180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

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180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by eg_m » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:04 am

Title says it all.

Basically, I'm struggling to choose between 60k/yr at NU and 30k/yr at UChicago. I would be happy in the Chicago market. I want to do some BigLaw for a few years regardless of debt levels. Clerking sounds nice after graduating but IDK about how comfortable I would be doing that with a bit over 200k debt at UChicago.

I also don't want any doors closed. Living and working in DC sounds pretty cool and is something I would probably want at some point. Making a run in politics is also in my mind but not a guarantee or anything. I'd probably run for some office in Illinois first I guess (not from there but if I went to NU or UChi then Illinois makes sense).

I really want Uchicago and I'm like 85% leaning that way. But... the NU money is very attractive.

Also, gonna submit my LOCI to HLS soon and if I'm accepted from the WL.. I'd probably take it? There would be no financial aid offer at the time of admission offer if I do get it, but I'd probably get some aid.

Help? I feel like the mid-to-late-career goals would be less accessible coming from NU than UChicago, but it's hard to know.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:27 am

I think you're overvaluing optionality here. $90k of extra debt also closes a lot of doors. For your goals (which sound like generic biglaw desires to me -- most people think it would be "pretty cool" to clerk, or work in DC, maybe run for state senate one day), that NU scholarship is a great outcome, and the U of C offer (or HLS with ~$50k in need-based aid) is good-but-not-great.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by nixy » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:05 am

WRT politics, what you do after you graduate is going to be way more important that whether you go to Chicago or NU. Neither is going to alter your chances of working in DC one way or the other, either (that will be much more dependent on grades).

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by decimalsanddollars » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:16 am

Take the NU money and run.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Delano » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:01 pm

nixy wrote:WRT politics, what you do after you graduate is going to be way more important that whether you go to Chicago or NU. Neither is going to alter your chances of working in DC one way or the other, either (that will be much more dependent on grades).
Yep. And entering politics and doing other unconventional things involves having the freedom to take risks with your career. If you have a nice nest-egg and aren't loaded down with debt, you will be able to take those risks much, much more easily than you otherwise would.

You'll also enjoy your few years in biglaw a hell of a lot more if you're actually able to keep the money you're making during those 70+ hour work weeks. Talk to attorneys working in biglaw who are 200k in debt and see how much they're enjoying their lives right now.

Don't be stupid. Take NU.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by eg_m » Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:17 pm

So, thank you for everyone who responded. I appreciate the advice and input.

Some of my additional considerations are these:
  1. 1. Cost of living is significantly higher by NU than Uchicago. I don't drive and I don't expect I'll want to beyond walking distance from any law school that I attend. Reasonable rent anywhere near NU is like 1300-1600 monthly, compared to near Uchicago, where its like 900 on the cheapest side and 1200 on the nicer side. This takes away from the 180 NU offer pretty substantially as CoL in that area is higher.
  • 2. Yes, I am concerned about the economy. I will still have debt coming from NU (albeit less) and the potential for a large recession is real for the time period in which I'll be graduating. in 2010, NU had 55% BL+FC whereas Uchicago had 70% (plus those who were pursuing academia). NU is already way more business-focused than Uchicago and the fact that only 55% combined BL+FC during a time of economic downturn is not great. I'd have a less than 50% chance of getting big law in the same scenario. And before people coming chiming in with "a recession that large won't happen again", my undergrad has focused very very much on economic crises (my mentor and advisor got his PhD studying the subprime crisis and continues to publish in that field; I trust his analysis of what could come more than anyone else). So for the sake of argument, pretend it is a bad economic downturn. Wouldn't it be best to take go where I'm more likely to land a job that can pay?
  • 3. Chicago has incredible clerkship rates for those who want it. They also have great connections, not just with federal judges, but pretty much everywhere. Clerking would be pretty damn nice.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:22 pm

eg_m wrote:Title says it all.

Basically, I'm struggling to choose between 60k/yr at NU and 30k/yr at UChicago. I would be happy in the Chicago market. I want to do some BigLaw for a few years regardless of debt levels. Clerking sounds nice after graduating but IDK about how comfortable I would be doing that with a bit over 200k debt at UChicago.

I also don't want any doors closed. Living and working in DC sounds pretty cool and is something I would probably want at some point. Making a run in politics is also in my mind but not a guarantee or anything. I'd probably run for some office in Illinois first I guess (not from there but if I went to NU or UChi then Illinois makes sense).

I really want Uchicago and I'm like 85% leaning that way. But... the NU money is very attractive.

