents, I'm pretty sure I would qualify for need-based scholarships.

But my understanding is that they will basically look at your parents' income and assets no matter how long you've been independent. My parents do combine for over 100K, have a house and most importantly have a decent amount of liquid savings outside of the usual retirement accounts. I hear that HYS will force you to disclose that savings and will count that against you even if you haven't been dependent on your parents for a couple of years.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:22 am

HYS won't start phasing out your parents from the equation until age 26, with the parents disappearing at age 29.

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby abl » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:32 am

So, there are two types of students who get need-based aid at HYS: (1) students with relatively poor parents, and (2) relatively poor students who have been independent from their parents for a substantial number of years.

I couldn't tell you how poor your parents need to be to qualify for aid under (1), but my guess would be that a lot of middle class families nevertheless make little enough for their kids to qualify for some need-based aid (just look at the % of the class at HYS who qualify). $100,000 in total family income doesn't strike me as being so much as to obviously disqualify you from receiving any aid, but I'm not sure--it's also not so little as to obviously qualify you for some aid.

My sense is that the key for qualifying for aid under (2) is the number of years [x] for which you have been financially independent from your parents (which I believe is determined both by looking to your tax dependency status and by asking what financial support you've actually received). I don't remember what x is, and my guess is that if you were claimed as a dependent through college (as is common) and have worked for two or fewer years, HYS will likely still expect parental contributions. My ballpark estimate guess it that if x>5 years, you will likely receive need-based aid for at least some of your three years of law school, and if x<2 years, you will likely not receive need-based aid at any point.

I can't promise that this is how it works at each (or any) of HYS currently, but it is at least how it used to work at one of HYS. I think one of the other HYS bases dependency solely on age--but this was not universally the case the last time I "checked in" (several years ago). Does that help?

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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby le6f » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:47 pm

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Elston Gunn
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby Elston Gunn » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:03 pm

I think HYS probably is worth ~$50k more in a vacuum, but the social/life disruption of transferring is also a big deal.

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koval
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Re: Quick thoughts: HYS vs. staying at T-14?

Postby koval » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:27 am

Honestly dude, you can transfer if you want, but don't lie to yourself by saying that you're transferring for anything but a prestige bump (especially if you transfer to Harvard). I think that if you go anywhere but Yale (maybe Stanford) your clerkship chances actually go down. Your biglaw chances might also go down unless you can articulate a clear and convincing reason why you needed to transfer within the T14.

Don't get me wrong, transferring can sometimes be a great decision (e.g. non-T14 to T14). But, transferring within the T14 is (in my opinion) generally a bad decision.

PM me if you want me to explain my reasoning.




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