UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

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UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

UVA (COA: $225k)
41
59%
UT (COA: $100K)
29
41%
 
Total votes: 70

nightfly

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UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by nightfly » Fri May 01, 2020 9:57 am

Having a tough time deciding and interested in the insight on offer here.

COA at UVA would amount to $225K in debt
COA at Texas would amount to $100K in debt

My goals are generic: ideally FC then BL before moving in-house. Location-wise, I'd very much not want to end up in NYC but would be fine with any of the other major markets. Long-term, I'd really like to have geographic flexibility (I have ties to Philadelphia, the midwest, and Texas), but I am not sure how to weigh this against the significant added cost of UVA.

My numbers are 3.4 / 171 and as a mature applicant I'd rather not reapply and retake.

Thanks for the advice!

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by objctnyrhnr » Fri May 01, 2020 10:03 am

FC/biglaw is way more attainable from uva than UT in a mediocre economy. UT certainly could make those placements (and regularly does, of course) but with things the way they are I’d go UVA on the chance you hover around median grades wise.

And with a school at UVA’s level, provided that you’re comfortable doing biglaw long enough to service the debt, the sticker price doesn’t concern me that much.

But either way two good options. Reasonable minds could certainly differ here.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by Anon-non-anon » Fri May 01, 2020 10:49 am

Yeah I would say UVA for clerkship benefits (major access to DMV positions (many) and also the top dog throughout the south).

And kinda same thing for getting BL outside of NYC. DC is tough, but it's easier from UVA than most places, and there's a decent number of slots.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by Sackboy » Fri May 01, 2020 12:09 pm

With those goals, UVA.

I'm assuming with your COA numbers that you'll be using savings/your spouse's income for living expenses?

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by nightfly » Fri May 01, 2020 12:31 pm

Sackboy wrote: I'm assuming with your COA numbers that you'll be using savings/your spouse's income for living expenses?
Correct, and COA for both is conservative and doesn't factor in any potential SA earnings. My only hesitation with UVA is the cost. Based on what I've read, it's just as easy, if not easier, to get Texas BL from UVA than from UT. From both schools, the Texas market with its low cost of living would be my prime target for the purposes of paying off debt ASAP.

However, I don't know if I see myself in Texas long-term, and I'd want to have the option to lateral out. Would that be easier as a UVA grad? How important is law school pedigree when attempting to lateral?

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri May 01, 2020 2:33 pm

nightfly wrote:
Sackboy wrote: I'm assuming with your COA numbers that you'll be using savings/your spouse's income for living expenses?
Correct, and COA for both is conservative and doesn't factor in any potential SA earnings. My only hesitation with UVA is the cost. Based on what I've read, it's just as easy, if not easier, to get Texas BL from UVA than from UT. From both schools, the Texas market with its low cost of living would be my prime target for the purposes of paying off debt ASAP.

However, I don't know if I see myself in Texas long-term, and I'd want to have the option to lateral out. Would that be easier as a UVA grad? How important is law school pedigree when attempting to lateral?
I think based on this information, UT looks like a better option (much more cost-conservative and similar TX BL placement). School pedigree still matters when lateraling, as do grades, but they matter less than they do for straight-out hiring, and what you did since law school matters much more. Primary recruiting sorting is going to focus more on your prior firm or clerkship than your grades or school rank (although that will probably make a difference to individual interviewers/hiring partners).

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri May 01, 2020 4:58 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:
nightfly wrote:
Sackboy wrote: I'm assuming with your COA numbers that you'll be using savings/your spouse's income for living expenses?
Correct, and COA for both is conservative and doesn't factor in any potential SA earnings. My only hesitation with UVA is the cost. Based on what I've read, it's just as easy, if not easier, to get Texas BL from UVA than from UT. From both schools, the Texas market with its low cost of living would be my prime target for the purposes of paying off debt ASAP.