Also, gonna submit my LOCI to HLS soon and if I'm accepted from the WL.. I'd probably take it? There would be no financial aid offer at the time of admission offer if I do get it, but I'd probably get some aid.

Help? I feel like the mid-to-late-career goals would be less accessible coming from NU than UChicago, but it's hard to know.
OP, I took the money at NU and have no regrets. I’m actually working in DC this summer (a goal when I went to NU) and am applying to clerkships. All of your goals are totally doable. Personally, I think I did well in 1L in part because I have NO debt hanging over me, much like you would have. On top of that, making $0 in loan payments will allow you to save very aggressively after you graduate and build wealth while you would be paying half your salary to creditors coming out of Chicago.

Take the money, come to NU. Especially if your goal is generic BigLaw, NU for free is about as good of a deal as you can get.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:54 pm

I took the money at NU and ran. I have no regrets. I am also working in DC this summer and am currently planning on clerking, so both are very obtainable out of NU. Personally, I feel like I did better in school because I had NO debt hanging over me — it is an incredibly liberating feeling knowing that you can literally do whatever you want when you graduate. It removes a lot of pressure.

The difference in your options is that one allows you to graduate with $0 in loan payments and the other requires you to pay $5,00/month (assuming an accelerated loan payment plan). Just imagine everything you could do with an extra $5,000/month.

Particularly if your goals are generic BigLaw, NU for free is an amazing outcome. Come to NU and hang out with us.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by eg_m » Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:59 pm

AllAboutTheBasis wrote:I took the money at NU and ran. I have no regrets. I am also working in DC this summer and am currently planning on clerking, so both are very obtainable out of NU. Personally, I feel like I did better in school because I had NO debt hanging over me — it is an incredibly liberating feeling knowing that you can literally do whatever you want when you graduate. It removes a lot of pressure.

The difference in your options is that one allows you to graduate with $0 in loan payments and the other requires you to pay $5,00/month (assuming an accelerated loan payment plan). Just imagine everything you could do with an extra $5,000/month.

Particularly if your goals are generic BigLaw, NU for free is an amazing outcome. Come to NU and hang out with us.
Thanks for chiming in! I really love hearing the outcomes of people who have been in my shoes before. I'll be honest that one of my primary hesitations for going to NU comes from a Reddit thread a few months ago where a 3L from "a lower t13" did an AMA (I think it was an AMA but it doesn't really matter) and I was having a conversation with that person about employment outcomes. I suspected from their responses that they were at NU. The person was basically talking about how BigLaw isn't a guaranteed outcome if you want it and that a lot of people in the bottom 1/3 or bottom 1/2 of the class were struggling to get BL employment or even decent private/corporate employment. Basically saying that if you're in bottom ~40% of your class, you're gonna be fighting for something good and applying all over the country to find something.

I don't know how accurate this is, but it is something that someone who seemed like they knew what they were talking about once said to me and it has kind of stuck with me. Just for reference's sake, here https://www.lstreports.com/schools/northwestern/ABA/ is the LST page for NU and you can click through the past 8 years of employment scores (toggle percent at the top). Some years NU is really impressive and other years its a bit lackluster. But with FedClerk rarely being above 7% (UChicago's older years averaged around 15% and recent years are over 20%), and many of the past years being ~55% BL, it does make me worry. I mean, the last 5 years have been pretty good for employment. So if these are the numbers during good times, will I be fighting tooth and nail for something if I graduate into a recession and BL numbers are in the 40s. (here is Chicago's https://www.lstreports.com/schools/chicago/ABA/ if you want to open them side by side)

I definitely don't want to seem like I'm just bashing NU for the sake of a hypothetical. I genuinely am on the fence about this decision and I'm just worried about (1) graduating into a bad economy, (2) getting BL if I want it, which I do, (3) doors that seem open now, like fedclerk, but may be closed later.

On another note, if its okay, can you tell me a bit about what you like at NU, how competitive you think employment outcomes are (in response to the above), and how hard it is to get work in DC?

I'll be honest, I don't know much about the DC market. I just heard that it's great to make connections if you want to transition out of corporate some day.

Thanks so much for your reponse. I really mean it. I am so happy someone who was in a similar position to me and is travelling a path that I might pursue has replied to my post.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:52 pm

eg_m wrote: Thanks for chiming in! I really love hearing the outcomes of people who have been in my shoes before. I'll be honest that one of my primary hesitations for going to NU comes from a Reddit thread a few months ago where a 3L from "a lower t13" did an AMA (I think it was an AMA but it doesn't really matter) and I was having a conversation with that person about employment outcomes. I suspected from their responses that they were at NU. The person was basically talking about how BigLaw isn't a guaranteed outcome if you want it and that a lot of people in the bottom 1/3 or bottom 1/2 of the class were struggling to get BL employment or even decent private/corporate employment. Basically saying that if you're in bottom ~40% of your class, you're gonna be fighting for something good and applying all over the country to find something.

