Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

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curiousgeorges
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Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby curiousgeorges » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:56 am

Hi all --

As I explained in the "In at Harvard" thread, I'm a HLS alum who came back to TLS to learn about current admissions issues so that I could advise a 0L friend. I stumbled across this forum, which I think is a great idea, and I'd be happy to answer any questions that I can. Topics on which I might be useful: I did federal district and circuit clerkships; spent a couple of years in biglaw; and now do public interest litigation with a focus on constitutional law issues. I also used OPIA and OCS advising services fairly frequently both during law school and as an alum, if there are any questions about that.

I'll try to check TLS daily if people post questions in this thread to respond to any questions that I get. Hopefully this timing won't keep anyone waiting too long. :)

minnesotamike
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby minnesotamike » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:48 am

I'm trying to justify the added cost of Harvard at near sticker against a full scholarship at CCN. Now that you're out (I assume you've made a dent I in your debt), would you recommend Harvard at $150k over CCN at say $60k. Put another way, what is the added value of the H degree and why? I'm especially curious about its value later in a career (I understand that its impossible to really know and the future is unpredictable, etc.; just hoping to get your thoughts). After visiting both I can say with some confidence that I would enjoy my time at H more, but the expense seems enormous. Sorry if this is a bit rambling - on my cell and can't really edit.

I place a premium on not living in the North East, and the potential to one day leave the law and/or the US.

Thanks in advance!

shoeshine
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby shoeshine » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:40 am

Can you speak to how your clerkships affected job opportunities outside of biglaw?

sun_ra
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby sun_ra » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:24 am

Thanks so much for doing this. I was wondering if you could talk about Harvard's alumni network? Has it been helpful in terms of finding jobs after law school? Do you feel close with other alumni after graduating?

freestallion
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby freestallion » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:40 am

Thanks for taking Qs! Since you're doing public interest work now, are you using the LIPP Program? How do you find it with regards to helping you pay back your loans and still having a comfortable standard of living?

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Br3v
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby Br3v » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:52 am

curiousgeorges wrote:
I did federal district and circuit clerkships; spent a couple of years in biglaw; and now do public interest litigation with a focus on constitutional law issues. I also used OPIA and OCS advising services fairly frequently both during law school and as an alum, if there are any questions about that.


I've always been told that focussing on constitutional law isn't going to happen because practicing "constitutional law" doesn't exist, in that it is incredibly rare. Would you argue against this? Or would you argue that it is certainly a small field that your HLS degree played a large role in helping you enter?

thestillpoint
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby thestillpoint » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:21 pm

minnesotamike wrote:I'm trying to justify the added cost of Harvard at near sticker against a full scholarship at CCN. Now that you're out (I assume you've made a dent I in your debt), would you recommend Harvard at $150k over CCN at say $60k. Put another way, what is the added value of the H degree and why? I'm especially curious about its value later in a career (I understand that its impossible to really know and the future is unpredictable, etc.; just hoping to get your thoughts). After visiting both I can say with some confidence that I would enjoy my time at H more, but the expense seems enormous. Sorry if this is a bit rambling - on my cell and can't really edit.

I place a premium on not living in the North East, and the potential to one day leave the law and/or the US.

Thanks in advance!


I have this same question. I am trying to justify HLS at sticker (all loans) vs. a full ride at a T7. I'd definitely be interested in your perspective having been out for awhile and seeing the value of an HLS degree. I'm similarly thinking that I would do a clerkship, work in big law for awhile, and ideally transition to public interest work. So obviously your input would be invaluable :)

nametaken
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby nametaken » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:24 pm

thestillpoint wrote:
minnesotamike wrote:I'm trying to justify the added cost of Harvard at near sticker against a full scholarship at CCN. Now that you're out (I assume you've made a dent I in your debt), would you recommend Harvard at $150k over CCN at say $60k. Put another way, what is the added value of the H degree and why? I'm especially curious about its value later in a career (I understand that its impossible to really know and the future is unpredictable, etc.; just hoping to get your thoughts). After visiting both I can say with some confidence that I would enjoy my time at H more, but the expense seems enormous. Sorry if this is a bit rambling - on my cell and can't really edit.

I place a premium on not living in the North East, and the potential to one day leave the law and/or the US.

Thanks in advance!


I have this same question. I am trying to justify HLS at sticker (all loans) vs. a full ride at a T7. I'd definitely be interested in your perspective having been out for awhile and seeing the value of an HLS degree. I'm similarly thinking that I would do a clerkship, work in big law for awhile, and ideally transition to public interest work. So obviously your input would be invaluable :)


I'm in the same position and definitely would love for your input on this!

curiousgeorges
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby curiousgeorges » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:13 pm

Hi all, and thanks for the responses. I will be in and out this evening, so I'll respond to the questions that people left one at a time.

freestallion wrote:Thanks for taking Qs! Since you're doing public interest work now, are you using the LIPP Program? How do you find it with regards to helping you pay back your loans and still having a comfortable standard of living?


