Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
USAIRS
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Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:16 am

Okay, I've done a thread like this every year for the last three years. I don't even want to read my old ones, but my old posts are probably better for a lot of things since I had more energy, enthusiasm, and better recollection. Also, I may have been in some sweet spot in terms of distance from the school and nostalgia. I just got done with a rough week and have some time that I'll donate to this board since I've already broken something of a hiatus and posted twice today anyway. To get this going: I'm a about 5-7 years out of Chicago and work in a competitive federal job where I get to say, "appearing for the United States, your Honor." If your questions are primarily related to my job, it is best to PM me, since I'm too paranoid to post about that on a public forum. Disclaimer - what I say in or through this site is my personal opinion only and not the position of the government, and I am just some guy who doesn't really know anything at all. That being said, who wants a piece of this?

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Knock
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby Knock » Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:16 am

USAIRS wrote:Okay, I've done a thread like this every year for the last three years. I don't even want to read my old ones, but my old posts are probably better for a lot of things since I had more energy, enthusiasm, and better recollection. Also, I may have been in some sweet spot in terms of distance from the school and nostalgia. I just got done with a rough week and have some time that I'll donate to this board since I've already broken something of a hiatus and posted twice today anyway. To get this going: I'm a about 5-7 years out of Chicago and work in a competitive federal job where I get to say, "appearing for the United States, your Honor." If your questions are primarily related to my job, it is best to PM me, since I'm too paranoid to post about that on a public forum. Disclaimer - what I say in or through this site is my personal opinion only and not the position of the government, and I am just some guy who doesn't really know anything at all. That being said, who wants a piece of this?


1. How did you enjoy Chicago? What schools did you choose it over? Did you get money? What do you think about the Rubenstein Scholarship?
2. How was your GPA/class rank? How difficult was it to get a SA? Do you think having letter grades was significantly more stressful than if you were in a H/P like some other schools have? What's your opinion on graded LRW?
3. What's your opinion on the rigorous reputation Chicago has? How's the weather? What do you think about attending Chicago for someone interested in practicing in California?
4. How do you enjoy practicing? How's the work? Quality of life/work life balance?
5. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? Are you glad you went to law school?
6. What would you tell an 0L going to law school ITE? Anything Chicago-specific?

Thank you taking questions, and apologies for asking so many. Feel free to skip any you want.

USAIRS
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:55 pm

Knock-
No need to apologize for your questions, that's why I posted:

1. I enjoyed my time at Chicago, mostly because I took a lot of time to explore the city on my own, hang out on the rest of the campus, the fabulous Ratner Gym, and just having fun with other grad students. Limiting myself to just the law school campus would have driven me crazy - my interests are just more broad. I did have an amazing experience in dealing with the profs - even as a bad student, they take you seriously and are generous with their attention. The rubenstein - which is according to TLS (I don't really know outside of searching here) a full scholarship - was not in existence when I went. There may have been one or two students who got a full scholarship but I'm unsure. My opinion is that Chicago's education and the opportunities available to UofC grads, are on par with schools that Rubenstein recipients are likely considering (such as Harvard) and it is a heck of a deal. Current law school tuition is an abomination, so I'd advise against anyone paying full tuition at any school when there is a full ride to Chicago on the table. Myself, I had a scholarship to UofC and did not even apply to Harvard and Yale, so I can't say I made that kind of decision. Based on my outcome, though, I have no regrets about that.

2. I was probably bottom 25%, but I could have been lower. Chicago doesn't rank, and a lot of people either didn't care about my grades or did not understand the Chicago grading system - which is numerical not letter. The grading system is probably more stressful than other schools, but I am not a fan of non-grading systems due to my experience now on the hiring end. I think it allows untrained people to just slide through, and I have a lot of hesitancy hiring someone who doesn't have a lot of high passes. I did have some problems getting an SA through OCI because I focused on San Diego and because I was applying to out-of-reach firms like latham and Sidley, who at least wanted median. Once I stopped making real obvious mistakes like that I picked something up, but that didn't result in an offer. Looking back, I probably made every mistake in the book, but the Chicago name bought me a lot of second chances so I still ended up in something that is really competitive.

3. Chicago is rigorous. It is a great reputation for a school to have. If you are afraid of that kind of education, then I shake my head in disapproval. It is a learning experience. There really isn't a part of it that I can say doesn't eventually inure to your personal, intellectual, and profesional growth. Everyone should seek out such challenges. The coldness of winter is not the issue, but the fact that it lasts like 8 months, and summer and spring still suck relative to CA. Chicago has a lot of people going to CA. It is just as easy to go there as it is to get a job in Chicago, maybe easier (as long as you aren't focusing on SD, which has few jobs and is pretty insular). For anyone who has spent their whole lives in California, I recommend getting out for at least once in your life, whether it is Chicago, Boston, or New York. I think it really adds to one's perspective and ability to relate to the other people you end up working with.

