Thanks for all the info given; I guess I will have to visit both schools to make my decision. I keep hearing that Howard is a national school for minorities, but what about Rutgers, does any one know if its places well outside of the NY/NJ area? Does anyone know about Howard's JD/MBA program as opposed to Rutgers.
I know I'm about a day late and a dollar short, but such is the story of my life. I'm just now getting back to civilization but I definitely wanted to respond to this one since I was actually faced with this dilemma when I applied to law school.
First off, what everybody has said so far is right on point, especially Jarhead and Cui Bono. Howard has the distinct privilege of being the only quote unquote "T3" law school with national recognition. Since your focus is practicing in a law firm its important to know that law firms looking for black attorneys will often skip over many T1 and T2 law schools and go straight to Howard. (arguably a lazy search for black folk but a search nonetheless) That being said, it isn't enough to merely be at
Howard for purposes of being hired by a law firm - you must be at the top
of Howard so in that regard its sort of a mixed bag. If you get in there and beat the curve then you've got a good shot at a lot of firms nation-wide; conversely, however, the reverse holds true.
When I was applying to both of these schools and asking around like you are now I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of black lawyers who put me up on some important considerations - such as Bar Passage and job prospects, as well as clinical programs and other academic aspects of each school. That's usually what tipped the scales for me towards Rutgers. When I came in '04-05 Rutgers' clinical programs were actually tied with Harvard's, and although I'm not sure of the exact rankings for this current year, having completed this past semester in the clinics I can see why they're held in such high regard. Great experience.
Something that always concerned me was Howard's bar passage rate. I'm a 3L now so its all about the bar exam. You don't wanna mess around and bust your tail for 3 years in law school and NOT be able to practice cause you couldn't pass the bar. That's not the jam. Rutgers New York pass rate hovers around 75 to 80%, whereas Howard's never seems to get much higher than 50%. I don't know what to attribute that to but those odds never quite really sat well with me. However, both schools still maintain a high employment rate (over 90%). I was strongly considering clerking after law school, and I did notice that while about 1/2 of Rutgers grads end up going to law firms, there's still a strong 1/3 that end up receiving judicial clerkships after graduation. Although Howard also sends about 1/2 of their grads to law firms, only about 10% were receiving clerkships, so that was a plus over Howard for me.
You mentioned the JD/MBA programs for each. I can't speak too much for either school on this regard as I had no desire to mess with the JD/MBA. I have 3 friends who are doing the JD/MBA at Rutgers and my hat goes off to them. Quite frankly, I think whoever conceived the JD/MBA concept was the devil, and my 3 buddies who are subjecting themselves to the JD/MBA hazing are insane. More power to you on that end. I can put you in contact with them if you would like and I'm sure they'd be more than happy to give you their insight on what it is that they go through exactly.
Definitely visit each school. I did and I'm glad I got to see each before coming in. Although some criticize Howard's old building I like the architectural aesthetic of the old school classrooms. It has a very "Paper Chase" feel to it. Rutgers' current building was just built in 2000 so its a fairly new facility. The Howard library is also very new, completed just a few years ago and is a separate structure located right next to the law school itself. Another interesting thing about Howard's law school building is that it's in a completely different part of town from Howard University. I don't known if that's good or bad . . . guess that all depends on your perspective. I see it as a plus personally. Rutgers' law school is part of the Rutgers Newark campus so there are mad undergrads running around all the time. Which is cool cause the campus is alive and there's always something to do when you need a break but undergrads get very annoying after about 5 minutes when you're in law school . . . but maybe that's just me. For me, this would be a plus for Howard b/c during 1L you need to be able to concentrate. Not saying that you couldn't do that at Rutgers but the only students around Howard law school are the law students. Plus DC is about 10 times more attractive than Newark. For safety purposes it really doesn't matter so much, because both schools are in safe locations respectively, but if you're the adventurous type you might run into a bit of trouble walking the streets of Newark at night. If you end up going to Rutgers, just stick to the school and New York City. Outside of the bars and lounges right next to campus, we don't go out too much in Newark - although I will give props to the Iron Bound section of Newark. Its like a mini-Manhattan.
Overall, the two schools are fairly similar in job prospects for young black attorneys. I have a few people in my class who have jobs lined up in Texas already, but the majority of Rutgers grads practice on the east coast - particularly in the NY, Philly, and DC Metro areas. Howard is a little bit more spread out. Considering that either school will allow you to practice in Texas if you perform well in the classroom, I'd suggest going with the school that gives you more money.