I don't know how accurate this is, but it is something that someone who seemed like they knew what they were talking about once said to me and it has kind of stuck with me. Just for reference's sake, here https://www.lstreports.com/schools/northwestern/ABA/ is the LST page for NU and you can click through the past 8 years of employment scores (toggle percent at the top). Some years NU is really impressive and other years its a bit lackluster. But with FedClerk rarely being above 7% (UChicago's older years averaged around 15% and recent years are over 20%), and many of the past years being ~55% BL, it does make me worry. I mean, the last 5 years have been pretty good for employment. So if these are the numbers during good times, will I be fighting tooth and nail for something if I graduate into a recession and BL numbers are in the 40s. (here is Chicago's https://www.lstreports.com/schools/chicago/ABA/ if you want to open them side by side)

I definitely don't want to seem like I'm just bashing NU for the sake of a hypothetical. I genuinely am on the fence about this decision and I'm just worried about (1) graduating into a bad economy, (2) getting BL if I want it, which I do, (3) doors that seem open now, like fedclerk, but may be closed later.

On another note, if its okay, can you tell me a bit about what you like at NU, how competitive you think employment outcomes are (in response to the above), and how hard it is to get work in DC?

I'll be honest, I don't know much about the DC market. I just heard that it's great to make connections if you want to transition out of corporate some day.

Thanks so much for your reponse. I really mean it. I am so happy someone who was in a similar position to me and is travelling a path that I might pursue has replied to my post.
So that we are both comparing the same data, I'm going to link you to the comparison page that I looked at: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/nort ... n/chicago/

Large Firm Score (NU/Chi): 62.2 / 56.3
Fed Clerk Score: 7 / 23.8
Total: 69.2 / 80.1

At the risk of sounding like a salesman, I think there are some important contextualization to these numbers. First, NU has one of the largest JD-MBA classes of any law school (~10%) and many of them choose to go into business roles at investment banks or consulting. As such, BigLaw numbers are probably understated. Clerkships are probably also understated because NU students are, on average, older and are not interested in clerkships because delaying an extra year when you are married and have a family, or want to start a family, is painful. Additionally, if you are in a serious relationship, you may not have the same geographic flexibility due to your SO's career. Given the data I have seen, you can be much lower than top 7% and get a clerkship from NU. So while the reports indicate the difference in BigLaw+FedClerk numbers is 10.9%, I'm inclined to think that it is slightly lower (I won't conjecture because my guess would be random which is inappropriate).

Before I continue, I do want to commend you for thinking about this seriously. Most people that come to these forums (and Reddit) are overconfident in their ability to perform. You, on the other hand, are focusing on worst-case scenarios and, if anything, slightly underestimating your ability to perform. I mean that complimentary.

BigLaw from NU at median (statistically your most likely outcome) is very doable. Most everyone I know got BigLaw. As you get lower, targeting less-selective markets (NYC) becomes more important. I don't know what the experience of going into OCI with below-median grades, so I won't try to say it is super easy or super difficult. At either school, being in the bottom third is going to be extremely stressful.

One thing you have not thought of, however, is, assuming you do find yourself in the bottom third and graduating in a recession, where would you feel less stressed -- Chicago with $200,000 debt needing to be repaid or Northwestern with $60,000? Personally, I would be less stressed with the latter. In fact, as someone that made the decision, all through 1L, I told myself every day that I was glad I didn't need the grades to find a BigLaw job just to service debt. You are playing probabilities, but the 10% (or so) increased chance does not seem to be worth an additional $140,000 of debt. Assuming you get a job that is BigLaw or are unemployed (unlikely from either school), your expected salary out of NU is $131,480 and from Chicago is $152,190. Is an extra $20,710 in estimated income worth $140,000? Keep in mind that when you factor in the JD-MBAs, the difference is likely to be less.

If there is a significant recession then both NU and Chicago will experience a drop in BigLaw rates. I don't know how either fared in 2008, so you could dig that up. My guess is that NU's rates dropped more than UChi, but probably not that much more. Again, it begs the question, what happens if you strike out at both schools, where would feel more comfortable. I won't pretend that, depending on your grades, some opportunities might be foreclosed to you. If I were my same GPA/rank at UChi, I would probably be a lock for a COA but am more "likely but uncertain" (or something like that) coming out of NU. I'm ok with that because I decided that $0 in debt was worth it.

