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Messages - krbr

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I live on the East Coast and want to practice in California.  If Hastings had offered me money I would have gone to it over BU and W&M.  But they couldn't give me anything.  So I'm headed to W&M, which costs half as much as BU.

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This whole process is so complex, and it's coming down to the wire for a lot of us.  Reading how other people came to their final decisions helped me in choosing my school, and I figured that maybe a thread full of such posts would help those out who are still deciding.  I'll volunteer my choice, in a *somewhat* compact format:

Goals: Leaning toward biglaw to pay off loans, but it's not a necessity. Want to work preferrably in San Francisco, with DC as a solid secondary option. Prefer a school in a city.  Debt vs. rank ratio is important, but would pay full price for a school that's consistently in the t20.

Contenders: BU (no $), W&M (in state + $5k), Hastings

Pros/Cons:
BU - Pro: rank, in a city, placement in biglaw, have many friends in Boston and housing already set up. Con: tenuous rank (I think they'll cycle back toward mid-20s soon), climate, cost (most expensive), not biggest fan of Boston-NYC region for placement.

W&M - Pro: cost (half as much as both BU and Hastings because of Virginia residency), unique program, non-competitive, proximity to friends and family in DC, beautiful campus. Con: small town, low placement numbers in California, really small town.

Hastings - Pro: nearly guaranteed placement in San Fran, located in San Fran, externship and clinical opportunities, have friends in Bay Area. Con: cost, low ranking.

The Decision: W&M.
Over the last two weeks it seemed like I changed my mind by the hour on where I should go, but ultimately it came down to the debt vs. ranking ratio. Had Hastings thrown me money, as most lower-ranked schools do, then I probably would have gone there given its location and pull in my target market, San Francisco. But they didn't, and I just couldn't justify incuring that much debt (approx $120k total) at the risk of screwing up in school and falling out of competition for biglaw jobs (which would be almost necessary with that much debt).  At approx. $140k total, BU offered a much better ranking for slightly more debt, which was appealing. But BU's rise to #20 this year seemed a bit tenuous to me, especially given the fact that just two years ago, in 2003, it was tied at #28 with W&M.  Those schools in the 20s seem to churn around quite a bit.  BU's urban location was also a draw for me, as was its decent placement and alumni network in California (I spoke with alumni in CA about this). But if I did not get into Cali, my second options out of BU were Boston and NYC, which are personally undesirable. W&M seemed to offer a comparable education to BU, but differed in five areas, some good and some bad: competition within the student body, placement in California, placement in DC, location and most importantly cost. The cost is the biggest plus, at half the price because of my residency and small scholarship. The location is the biggest drawback because I prefer a city, but I can also see myself studying law in a quiet town -- and getting the hell out of dodge and up to DC anytime I get cabin fever.  Placement is a sticky issuse, being lower in Cali but much higher in DC. However, I think the low Cali numbers are due more to student self-selection than Cali firms not being interested; a small handful of CA firms visited campus last year, so they do give W&M a look. Besides, if CA doesn't work out, I wouldn't mind being in DC. Finally, the environment of the school makes for a less competitive, more collegial community within the student body, which would be nice.

Anyway, that was my decision-making process. I'm waitlisted at both GWU and USC, and have yet to hear from UCLA, and if any admit me I'll accept. In my opinion, all offer better location and placement opportunities than any of the schools I've been accepted to, and I'll be able to handle the debt.

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I should have mentioned this on my original posting.  I want to do Biglaw.  This is why I am giving up a career to go to law school.  So you think it is GT without any doubt?

I did not apply to GMU and I was denied at AU (I am still shocked).   

I have a buddy who is a 3L at George Washington and is helping me with my decision.  He'll be working in DC biglaw next year.  Here's a quote from an email he sent me just today:

"Two summers ago, I worked with mostly American Univ. kids.  We were all getting our resumes/cover letters together to interview the fall of our 2L years.  Not only was their firm list about 1/3 of the size of ours, the VERY SAME firms that were willing to interview our top 25% were only willing to interview their top 5% or top 10%."

