Columbia students taking questions

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jbagelboy
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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:38 pm

wsag826 wrote:Hi all. I got into Columbia this week and I was wondering how current students feel about (A) clerkship placement and (B) placement into DC firms in comparison to a peer school like Chicago and a big DC placement school like UVA? I know that both are very difficult to get and not at all sure bets at any institution, but I was wondering what your perception was based on experience (either anecdotal or actual). Appreciate any insight you can provide!


I'll venture a response to (A). Art III clerkship placement is all about how much effort you can or want to put into it. People generally but especially on this forum understate how much of that hiring process is sheer energy and obsequious attrition versus the traditional factors, school/grades/ect. Yes, grades matter and there are some judges where it wouldn't even be worth applying without pretty high honors, but having professors who will make calls or at least write strong letters is crucial for just about any judge. I'd say a third of the class is qualified for *a* clerkship but forming the right faculty contacts as a first year can be exceedingly difficult, which is one reason it's increasingly common to secure a clerkship later in law school for a year out from graduation. The process is also just batshit crazy since the collapse of "The Plan" and hiring has become incredibly idiosyncratic and unpredictable. While the school basically hands you a firm job if you show up and smile at EIP, clerkships are entirely self-motivated and that turns a lot of folks off, particularly where they don't see the added value for their corporate practice.

Anne Green is very helpful and her office has become more active in promoting clerkship opportunities and making calls to judges. There's also been a faculty push to make professors more accessible to students and more helpful in navigating and supporting the clerkship application process, esp for women who are traditionally under-represented. It's definitely still a work in progress. We can't even get all CLS faculty to have office hours or submit grades.

One distinguishing factor from a school like Chicago remains that most people applying to clerkships are applying to SDNY or 2nd Circuit, and that's where many of the faculty network lies. If you are committed to spending a year in chambers, you can do it but it'll take some commitment and it'll be easier the more geographic flexibility wrt "flyover" districts you have. There's also a whole discussion to be had about "ties." When I was applying to law school I had similar questions and concerns to yours, but what you realize is, because it's so individualized and the application process requires so much energy, it's really difficult to talk about "placement" and "chances" in an objective fashion to a pre-law student who, unless they worked for a judge or at a court in the past, probably doesn't even know what a clerkship really entails and whether they'd actually want one besides the fact that schools release data on them and ppl on top-law-schools.com say they're prestigious.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:02 pm

Going to DC and clerkships are problems for if you finish above-median. The whole point of going to a T6 school is what happens if you don't.

I'm also going to cosign jbb's point that you don't know whether you want to clerk yet, but more fully, clerkships are complete flame and cost you somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars without any demonstrable benefit independent of simply being capable enough to have obtained one.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby mylifeis24 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:47 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:Going to DC and clerkships are problems for if you finish above-median. The whole point of going to a T6 school is what happens if you don't.

I'm also going to cosign jbb's point that you don't know whether you want to clerk yet, but more fully, clerkships are complete flame and cost you somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars without any demonstrable benefit independent of simply being capable enough to have obtained one.


Woah woah woah. They're definitely not for everyone's interests, but if you want to go into government, want to enter the niche appellate market, or want to work in DC, clerkships are far from a "complete flame." I agree, they are definitely not for everyone. But let's not start wholesale disregarding them. They have their perks, they cater to specific needs and interests, and as far as the cost goes, it's an investment into your future, just like law school.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby iamgeorgebush » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:48 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:. . . clerkships are complete flame and cost you somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars without any demonstrable benefit independent of simply being capable enough to have obtained one.

come on man. this is silly, b/c:

(1) clerks develop their skills more than they would if they went straight to biglaw, putting them a bit ahead of their peers w/r/t research and writing skills (source: every former clerk with whom i've ever spoken), which is valuable b/c bad writing is one of the chief complaints lawyers have about new associates;
(2) knowledge of how judges and their clerks evaluate things they read is valuable to people who will later earn their livelihood from writing things that judges and clerks read;
(3) clerkships yield lasting resume value;
(4) your money figures are off: an NYC first-year associate takes in around $106k after taxes (assuming $15k bonus), whereas a clerk takes in around $45k after taxes. which is a $61k difference. then, once you account for a $50k clerkship bonus that becomes $27k after taxes, it's only a $44k difference. bottom line: clerks who go from their clerkships to biglaw are $44k poorer as a result of their clerkships, not "a hundred thousand dollars." but this doesn't even take into account long-term benefits from those clerkships (and assuming one has a relatively long career practicing law, how the hell is a clerkship not going to yield at least $44k?); and
(5) the $$ aside, clerking has got to be way more interesting than doing doc review and other mind-numbing first-year associate lit work.

