Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

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tax_nerd

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Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by tax_nerd » Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:26 pm

Title says it all. These are my two main options. I want to do transactional work, ideally winding up in a tax group at a V10.

I understand that both schools place better in NYC, but another factor that matters to me is the possibility of lateraling to a West Coast (Bay Area/SV) firm after 4/5 years. The capacity for moving West is less important to me than the overall possibility of entering Biglaw.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts.

showusyourtorts

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by showusyourtorts » Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:58 pm

Hm.

I'm trying to figure out the difference in COA between the two. There's obviously the 90k in tuition, and then I guess maybe around 10-20k annually in cost of living (between NYC versus Duke)? If you settle on like 15k a year in COA difference, that's about 135k difference between the two, which is (totally ballparking) probably about 160 or 170k once you figure in interest associated with paying off that debt, and maybe another 5k or 10k when you consider the foregone opportunity cost of not having been able to begin investing money in the market while you were stuck paying off that extra debt. That's a lot of money.

With that said, it's relatively difficult to land a tax summer associate/biglaw spot, which cuts toward Columbia. I feel like it's safe to say that tax associates also often last longer in biglaw, given the better QOL as a tax associate versus as a general corporate associate, which also cuts toward perhaps willingness to take on more debt.

I feel like the California piece is a bit of a red herring (and you did correctly identify it as secondary to being able to enter biglaw in the first place). Once you have a tax associate gig at any biglaw firm, no firm is going to care whether you were in the top or bottom of the T14.

I'm not really sure where I land.

CanadianWolf

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by CanadianWolf » Thu Mar 25, 2021 2:08 pm

Even assuming that the COA difference is about $135,000 over 3 years, I would suggest that you attend Columbia law school as biglaw is a much more likely outcome than if you attended Duke law school.

With a 174 LSAT and a 3.92 uGPA, you should have other T-14 options with scholarship money. Are Duke & Columbia your only options ?

crazywafflez

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by crazywafflez » Thu Mar 25, 2021 2:59 pm

Did you get any packages or something at say Penn? I know this year has been crazy anyways, but I feel like you should have more options on the table (perhaps you did but you nixed them as they were much less attractive or something- but if you had sticker to C and sticker to Penn, I bet telling them would have them up their game).
I would personally take Duke, as I'm more worried about debt, but I do think C is the safer bet for your specific goals; but both will get you biglaw in NYC. I don't think you can go wrong with either, I personally just wouldn't pay 100k+ more for C compared to Duke.

tax_nerd

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by tax_nerd » Thu Mar 25, 2021 3:39 pm

Thanks for the input, everyone. Those are my best options -- I did not apply to enough schools and also definitely underperformed my numbers. (Reapplying is not an option.) I have a Northwestern offer on the table as well, but no financial aid from them. Besides that, a full ride at WashULaw and 50% off BU.

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showusyourtorts

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by showusyourtorts » Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:18 pm

tax_nerd wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 3:39 pm
Thanks for the input, everyone. Those are my best options -- I did not apply to enough schools and also definitely underperformed my numbers. (Reapplying is not an option.) I have a Northwestern offer on the table as well, but no financial aid from them. Besides that, a full ride at WashULaw and 50% off BU.
If you haven't already done so, I'd recommend reaching out to Northwestern with the Duke scholarship and saying that you'd much prefer to attend Northwestern, given their nationally recognized tax LLM program and your goal to engage in tax (backed up by whatever extracurricular/undergrad activities you did that support that narrative). It's possible they just didn't want to extend scholarship money to someone that they didn't view as being seriously interested.

FYI - Northwestern is great in that it allows you to graduate in three years with both your JD and your tax LLM through the school. It's probably ranked third or fourth in the country as a tax LLM program.