4. I like my job, and I think I'm doing pretty well at it. Quality of life is hard for me, because I've taken on some pretty big cases right now. I'm not really here for the hours, which are between 60-70 a week, but for the experience and responsibility. In that way, I am really doing well. I do keep on promising my wife that this will cool down soon.

5. I'd probably have specialized more in law school, and I would not have dropped Obama's class, I would have tried for law review (which is both write and grade on), I would have published my papers, made better use of my RA job, and I would have tried harder to get into a clinic. They just give you so many opportunites at chicago and I wish I really would have maximized them. I was really hit and miss.

6. In addition to some of the things I said in the above paragraph, I would tell a 0L to consider scholarships more, not to rely entirely on OCI for jobs (and not to wait for OCI to pan out), and to intern during the year. Nothing really Chicago specific. If you get a full ride to NYU, do all these things at NYU. Sounds awesome to me.

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dresden doll
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby dresden doll » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:56 pm

No questions here. Just wanted to welcome you back.

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Knock
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby Knock » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:59 pm

USAIRS wrote:Knock-
No need to apologize for your questions, that's why I posted:

1. I enjoyed my time at Chicago, mostly because I took a lot of time to explore the city on my own, hang out on the rest of the campus, the fabulous Ratner Gym, and just having fun with other grad students. Limiting myself to just the law school campus would have driven me crazy - my interests are just more broad. I did have an amazing experience in dealing with the profs - even as a bad student, they take you seriously and are generous with their attention. The rubenstein - which is according to TLS (I don't really know outside of searching here) a full scholarship - was not in existence when I went. There may have been one or two students who got a full scholarship but I'm unsure. My opinion is that Chicago's education and the opportunities available to UofC grads, are on par with schools that Rubenstein recipients are likely considering (such as Harvard) and it is a heck of a deal. Current law school tuition is an abomination, so I'd advise against anyone paying full tuition at any school when there is a full ride to Chicago on the table. Myself, I had a scholarship to UofC and did not even apply to Harvard and Yale, so I can't say I made that kind of decision. Based on my outcome, though, I have no regrets about that.

2. I was probably bottom 25%, but I could have been lower. Chicago doesn't rank, and a lot of people either didn't care about my grades or did not understand the Chicago grading system - which is numerical not letter. The grading system is probably more stressful than other schools, but I am not a fan of non-grading systems due to my experience now on the hiring end. I think it allows untrained people to just slide through, and I have a lot of hesitancy hiring someone who doesn't have a lot of high passes. I did have some problems getting an SA through OCI because I focused on San Diego and because I was applying to out-of-reach firms like latham and Sidley, who at least wanted median. Once I stopped making real obvious mistakes like that I picked something up, but that didn't result in an offer. Looking back, I probably made every mistake in the book, but the Chicago name bought me a lot of second chances so I still ended up in something that is really competitive.

3. Chicago is rigorous. It is a great reputation for a school to have. If you are afraid of that kind of education, then I shake my head in disapproval. It is a learning experience. There really isn't a part of it that I can say doesn't eventually inure to your personal, intellectual, and profesional growth. Everyone should seek out such challenges. The coldness of winter is not the issue, but the fact that it lasts like 8 months, and summer and spring still suck relative to CA. Chicago has a lot of people going to CA. It is just as easy to go there as it is to get a job in Chicago, maybe easier (as long as you aren't focusing on SD, which has few jobs and is pretty insular). For anyone who has spent their whole lives in California, I recommend getting out for at least once in your life, whether it is Chicago, Boston, or New York. I think it really adds to one's perspective and ability to relate to the other people you end up working with.

4. I like my job, and I think I'm doing pretty well at it. Quality of life is hard for me, because I've taken on some pretty big cases right now. I'm not really here for the hours, which are between 60-70 a week, but for the experience and responsibility. In that way, I am really doing well. I do keep on promising my wife that this will cool down soon.

5. I'd probably have specialized more in law school, and I would not have dropped Obama's class, I would have tried for law review (which is both write and grade on), I would have published my papers, made better use of my RA job, and I would have tried harder to get into a clinic. They just give you so many opportunites at chicago and I wish I really would have maximized them. I was really hit and miss.

6. In addition to some of the things I said in the above paragraph, I would tell a 0L to consider scholarships more, not to rely entirely on OCI for jobs (and not to wait for OCI to pan out), and to intern during the year. Nothing really Chicago specific. If you get a full ride to NYU, do all these things at NYU. Sounds awesome to me.


Thank you so much for answering all my questions. I really appreciate it.

Ghost
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby Ghost » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:56 am

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Last edited by Ghost on Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bellamy
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby bellamy » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:44 pm

Ghost wrote:Thanks for answering questions!