this is all assuming the clerk goes on to be a litigator, of course.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:04 am

A first-year associate can be paying $5k per month in loans and still have some left for a 401(k). A clerk is gonna be able to pay maybe $1k/month in loans? If you have $200k of debt at 6.8% interest, your balance is actually increasing at that rate. Financially, you've entirely wasted a year of your life. In just a few years of opportunity cost foregone loan payments and investments, the difference is easily $100k. Could be well more than that if you expand the life of the opportunity cost or the market performs better than historical average.

You pay a gigantic tangible cost in the hopes that a clerkship will amorphously and intangibly benefit your career. Maybe it will, but there's no empirical evidence suggesting clerks are getting things they couldn't have gotten without a clerkship in large numbers.

The bottom line is: Don't fuck around with six-figure debt. If you're going to Kellogg or someplace that actually gives you a tangible benefit for clerking, then fine. But mere mortals ought to get their financial house in order (i.e. positive net worth) before they do anything else. Save your clerkship for after you've burnt out of your Biglaw peonage and you have some idea of where your career is headed before you make six-figure decisions.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby TheoO » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:14 am

(3) clerkships yield lasting resume value;


Just wondering. How did you determine this?

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Nebby » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:32 am

TheoO wrote:
(3) clerkships yield lasting resume value;


Just wondering. How did you determine this?

No one determines anything WRT clerkships,because people planning on clerking aren't going to change their minds, just as people against it probably never seriously considered it in the first place. Clerking is an organic process that you can prepare for, but can't plan for. (if that makes any sense)

But to answer your question, clerking is like post-graduate honors. What clerking shows is that you were good enough to get it. (I think jbb already pointed this out)

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:12 am

iamgeorgebush wrote:
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:. . . clerkships are complete flame and cost you somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars without any demonstrable benefit independent of simply being capable enough to have obtained one.

come on man. this is silly, b/c:

(1) clerks develop their skills more than they would if they went straight to biglaw, putting them a bit ahead of their peers w/r/t research and writing skills (source: every former clerk with whom i've ever spoken), which is valuable b/c bad writing is one of the chief complaints lawyers have about new associates;
(2) knowledge of how judges and their clerks evaluate things they read is valuable to people who will later earn their livelihood from writing things that judges and clerks read;
(3) clerkships yield lasting resume value;
(4) your money figures are off: an NYC first-year associate takes in around $106k after taxes (assuming $15k bonus), whereas a clerk takes in around $45k after taxes. which is a $61k difference. then, once you account for a $50k clerkship bonus that becomes $27k after taxes, it's only a $44k difference. bottom line: clerks who go from their clerkships to biglaw are $44k poorer as a result of their clerkships, not "a hundred thousand dollars." but this doesn't even take into account long-term benefits from those clerkships (and assuming one has a relatively long career practicing law, how the hell is a clerkship not going to yield at least $44k?); and
(5) the $$ aside, clerking has got to be way more interesting than doing doc review and other mind-numbing first-year associate lit work.


Clerkships certainly have added value to a potential litigator or academic, and Mono's characterization was definitely exaggerated. Also you're spot on about the finances for Y1, although you end up losing a little more if you do district to COA and only cop $70k.

That being said, what he's (rightfully) pushing back on is the assumption on the part of so many ambitious pre-law applicants that "doing a clerkship" is the natural progression and target for their careers. Respond to the 0L question, "how do students feel about clerkships?" the real answer is, it's complicated. As I stressed, it's not just about some abstract numerical eligibility. Columbia students can find judges that would love to have them. But the whole process is a mixed bag.

