What are USC and UCLA like?

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Inhousefuture

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What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by Inhousefuture » Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:19 pm

Hello,

Thinking about applying to UCLA and USC.

Stats: LSAT:169 GPA.3.3 Non-URM

From anyone's experience:

1. What is the student body like culturally and the academic experience like at these places?

2. What packages have people received in terms of $$? Do these schools make sense at sticker, partial ride, full ride, etc?

3. Beyond the official written statistics, are there any nuances in terms of job placement? For instance, are ties important to firms hiring from these schools ?( I am East Coast trying to move to the West Coast) What types of firms hire from these schools?

Thanks

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cavalier1138

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by cavalier1138 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 8:14 pm

Inhousefuture wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:19 pm
1. What is the student body like culturally and the academic experience like at these places?
Practically identical. Same goes for pretty much any other law school in this tier.
Inhousefuture wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:19 pm
2. What packages have people received in terms of $$? Do these schools make sense at sticker, partial ride, full ride, etc?
Any law school only makes sense if you will graduate with a manageable debt load. The meaning of "manageable" is going to vary significantly based on your career/salary goals and whether or not a school is likely to place you in a job that will let you pay off your debt.
Inhousefuture wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:19 pm
3. Beyond the official written statistics, are there any nuances in terms of job placement? For instance, are ties important to firms hiring from these schools ?( I am East Coast trying to move to the West Coast) What types of firms hire from these schools?
If you're going to CA without ties, then either of these schools will give you a solid shot at biglaw in LA. It won't be a sure thing from either of them, so that's part of the cost calculation above.

Ultimately, job placement and cost should be your number one and two focuses, respectively. The rest of the "nuance" of any school is going to have little to no impact on your career. You can make decisions about which school "feels" better when you're comparing identical aid packages at two schools with identical job placement numbers.

Golradaer

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by Golradaer » Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:02 am

I agree with what cavalier said.

In addition, you'll be in a good position for OCI given your geographic ties. Going to either of these schools is enough to convince California firms that you want to work here (at least for the major markets like LA/SF/SV — it's a little trickier in Orange County and San Diego). From what I've seen, you'll also have no problem getting offers in major east coast markets because you can play up the "I went to California for law school but I want to come home to the east coast to be near family" angle. All of the top firms recruit from these schools, but there's a California tilt to the ones that show up in person at OCI. If you want NYC/DC/Boston/Chicago/Texas, etc., there will be top firms present at OCI, but career services will also recommend that you attend separate, regional OCIs for those markets and send in direct applications. Networking is also less convenient if you're targeting a market outside of California, obviously. But that's just a factor of being in California, nothing specific to these schools.

Academically, both schools have students and professors that are comparable to what you'd find at lower T14s. The majority of students will share your desire to stay in California after graduation, though only about half are originally from California themselves.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:49 pm

Golradaer wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:02 am
I agree with what cavalier said.

In addition, you'll be in a good position for OCI given your geographic ties. Going to either of these schools is enough to convince California firms that you want to work here (at least for the major markets like LA/SF/SV — it's a little trickier in Orange County and San Diego). From what I've seen, you'll also have no problem getting offers in major east coast markets because you can play up the "I went to California for law school but I want to come home to the east coast to be near family" angle. All of the top firms recruit from these schools, but there's a California tilt to the ones that show up in person at OCI. If you want NYC/DC/Boston/Chicago/Texas, etc., there will be top firms present at OCI, but career services will also recommend that you attend separate, regional OCIs for those markets and send in direct applications. Networking is also less convenient if you're targeting a market outside of California, obviously. But that's just a factor of being in California, nothing specific to these schools.

Academically, both schools have students and professors that are comparable to what you'd find at lower T14s. The majority of students will share your desire to stay in California after graduation, though only about half are originally from California themselves.
The bolded seems wildly optimistic to me. Both USC and UCLA send ~5% of their class to NY, ~2% to DC, and <1% to every other non-CA state. And that's counting non-biglaw jobs. They're not like Berkeley or Stanford where you can bank on getting NYC biglaw at median.

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Sackboy

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by Sackboy » Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:50 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:49 pm
Golradaer wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:02 am

From what I've seen, you'll also have no problem getting offers in major east coast markets because you can play up the "I went to California for law school but I want to come home to the east coast to be near family" angle. All of the top firms recruit from these schools, but there's a California tilt to the ones that show up in person at OCI.
The bolded seems wildly optimistic to me. Both USC and UCLA send ~5% of their class to NY, ~2% to DC, and <1% to every other non-CA state. And that's counting non-biglaw jobs. They're not like Berkeley or Stanford where you can bank on getting NYC biglaw at median.
I just want to emphasize what TLA said. TLA is not ballparking here. USC's official employment statistics show that only 9 of its 224 graduates made it to New York (4.0%) and 3 of its 224 graduates made it to DC (1.3%), and New York and DC are respectively the 2nd and 3rd largest states by employment for USC graduates.

If you feel like there is a chance you might want to return to the East Coast, I would be very weary of going to USC. I've practiced in both NY and Chicago for several years, and I have never worked with a USC graduate. Their network is abysmal outside of California.

