Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

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cityb101
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Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby cityb101 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:22 am

Which schools offer the best chances at BigLaw in SF (and potentially LA, too)?

I've been warned to avoid Duke and Penn, and told that Gtown actually fares better than those two, but are there others to note? I'm applying to law school next year. My undergrad is on the East Coast, but I have (relatively) significant ties to California. I plan to apply to Berkeley and Stanford (unless the LSAT really does not go as planned; I'm taking in September), but would like more info as to whether attending one of those two (or UCLA/USC) is absolutely essential in order to have a good chance at SF/LA.

Thanks in advance!

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UVA2B
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:39 am

You've been told wrong regarding Duke, Penn, and GULC. Berkeley and Stanford are your best bets for SF/SV, but even that is somewhat self-selection by people wanting to be in CA long-term. Your best bets for getting a job in SF/SV more or less fall in line with the hiring of the schools generally. A median Penn student with ties to CA is going to do better in SF than a median UCLA student without ties. A well above median Chicago student with ties to the region is going to do as well or better than a median Harvard student without ties.

People unfortunately try to make bright line distinctions in how legal hiring goes for given markets, but it's a bit more nuanced than that. There is no USNWR for placement in a given region. If you are at Duke, have ties to the Bay Area, do reasonably well during 1L, you can get a job in SF/SV. It might not be Keker unless you really kill it at Duke, but that remains true of any law school in that band of general prestige.

I've posted this elsewhere regarding a hypothetical firm in LA and UCI graduates, but it remains almost entirely true in SF/SV as well and will hopefully inform your way of thinking about peer schools in general bands of prestige:

UVA2B wrote:No one ever said that the general name brand recognition of schools doesn't matter. Firms will dip lower in the class at UCI than they will at Pepperdine. Since you've been reading TLS for years, I assume you understand how the forced curve works. If not, please let me know you don't understand how it works out in the real world so I can explain that first. But assuming you do since you've been reading TLS. So let's break this down for you to help you better understand generally how the hiring process will work.

Hypothetical Firm X:
Total SA spots desired: ~20
Schools they do hiring/OCI at: T14, UCLA, USC, UCI, UCD, Pepperdine, Loyola (making up this list, it'll probably be more schools than this, but this is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive)
Generalized GPA Cutoffs: (Edit: these GPA cutoffs are also illustrative and not necessarily reflective of the cutoffs of each school. Just to show they would generally capture the same percentage of students at the schools in each tier)
T6: ~3.4 or above
T14: ~3.5 or above
UCLA/USC: ~3.6 or above
UCI: ~3.7 or above
UCD/Pepperdine/Loyola: ~3.8 or above

The firm does their screening interviews, and decides to offer to ~25 SAs (allowing for yield, etc.). It breaks down like this:
T6: 10 offers
T14: 6 offers
UCLA/USC: 5 offers
UCI: 3 offers
UCD/Pepperdine/Loyola: 1 offer

For whatever reason, only 5 T6 accept, 2 T14 accept, 5 UCLA/USC accept, 3 UCI accept, and the 1 UCD/Pepperdine/Loyola accept. They now have 16 SAs locked in. But they really wanted to hit their 20 SA class because that 16 number is just too low. So they go back to the people they interviewed but didn't offer a position, and maybe the next 4 on the list include another UCD/Pepperdine/Loyola offer, 2 T14, and another UCI. Three of them accept. Maybe the firm decides 19 is enough, but maybe they go back to their list again and figure out who they wanted more from those they interviewed but haven't yet offered a position until they get to their magic number of 20 SAs.

That soft GPA cutoff is set in stone for those schools, so it's perfectly reasonable that if there are more competitive UCI graduates interviewing at that firm, then it's possible more would be picked up by the firm. Extrapolate this across the market and you get UCI seeing generally the same placement in the market. Plus you can't attribute all fed clerk placement to Dean Chem, and there will still be a good number who end up in clerkships.

I'm all for civil discourse and I'm happy to help you understand this better, but you need to really consider what we're saying and not just instinctively compare it to the way you think you understand things. You're in a much better position to ask questions and try to understand better than to offer opinions about the way legal hiring would work because you think you have read enough TLS to understand the inner nuances of legal hiring.

ETA: I left out an important point that gets into the nuance of this hiring that deserves mentioning for anyone who happens to find this thread: some firms will prefer more T6, T14 grads, etc. where the T6 with a 3.4 is more desirable to the firm than the UCI student with a 3.7 or 3.8, but that won't always be the case. Firms will be making SA offer choices for a wide range of reasons from prestige of their associates to some semblance of "fit" to offering positions later in the cycle based on who is more likely to accept the offer to fill the class. The cutoffs will still be important, but a firm very reasonably may decide to offer a Loyola student with a 3.8 over the Columbia student with a 3.4 because the firm expects the Loyola student is more likely to accept the offer while still meeting their hiring criteria. Each firm will approach this uncertainty differently, but it's important in understanding why Berkeley, USC/UCLA, et al aren't categorically better than the lower ranked school students. Sometimes a UCI student with a 3.7 who was interesting and has lived in the area their entire lives will be more desirable than the Harvard student with mostly Ps and maybe an H or two. This is where the hiring becomes decidedly less about prestige, GPA, and objective factors.

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towel13661
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby towel13661 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:03 am

I've posted this elsewhere regarding a hypothetical firm in LA and UCI graduates, but it remains almost entirely true in SF/SV as well and will hopefully inform your way of thinking about peer schools in general bands of prestige[


Do you happen to remember the thread this was posted in? This was quite interesting and I'd like to see the context if possible.

