Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker Forum

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Lawlasser

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Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by Lawlasser » Thu Apr 25, 2024 1:20 am

Not sure what I want to do career-wise, though I imagine big law and maybe clerking if I like litigation more.

From California, but living in NYC intrigues me.
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talons2250

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by talons2250 » Thu Apr 25, 2024 2:57 pm

Unless you strongly prefer to be in New York City for the three years of law school, then Berkeley. Employment outcomes at both schools are too similar and, even if Columbia does have an edge (it is generally thought of as more prestigious by a millimeter by most people outside California but not in a way that actually matters for anything), that edge would not override the scholarship money Berkeley is offering.

manwithplan

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by manwithplan » Mon Apr 29, 2024 2:55 pm

Columbia students have life on easy mode, assuming that they don't care about getting an elite outcome like a federal clerkship or a more selective biglaw firm. It is commonplace not to read for classes (and just use outlines). I think the appeal of Columbia is two-fold: first, it is an Ivy League school; second, you can coast, again assuming the proviso above. If you want a clerkship, you will have to grind at either place. But there is no question that getting biglaw at CLS is easier, statistically, but then that will only matter if you are coasting, since my understanding is that a solid student at Berkeley should get biglaw. Now, I think most people would take their chances with Berkeley because even with biglaw, those loans are painful, assuming you are not rich. Personally, I would do the same. Columbia makes sense if you are rich (then why not, for the prestige) OR if you don't want to try in law school and are happy with any NYC biglaw. Columbia is a very expensive biglaw factory. You pay insane tuition for an 80% shot at biglaw.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Mon Apr 29, 2024 7:08 pm

manwithplan wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2024 2:55 pm
Columbia students have life on easy mode, assuming that they don't care about getting an elite outcome like a federal clerkship or a more selective biglaw firm. It is commonplace not to read for classes (and just use outlines).
This is generally true of other T13 schools including Berkeley.

talons2250

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by talons2250 » Tue Apr 30, 2024 1:10 pm

manwithplan wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2024 2:55 pm
Columbia students have life on easy mode, assuming that they don't care about getting an elite outcome like a federal clerkship or a more selective biglaw firm. It is commonplace not to read for classes (and just use outlines). I think the appeal of Columbia is two-fold: first, it is an Ivy League school; second, you can coast, again assuming the proviso above. If you want a clerkship, you will have to grind at either place. But there is no question that getting biglaw at CLS is easier, statistically, but then that will only matter if you are coasting, since my understanding is that a solid student at Berkeley should get biglaw. Now, I think most people would take their chances with Berkeley because even with biglaw, those loans are painful, assuming you are not rich. Personally, I would do the same. Columbia makes sense if you are rich (then why not, for the prestige) OR if you don't want to try in law school and are happy with any NYC biglaw. Columbia is a very expensive biglaw factory. You pay insane tuition for an 80% shot at biglaw.
Pretty much everything you've written here except the ivy league part also applies to Berkeley. Regarding biglaw, it seems very unlikely to me that the same caliber student at both CLS and Berkeley would have materially different biglaw outcomes. And even the ivy league thing is not an actual, tangible benefit. Cornell Law is ivy and Stanford Law isn't, but no one thinks Cornell is more prestigious.

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nealric

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by nealric » Tue Apr 30, 2024 3:55 pm

CLS is a great option. I didn't go there, but my spouse did and we lived on campus housing, so I sort of feel like I attended. However, I'd probably still go with Berkeley given the huge cost delta. The placement difference is relatively small between the two. You can also ask if CLS will offer any money.

anymouseqwerty

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by anymouseqwerty » Thu May 02, 2024 2:56 pm

Take a hard look at the cost of living comparison for Columbia and Berkeley. I’d wager that even near Columbia you are going to pay ~20% more to live life as compared to Berkeley. Also, when you are a broke student, NYC is less fun than its reputation.

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VirginiaFan

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by VirginiaFan » Thu May 02, 2024 2:56 pm

I went to a t14 for free and can't recommend it enough. It gives you so much freedom to quit biglaw or do a different career path.

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Dcc617

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by Dcc617 » Thu May 02, 2024 9:05 pm

This is a no brainer for Berkeley. There's literally no argument for Columbia with that cost delta

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nealric

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by nealric » Fri May 03, 2024 10:33 am

Dcc617 wrote:
Thu May 02, 2024 9:05 pm
This is a no brainer for Berkeley. There's literally no argument for Columbia with that cost delta
I wouldn't say there's "literally no argument." If your deepest desire is to be an NYC biglaw partner, you are probably more likely to get there from Columbia. NYC placement is a bit better and you'll have a strong local alumni network as you advance in your career from which to draw clients. I personally wouldn't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for that, but I have zero interest in being an NYC biglaw partner.