To elaborate on question 6, how difficult is to balance volunteering/interning while in 2L and 3L years? I'm assuming this isn't advised for 1L year.

If you were choosing between Chicago and Columbia and you were unsure about your career goals but thought ultimately you wanted to end up in Calif or Arizona which would choose and why? Thanks

USAIRS
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Sat Mar 12, 2011 6:29 pm

Ghost wrote:Thanks for answering questions!

To elaborate on question 6, how difficult is to balance volunteering/interning while in 2L and 3L years? I'm assuming this isn't advised for 1L year.


Unadvised and probably not feasible as a 1L. As a 2L/3L, the best thing is to try and get credits for doing it so it lessens your courseload. Internships during fall and spring can also be part-time, but the best thing is probably to do at least 4 full time days. I don't know how many credits chicago will give, but I've known interns at other schools to get at least 9 units for interning.

As to Chicago v. Columbia, I can't really speak to what Columbia is like. If I had a bigger scholarship to Columbia I probably would have gone there. I can say that Chicago is an excellent choice for either of those places, and I chose Chicago for reasons not necessarily related to geographic placement - things like the professors and the history of the school, or the success of its graduates in things like clerking and academia . I do know someone who went to a firm in Ph, Az, without problems, someone else who went to NM, someone else who went to Colorado, others to Utah - Chicago grads are from diverse places and head back to these places routinely. It seems to be natural for both the school and the city, to act like a central hub for the nation.

marburger06
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby marburger06 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:14 pm

USAIRS wrote:Unadvised and probably not feasible as a 1L. As a 2L/3L, the best thing is to try and get credits for doing it so it lessens your courseload. Internships during fall and spring can also be part-time, but the best thing is probably to do at least 4 full time days. I don't know how many credits chicago will give, but I've known interns at other schools to get at least 9 units for interning.


The answer is 0. Chicago does not give credits for intern/externships unless it is part of a course. Right now I think the only option is some kind of Housing project that has both in-class and internship components.

USAIRS
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:38 pm

marburger06 wrote:
USAIRS wrote:Unadvised and probably not feasible as a 1L. As a 2L/3L, the best thing is to try and get credits for doing it so it lessens your courseload. Internships during fall and spring can also be part-time, but the best thing is probably to do at least 4 full time days. I don't know how many credits chicago will give, but I've known interns at other schools to get at least 9 units for interning.


The answer is 0. Chicago does not give credits for intern/externships unless it is part of a course. Right now I think the only option is some kind of Housing project that has both in-class and internship components.


Well then screw them, honestly.
Take note Dean Schill. Stanford gives at least 8 units for interning with the USAO.

USAIRS
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:25 pm

I just got a pm from someone reminding me of past stances I've taken on "Chicago at full tuition versus other top schools with substantial scholarship." In brief, morally, I can never advise anyone that they should take out loans or or take money from savings to pay the exorbitant amounts of money required for tuition at law schools, regardless of the differences in school quality. I can only advise as to the experience I had at Chicago and the experiences of others with whom I am familiar. So take my statements with that in mind - I am not encouraging you to pay 120k for tuition regardless of my opinions of the schools.

Hey-O
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby Hey-O » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:49 pm

Tag. (I might have questions, but I want to read everything first and don't have time right now). :) Thanks for doing this!

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JollyGreenGiant
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby JollyGreenGiant » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:56 pm

USAIRS wrote:I just got a pm from someone reminding me of past stances I've taken on "Chicago at full tuition versus other top schools with substantial scholarship." In brief, morally, I can never advise anyone that they should take out loans or or take money from savings to pay the exorbitant amounts of money required for tuition at law schools, regardless of the differences in school quality. I can only advise as to the experience I had at Chicago and the experiences of others with whom I am familiar. So take my statements with that in mind - I am not encouraging you to pay 120k for tuition regardless of my opinions of the schools.


Only a $120k? Man, you have been out of school for awhile. :P

Thanks for the answers, btw!

USAIRS
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby USAIRS » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:22 pm

JollyGreenGiant wrote:
USAIRS wrote:... I am not encouraging you to pay 120k for tuition regardless of my opinions of the schools.


Only a $120k? Man, you have been out of school for awhile. :P

Thanks for the answers, btw!



No problem.

Geez. I don't even want to know how much it is this year. It was about 90k full when I went and in-state at Berkeley was about 30k (which set the ceiling for how much I was willing to pay to any school). I feel sorry for you all, and I shudder to think what it will be like when my kids go to college.

Also - thanks for the welcome Dresden Doll.

trudat15
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby trudat15 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:14 am

tag :D

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Sentry
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Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode 6

Postby Sentry » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:38 pm

If someone wanted to be a USAO on the criminal side, what would you recommend doing at Chicago to make that more likely to come about...besides learning to not write such shitty sentences?




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