While you are thinking about career/opportunity flexibility, you might not be thinking about financial flexibility. What happens, for example, if you decide your real passion is public interest? Or, what if you get a BigLaw position and, one year in, absolutely hate your life? With $200,000 in debt, there isn't really anything you can do because you have to service the debt. With $60,000? Who cares, go do whatever you want. Go work on the Hill for some hot shot for next to nothing because your debt is very serviceable. Depending on how aggressive you are, your debt could be paid off within six months of graduating.

DC is a competitive market, arguably the most selective in the country. This is true from either school. Top students from top schools want to go to DC to work and summer classes are relatively small. As such, DC is grades sensitive. My guess is that the type of student from NU or UChi is virtually identical. I doubt that DC offices reach much deeper in a class from one T14 than another because there are so few slots. I would say that you probably need to be top quarter-ish to have a shot, the higher the better. Either way, at both schools, you will need to have a secondary market.

I actually really love NU. The student body is older, most students have worked, which makes people generally more friendly, respectful, and relaxed. We know that, in the long run, relationships matter more than grades. This also seems to give the student body/faculty a slightly more practical bent than you might find at either schools. The library is great because there is lots of natural light with a giant wall of windows looking over Lake Michigan. It is an awesome study space. Also, having never been to Hyde Park, I love living on the North Side. We are close to the Loop (convenient networking), the West Loop (restaurants), and a number of great neighborhoods. Gold Coast/River North/Streeterville are nice. A lot of students move to Lincoln Park/Lakeview because they are cheaper and more trendy. Feel free to ask specific questions and I'll answer them.

Sorry this is long-winded. Quarantine has made me resort to the internet to try to feel useful and connect with people

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Sackboy » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:39 pm

With your goals, I think taking the money and running at NU makes the most sense.
  • DC is competitive but very possible from NU.
  • Columbia has similar clerking numbers as Northwestern, and I'd guess that it's a similar culture + self-fulfilling prophecy problem (i.e. people who want to clerk pick schools that are "better" at clerking). Last time I looked at the data, NU students who applied broadly were competitive for state supreme court and Federal District Court clerkship if they were around median in their class at graduation (~3.5 (i.e. first year median (3.35) + second/third year median (3.55)(2) divided by 3)).
  • Like has already been said, NU's biglaw numbers are almost always suppressed 3-5% by the 10% JD-MBA class, many of which choose to go work at McKinsey, in PE, BB IB, or some other prestigious business role. NU has also committed much more resources to PI in the last 3 years after Pritzker's $100M gift, much of which was earmarked for PI fellowships and summer funding, so I'd be curious how those affect the statistics. Regardless, I don't think gaining an extra 5-10% biglaw chance is worth $100k (after interest).
  • Housing in Chicago can be as low as Hyde Park if you're willing to live with people. Lots of people live together and love it. But, yes, if you want the exact same setup in Streeterville as you'd get in Hyde Park, you will pay up.
  • re: economic downturn, there is no legitimate reason to believe that you're going to be subject to one, and you can only do so much hedging. Going to a T13 school on an essentially full-ride is sufficient hedging.
  • Nobody is going to care if you went to NU vs. UChicago vs. NIU if you ever run for office, ask Joe Biden and Paul Ryan and the million other politicians with incredibly unpreffftigious backgrounds.
Enjoy Northwestern.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by modernoblomov » Fri May 15, 2020 5:42 pm

eg_m wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:04 am
Title says it all.

Basically, I'm struggling to choose between 60k/yr at NU and 30k/yr at UChicago. I would be happy in the Chicago market. I want to do some BigLaw for a few years regardless of debt levels. Clerking sounds nice after graduating but IDK about how comfortable I would be doing that with a bit over 200k debt at UChicago.

I also don't want any doors closed. Living and working in DC sounds pretty cool and is something I would probably want at some point. Making a run in politics is also in my mind but not a guarantee or anything. I'd probably run for some office in Illinois first I guess (not from there but if I went to NU or UChi then Illinois makes sense).

I really want Uchicago and I'm like 85% leaning that way. But... the NU money is very attractive.

Also, gonna submit my LOCI to HLS soon and if I'm accepted from the WL.. I'd probably take it? There would be no financial aid offer at the time of admission offer if I do get it, but I'd probably get some aid.

Help? I feel like the mid-to-late-career goals would be less accessible coming from NU than UChicago, but it's hard to know.

Update?