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UVA2B
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:05 am

towel13661 wrote:
I've posted this elsewhere regarding a hypothetical firm in LA and UCI graduates, but it remains almost entirely true in SF/SV as well and will hopefully inform your way of thinking about peer schools in general bands of prestige[


Do you happen to remember the thread this was posted in? This was quite interesting and I'd like to see the context if possible.


http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=278459&hilit=UCI

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rpupkin
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:59 pm

cityb101 wrote:I've been warned to avoid Duke and Penn, and told that Gtown actually fares better than those two, but are there others to note?

Who warned you of this? It's not true.

Stanford, Harvard and Yale are best for the West Coast. Then Berkeley (especially for SF/SV), then the others in the T14, with a slight boost for Columbia and Chicago over the rest. It's possible to get SF/SV from any school in the T14, even without ties to the region, though you can't count on it. It's a competitive market. You probably should count on having NYC as a fallback.

If you have a strong preference for SF/SV and can't get into HYSB, just go to the cheapest T14 you get into.

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SmokeytheBear
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby SmokeytheBear » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:18 pm

rpupkin wrote:
cityb101 wrote:I've been warned to avoid Duke and Penn, and told that Gtown actually fares better than those two, but are there others to note?

Who warned you of this? It's not true.

Stanford, Harvard and Yale are best for the West Coast. Then Berkeley (especially for SF/SV), then the others in the T14, with a slight boost for Columbia and Chicago over the rest. It's possible to get SF/SV from any school in the T14, even without ties to the region, though you can't count on it. It's a competitive market. You probably should count on having NYC as a fallback.

If you have a strong preference for SF/SV and can't get into HYSB, just go to the cheapest T14 you get into.


This combined with what UVA2B said above are correct.

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BulletTooth
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby BulletTooth » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:25 pm

It may be more helpful if you know what schools you've been admitted to and the amount of $ that you're receiving from each. It's too speculative as to what school is best for you at this point.

cityb101
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby cityb101 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:29 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
cityb101 wrote:I've been warned to avoid Duke and Penn, and told that Gtown actually fares better than those two, but are there others to note?

Who warned you of this? It's not true.

Stanford, Harvard and Yale are best for the West Coast. Then Berkeley (especially for SF/SV), then the others in the T14, with a slight boost for Columbia and Chicago over the rest. It's possible to get SF/SV from any school in the T14, even without ties to the region, though you can't count on it. It's a competitive market. You probably should count on having NYC as a fallback.

If you have a strong preference for SF/SV and can't get into HYSB, just go to the cheapest T14 you get into.


This combined with what UVA2B said above are correct.


Thanks for the info, everyone. I was warned by a family friend who works in BigLaw in California, but I realize that is but one person's perception. Grateful for the feedback here!

As for those (maybe just one poster thus far) asking where I've gotten in and how much money I was offered--I'll be applying in the fall. It hinges on my LSAT score, obviously, though if my PTs continue to improve a bit in the next two months, I should be in a pretty solid position to apply to the following: Stanford & Harvard (both long shots; will only apply if I get 172+), Columbia, NYU, Penn/Duke (maybe both), Georgetown, Berkeley, and maybe UCLA. I expect to be somewhat of a reverse splitter (I predict a 170-173 LSAT with a 3.95 GPA from a pretty prestigious, but not Ivy, undergrad institution)

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UVA2B
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:36 pm

cityb101 wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
cityb101 wrote:I've been warned to avoid Duke and Penn, and told that Gtown actually fares better than those two, but are there others to note?

Who warned you of this? It's not true.

Stanford, Harvard and Yale are best for the West Coast. Then Berkeley (especially for SF/SV), then the others in the T14, with a slight boost for Columbia and Chicago over the rest. It's possible to get SF/SV from any school in the T14, even without ties to the region, though you can't count on it. It's a competitive market. You probably should count on having NYC as a fallback.

If you have a strong preference for SF/SV and can't get into HYSB, just go to the cheapest T14 you get into.


This combined with what UVA2B said above are correct.


Thanks for the info, everyone. I was warned by a family friend who works in BigLaw in California, but I realize that is but one person's perception. Grateful for the feedback here!

As for those (maybe just one poster thus far) asking where I've gotten in and how much money I was offered--I'll be applying in the fall. It hinges on my LSAT score, obviously, though if my PTs continue to improve a bit in the next two months, I should be in a pretty solid position to apply to the following: Stanford & Harvard (both long shots; will only apply if I get 172+), Columbia, NYU, Penn/Duke (maybe both), Georgetown, Berkeley, and maybe UCLA. I expect to be somewhat of a reverse splitter (I predict a 170-173 LSAT with a 3.95 GPA from a pretty prestigious, but not Ivy, undergrad institution)


Don't limit yourself to this list. If you can get to a 170+ LSAT, apply to all of the T13 (and GULC if you really want to, but I doubt this will be your best option) and see what kind of options you have. You have T13 for free in play, and you shouldn't be self-selecting out of any of those potential free rides.

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Mr. Blackacre
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Re: Best schools for West Coast (Best Coast) BigLaw

Postby Mr. Blackacre » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:01 pm

I'm assuming OP got told GULC places better because GULC probably sends more people to California than both Duke and Penn. It's pretty clear when you look at LST's geographical distribution of jobs. Strictly numbers-wise, GULC gets California biglaw more than both.

That being said, most of that is probably self-selection, in the same way that you don't see that many Berkeley grads on the East Coast. If you go to Penn or Duke, presumably you're going to want to work on the East Coast. On the other hand, since GULC is (was) the last T14, I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of Californians picked GULC over UCLA or USC for both 1) prestige and 2) the extra 10-15% shot at biglaw/fedclerk. In fact, I knew several who did that.

Ultimately, I doubt that the value of GULC's rather large California alumni network has any impact in students' ability to get jobs. As others have said OP, just get in the best school you can.




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