However, I don't know if I see myself in Texas long-term, and I'd want to have the option to lateral out. Would that be easier as a UVA grad? How important is law school pedigree when attempting to lateral?
I think based on this information, UT looks like a better option (much more cost-conservative and similar TX BL placement). School pedigree still matters when lateraling, as do grades, but they matter less than they do for straight-out hiring, and what you did since law school matters much more. Primary recruiting sorting is going to focus more on your prior firm or clerkship than your grades or school rank (although that will probably make a difference to individual interviewers/hiring partners).
If OP is serious about wanting to clerk (i.e., willing to spend that year out in the sticks before coming back to a major metro for biglaw) then there really a big difference between UT and UVA. Ditto if they want geographic flexibility—UVA doesn't exactly have a baller network in Philly or the Midwest, but its reputation is well ahead of UT.

I think a good way to contemplate the delta is by looking at worst-case scenarios here. From UT, the risk for OP (like a solid 30-50% chance, not some remote disaster scenario) is that they miss out on biglaw and have to work at a smaller TX firm, or the government, for a mid-five-figure salary. For UVA, the risk (likewise very real) is that they have to moil away at some V100 in NYC for a few years to pay down their debt. I'd take the latter, personally, since it gives them a much better chance at OP's stated end-goal of a comfortable lifestyle in-house somewhere else in the USA, and, as icing on the cake, UVA has much stronger upside. But reasonable people can disagree—If OP really hates New York City and/or if clerking (and the opps it creates) isn't actually a big deal to them and they'd be fine with a normal middle-class existence in San Antonio, then UT all the way.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by QContinuum » Fri May 01, 2020 8:40 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:I think a good way to contemplate the delta is by looking at worst-case scenarios here. From UT, the risk for OP (like a solid 30-50% chance, not some remote disaster scenario) is that they miss out on biglaw and have to work at a smaller TX firm, or the government, for a mid-five-figure salary. For UVA, the risk (likewise very real) is that they have to moil away at some V100 in NYC for a few years to pay down their debt. I'd take the latter, personally, since it gives them a much better chance at OP's stated end-goal of a comfortable lifestyle in-house somewhere else in the USA, and, as icing on the cake, UVA has much stronger upside. But reasonable people can disagree—If OP really hates New York City and/or if clerking (and the opps it creates) isn't actually a big deal to them and they'd be fine with a normal middle-class existence in San Antonio, then UT all the way.
Generally agree with a minor quibble - San Antonio has a tiny legal market relative to its population. The most likely "downside" scenario - which, as you note, is somewhere like 30-50%, and probably closer to 50% than 30% given the economy - is a small firm in Houston (by far the largest legal market in Texas), or Dallas (the second-largest, but well behind Houston).

San Antonio is unlikely. So is Austin, which likewise has a microscopic legal market.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by nightfly » Fri May 01, 2020 9:14 pm

Very appreciative of all the feedback. Not sure I could stomach the UT "downside" scenario, so I'm starting to lean UVA. But is NYC the only "downside" UVA scenario? Or is there worse? What is the likelihood of being relegated to that worst-case UVA scenario?

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by objctnyrhnr » Fri May 01, 2020 10:10 pm

nightfly wrote:Very appreciative of all the feedback. Not sure I could stomach the UT "downside" scenario, so I'm starting to lean UVA. But is NYC the only "downside" UVA scenario? Or is there worse? What is the likelihood of being relegated to that worst-case UVA scenario?
Mayyyybe amlaw200 maybe? I mean UVA’s downside doesn’t compare to UTs in my view

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by texanslimjim » Sat May 02, 2020 4:28 am

UVA's worst case scenario is the same as UT's: you do not end up among majority of UVA graduates have a clerkship or Big Law upon graduation. UVA's percentage is around 85%, UT's is around 60%. Oh, and at UVA you're still in $100k more debt.

It's a hard comparison because you can't just assume those proportions are your probability of that outcome. The people at the top of the class at UT tend to be the ones who could have gone to a higher ranked school but chose UT for geography/money. The way to look at it is that UVA gives you a bit more "cushion" if you have a personal crisis or something during 1L -- you have to make the call whether you want to borrow $125k for that cushion or if you're comfortable betting on yourself.

Also disagree with above poster on clerkships. There is not a huge difference - 15% at UVA vs 12% at UT. Those numbers suggest it's a wash at worst once you take into account your likely superior class ranking at UT. If you're a median student at a middle T14 law school you are not almost guaranteed a fed clerkship in the way you are a BigLaw job; judges still want to see a high class ranking and law review.