I have never been eligible for LIPP. Here's why:

- I clerked straight out of law school, but I was not LIPP-eligible because I was planning to take a biglaw rather than PI job after the clerkship.
- I was obviously not eligible while in biglaw.
- During my biglaw SA and associate stints, I paid down my student loans so zealously that they are now quite manageable (without giving the exact amount, I pay under $300/month at this point.) So, although I'm now in a LIPP-eligible job, my loan burden is too small for me to receive assistance.

I have no complaints about this. My career track has allowed me to maintain a comfortable middle-class lifestyle throughout, and I think it's right for LIPP to reserve funds for graduates whose need is greater. I do have a couple of friends who are still on LIPP. They are definitely grateful for the assistance, but as they've inched into their 30s, they've occasionally expressed concern about whether they can "afford" to do PI work forever. Especially for PI folks in the large coastal markets, your salary + LIPP allows you to pay your bills and even to live comfortably, but you won't be able to save and splurge at the same rate as your private sector friends. You have to decide whether you believe in the work that you are doing so much that you can deal with (for instance) renting while everyone else around you is buying homes. If you plan to be a parent, are you okay with sending your child to a public school while all your private sector friends compare notes on exclusive private schools. Etc. It's an individual decision: sometimes people think that they are prepared to make these types of sacrifices, then change their minds later in their careers.

curiousgeorges
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby curiousgeorges » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:28 pm

Br3v wrote:I've always been told that focussing on constitutional law isn't going to happen because practicing "constitutional law" doesn't exist, in that it is incredibly rare. Would you argue against this? Or would you argue that it is certainly a small field that your HLS degree played a large role in helping you enter?


I think that it is rare to find jobs that are 75-100 percent constitutional law, but they do exist in various forms, including some PI nonprofit (impact litigation) and government jobs; certain criminal appellate prosecution and defense jobs; and jobs at rare private public interest law firms whose PI focus is constitutional. I agree that it would not be a good idea to focus on constitutional law to the exclusion of all else. But if you're interested in con law, do some research into the specific employers in your preferred city/cities that do 75 percent or more con law work, in the sector(s) (private/public/nonprofit) that you are willing to consider. It'll be a finite list of employers. Figure out which attorneys those employers are hiring, and what their resumes look like. Then emulate those attorneys. :) And have a backup interest or two that you also pursue in law school.

As for your second question, I think my HLS degree was relevant to my employer, but that the two federal clerkships were more important. Of course, I think my HLS degree was very relevant to my securing the clerkships in the first place, so there you have it.

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Br3v
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby Br3v » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:05 am

curiousgeorges wrote:
Br3v wrote:I've always been told that focussing on constitutional law isn't going to happen because practicing "constitutional law" doesn't exist, in that it is incredibly rare. Would you argue against this? Or would you argue that it is certainly a small field that your HLS degree played a large role in helping you enter?


I think that it is rare to find jobs that are 75-100 percent constitutional law, but they do exist in various forms, including some PI nonprofit (impact litigation) and government jobs; certain criminal appellate prosecution and defense jobs; and jobs at rare private public interest law firms whose PI focus is constitutional. I agree that it would not be a good idea to focus on constitutional law to the exclusion of all else. But if you're interested in con law, do some research into the specific employers in your preferred city/cities that do 75 percent or more con law work, in the sector(s) (private/public/nonprofit) that you are willing to consider. It'll be a finite list of employers. Figure out which attorneys those employers are hiring, and what their resumes look like. Then emulate those attorneys. :) And have a backup interest or two that you also pursue in law school.

As for your second question, I think my HLS degree was relevant to my employer, but that the two federal clerkships were more important. Of course, I think my HLS degree was very relevant to my securing the clerkships in the first place, so there you have it.


Thank you very much. When it comes my time to start interviewing in a few yrs I will certainly have some potential employers I want to aim for narrowed down in regards to this criteria.

curiousgeorges
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby curiousgeorges » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:14 pm

Thanks so much for doing this. I was wondering if you could talk about Harvard's alumni network? Has it been helpful in terms of finding jobs after law school? Do you feel close with other alumni after graduating?


I have been amazed by the strength of Harvard's alumni network, and yes, I think it has been relevant to my post-law school applications and practice. Ways in which I think it has been relevant:

- HLS maintains internal databases of students and graduates who have done clerkship interviews, clerkships, and who hold public interest positions. With respect to clerkships, people can "review" the judges with whom they interviewed and/or clerked and indicate whether they are willing to be contacted by students with questions. I took advantage of this twice as an applicant and found it invaluable (phone calls with former clerks, in which they could talk candidly, were sometimes more valuable than the written reviews.) I participate in this as an alum. With respect to public interest positions, alums can indicate their areas of interest/practice and invite students and other alums seeking positions in the area to contact them. It's a great way to network with people in your field or city, learn more about new practice areas, etc.

- On a more practical level with respect to clerkships and the alumni network: there are judges who are HLS alums who reserve one or more clerkships each year for HLS alums. There are a smaller number of judges who will only hire from HLS. This is less common with respect to non-judicial positions, but there are definitely other employers who recruit disproportionately from HLS or who strongly prefer to receive applications from HLS alums.

