art vandelay wrote:"+1 ... by many accounts [b]SMU will place equally well in Dallas as UT"
Really? I'm about to send my deposit to UT, and my ultimate goal is to work in Dallas... so these considerations are nagging at me. I just can't find a plausible reason to turn down UT for SMU, especially considering that my net cost at UT is less than at SMU.
Texas is such a fantastic school but I keep hearing people claim things like "SMU places equally with UT in Dallas due to the alumni base".
Is there any hard data proving this?
You know, this is where I feel like you should take TLS at face value. If you just go to web sites of big firms in Dallas like Haynes & Boone, V&E, Fulbright & Jaworski, Baker Botts, etc... the number of UT grads definitely trump SMU grads. There are more SMU grads for a school of its ranking and more SMU grads than any other schools (top14 and regional schools in TX), but definitely not more than UT numbers. You also must consider that you have to graduate at top 30% of SMU to make biglaw vs. top 50% at UT, but personally, I feel like it'd be a lot harder to make 50% at UT than making 30% at SMU. Not also considering that from looking at the profiles of attorneys at these big firms, you have to make Law Review at both schools (again, I feel the chance of being graded on at SMU is easier than the chance at UT)
If you have some connections to Dallas, go to SMU. If you don't, definitely take UT.
I agree with the above statement about UT/SMU, except I would add scholarship $. I'd take a full ride at SMU vs sticker at UT simply because I know I want to be in Dallas and I know I can work network my way into a comfortable SOL. I got into every TX school I applied to minus UT. Had UT given me the nod, I'd probably be moving to Austin, too. It's undisputedly #1.
As an incoming SMU 1L, no one can deny UT is the #1 player in Texas. But, I think it's clear that SMU is the #2, and with such a huge legal market in D/FW, the networking opportunities available to SMU students helps it outperform its ranking. No other school has year-round access to Dallas Bar and Dallas Young Lawyer events---in a competitive market, netowrking can be as important as grades. Much to the disdain of Baylor, this is what keeps SMU in the #2 slot and Baylor further down the rankings---the Waco legal market isn't exactly lucrative, and their students don't get ongoing interaction with a large legal community. Dallas/FW is huge; and the only law school of reputation is SMU (though UNT-Dallas Law, if it gets through Congress, may hedge SMU down a bit in the long run...say 15-20 years from now).
Also, as far as #s are concerned, its important to remember the number of grads - UT is pumping out 400+/yr where as SMU is graduating less than half of that. That keeps the demand from alums at a reasonable level and allows a comparable number of UT and SMU grads to be seeking jobs in the Dallas market. A lot of top UT grads are also looking to Austin, Houston, NY, & DC, leaving firms with the choice of top/middle SMU grads vs. middle/lower UT grads in some cases.
Is UT a higher ranked school? Absolutely. Are the job prospects and avg starting salaries higher? Yes. But, I think the argument made by TLS'ers is that SMU performs ridiculously well in many categories for a school in the 40's. Seriously, a 6-digit median and mean starting salary for a lower-T1 in a low-COL state is amazing. If one can stay in the top 1/2 at SMU and take advantage of the unique networking opportunities offered by the Dallas legal community to SMU students, they can make up some significant ground in the ranking gap.