I assume by geographic flexibility you mean you're not locking yourself in by choosing a school. And you're not, in either case. The difference is if you just want to passively do OCI and get a firm that way -- if you do that, at UT you're almost certainly going to end up in Texas, and at UVA you could end up anywhere. But the UT degree is absolutely nationally portable -- you just might need to do a lot of mass mailing or attend interview programs in other markets to get the full potential. Later in your career, lateraling to a geographic market is possible with either degree on your resume.

I think it's a close choice. It's going to come down to how risk averse you are. It's probably worth $100k to avoid the extra risk of having a disappointing career outcome at UT if you're dead set on Big Law. Most of the people I know who were in your shoes and chose UT don't regret it, though.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by AdieuCali » Sat May 02, 2020 10:10 am

texanslimjim wrote:UVA's worst case scenario is the same as UT's: you do not end up among majority of UVA graduates have a clerkship or Big Law upon graduation. UVA's percentage is around 85%, UT's is around 60%. Oh, and at UVA you're still in $100k more debt.
...

I think it's a close choice. It's going to come down to how risk averse you are. It's probably worth $100k to avoid the extra risk of having a disappointing career outcome at UT if you're dead set on Big Law. Most of the people I know who were in your shoes and chose UT don't regret it, though.
I agree with this in all respects and personally, I would probably take UT.

But I think hiring for the c/o '23 will not be the same as for the c/o '19. So I looked up BL+FC rates from 2011 and 2012 on the ABA 509s.

2011:
UVA had a BL+FC rate of 61.2% (50% 100+lawyer firm, 10% fedclerk)
UT had a BL+FC rate of 38.8% (28% 100+lawyer firm, 10% fedclerk)

2012: (This year appears to have been the nadir of legal hiring in the 2010s)
UVA had a BL+FC rate of 48% (37% 100+lawyer firm, 10% fedclerk)
UT had a BL+FC rate of 30.6% (23% 100+lawyer firm, 7% fedclerk)

It looks like during boom and bust, Virginia has a ~20% edge over Texas, but you have to decide how much that cushion is worth. I don't know how that changes your calculus, but if the Covid recession is similar to the 2008 Great Recession, you might see downstream effects for a few years. If that's the case, I don't think BL+FC is guaranteed from either school in the way that most T13 grads have experienced over the last 5 years. If we have a V-shaped recession though, then we might be back to 2016/17 hiring levels by the time you go through OCI.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by plurilingue » Sat May 02, 2020 3:02 pm

Agree with the above that UVA is likely a better choice even at this cost differential.

That said. I would also point out that even in a bad economy, a commercially astute law school matriculant can find a niche practice that will work for him or her.

For example, I expect UT BL+FC numbers to diverge further in this downturn, as the Texas economy is under great stress due to the protracted downturn in oil and gas. Unlike the downturn in oil and gas since 2014, a huge injection of Fed liquidity probably won’t let Houston keep humming along. There are genuine insolvency issues across the sector, which is concentrated in Texas. But a bankruptcy-focused law student at UT will probably have his pick of firms.

If OP is someone with specific career aspirations (e.g,, must clerk at XX district court; must work in ABC market), then UVA is probably the better choice at this cost differential. But if OP is open to any biglaw practice group that happens to be hiring, I bet he or she could figure out a way to make UT work.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by HydroFlask666 » Sun May 03, 2020 5:39 pm

That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by Sackboy » Sun May 03, 2020 8:04 pm

HydroFlask666 wrote:That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.
OP has a 3.4/171. While improving OP's LSAT will definitely net some more scholarship money, OP is likely very close to the max. OP is not getting a T13 free ride.

210k for UVA is more than I'd take on, but it's not absolutely atrocious. The absolute worst case scenario beyond unemployment is that OP escapes debt through PSLF + LRAP.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by TexasBigLaw » Sun May 03, 2020 10:02 pm

nightfly wrote:
Sackboy wrote: I'm assuming with your COA numbers that you'll be using savings/your spouse's income for living expenses?
Correct, and COA for both is conservative and doesn't factor in any potential SA earnings. My only hesitation with UVA is the cost. Based on what I've read, it's just as easy, if not easier, to get Texas BL from UVA than from UT. From both schools, the Texas market with its low cost of living would be my prime target for the purposes of paying off debt ASAP.