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Golradaer

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by Golradaer » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:24 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:49 pm
The bolded seems wildly optimistic to me. Both USC and UCLA send ~5% of their class to NY, ~2% to DC, and <1% to every other non-CA state. And that's counting non-biglaw jobs. They're not like Berkeley or Stanford where you can bank on getting NYC biglaw at median.
Speaking for UCLA (pre-COVID), only about 10% of the class in a given year expresses any interest in east coast big law (NYC/DC), and a fair number of those people only consider NYC as a backup option if they don't get California offers. There are events and programs specifically geared toward helping UCLA 1Ls target east coast big law, and attendance at those is by no means high. Anecdotally, I don't know anyone with an above-median GPA who targeted an east coast market and didn't get an offer there. I also know several people who had an easy time getting offers in NYC and declined those in favor of California offices. That's why citing the 5% to NYC number doesn't seem helpful to me without considering the context of just how unpopular east coast big law is among the student population. It's analogous to using a school's public interest/government placement rate as a proxy for one's likelihood of getting a job in those fields. NYC big law is objectively easier to get than LA/SF big law, both because of the large class sizes and the lower GPA cutoffs, so if I were a prospective student looking for a proxy for likelihood of getting a job, I'd just go with the overall BL/FC rate.

So I agree that you can't necessarily "bank" on getting NYC big law at median, but I think you have quite a good shot (a better shot than getting California big law, at any rate), especially if you have existing east coast ties and make an effort to visit/show interest/network. And for anyone with an above-median GPA, you'd have to really mess up your interviews to not get an NYC offer.
Last edited by Golradaer on Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:45 pm

Golradaer wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:24 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:49 pm
The bolded seems wildly optimistic to me. Both USC and UCLA send ~5% of their class to NY, ~2% to DC, and <1% to every other non-CA state. And that's counting non-biglaw jobs. They're not like Berkeley or Stanford where you can bank on getting NYC biglaw at median.
Speaking for UCLA (pre-COVID), only about 10% of the class in a given year expresses any interest in east coast big law (NYC/DC), and a fair number of those people only consider NYC as a backup option if they don't get California offers. There are events and programs specifically geared toward helping UCLA 1Ls target east coast big law, and attendance at those is by no means high. Anecdotally, I don't know anyone with an above-median GPA who targeted an east coast market and didn't get an offer there. I also know several people who had an easy time getting offers in NYC and declined those in favor of California offices. That's why citing the 5% to NYC number doesn't seem helpful to me without considering the context of just how unpopular east coast big law is among the student population. NYC big law is objectively easier to get than LA/SF big law, both because of the large class sizes and the lower GPA cutoffs.

So I agree that you can't necessarily "bank" on getting NYC big law at median, but I think you have quite a good shot (a better shot than getting California big law, at any rate), especially if you have existing east coast ties and make an effort to visit/show interest/network. And for anyone with an above-median GPA, you'd have to really mess up your interviews to not get an NYC offer.
I'm sure self-selection is a big part of it; indeed this whole post is much more in line with my own understanding than what I quoted upthread. But the "above-median GPA" proviso is moving the goalposts. Not everyone gets above-median grades. NYC biglaw starts to get dicey around median, and is a long shot for anyone noticeably below median. (The other T20-but-not-T13 schools are similar in this regard; for most people, "can I reliably get Cravath-scale biglaw from median" is the reason for drawing a bold line underneath Cornell.)

Also, as you note, NYC is the easiest biglaw market in the country, and the ease of getting to New York overstates the opportunities available in other markets (OP could be from any of DC, Boston, Atlanta, Philly, Delaware, Miami, Charlotte, Baltimore) by at least an order of magnitude.

Golradaer

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Re: What are USC and UCLA like?

Post by Golradaer » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:49 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:45 pm
Golradaer wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:24 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:49 pm
The bolded seems wildly optimistic to me. Both USC and UCLA send ~5% of their class to NY, ~2% to DC, and <1% to every other non-CA state. And that's counting non-biglaw jobs. They're not like Berkeley or Stanford where you can bank on getting NYC biglaw at median.
Speaking for UCLA (pre-COVID), only about 10% of the class in a given year expresses any interest in east coast big law (NYC/DC), and a fair number of those people only consider NYC as a backup option if they don't get California offers. There are events and programs specifically geared toward helping UCLA 1Ls target east coast big law, and attendance at those is by no means high. Anecdotally, I don't know anyone with an above-median GPA who targeted an east coast market and didn't get an offer there. I also know several people who had an easy time getting offers in NYC and declined those in favor of California offices. That's why citing the 5% to NYC number doesn't seem helpful to me without considering the context of just how unpopular east coast big law is among the student population. NYC big law is objectively easier to get than LA/SF big law, both because of the large class sizes and the lower GPA cutoffs.

So I agree that you can't necessarily "bank" on getting NYC big law at median, but I think you have quite a good shot (a better shot than getting California big law, at any rate), especially if you have existing east coast ties and make an effort to visit/show interest/network. And for anyone with an above-median GPA, you'd have to really mess up your interviews to not get an NYC offer.
I'm sure self-selection is a big part of it; indeed this whole post is much more in line with my own understanding than what I quoted upthread. But the "above-median GPA" proviso is moving the goalposts. Not everyone gets above-median grades. NYC biglaw starts to get dicey around median, and is a long shot for anyone noticeably below median. (The other T20-but-not-T13 schools are similar in this regard; for most people, "can I reliably get Cravath-scale biglaw from median" is the reason for drawing a bold line underneath Cornell.)

Also, as you note, NYC is the easiest biglaw market in the country, and the ease of getting to New York overstates the opportunities available in other markets (OP could be from any of DC, Boston, Atlanta, Philly, Delaware, Miami, Charlotte, Baltimore) by at least an order of magnitude.
Absolutely. I agree with all of this. Perhaps I should have said in my original reply that you'll have no trouble getting NYC big law assuming you have a GPA that makes you competitive for big law more generally.

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