CanadianWolf

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by CanadianWolf » Thu Mar 25, 2021 7:30 pm

showusyourtorts wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:18 pm
tax_nerd wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 3:39 pm
Thanks for the input, everyone. Those are my best options -- I did not apply to enough schools and also definitely underperformed my numbers. (Reapplying is not an option.) I have a Northwestern offer on the table as well, but no financial aid from them. Besides that, a full ride at WashULaw and 50% off BU.
If you haven't already done so, I'd recommend reaching out to Northwestern with the Duke scholarship and saying that you'd much prefer to attend Northwestern, given their nationally recognized tax LLM program and your goal to engage in tax (backed up by whatever extracurricular/undergrad activities you did that support that narrative). It's possible they just didn't want to extend scholarship money to someone that they didn't view as being seriously interested.

FYI - Northwestern is great in that it allows you to graduate in three years with both your JD and your tax LLM through the school. It's probably ranked third or fourth in the country as a tax LLM program.
This is great advice in my opinion.

I review tax llm programs quite often & have done so for many years. Northwestern's tax llm program is outstanding. NYU does well because of its location & due to its JD program ranking. NYU, Georgetown, Florida, & Northwestern are all superb tax llm programs. Several others are great for those seeking employment in other than NYC biglaw.

Rookielawyer22

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by Rookielawyer22 » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:29 pm

I faced the same decision 4 years ago (minus wanting to do tax). I went to Duke and I am so thankful thinking about ALL the money I saved. Columbia will give you the slight edge, but that can be made up for with networking IMO.

I loved my time at Duke. Probably the best 3 years of my life.

QwertyKeys

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by QwertyKeys » Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:33 pm

So, caveat that I am still an undergrad.

But here are some numbers from the class of 2019.

Columbia: 82% biglaw + FedClerk, with 78% bl and 4% clerk

Duke: 76% biglaw + FedClerk, with 62% bl and 14% clerk

If we assume that anyone who clerked was capable of getting biglaw, then Columbia's placement isn't meaningfully better than Duke's.

Duke is also much cheaper for you.

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QwertyKeys

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by QwertyKeys » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:46 pm

Duke is the clear choice, right? Am I crazy?

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Dcc617

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by Dcc617 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:59 pm

Easy call for Duke. For generic biglaw goals take the cheapest T13.

If you miss out on west coast out of law school then you should be able to lateral/change offices after a year or two.

Trout et al

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by Trout et al » Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:09 am

If you are really interested in tax, then I think Duke makes more sense. You will save significant money and still have a great shot at biglaw jobs, but if you strike out you can go get a tax LLM at NYU and get another bite at the apple. Assuming you have mediocre grades, coming from Duke JD you'd be a top candidate for LLM scholarships, plus have the best shot at biglaw jobs hiring that year. Loans for an LLM year won't hurt as much with lower debt.

Even if you aren't 100% certain about tax, I personally would never want to pay off the loans for Columbia at sticker price.

showusyourtorts

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by showusyourtorts » Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:38 am

Trout et al wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:09 am
If you are really interested in tax, then I think Duke makes more sense. You will save significant money and still have a great shot at biglaw jobs, but if you strike out you can go get a tax LLM at NYU and get another bite at the apple. Assuming you have mediocre grades, coming from Duke JD you'd be a top candidate for LLM scholarships, plus have the best shot at biglaw jobs hiring that year. Loans for an LLM year won't hurt as much with lower debt.

Even if you aren't 100% certain about tax, I personally would never want to pay off the loans for Columbia at sticker price.
I hadn't even thought about this, but I completely agree. Duke for almost certain shot at biglaw + NYU LLM as a last resort backup (where you'd be likely to get a decent scholarship and almost certainly be able to pull a biglaw tax job) are a great combo.

omar.comin

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Re: Duke @ half price or Columbia at sticker? Biglaw or bust.

Post by omar.comin » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:41 pm

This one is tough. Negotiated Northwestern scholarship would be the easy choice if you were able to swing it. Otherwise Columbia at sticker is just indefensible, and I’d take Duke.

But hard to say with the tax consideration, since tax in general is hard to land without some relevant background experience. You might also find that you hate tax once you’re actually doing it. And transactional tax vs tax controversy are very different, and not all firms do tax controversy work (even at the v10 level).

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