However, I don't know if I see myself in Texas long-term, and I'd want to have the option to lateral out. Would that be easier as a UVA grad? How important is law school pedigree when attempting to lateral?
Agreed that it may be easier to get Texas BigLaw from UVA. Texas firms are flooded with Texas grads and are more anxious to get "law school diversity" from other t14s. But that doesn't mean it's hard for a UT grad to get a Texas BL job. Every major firm class in Texas has at least a few UT grads in it.

IMO I say go with Texas due to lower COA. Outcomes are very similar and both will give you the option to clerk and/or to work in any major market. Might as well save six figures so you have more employment flexibility after law school and don't end up stuck in BigLaw due to debt if you hate it there.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by QContinuum » Sun May 03, 2020 10:33 pm

TexasBigLaw wrote:Agreed that it may be easier to get Texas BigLaw from UVA. Texas firms are flooded with Texas grads and are more anxious to get "law school diversity" from other t14s. But that doesn't mean it's hard for a UT grad to get a Texas BL job. Every major firm class in Texas has at least a few UT grads in it.
I don't see the logic. The fact that "every major firm class in Texas has at least a few UT grads in it" does not mean it's easy for a UT grad to get a Texas BigLaw job. It means it's easy for a top UT grad to get a Texas BigLaw job, but (i) there's no way of predicting, ex ante, that OP will be a top UT student, and (ii) top T13 students also find it very easy to land Texas BigLaw.

I'd much rather be a median UVA student targeting TX BigLaw than a median UT student targeting TX BigLaw. Especially in a recession.
TexasBigLaw wrote:Outcomes are very similar and both will give you the option to clerk and/or to work in any major market.
You call a 20% difference in placement power (see AdieuCali's post above) "very similar"?

As for geographic flexibility: UT placed a whopping 71% of its 2019 grads in Texas. The state that takes the second-most UT grads, California, took less than 4% of UT's class of 2019. D.C. took another <4%.

In contrast, the state that takes the most UVA grads, New York, only took 23% of UVA's 2019 grads. D.C., the jurisdiction that takes the second-most UVA grads, took 21%. UVA's home state of Virginia only took 10%. That's geographic flexibility.

Look, UT's a terrific law school. I don't mean to "bash" UT at all. But it's objective fact that it's not on the same level as UVA, in placement power, in geographic reach, or in prestige.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by TexasBigLaw » Mon May 04, 2020 12:04 am

The UT grads getting BL jobs are not all at the top of the class. I work at a V20 firm in Texas and most of our UT grads are not top 10%, law review, etc. My firm's cutoff for UT is Top 50% (same cutoff for UVA). Same for most of our peer firms. If you can get into UVA, you should be able to get Top 50% at UT - especially with how many people at UT only got in because of connections (rampant problem there). Out of curiosity I took a look at UT grad junior associates at Kirkland Houston - about half with honors (top 35%), one or two with high/highest honors (top 5% or above), and the rest with no honors. Very few on journal. That's far from being only "top UT law" who go Texas BL.

I also think you're ignoring the fact that where UT grads *want* to go is very different than where UVA grads want to go. Texas is a super attractive legal market - NYC pay with a fraction of the cost of living and much more relaxed, friendly office culture. A TON of people that go to UT want to stay in Texas, so of course you're going to see large numbers of Texas grads in Texas. You're going to see very low numbers of UVA grads at Texas firms - doesn't mean that someone should interpret that to mean UVA grads will struggle to find jobs here. And of course only a small number of UVA grads stay in Virginia - last I checked Virginia wasn't exactly teeming with BL opportunities in the same way that Dallas and Houston are. If you go to UVA you pretty much have to plan to leave the state to get a good BL job. if you go to UT, you don't - and you're not even limited to one city. That is inherently going to skew the results of where grads go, and it doesn't necessarily correlate to mobility for those who want to leave.

As for the 20%, I don't know enough about UVA to speculate on whether that's fully based on opportunities or other factors. Anecdotally, I know a lot of UT people wanted to go government/public interest, and based on the ABA reports significantly more UT grads do in fact go government/PI, so at least some of it may be self-selection.