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by ribbit16 » Sat May 16, 2020 11:23 am

As someone who went to Chicago who is working in the DC market and clerking, I think the comments suggesting it’s equally easy at both are pretty clearly delusional. In the last couple of years Chicago has sent a much larger proportion of its class to DC than Northwestern has and that proportion is increasing. My employer took 0 students from Northwestern and 7 from Chicago in my class. Also one of these schools puts almost four times as many students into clerkships than the other; regardless of what Northwestern homers think that’s obviously not self-selection and federal appellate judges go quite deep in the class at Chicago. And that affects the DC market as well because most students going there clerk and most firms there do post-clerkship hiring. Hyde Park is clearly *much* cheaper than Streeterville (and one of the top minds above has evidently not considered that you can live with roommates in Hyde Park too...). That said, I think it’s still *probably* not worth the debt for you. Your goals don’t really require clerking or working in DC and for politics in particular there’s no difference between the two.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Sackboy » Sat May 16, 2020 5:56 pm

ribbit16 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:23 am
As someone who went to Chicago who is working in the DC market and clerking, I think the comments suggesting it’s equally easy at both are pretty clearly delusional. In the last couple of years Chicago has sent a much larger proportion of its class to DC than Northwestern has and that proportion is increasing. My employer took 0 students from Northwestern and 7 from Chicago in my class. Also one of these schools puts almost four times as many students into clerkships than the other; regardless of what Northwestern homers think that’s obviously not self-selection and federal appellate judges go quite deep in the class at Chicago. And that affects the DC market as well because most students going there clerk and most firms there do post-clerkship hiring. Hyde Park is clearly *much* cheaper than Streeterville (and one of the top minds above has evidently not considered that you can live with roommates in Hyde Park too...). That said, I think it’s still *probably* not worth the debt for you. Your goals don’t really require clerking or working in DC and for politics in particular there’s no difference between the two.
No comment here indicates it's equally easy to get clerkships out of both schools, but there is good reason to believe that NU's clerkship rate is slightly deflated due to its student body composition. NU's internal numbers indicate that a median graduate is competitive for a State Supreme Court clerkship and have landed D. Ct. clerkships. Regardless, OP also says nothing about clerking.

Statistically, U of C is much better for DC biglaw. Nobody is contesting that. Though, thanks for your anecdotal evidence, which is essentially useless. Part of this is due to Chicago being an objectively better school. Part of it is Northwestern being a "super regional" school in some senses. If you want to stay in Chicago, going to NU with $$$$ is often a better deal than Chicago with $$. A lot of students gunning for U of C want similar national/policy/etc. options as HYS, and that draws them to DC. We see it play out in the stats. NU put 43% of its class in Chicago; U of C put 32% of its class in the market. Roughly the same percentage of kids make it home to CA and NY, so the DC discrepancy is telling. OP has indicated that Chicago would be great and just doesn't want the DC door "closed." NU doesn't close that door.

Nobody said Hyde Park isn't much cheaper than Streeterville. It is. The point was that the cost differential can be minimized through roommates.

Should work on toning back the animosity. With the amount of salt you're got, you might need to see a cardiologist soon. Sorry that us clearly delusional top minds have gotten under your skin.

OP, go to NU and enjoy your nearly-free education.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by ribbit16 » Sun May 17, 2020 1:16 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 5:56 pm
ribbit16 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:23 am
As someone who went to Chicago who is working in the DC market and clerking, I think the comments suggesting it’s equally easy at both are pretty clearly delusional. In the last couple of years Chicago has sent a much larger proportion of its class to DC than Northwestern has and that proportion is increasing. My employer took 0 students from Northwestern and 7 from Chicago in my class. Also one of these schools puts almost four times as many students into clerkships than the other; regardless of what Northwestern homers think that’s obviously not self-selection and federal appellate judges go quite deep in the class at Chicago. And that affects the DC market as well because most students going there clerk and most firms there do post-clerkship hiring. Hyde Park is clearly *much* cheaper than Streeterville (and one of the top minds above has evidently not considered that you can live with roommates in Hyde Park too...). That said, I think it’s still *probably* not worth the debt for you. Your goals don’t really require clerking or working in DC and for politics in particular there’s no difference between the two.
No comment here indicates it's equally easy to get clerkships out of both schools, but there is good reason to believe that NU's clerkship rate is slightly deflated due to its student body composition. NU's internal numbers indicate that a median graduate is competitive for a State Supreme Court clerkship and have landed D. Ct. clerkships. Regardless, OP also says nothing about clerking.