I'll say one thing about a few points on your list. First, the argument that "clerking makes you a better writer than those that haven't clerked" rings tautological to me. The better writers in law school, ceteris paribus, are the ones clerking (since the writing sample, having profs vouch for your writing, and journal/LR shit are all dominant factor for judicial hiring). So when they emerge, they're still likely to be stronger writers. I don't know if the year in chambers itself is actually putting former clerks more "ahead of their peers" than they already would have been. Second, yes it's important to understand judges and having a judge as a reference seems very valuable. But it is really that valuable unrooted from the experience of practice? Personally, it makes more sense to spend a couple years actually litigating, then do your clerkship, so you actually know how to craft the experience to your benefit. Also, another "common complaint" is actually about clerks, who come in as third year associates leading teams but without actually understanding how to work with the client or the mechanics of litigation; spending hours training a higher billable worker is always inefficient. Generally though, these are all good points you made and reasons why if you have the opportunity to clerk, why not go for it.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:07 am

One forgotten part about clerking is that it usually requires a lot of geographic flexibility. At least part of the reason Columbia lags a little in clerkship placement is that our students are the type who self-select towards the larger, more competitive markets. For many, spending a year in Kentucky or Wyoming or wherever after graduation just doesn't fit with their overall life plan. But if you're from one of those places or know that in a few years you'd be happy to live anywhere to clerk, then you've still got a solid shot.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby tlsapp2017 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:11 pm

jrc223 wrote:Is securing a university apartment relatively easy, or is it competitive?


It's an easy process, and you're guaranteed to get some housing arrangement. I would say that most people get most of the things they ask for in the application, and even if you don't there don't seem to be any objectively bad housing options.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby iamgeorgebush » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:36 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:A first-year associate can be paying $5k per month in loans and still have some left for a 401(k). A clerk is gonna be able to pay maybe $1k/month in loans? If you have $200k of debt at 6.8% interest, your balance is actually increasing at that rate. Financially, you've entirely wasted a year of your life. In just a few years of opportunity cost foregone loan payments and investments, the difference is easily $100k. Could be well more than that if you expand the life of the opportunity cost or the market performs better than historical average.

i'm pretty sure that if you do a clerkship, you can get a loan through LRAP at 5% interest, deferred until you start biglaw. so the accrued interest isn't as big as you think. see http://web.law.columbia.edu/sites/defau ... c_2014.pdf

plus, even if that were not true, your numbers would still be off. if a first-year associate pays off $4k/mo. more in loans, that's $48,000/yr., 6.8% of which is $3,264. look at the interest that would have accrued over, say, 5 years, and you get $18,696. add that to the $44k difference i calculated earlier, and you're around $63k. which is not six figures.

i guess by "foregone investments" you mean to imply that a first-year associate would be investing money that a clerk would not? okay, maybe. let's see...since the first-year associate is now making $46k after taxes and loans (remember, she's paying $60k/yr. in loans), how much do you think she is going to be investing, rather than blowing on nice things? maybe $5k? even that seems unlikely to me.
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:The bottom line is: Don't fuck around with six-figure debt. If you're going to Kellogg or someplace that actually gives you a tangible benefit for clerking, then fine. But mere mortals ought to get their financial house in order (i.e. positive net worth) before they do anything else. Save your clerkship for after you've burnt out of your Biglaw peonage and you have some idea of where your career is headed before you make six-figure decisions.

sure, i don't mean to be saying everyone should do a clerkship. it only makes sense for people who want to be litigators for years to come...and if you're applying to clerkships as a 2L, it could be pretty damn hard to know that. certainly hard to know as a 0L. this doesn't mean that clerkships are a "complete flame" or cost you six figures, though.
jbagelboy wrote:I'll say one thing about a few points on your list. First, the argument that "clerking makes you a better writer than those that haven't clerked" rings tautological to me. The better writers in law school, ceteris paribus, are the ones clerking (since the writing sample, having profs vouch for your writing, and journal/LR shit are all dominant factor for judicial hiring). So when they emerge, they're still likely to be stronger writers. I don't know if the year in chambers itself is actually putting former clerks more "ahead of their peers" than they already would have been. Second, yes it's important to understand judges and having a judge as a reference seems very valuable. But it is really that valuable unrooted from the experience of practice? Personally, it makes more sense to spend a couple years actually litigating, then do your clerkship, so you actually know how to craft the experience to your benefit. Also, another "common complaint" is actually about clerks, who come in as third year associates leading teams but without actually understanding how to work with the client or the mechanics of litigation; spending hours training a higher billable worker is always inefficient. Generally though, these are all good points you made and reasons why if you have the opportunity to clerk, why not go for it.