GWU is #20 and AU is #47 right now.  You're deciding between a #14 and a #85-89, which is a huge gap.  Using my friend's example as a guide, if you choose Catholic you'll have to be roughly in the top 5% or maybe even higher to compete for a job that a Georgetown kid in the top 30-40% or maybe even lower will be considered for.  Yes, if you've been given a full ride then the school thinks that you'll do well, and that's awesome.  But in life, *&^% happens.  In law school, you could get sick the day of an exam, or just completely not understand Contracts, or a prof might disagree with an answer you give and ding you with a lower grade.  Any of that happens... BAM! you're out of the top 5%, goodbye biglaw.  In life, you either have the choice on gambling on the unforseen future or buying insurance.  Most people, if they can afford it, buy insurance.  In law school, you go to the lower-ranked school for free and gamble on your ability to make the top 5% or higher, or you buy insurance -- a degree from a prestigious school, if you're fortunate enough to be offered admission into such a place, where you won't have to finish as high to get the same opportunities.  You have been fortunate enough to get this, and in my opinion I'd take Georgetown.

Of course, assuming $150k in debt is a gamble, too.  In life, just as in law school, there are no easy answers.

But, this is all my humble opinion.  You know what's ultimately best for you, and I wish you the best of luck whatever you choose to do.

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If you are absolutely, positively, 100% certain you want to work in the DC Metro Area and do not want to be in biglaw, then take the money at Catholic.  The lack of debt will allow you to entertain many more options in the way of P.I., gov't, and small firm jobs.  Biglaw would be 1 in a million, but then again a partner at the DC biglaw firm I work at is a Catholic grad so anything's possible.

But if there's even a 0.01% inkling that you want to go elsewhere or want to work in biglaw, suck it up and go to Georgetown.  The options that name opens up to you, both in and out of DC, will be more than worth it in the long run.  If you are disciplined with your money, you'll be able to handle the debt.

And why aren't GWU and AU considerations?

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Where should I go next fall? / Re: Going to W&L and practicing in Cali
« on: April 14, 2005, 10:12:30 AM »
ronin3782,

If you wanted CA biglaw, why did you turn down GULC?

My sentiments exactly.

On Martindale there are 74 people listed as W&L grads who practice in California.  Start networking.

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Acceptances / Re: BC vs. Davis
« on: April 12, 2005, 02:25:19 PM »

Plus i'm tired of having no smoking in doors.  damn liberals.


Boston bars are no-smoking.

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Where should I go next fall? / $$$ vs. Location vs. Prestige
« on: April 12, 2005, 01:51:51 PM »
I ultimately want to live/work in the Bay Area, but I have no ties to the West Coast aside from having grown up in Oregon (went to East Coast college and folks now live on East Coast).  I heard Cali firms are hesitant to hire people who lack such ties.  With this in mind, which should I choose & why?

Going to William & Mary (in-state + 5k scholarship) would be half as much as Hastings or BU, which is a freaking lot.  But can it get me to Cali?

Going to Hastings would get me to Cali quicker and would virtually guarantee me jobs in the Bay Area.  But I would assume the same amount of debt as if I went to BU ($140k, ugh), which seems a bad choice given the gap in rankings.

Going to BU would give me a prestigious name, but if I screw up I'll be locked in New England for a while, which isn't very desirable for me.

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Law School Applications / Re: USC anyone???
« on: April 07, 2005, 08:39:59 PM »
BTW, it appears the first of the WL's are on their way out.

That is correct.  Just received mine.

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Actually, at first, I was really nervous about approaching him.  I have known about this potential connection for months, but I was too apprehensive to do it.  And I am generally a very outgoing person!  I kept walking by him on campus and I knew that he was very outgoing as well, so I figured it wouldn't be that hard to approach him, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. 

Finally, yesterday, I walked by him again as he ate lunch, then I stood there for at least a minute (out of his view) contemplating whether or not to approach him or not - I really didn't feel comfortable doing it.  I realized that now, if ever, was the time to do it.  I did it, and it worked out really well - I have a meeting with him sometime next week.

It wasn't like it was this "sleazy" move - it wasn't even my idea actually.  A girl I know (who is applying to Harvard Law next year and whose fiance is an adjunct prof. there) suggested that I do it awhile ago.

Haha... sounds like the things that happen when you want to ask out a girl you really like.  ;)   I'm going through the same thing about approaching an alumni/adjunct prof from a school I've been waitlisted at whom I've worked with only a little bit.  Looks like it's time for me to man up and get my sleaze on.

P.S. It's not sleazy at all. It's called networking.

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Ambs, you said above that you really want to get into Hastings after visiting it.  Can you tell us about it: what you liked and didn't like, the looks of the surrounding neighborhood, etc.?

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