Statistically, U of C is much better for DC biglaw. Nobody is contesting that. Though, thanks for your anecdotal evidence, which is essentially useless. Part of this is due to Chicago being an objectively better school. Part of it is Northwestern being a "super regional" school in some senses. If you want to stay in Chicago, going to NU with $$$$ is often a better deal than Chicago with $$. A lot of students gunning for U of C want similar national/policy/etc. options as HYS, and that draws them to DC. We see it play out in the stats. NU put 43% of its class in Chicago; U of C put 32% of its class in the market. Roughly the same percentage of kids make it home to CA and NY, so the DC discrepancy is telling. OP has indicated that Chicago would be great and just doesn't want the DC door "closed." NU doesn't close that door.

Nobody said Hyde Park isn't much cheaper than Streeterville. It is. The point was that the cost differential can be minimized through roommates.

Should work on toning back the animosity. With the amount of salt you're got, you might need to see a cardiologist soon. Sorry that us clearly delusional top minds have gotten under your skin.

OP, go to NU and enjoy your nearly-free education.
OP said they’re interested in clerking. Your story about self-selection sidelines that DC is far more selective than any other biglaw market in the country (and widely considered the best market for elite litigation), that OP has some unicorny goals, and that Northwestern is not one of the six or so schools giving you a genuinely decent shot at it. And while roommates can make Streeterville slightly less eye-watering, they can’t do much to close the COL gap with Hyde Park, where you can also have roommates.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun May 17, 2020 1:40 pm

ribbit16 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 1:16 pm
OP said they’re interested in clerking. Your story about self-selection sidelines that DC is far more selective than any other biglaw market in the country (and widely considered the best market for elite litigation), that OP has some unicorny goals, and that Northwestern is not one of the six or so schools giving you a genuinely decent shot at it. And while roommates can make Streeterville slightly less eye-watering, they can’t do much to close the COL gap with Hyde Park, where you can also have roommates.
Let's check the tape:
eg_m wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:04 am
I would be happy in the Chicago market. I want to do some BigLaw for a few years regardless of debt levels. Clerking sounds nice after graduating but IDK about how comfortable I would be doing that with a bit over 200k debt at UChicago.

I also don't want any doors closed. Living and working in DC sounds pretty cool and is something I would probably want at some point. Making a run in politics is also in my mind but not a guarantee or anything. I'd probably run for some office in Illinois first I guess (not from there but if I went to NU or UChi then Illinois makes sense).
It sounds to me like OP would be equally happy as a transactional associate at Sidley or a litigation associate at Covington. Clerking and DC are stretch goals which are still attainable, if somewhat less likely, from Northwestern. OP also has other stretch goals - making a run at politics - which would probably be easier from Northwestern because of the extra $90k in their pocket. (That's still the case even if they get a SICK downtown studio and cut the difference to $60-70k.)

If OP wanted to clerk, or to work in DC, more than the average 0L, then my advice might change. I definitely agree with you that Chicago is a step-and-a-half ahead on that kind of stuff. But for generic Chicago biglaw desires it's hard to justify the extra tuition.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by DoveBodyWash » Sun May 17, 2020 1:42 pm

Am Chicago grad at V10, go to Northwestern.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Necho2 » Tue May 19, 2020 12:32 am

UChicago grad- go NU at those prices and w those preferences. I do confess that I rolled my eyes at the "our students are older and just don't want to clerk!" line- I don't think that's really what's going with those stats.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Sackboy » Tue May 19, 2020 3:43 pm

Necho2 wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 12:32 am
UChicago grad- go NU at those prices and w those preferences. I do confess that I rolled my eyes at the "our students are older and just don't want to clerk!" line- I don't think that's really what's going with those stats.
Again, it definitely plays a role, but it obviously does not entirely or majorly bridge the clerkship placement. Literally nobody said it bridged the entire gap. Reading comprehension is key. NU likely has the oldest students in the T13. I personally know half a dozen of my classmates who had COA or DCt clerkship level grades and forwent clerking, because they had kids or their SOs couldn't take the income hit. It's not an uncommon story.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by Necho2 » Tue May 19, 2020 4:06 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 3:43 pm
Necho2 wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 12:32 am
UChicago grad- go NU at those prices and w those preferences. I do confess that I rolled my eyes at the "our students are older and just don't want to clerk!" line- I don't think that's really what's going with those stats.
Again, it definitely plays a role, but it obviously does not entirely or majorly bridge the clerkship placement. Literally nobody said it bridged the entire gap. Reading comprehension is key. NU likely has the oldest students in the T13. I personally know half a dozen of my classmates who had COA or DCt clerkship level grades and forwent clerking, because they had kids or their SOs couldn't take the income hit. It's not an uncommon story.
That's fair. The comment I was responding to (not you) seemed to bend over backwards to explain why NU was wholly unique between the JD-MBA stuff and the older student issue. But it's certainly reasonable that part of the gap is students less willing to compromise- plenty of UChi clerkships are in fairly small cities in the Midwest where I suspect those students are sometimes the highest ranked ones applying.