yeah, fair enough. i didn't mean to say that clerks being better writers than their peers is evidence of clerks having gained more from their clerkship than their peers did during their first year of practice, though. this is just based on what i've heard from former clerks: they've said that their reading and writing skills developed more during their clerkship than during the first year of practice after that, or something along those lines. how they came to that conclusion, i don't know, but i imagine the conclusion was based not on them being ahead of their peers, but rather on their experiences clerking compared with their experiences practicing at firms.
Last edited by iamgeorgebush on Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:26 pm

Yeah, I suppose with the bonus thrown in somewhere around a $66k difference sounds about right. Still, I would be very, very hesitant to give up $66k for the intangible benefit of clerking. I suspect the type of person who can get an SDNY clerkship is the type who would do just fine without it, even if he/she were 100% positive they were going to litigate.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby LetsGoMets » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:08 pm

Jumping in here from the 2018 thread. Thanks for the great clerkship discussion. Possibly interested in one as a 0L (but trying to fully understand what getting and doing one actually entails instead of just thinking of it as a prestigious next step, although I'm definitely interested in litigation), so it's really helpful.

Want to reiterate the DC question -- the sense I'm getting is that DC is doable above median, but generally difficult (like it is at all T14s) because it's just a small and highly sought after market. Would be curious to see the 2013 EIP results sheet if it's out there to compare to the 2011 and 2012 data posted here last year, which looked tough for DC offers for the majority of firms. For any other curious 0Ls, the older data is on page 51 of this thread (thanks Tiago Splitter).

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby MCFC » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:56 pm

LetsGoMets wrote:Jumping in here from the 2018 thread. Thanks for the great clerkship discussion. Possibly interested in one as a 0L (but trying to fully understand what getting and doing one actually entails instead of just thinking of it as a prestigious next step, although I'm definitely interested in litigation), so it's really helpful.

Want to reiterate the DC question -- the sense I'm getting is that DC is doable above median, but generally difficult (like it is at all T14s) because it's just a small and highly sought after market. Would be curious to see the 2013 EIP results sheet if it's out there to compare to the 2011 and 2012 data posted here last year, which looked tough for DC offers for the majority of firms. For any other curious 0Ls, the older data is on page 51 of this thread (thanks Tiago Splitter).


Here are the 2013 results:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... =399774523

If you want anecdotes from 2014, you could page through here, but I imagine that's of marginal usefulness:
http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 3&t=231040

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby jrc223 » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:53 pm

tlsapp2017 wrote:
jrc223 wrote:Is securing a university apartment relatively easy, or is it competitive?


It's an easy process, and you're guaranteed to get some housing arrangement. I would say that most people get most of the things they ask for in the application, and even if you don't there don't seem to be any objectively bad housing options.


Ah, great. I haven't received my UAH access code yet, so I'm not sure what the application/application process looks like, but I was wondering if submitting the form earlier increases one's odds of getting the things he asks for?

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby ph5354a » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:29 pm

jrc223 wrote:
tlsapp2017 wrote:
jrc223 wrote:Is securing a university apartment relatively easy, or is it competitive?


It's an easy process, and you're guaranteed to get some housing arrangement. I would say that most people get most of the things they ask for in the application, and even if you don't there don't seem to be any objectively bad housing options.


Ah, great. I haven't received my UAH access code yet, so I'm not sure what the application/application process looks like, but I was wondering if submitting the form earlier increases one's odds of getting the things he asks for?


There's an application deadline (May 15 or June 1 maybe, can't remember) and everyone who submits by that time is guaranteed housing (but obviously not guaranteed that they'll get exactly what they want). I don't believe that they assigned housing prior to that date so I don't think there is any advantage to submitting earlier than that. Obviously people who get in off the wait list after that date or submit applications late would be at a slight disadvantage.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:39 pm

MCFC wrote:Here are the 2013 results:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... =399774523

lol who is that asshole who was the 0/1 on Latham SD?

As for housing, you're fine if you submit by the regular deadline. Most people are pretty happy about housing.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby banjo » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:14 am

ph5354a wrote:
jrc223 wrote:
tlsapp2017 wrote:
jrc223 wrote:Is securing a university apartment relatively easy, or is it competitive?