Don't get me wrong, student debt is awful while you have it, but it's a rounding error in the context of your career if you are on the upper end of the bimodal salary distribution in law. There is of course a risk you end up being pushed out of that high mode, but I think most Columbia students can stay there if that's what they want. I suppose the bigger risk is realizing after a few years that the biglaw grind isn't what you want.

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Tue May 07, 2024 3:08 pm

nealric wrote:
Fri May 03, 2024 10:33 am
Dcc617 wrote:
Thu May 02, 2024 9:05 pm
This is a no brainer for Berkeley. There's literally no argument for Columbia with that cost delta
I wouldn't say there's "literally no argument." If your deepest desire is to be an NYC biglaw partner, you are probably more likely to get there from Columbia. NYC placement is a bit better and you'll have a strong local alumni network as you advance in your career from which to draw clients. I personally wouldn't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for that, but I have zero interest in being an NYC biglaw partner.

Don't get me wrong, student debt is awful while you have it, but it's a rounding error in the context of your career if you are on the upper end of the bimodal salary distribution in law. There is of course a risk you end up being pushed out of that high mode, but I think most Columbia students can stay there if that's what they want. I suppose the bigger risk is realizing after a few years that the biglaw grind isn't what you want.
When I hear "rounding error" I think of a fraction of a basis point, or something around that magnitude. $300k is a lot more than that, accounting for taxes and the time value of money. Very few lawyers can expect to clear $30m (2024 dollars, after-tax) over the course of their careers, even accounting for some amount of desire to be an NYC biglaw partner.

Personally, the dream is to save ten bucks (i.e. earn several times that, pretax) over the course of my legal career. Finishing law school with negative NW of ($400k) instead of ($100k) would set that goal back by perhaps two or three years, or alternatively require me to save an extra $1500/mo over the next ~30 years. That's not a life-ruining cost but it's also a lot more than a rounding error. And that's on my very ambitious personal plan where I hope to make at least a counsel's salary in years 11-onward

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nealric

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Re: Berkeley $$$ or CLS Sticker

Post by nealric » Tue May 07, 2024 5:27 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Tue May 07, 2024 3:08 pm
nealric wrote:
Fri May 03, 2024 10:33 am
Dcc617 wrote:
Thu May 02, 2024 9:05 pm
This is a no brainer for Berkeley. There's literally no argument for Columbia with that cost delta
I wouldn't say there's "literally no argument." If your deepest desire is to be an NYC biglaw partner, you are probably more likely to get there from Columbia. NYC placement is a bit better and you'll have a strong local alumni network as you advance in your career from which to draw clients. I personally wouldn't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for that, but I have zero interest in being an NYC biglaw partner.

Don't get me wrong, student debt is awful while you have it, but it's a rounding error in the context of your career if you are on the upper end of the bimodal salary distribution in law. There is of course a risk you end up being pushed out of that high mode, but I think most Columbia students can stay there if that's what they want. I suppose the bigger risk is realizing after a few years that the biglaw grind isn't what you want.
When I hear "rounding error" I think of a fraction of a basis point, or something around that magnitude. $300k is a lot more than that, accounting for taxes and the time value of money. Very few lawyers can expect to clear $30m (2024 dollars, after-tax) over the course of their careers, even accounting for some amount of desire to be an NYC biglaw partner.

Personally, the dream is to save ten bucks (i.e. earn several times that, pretax) over the course of my legal career. Finishing law school with negative NW of ($400k) instead of ($100k) would set that goal back by perhaps two or three years, or alternatively require me to save an extra $1500/mo over the next ~30 years. That's not a life-ruining cost but it's also a lot more than a rounding error. And that's on my very ambitious personal plan where I hope to make at least a counsel's salary in years 11-onward
I suppose it depends on your rounding convention :lol: The point is that it's probably not going to dramatically change your financial situation in the long run. My student debt (low six figures) felt like a daunting amount when I was a new graduate, but the same amount of money (even inflation adjusted with over a decade of market returns) suddenly appearing in my accounts wouldn't change how I spend or when I retire.

But I don't think $30MM is actually that crazy of a bar to clear. Someone who does in fact make partner in an NYC biglaw firm would be well north of that. If you actually do an expected value calculation based on the percentage of alumni on a given trajectory (considering only the financial aspect and not paying attention to lifestyle), I could see CLS coming out ahead.

It also depends on whether you are going to do the FIRE thing or want to work to 65. If you are just looking to get out ASAP, the debt is a lot more meaningful. The point is there is no single answer. Any prospective student needs to do some deep soul searching on the risk they are taking and what they want out of their career. The analysis is also totally different when you are comparing schools lower down the pecking order.

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