Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

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Jupiter98

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Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by Jupiter98 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:03 pm

I am trying to make a decision between attending the University of Iowa College of Law and Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. I'm from Des Moines, Iowa, and don't have any significant ties elsewhere. I don't have any particular area/city where I would like to practice, but its likely I would remain in the Midwest. While I'm not completely sure on the area of law I'd like to practice in, I am very interested in international law. While Iowa seems to be the more highly ranked school, I am impressed by Indiana's more robust international law program. Additionally, I love Bloomington and would prefer living there for 3 years as opposed to Iowa city. However, I'm concerned by Indiana's lower ranking and potential lack of prestige. Which school should I pick? Thank you for any help!

COA:
IU Maurer: ~90k
U of Iowa: ~130k

I am fortunate enough to have parents who are willing to assist with paying for law school. Still, I want to evaluate the cost of attendance of these schools so as to minimize the financial burden on my parents. Thanks again!

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cavalier1138

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by cavalier1138 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:01 am

Jupiter98 wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:03 pm
I don't have any particular area/city where I would like to practice, but its likely I would remain in the Midwest. While I'm not completely sure on the area of law I'd like to practice in, I am very interested in international law. While Iowa seems to be the more highly ranked school, I am impressed by Indiana's more robust international law program.
What kind of "international law" practice do you imagine having in either Iowa or Indiana?

Based solely on cost, Indiana is a better choice. But based on your career goals, it sounds like you want to work at a large firm or in competitive federal agencies, neither of which will be easily accessible from either of these schools, regardless of whether they advertise a "robust" program in international law.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:55 am

Agree w/ Cavalier, as usual. Indiana's the better choice here, and it arguably still leaves open the possibility of working in Des Moines because you already have ties. Iowa gives marginally better outcomes for biglaw in most markets, but the difference isn't that big. Like Cav said, "international law" is really hard to do: very few jobs related to international law exist, and they're extremely competitive, so they tend to go to grads of top law schools like Yale, Stanford, and Harvard (not necessarily in that order). If you're dead set on practicing international law (as opposed to, say, learning about it during law school and practicing something else), you should retake the LSAT and reapply when your numbers are competitive for top schools. Otherwise, I think Indiana is a fine choice, and the price you'd be paying is acceptable.

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bajablast

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by bajablast » Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:35 pm

This is a tough one without knowing how important your career goals are compared to where you want to practice. I will say that if you want to live in Iowa after graduation, going to Iowa is worth the extra 40k. Most lawyers in Iowa went to Iowa and being in the state will give you a lot more networking opportunities than if you went to Indiana. With that said, if you don't care very much about living in Iowa after graduation and are fine with Indiana/the Midwest generally, then Indiana is definitely the right call.

However, the other posters are right to comment on your career aspirations. Honestly international law is not really a thing. Maybe if you went to Yale and you had a unicorn job with the government/did something with the UN/a think tank etc., but unless we're talking about cross border M&A transactions (lol) there is not a lot of international work done by lawyers, let alone in the Midwest. This is not to say law school is not the right choice for you, but I would do more research on what kinds of lawyers these schools produce and if those areas of law are something you could see yourself doing.

ExperssioUnius

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by ExperssioUnius » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:25 pm

If you look back at rankings from previous years, you'll see that there have been times when Indiana was ranked ahead of Iowa. No guarantee that doesn't happen again before you graduate. This is to say that, in my opinion, there is not a big enough difference in ranking to base your decision on that. If you are going to go to one of these schools, go to the one that you think is the best fit for you based on the environment there, which seems to be Indiana from your post.

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acr

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by acr » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:35 am

decimalsanddollars wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:55 am
Agree w/ Cavalier, as usual. Indiana's the better choice here, and it arguably still leaves open the possibility of working in Des Moines because you already have ties. Iowa gives marginally better outcomes for biglaw in most markets, but the difference isn't that big. Like Cav said, "international law" is really hard to do: very few jobs related to international law exist, and they're extremely competitive, so they tend to go to grads of top law schools like Yale, Stanford, and Harvard (not necessarily in that order). If you're dead set on practicing international law (as opposed to, say, learning about it during law school and practicing something else), you should retake the LSAT and reapply when your numbers are competitive for top schools. Otherwise, I think Indiana is a fine choice, and the price you'd be paying is acceptable.

This is anecdotal, but I'm not sure that attending Indiana leaves open the possibility of returning to Des Moines (at least for the bigger firms). If I were OP, I wouldn't bank on having Des Moines in the back pocket, if attending Indiana.

I went to a midwestern T20 with a better reputation than Indiana, and felt shunned by the firms in Des Moines, despite grades in the top third, growing up on a farm just outside of the city (family still lives there), and plenty of "ins" with partners, family friends, etc. I still keep up to speed on the latest legal market developments in Des Moines, and it seems like all the fresh hires are coming from Drake, Iowa, and the odd T14 here and there.

I thought that attending a much higher-ranked school than Iowa and Drake, and having deep ties, would be an interesting differentiating factor for firms, but, from talking with partners and lawyers in DSM, the prevailing notion is that there are more than enough bodies to pluck from Drake and Iowa for the small amount of entry level positions.

Probably hurt that I spent 1L summer in Chicago.