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by vbalenciaga » Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm

Uchicago also has a much smaller class than northwestern, so the idea that dc or Chicago firms are dipping down to the same rank at both schools seems wrong to me.

OP, I would choose uchicago. The bottom 40 percent at a lower t14 can be rough even in a good economy. NU would make sense at a larger cost difference

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by beinghuman » Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 pm

I agree that the bottom 40% at NU can be rough and I'm not trying to defend NU here but one should be fair.

If you look at the 2018 numbers, NU had 229 students vs. 202 at UChi--that is not a MUCH smaller class. It would be interesting though to see how the 2019 numbers look like once they release them.

If you look at the 2011 numbers, NU placed about 10% more students in big firms than UChi, while both schools' clerkship percentages were pretty close. In 2012, UChi did better than NU in law firm placement. Etc.

I do agree that a firm would dip deeper in to UChi classes but I do not think the difference is that large. At a similar rank, a NU student will probably get into a firm that's ranked a little lower, depending on where they stand. But that NU student will likely still get a job at a firm.

And even for clerkships, UChi places a lot more in federal clerkships but it's not like a court of appeals will dig deep into UChi classes--they still want top students; and as was mentioned before, many students are placed in district courts in small towns.

Now, is that worth 90k plus interest? It could be if you end at the top of your class but if you end up around median, it's not so sure--if we're just talking employment vs.cost. Also, some people would be willing pay a premium for the brand and that's fine too.

vbalenciaga wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm
Uchicago also has a much smaller class than northwestern, so the idea that dc or Chicago firms are dipping down to the same rank at both schools seems wrong to me.

OP, I would choose uchicago. The bottom 40 percent at a lower t14 can be rough even in a good economy. NU would make sense at a larger cost difference

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by ribbit16 » Sat May 23, 2020 3:22 pm

beinghuman wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 pm
I agree that the bottom 40% at NU can be rough and I'm not trying to defend NU here but one should be fair.

If you look at the 2018 numbers, NU had 229 students vs. 202 at UChi--that is not a MUCH smaller class. It would be interesting though to see how the 2019 numbers look like once they release them.

If you look at the 2011 numbers, NU placed about 10% more students in big firms than UChi, while both schools' clerkship percentages were pretty close. In 2012, UChi did better than NU in law firm placement. Etc.

I do agree that a firm would dip deeper in to UChi classes but I do not think the difference is that large. At a similar rank, a NU student will probably get into a firm that's ranked a little lower, depending on where they stand. But that NU student will likely still get a job at a firm.

And even for clerkships, UChi places a lot more in federal clerkships but it's not like a court of appeals will dig deep into UChi classes--they still want top students; and as was mentioned before, many students are placed in district courts in small towns.

Now, is that worth 90k plus interest? It could be if you end at the top of your class but if you end up around median, it's not so sure--if we're just talking employment vs.cost. Also, some people would be willing pay a premium for the brand and that's fine too.

vbalenciaga wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm
Uchicago also has a much smaller class than northwestern, so the idea that dc or Chicago firms are dipping down to the same rank at both schools seems wrong to me.

OP, I would choose uchicago. The bottom 40 percent at a lower t14 can be rough even in a good economy. NU would make sense at a larger cost difference
Federal appellate judges go pretty deep into Chicago’s class; lots of students who don’t graduate with honors get them. The bulk of Chicago’s clerkships are actually appellate and virtually no students do district court clerkships in small towns (by “small cities in the Midwest” I believe the previous poster meant that we send good number of people to places like Cleveland, Columbus, Madison, etc. which is true).

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by beinghuman » Sat May 23, 2020 7:07 pm

Sorry, I meant to write small cities and not small towns. My bad.

And that's fine, but can you tell us how deep they dig? Does a median student at Uchi typically get a CoA clerkship?
My point is that placement power is relative: they dig deeper than elsewhere but not necessarily pretty deep--depending how you define that term. I think it would be good info for OP to have some quantifiable estimate of what "pretty deep" means. And I am genuinely curious, not being sarcastic.

The (few) UChi appelate clerks I know are all in the top 25% and from my conversation with them, they seem to be under the impression that you'd still need to be at least in the top third. At NU, on the other hand, one would need to be in the top 10% or so.


ribbit16 wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:22 pm
beinghuman wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 pm
I agree that the bottom 40% at NU can be rough and I'm not trying to defend NU here but one should be fair.