- When I've needed additional contacts in a particular field/geographic area, OPIA and OCS have always had names of specific people for me to talk to, and who have uniformly been willing to talk to me when I've called them with a, "[Specific adviser] at [OPIA/OCS] advised me to contact you for guidance." Because the HLS network is so strong and deep, your request can be very specific and people will be able to come up with multiple names of alums who can help. At one point, I had a very specific question about how a particular SCOTUS justice would view a couple of things if I were to apply to him or her - the amazingly helpful clerkship adviser at OCS immediately furnished three names of current and former HLS clerks to this justice who would be willing to talk to me.

- I live in California - not the foremost destination for HLS graduates - and I've still found the alumni network to be very strong. Getting involved with your city's Harvard Club and staying connected into the HLS Association (HLSA) are both excellent ways to network. The HLSA's Recent Graduates Council, for instance, has been developing a number of national practitioner networks with focus in specific areas (e.g. entertainment and sports law, public defender, appellate, etc.) The network in which I'm interested in participating is actually being led by more experienced HLS grads (not "recent" by any definition) who aim in part to provide a source of networking/mentoring for younger attorneys working in the field.

You asked how the network has benefited me, and I've tried to lay out some examples. I also am a strong believer in helping law students and younger attorneys and in building the HLS network; I try to help out in each of the above-described ways as I'm able, too. In terms of feeling close to other alums, generally yes. I have a core group of my own HLS friends with whom I'm in regular touch, even though they aren't all in my area. Because I live in a West Coast market with fewer HLS alums than NY, DC, and Boston, I do feel close, relatively speaking, to the HLS alums I've gotten to know out here.

Also, HLS comes with two chief employment benefits - the network ... and the school name itself. What I've honestly found even more helpful than the alumni network is the positive way in which an HLS degree is viewed by employers who did not attend HLS. I'll say more about this in response to the three people who asked whether the expense of HLS is worth it. (Sorry to you three for the delay in answering; I feel that's the most difficult question, because it's so subjective, because both the cost of law school and the hiring market for new attorneys have changed since I attended law school, and because it's difficult for me to compare the law school experience that I had to the law school experience I might have had at CCN. I probably won't directly attempt to do the last; I will probably lay out what I felt were the benefits of attending Harvard relative to the cost, and ask that any CCN students/alums who might click into this thread offer thoughts on how their experience compared.)

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iThwl
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby iThwl » Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:23 pm

Tag. :mrgreen:

jd5
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby jd5 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:52 pm

nametaken wrote:
thestillpoint wrote:
minnesotamike wrote:I'm trying to justify the added cost of Harvard at near sticker against a full scholarship at CCN. Now that you're out (I assume you've made a dent I in your debt), would you recommend Harvard at $150k over CCN at say $60k. Put another way, what is the added value of the H degree and why? I'm especially curious about its value later in a career (I understand that its impossible to really know and the future is unpredictable, etc.; just hoping to get your thoughts). After visiting both I can say with some confidence that I would enjoy my time at H more, but the expense seems enormous. Sorry if this is a bit rambling - on my cell and can't really edit.

I place a premium on not living in the North East, and the potential to one day leave the law and/or the US.

Thanks in advance!


I have this same question. I am trying to justify HLS at sticker (all loans) vs. a full ride at a T7. I'd definitely be interested in your perspective having been out for awhile and seeing the value of an HLS degree. I'm similarly thinking that I would do a clerkship, work in big law for awhile, and ideally transition to public interest work. So obviously your input would be invaluable :)


I'm in the same position and definitely would love for your input on this!


+1. I'm choosing between a full-ride at Columbia and near-sticker at HLS and would also love for your input on this. Thanks!

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annyong
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby annyong » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:56 am

Thanks so much for taking questions - I'm curious about going from clerkship to big law to PI/Gov - that is something that would really interest me, but I'm wondering how easy it is to transition from biglaw to PI? Does it depend on the area of PI that you are going in to, since I've heard some employers want a demonstrated commitment, how does prior work in biglaw play in to that?

carne.asada
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby carne.asada » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:10 am

curiousgeorges wrote:
What I've honestly found even more helpful than the alumni network is the positive way in which an HLS degree is viewed by employers who did not attend HLS. I'll say more about this in response to the three people who asked whether the expense of HLS is worth it. (Sorry to you three for the delay in answering; I feel that's the most difficult question, because it's so subjective, because both the cost of law school and the hiring market for new attorneys have changed since I attended law school, and because it's difficult for me to compare the law school experience that I had to the law school experience I might have had at CCN. I probably won't directly attempt to do the last; I will probably lay out what I felt were the benefits of attending Harvard relative to the cost, and ask that any CCN students/alums who might click into this thread offer thoughts on how their experience compared.)


Thanks for answering these questions! It's really helpful. I'd love to hear your thoughts too on the price tag and if it was worth it or not.

rad lulz
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby rad lulz » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:18 am

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Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

minnesotamike
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Re: Harvard alum (>5 years out) taking questions

Postby minnesotamike » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:16 pm

Ever have a chance to think about the competing scholarship question, OP?




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