So, if OP is at all interested in working in DSM, I personally think Iowa is worth the extra $40K. At least consider spending 1L summer in Des Moines, if serious about returning.

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Sackboy

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by Sackboy » Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:52 am

I agree that Iowa is incredibly insular. The top firms in the state and top firms in individual cities are very selective from Iowa, even more selective from Drake, and reasonably selective from T14s + ties. I can't imagine breaking into the market from a non-Iowa T30 school + ties. It raises the question, why didn't you choose Drake with a fat scholarship or Iowa with probably some decent scholarship?

Iowa at $130k seems steep, but if your parents can afford it and you want Iowa it's the correct choice (beyond retake and reapply).

If you're fine with possibly not making it back to Iowa, Indiana is perfectly defensible at that price + parental assistance.

beinghuman

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by beinghuman » Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:42 pm

I agree with what was said above.
Both schools are regional and I would not base a decision on factors such as prestige or international law program.
I think they both offer roughly similar outcomes: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/iowa/indiana/.

It would be harder to work in Iowa coming from Maurer but not impossible given that you have ties. Your grades might matter more maybe for Iowa employers so there's a risk there.

You should first decide whether you are ok with the career outcomes that these two schools typically afford their students. Right now, your goals do not align with your school options. So you might want to retake the LSAT and try for a T14.

This being said, I think Iowa is the better choice here but it comes at a steep price and so maybe a higher LSAT would lead to a much better scholarship. I don't know what your family situation but I personally would have a hard time letting my parents pay 100k+ for my schooling even if they are able to.

acr

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by acr » Wed Jun 10, 2020 12:21 am

Coming back to this topic since it was on my mind today. OP, I think we need more information about your numbers, and some additional context. $140K for Iowa feels like sticker price, as tuition is only $26K per year for residents. What are your LSAT/GPA numbers? Is there any way you could retake the LSAT and reapply this coming cycle? Iowa Law is not known for its frugality when it comes to giving out scholarship money, and my intuition is that reapplying with a higher LSAT score could save you a good chunk of tuition (unless you have a particularly low GPA).

In my experience, many prospective law students are in an unnecessary rush to matriculate, when they could dramatically improve their lifelong outcomes by sitting out one more cycle and improving their LSAT score. Living at home with mom and dad for a year, killing it on the LSAT, reducing your law school debt load, saving money to apply to law school living expenses, and acquiring valuable work experience sounds like a pretty solid deal to me.

There could be extenuating circumstances warranting matriculation this cycle, but my gut tells me that, with the options you've presented, it might be worth considering a retake. I should have.

I can't think of any good reason for you to choose Indiana over Iowa, aside from cost. The only situation where Indiana would make sense is if someone wanted to practice in Indianapolis or elsewhere in Indiana for a small firm. You can access the Chicago market equally from both schools (to the extend that it's possible--it's tough), and I wouldn't put any stock into "international law" rankings. That's all marketing, really. Iowa's "international law" programs are fine.

Additionally, you might be overlooking some of the benefits of living in Iowa City during law school. I get the appeal of Bloomington, or the desire to get out of state in general, but law school can get hard and lonely, and I'd imagine that having family a 2 hour drive away in Des Moines would be comforting. But everyone has a different situation when it comes to family.

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Ohiobumpkin

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by Ohiobumpkin » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:11 am

My recommendation would be to try and work a few years with State Dept. or with an international NGO before going to law school for international law. By the way, public or private international law? The former pretty much requires a t-14 degree a huge amount of luck as the number of public international law jobs are very few. If the latter, you will need to practice in a city with a large number of foreign firms/investments (e.g., NYC, LA, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, San Francisco, Miami). Iowa and international law do not mix well. You may want to investigate working in an international related job for a few years and maybe pursuing an MPA/MPP with a focus in international relations/development, or even an MBA with a focus in international business.

Have you considered Peace Corps? That will definitely pad your resume and give you an edge applying for international related jobs.

Iowahawk

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Re: Iowa or Indiana (Maurer)?

Post by Iowahawk » Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:38 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:52 am
I agree that Iowa is incredibly insular. The top firms in the state and top firms in individual cities are very selective from Iowa, even more selective from Drake, and reasonably selective from T14s + ties. I can't imagine breaking into the market from a non-Iowa T30 school + ties. It raises the question, why didn't you choose Drake with a fat scholarship or Iowa with probably some decent scholarship?

Iowa at $130k seems steep, but if your parents can afford it and you want Iowa it's the correct choice (beyond retake and reapply).

If you're fine with possibly not making it back to Iowa, Indiana is perfectly defensible at that price + parental assistance.
Agree in part and disagree in part. Strongly agree that you can’t count on a good Des Moines firm even from Iowa without good grades. Agree that Iowa still makes the most sense if you want to stay there. Disagree that it’s unimaginable to get a good Iowa firm, or even DSM biglaw, with non-Iowa T30 plus ties, though you would need very strong grades and you’ll be asked “why not Iowa” constantly. There are grads from schools like Notre Dame, Minnesota, Wash U, BC, ASU, etc. in the milieu.

Also note that your ties might not count as that strong anymore if you were out of state for undergrad. I know of people who did both out of state undergrad and law school who work in Iowa, but most or all are T20 UG—>T14 which is a different ballgame from your position.

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