I don't have any fondness for UT law, or UT at all, but talking about it as if it's some regional TTT is absurd. Both schools have near-identical salary outcomes for firm-bound grads until about the lowest 25th percentile. OP can decide for themselves whether that's a risk they are willing to take.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by LBJ's Hair » Mon May 04, 2020 1:12 am

HydroFlask666 wrote:That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.
Full ride at a top law school is the best option for anyone. But it's not happening for someone with a 3.4.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by HydroFlask666 » Mon May 04, 2020 1:59 am

$200k+ debt anywhere is a loser outcome.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by HydroFlask666 » Mon May 04, 2020 2:03 am

LBJ's Hair wrote:
HydroFlask666 wrote:That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.
Full ride at a top law school is the best option for anyone. But it's not happening for someone with a 3.4.
Only suckers pay sticker price.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Mon May 04, 2020 8:36 am

HydroFlask666 wrote:
LBJ's Hair wrote:
HydroFlask666 wrote:That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.
Full ride at a top law school is the best option for anyone. But it's not happening for someone with a 3.4.
Only suckers pay sticker price.
HydroFlask666 wrote:$200k+ debt anywhere is a loser outcome.
You seem upset for some reason. How much did you pay for UVA?

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by objctnyrhnr » Mon May 04, 2020 10:06 am

In a nutshell, particularly if you’re not married to TX long term, UVA’s vastly superior outcomes in a bad economy justify the relatively increased debt IMO.

In my view, at uva you’ll hit amlaw200 (assuming geographic flexibility) even in a bad Econ, unless you screw up somehow or there is something particularly deficient about your interviewing skills. At UT, in a bad Econ, I still think you probably need to outperform 50-60% of your classmates to get that result. Maybe it’s 40%. Either way there’s still a bit of a risk there that I just don’t see at uva.

Disclosure: I turned down UT with a significant ride due to (in part) lack of geographic portability of the degree.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by HydroFlask666 » Mon May 04, 2020 11:32 am

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
HydroFlask666 wrote:
LBJ's Hair wrote:
HydroFlask666 wrote:That UVA debt. Yikes.

I’m shocked people are recommending this here. We don’t know what the economy will do and no one should be taking out that much in debt for law school.

The “worst outcome” out of UVA is not working at some bottom Vault100 firm. The worst outcome is not finding a job with a law firm period. People need to revisit what happened during the Great Recession and especially what happened to UVA during this time (lots of school funded jobs to fudge job numbers).

If it were me, I would put off law school for 1-2 years, work, take the LSAT again and get a full ride or close to it at a top school like one of these rather than six figure debt.
Full ride at a top law school is the best option for anyone. But it's not happening for someone with a 3.4.
Only suckers pay sticker price.
HydroFlask666 wrote:$200k+ debt anywhere is a loser outcome.
You seem upset for some reason. How much did you pay for UVA?
I am. I find it upsetting that people are recommending OP take on $250k+ debt in this now uncertain economy. I also find it upsetting that people are talking as if UVA provides some sort of guaranteed minimum outcome.

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Re: UVA (sticker) vs. UT ($$)

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Mon May 04, 2020 12:24 pm

HydroFlask666 wrote:I am. I find it upsetting that people are recommending OP take on $250k+ debt in this now uncertain economy. I also find it upsetting that people are talking as if UVA provides some sort of guaranteed minimum outcome.
I don't think anyone's thrilled about UVA at sticker, but it's a reasonable economic decision in a vacuum. And OP is unlikely to create substantially better opportunities; they would have to retake up into the 173+ area, which isn't a walk in the park, and even then might not get a T13 merit scholarship.

Obviously, it's possible to strike out on biglaw from any school, but 83% of UVA grads landed biglaw or a federal clerkship last year which is basically as good as it gets. UVA could take a 20-point hit due to a recession (they've reduced their class size since 2012, so it probably wouldn't even be that bad) and biglaw would remain perfectly attainable, if not guaranteed, for someone with median-ish grades. The same cannot be said about UT.

The likelihood of economic trouble in the next five years militates in favor of buying this insurance, not against. T13s retain a greater proportion of their EV when everybody's BL+FC goes down—do the math.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


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