If you look at the 2018 numbers, NU had 229 students vs. 202 at UChi--that is not a MUCH smaller class. It would be interesting though to see how the 2019 numbers look like once they release them.

If you look at the 2011 numbers, NU placed about 10% more students in big firms than UChi, while both schools' clerkship percentages were pretty close. In 2012, UChi did better than NU in law firm placement. Etc.

I do agree that a firm would dip deeper in to UChi classes but I do not think the difference is that large. At a similar rank, a NU student will probably get into a firm that's ranked a little lower, depending on where they stand. But that NU student will likely still get a job at a firm.

And even for clerkships, UChi places a lot more in federal clerkships but it's not like a court of appeals will dig deep into UChi classes--they still want top students; and as was mentioned before, many students are placed in district courts in small towns.

Now, is that worth 90k plus interest? It could be if you end at the top of your class but if you end up around median, it's not so sure--if we're just talking employment vs.cost. Also, some people would be willing pay a premium for the brand and that's fine too.

vbalenciaga wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm
Uchicago also has a much smaller class than northwestern, so the idea that dc or Chicago firms are dipping down to the same rank at both schools seems wrong to me.

OP, I would choose uchicago. The bottom 40 percent at a lower t14 can be rough even in a good economy. NU would make sense at a larger cost difference
Federal appellate judges go pretty deep into Chicago’s class; lots of students who don’t graduate with honors get them. The bulk of Chicago’s clerkships are actually appellate and virtually no students do district court clerkships in small towns (by “small cities in the Midwest” I believe the previous poster meant that we send good number of people to places like Cleveland, Columbus, Madison, etc. which is true).

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Re: 180k Northwestern vs 90k UChicago (vs HLS WL)

Post by ribbit16 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:55 pm

beinghuman wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 7:07 pm
Sorry, I meant to write small cities and not small towns. My bad.

And that's fine, but can you tell us how deep they dig? Does a median student at Uchi typically get a CoA clerkship?
My point is that placement power is relative: they dig deeper than elsewhere but not necessarily pretty deep--depending how you define that term. I think it would be good info for OP to have some quantifiable estimate of what "pretty deep" means. And I am genuinely curious, not being sarcastic.

The (few) UChi appelate clerks I know are all in the top 25% and from my conversation with them, they seem to be under the impression that you'd still need to be at least in the top third. At NU, on the other hand, one would need to be in the top 10% or so.


ribbit16 wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:22 pm
beinghuman wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 pm
I agree that the bottom 40% at NU can be rough and I'm not trying to defend NU here but one should be fair.

If you look at the 2018 numbers, NU had 229 students vs. 202 at UChi--that is not a MUCH smaller class. It would be interesting though to see how the 2019 numbers look like once they release them.

If you look at the 2011 numbers, NU placed about 10% more students in big firms than UChi, while both schools' clerkship percentages were pretty close. In 2012, UChi did better than NU in law firm placement. Etc.

I do agree that a firm would dip deeper in to UChi classes but I do not think the difference is that large. At a similar rank, a NU student will probably get into a firm that's ranked a little lower, depending on where they stand. But that NU student will likely still get a job at a firm.

And even for clerkships, UChi places a lot more in federal clerkships but it's not like a court of appeals will dig deep into UChi classes--they still want top students; and as was mentioned before, many students are placed in district courts in small towns.

Now, is that worth 90k plus interest? It could be if you end at the top of your class but if you end up around median, it's not so sure--if we're just talking employment vs.cost. Also, some people would be willing pay a premium for the brand and that's fine too.

vbalenciaga wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm
Uchicago also has a much smaller class than northwestern, so the idea that dc or Chicago firms are dipping down to the same rank at both schools seems wrong to me.

OP, I would choose uchicago. The bottom 40 percent at a lower t14 can be rough even in a good economy. NU would make sense at a larger cost difference
Federal appellate judges go pretty deep into Chicago’s class; lots of students who don’t graduate with honors get them. The bulk of Chicago’s clerkships are actually appellate and virtually no students do district court clerkships in small towns (by “small cities in the Midwest” I believe the previous poster meant that we send good number of people to places like Cleveland, Columbus, Madison, etc. which is true).
Your friends’ guess of top third is about what I’d guess, lower if you’re conservative. Basically everyone in Fed Soc does an appellate clerkship. Once you get past the honors belts (top 25% or so) it’s really hard to tell what grades people have unless they tell you though. I do know people at median or below who’ve gotten district court clerkships in the smaller Midwestern cities or regions where they have ties.

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