dasneak wrote:Right now my options are WUSTL and Northwestern. WUSTL is giving me $90k which is a really attractive option...but then again, it's freaking Northwestern. Any advice?
See my post above. I turned down 105k at WUSTL and 105k at GW for NU at sticker. It really depends on what kind of work you want to do and how much you're willing to risk for that kind of work.
That seems a bit insane, but it's a personal choice.
To the poster wondering if he should go to NU at sticker: Just do the research. I have. I am summarizing it below:
There are at least two studies of large populations of lawyers that adduce the "tier premium", or the extent, after adjusting for your statistically likely class rank at a school of a certain tier, that the school will improve your career. Smart people have already answered this, our most pressing question.
The upshot? As long as the other school you attend is in the 10-20 USNWR range (and they have placement statistics to suggest they belong in that range), or as long as it has placement statistics suggesting it could be in the 10-20 USNWR range (like Boston College, BU, and Fordham; such schools must be tied to a competitive market), your prospects for a 160 + bonus job are largely the same. (Remember, this is AFTER adjusting for your statistically likely class rank, or, in other words: you absolutly should be worried about "being the least intelligent person at NU". Don't listen to anyone who says the opposite; they are dangerously wrong.)
But here's the big secret: graduating from a T14 (and substantially moreso, graduating from a T10 tied to a competitive market--yes, T10s are somewhat regional too) is a substantial asset principally for getting a single kind
of 160 + bonus job, not for getting any kind
of such job. These include jobs at Vault 20 firms. These firms also work their new associates the hardest (and do pay somewhat larger bonuses). They include Cravath, Wachtell, and Sullivan and Cromwell. I've only heard of Wachtell paying substantially larger bonuses (which can be 80-120 grand.)
Here's the second big secret: the significant payoff to working for these kinds of firms is not your bonus, but is your chance to make partner. (That's not to mean you're more likely to make partner at these kinds of firms: you're substantially less likely to do so.) But mostly because these firms work their new associates the hardest (and as the legal market changes, less so because these firms are the only ones reputed to be competent for certain high-value work), their partners make the most money. For the same reason, fewer new associates will ever make partner.
Here's where my information-train stops. I haven't a clue to the secret for building the book of business necessary to become a partner at a V10 firm, and I haven't a clue whether going to NU would help.
If it's V20 or bust, your choice is NU, but it's not ideal. If it's V20-V80, possibly in a non-NYC market, it's the 10-20 school described above that costs substantially less. That will translate into your being better able to a) leave Big Law if you don't like it, and b) afford a higher standard of living, and c) being able to make your minimum loan payments if you fall in the bottom half of your class.
Let me hilight c). You first need to check NUs NALP report. You then need to understand firm-compensation is almost exclusively a function of firm-size. Mostly, only firms of more than 100 lawyers pay 160 + bonus (or 145 + bonus in the "secondary" markets). You then need to understand the bifurcation of starting salaries: very few lawyers across the legal profession who do not land starting salaries of 160 + bonus (or 145 + bonus in a "secondary" market) are landing starting salaries of more than 85, and most land starting salaries of between 55 and 65. (Even some graduates at NU land such salaries: that may be why NUs reported-salary percentage is only 66%.) If you've gone to NU at sticker, you cannot make your minimum loan repayments without making at least 100. So, unless you feel you have a good shot at being in the top half of your class at NU, don't ever think of paying sticker to go. (This applies to any T10-20, including Cornell, Georgetown, and Duke.)
My Source: A shit-ton of research and analysis as I've gone through the very same choice you are going through now