Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

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aash95

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Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by aash95 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:33 pm

Columbia (~195k debt)
Berkeley (~185k debt)
UPenn (~155k debt)
Northwestern (~120k debt)



Goals: I fully intend to go into labor/employment law but realize that this might change while in school (human rights-oriented regardless). I don't have a very specific plan for my career, but would probably at least like to do biglaw until my loans are paid. I do not know where I want to live longterm, so being competitive in several markets (like CA and NYC) is important to me. I know I don't want to live in Chicago long-term but do not mind living there for law school.

Larger Considerations: I'm first gen so supportive career services/other admin is important to me as well as opportunities to connect with my professors. I also work better in a collaborative culture, but it seems everyone says they have one lol. I'm not from a heavily populated area so I would like a big environment change, which attracts me to big cities (as do the networking opportunities). Relevant clinical and pro bono opportunities also matter to me.

Smaller Considerations: Columbia is the only one I've visited (ASW) and I've never even been to any of the cities the other schools are in. ASW really excited me about Columbia but that may be because it's the only ASW I had the chance to attend. Berkeley has a lot of appealing labor/employment law opportunities (journal, several pro bono projects). I don't like that I'd most likely have to live far from campus at Berkeley but love the weather (absolutely hate snow but I can deal). I am not super debt-adverse, as I do plan on working biglaw to pay off the loans "fairly" quickly.

TL;DR: labor/employment law, flexible market opportunities, supportive admin/faculty

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:14 pm

If you know you don't want Chicago, which makes me sad, then NU is probably out, since its access to the Chicago market is a big part of its value. So I'd go with your next-cheapest option at Penn. But in a vacuum it's your best option here because all four of these schools are comparable for your goals and cash is king if you're trying to walk the tightrope between wealth and helping the little guy.

If I were you I'd think harder about where to live long-term, because you'll have to make that decision before OCI (in like 18 months) anyway. Berkeley could make sense if you can negotiate that price down -- it sounds like you're partial to California, and plaintiff-side L&E is relatively big there. Without an actual preference for California that's not worth $30,000 over Penn, though.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by LBJ's Hair » Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:37 pm

If your near-term goals are BigLaw and a big city, Columbia makes sense plenty of sense. $40K difference between it and Penn seems justifiable to me, although a cost conscious person could go the other way.

I think Berkeley is out given cost vis-a-vis ranking, and NU if you're not interested in Chicago.

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Platopus

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by Platopus » Mon Apr 13, 2020 8:22 pm

I think this is a toss up between NU and Penn. I would rule out Columbia. Compared to Penn, Columbia's BL placement numbers are not worth the extra $40K imo. Penn is also more than capable of putting you into any NYC BL firm and does well with putting people in secondary markets too. NU has solid BL placement, but it is slightly below Penn to such a degree that the extra $35K at Penn is justifiable imo.

Full disclosure: I was in a very similar position two years ago and decided on Penn.

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Sackboy

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by Sackboy » Mon Apr 13, 2020 8:49 pm

I think Penn or Northwestern is the right call here. Both are justifiable. Penn wins out in terms of placement by ~5%, and at the same position in your class you're probably competitive at slightly more prestigious firms (e.g. a 3.X makes you competitive for a V50 at Northwestern and a 3.X makes you competitive for a V40 at Penn). You can make the call if that's worth $30k to you. Berkeley and Columbia are too expensive to justify.

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crazywafflez

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by crazywafflez » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:34 am

Agree fully with Sackboy. I'd take Penn in this scenario though.

nixy

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by nixy » Tue Apr 14, 2020 7:49 am

You probably know this, but keep in mind that labor/employment at a biglaw firm is going to be defending employers, which isn’t what most people consider human-rights oriented. Most plaintiff-side L&E is done in fairly small shops. Going from biglaw to that would be slightly unusual, I think?

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by trebekismyhero » Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:30 am

Agree with others, NU would be the right call if you had any interest in Chicago, otherwise Penn wins. But as nixy mentioned, labor/employment at big law is the opposite of human rights oriented. You are helping large corporations not their employees.

If you really want human rights oriented work and don't care about the money and want to be 100% PI, then Berkeley might become more of a consideration since it is the most PI focused of the schools(although not sure how its LRAP compares to the others).

aash95

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Re: Help me pick between NU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UPenn!

Post by aash95 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:25 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:Agree with others, NU would be the right call if you had any interest in Chicago, otherwise Penn wins. But as nixy mentioned, labor/employment at big law is the opposite of human rights oriented. You are helping large corporations not their employees.

If you really want human rights oriented work and don't care about the money and want to be 100% PI, then Berkeley might become more of a consideration since it is the most PI focused of the schools(although not sure how its LRAP compares to the others).
You and nixy are right. I've been struggling to try to figure out exactly what I want to do (as I still want to make money). But I suppose that is the struggle most human-rights oriented people have. I think it's harder than I originally thought to go BL -> something more plantiff sided.

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