It's an easy process, and you're guaranteed to get some housing arrangement. I would say that most people get most of the things they ask for in the application, and even if you don't there don't seem to be any objectively bad housing options.


Ah, great. I haven't received my UAH access code yet, so I'm not sure what the application/application process looks like, but I was wondering if submitting the form earlier increases one's odds of getting the things he asks for?


There's an application deadline (May 15 or June 1 maybe, can't remember) and everyone who submits by that time is guaranteed housing (but obviously not guaranteed that they'll get exactly what they want). I don't believe that they assigned housing prior to that date so I don't think there is any advantage to submitting earlier than that. Obviously people who get in off the wait list after that date or submit applications late would be at a slight disadvantage.


I moved into my UAH place mid-May and got assigned early May IIRC (already lived in NYC and my previous lease was ending). I'm not sure if it made any difference, but I was happy with my assignment. Rent was < $1k.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby jrc223 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:04 am

banjo wrote: I moved into my UAH place mid-May and got assigned early May IIRC (already lived in NYC and my previous lease was ending). I'm not sure if it made any difference, but I was happy with my assignment. Rent was < $1k.


I think your post already answered my next question, but I'll ask it just to be sure: are university apartments rented for a full year, or do they have nine month options? Also, if for some reason one wanted a different apartment after his first year, can he just reapply for housing? Conversely, if he wanted to keep his apartment, I'm assuming that is possible?

Thanks for fielding these questions guys

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby banjo » Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:46 am

jrc223 wrote:
banjo wrote: I moved into my UAH place mid-May and got assigned early May IIRC (already lived in NYC and my previous lease was ending). I'm not sure if it made any difference, but I was happy with my assignment. Rent was < $1k.


I think your post already answered my next question, but I'll ask it just to be sure: are university apartments rented for a full year, or do they have nine month options? Also, if for some reason one wanted a different apartment after his first year, can he just reapply for housing? Conversely, if he wanted to keep his apartment, I'm assuming that is possible?

Thanks for fielding these questions guys


UAH was a year-long lease and renewal is pretty easy. I'm not totally sure about switching places, but you could probably do it. Graduating housing is pretty flexible. They don't even care if you pay rent on time. I think I paid every few months or so.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby MCFC » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:17 am

I started with a nine (closer to ten really) month lease (August-May). When I renewed I signed a year-long lease.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby wsag826 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:39 pm

MCFC wrote:
LetsGoMets wrote:Jumping in here from the 2018 thread. Thanks for the great clerkship discussion. Possibly interested in one as a 0L (but trying to fully understand what getting and doing one actually entails instead of just thinking of it as a prestigious next step, although I'm definitely interested in litigation), so it's really helpful.

Want to reiterate the DC question -- the sense I'm getting is that DC is doable above median, but generally difficult (like it is at all T14s) because it's just a small and highly sought after market. Would be curious to see the 2013 EIP results sheet if it's out there to compare to the 2011 and 2012 data posted here last year, which looked tough for DC offers for the majority of firms. For any other curious 0Ls, the older data is on page 51 of this thread (thanks Tiago Splitter).


Here are the 2013 results:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... =399774523

If you want anecdotes from 2014, you could page through here, but I imagine that's of marginal usefulness:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=231040


Thanks for this! Definitely puts everything everyone has said into perspective...it's doable, but it's not a guarantee. The question is, then...if it's not going to be a guarantee anywhere, is Columbia the better choice over something like Chicago or UVA? Was there anything else that current Columbia students in similar positions took into consideration as they made their decisions on where to matriculate against peer schools/other T14s?

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Skool » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:05 pm

Student interested in PI here.

Looks like there's a big difference between Columbia's clinics and NYU's clinics.

In the NYU-Columbia Law exchange program, can a Columbia student register for NYU clinics?

I'm guessing the answer is no, but thought I'd ask. Sorry if this has been asked elsewhere.

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Nebby » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:44 pm

No. Whether you do a clinic at all is highly dependent on what PI you're interested in?

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Re: Columbia 1L(s) taking questions

Postby Skool » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:57 pm

Sorry to hear that. Interested in Criminal/fed habeas/ criminal appeals. Would totally welcome clinics in impact litigation and even DOJ civil work. Pretty much all non prosecution PI litigation. Just got into NYU and was psyched to see they had multiple offerings in all of these. Something to keep in mind if Columbia is nice enough to let me in.




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