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Messages - nowitzski

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Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Why Michigan?
« on: April 19, 2007, 02:29:31 PM »
Other random things:

1. legal writing is taught by actual professors.
2. One of the best international law libraries in the world (people from other countries come to study their own laws at UMich)
3. Center for Refugee and Asylum law - really awesome program
4. Self contained law quad, university feel (as opposed to schools in the city)
5. Huge 5 billion dollar endowment and huge alumni base (although each of these others has this as well)
6. First major school to admit a woman, second to graduate an African American. - strong tradition
7. Consistantly great school for over 100 years. 
8. Reputation for congeniality (it's not going to be like The Paper Chase)
9. While we've lost academic talent to other schools, we always recruit the very best young scholars, which I think adds to the quality of interaction and the energy at the school. 

Site Suggestions and Announcements / delete my account
« on: April 18, 2007, 12:31:49 PM »
unable to delete account, please delete my account or fix the problem.

The only things I would add or differ with your critique is on the Denver legal market. Its larger than many assume (and larger than I thought before I came here). There are two major industries you did not mention, natural resource extraction (oil, gas, mining) while there is plenty of that in the surrounding states, Denver seems to be where many companies are HQ. The insurance industry, Denver has a large insurance presence. They also have a lot of tech, mainly because Denver invested heavily is a tech corridor that attracted companies with infrastructure and tax abatements. As well CO in general has a large environmentalist subculture with many such organizations HQ’d here, or with large presences in the state.

One more thing to consider is the 10th Circuit court is in Denver, thus there is a large presence of firms that do regional federal work, where there would not be in cities that don’t have one. There are a surprising number of “big law” type regional offices here offering 100k plus starting salaries.

I also agree CU’s boost is largely from the new Building, DU got a similar boost, but that’s starting to drop off.

Personally I chose DU over CU soley becuase of a program offered by DU that CU lacked, and my intrest in that very small subset of the law. But there are plenty of law jobs out there in Denver to satisfy most people from either school.

You are correct in that there are segments of oil/gas, tech, the Denver market, and that it is a regional seat for courts/federal agencies, I guess my overall point is that where one industry creates literally billions in revenue for law firms (like Oil&Gas in houston) Denver doesn't have this kind of monster industry to support biglaw jobs.  I know there are biglaw regional offices, but many are not very large and hire few associates, especially compared to their other offices in LA/DC/NYC/Houston/Chicago...

BTW when you get here send me an IM and I'll introduce you some of the networking events in town I go to on a regular basis. Inns of the Court, bar association lunches, a weekly breakfast I go to with a few judges etc. It helps if you know what area of the law you want to practice, but its not critical.

The legal market in Denver, while of a decent size, in small in the respect that everyone knows everyone else in the bar (or it seems like that). I have gotten all my job offers just from knowing people, never had to worry about OCI or mass mailings. In fact every offer I have had was from people asking me if I was interested in working for them either from knowing me personally or me being recommended by someone I know in the local bar. Thus I think you have more options the more people you know.

Certainly, I'd love to be plugged into the pipeline in the area, especially considering I'm going to be a stranger to the area.

One thing, how hard is the Colorado bar to pass?

According to ABA survey of 2005, CU has a 87% pass rate.


2. Penn: Legit in that it is wildly overrated and gaming rankings, illegit in that...well...actually Penn sucks, every criticism I've seen is acceptable.

see, my point proven.

I totally considered this consequence, but decided to post anyway for entertainment sake.

University of Colorado School of Law (CU Law)


CU benefits greatly from the small size of the school, which helps them to be more selective and strengthens the quality of the class considerably.  I firmly believe that the 7 spot jump to 36th is part of a 3-5 year prestige/rankings climb related to the building upgrade.  The previous building was terrible, so bad that the ABA threatened to take away accreditation to the school.  The new building is just night-and-day better, and I think this difference will boost selectivity #s and overall rankings up to 25-30 range.  Perspective students may have opted for Utah or another regional school before, but a larger percentage will now consider CU. 

While the CU system is constantly in a state of financial crisis, some programs are mostly exempt from this problem.  The Physics department receives millions in govt grants.  The medical school is in the process of a multi-billion dollar expansion (a combo of free land, heavy donations and fed research dollars) The law school falls somewhere between the undergraduate system and these two examples.  I believe it is under funded, and that tuition will continue to rise to meet the considerable gap between CU and peer institution prices.  However CU has always pursued attainable goals without major spending initiatives, and there is no reason to believe that they will not continue to budget cautiously and successfully.  (If it helps, think of the Oakland As in baseball)

CU has always drawn some faculty from the “experience” track rather than the “academic” track that many Tier1 schools use.  This means that some profs are actually experts who played a major role in the topic they are teaching.  It also means that CU suffers for academic measures.  I recently emailed a CU law prof. on this topic, and he told me that they’ve shifted recently to the HYS law review, etc..method in an effort to improve peer rankings.  I expect new hires to improve in scholarly quality (and potentially decline in actual experience in the field) This should have a positive effect on CU’s prestige/peer rankings in USNWR.

I am totally unimpressed with their lame website and inexplicably outdated informational booklet.  Seriously, they built a new building, complete with a SCOTUS speech, and they can’t afford to include this in a shiny portion of the brochure?  Instead I see an artist rendition of the building and a one page flyer announcing faculty changes and the new location…poor form.  I think this is a good example of the trade off for a cheaper education.  I should also note that one of the assistant deans has assured me that website/promotional stuff is one of the top priorities of the administration.   

Job Opportunities:

CU is mostly constricted to the regional market.  Denver, while a healthy legal city, has no especially litigious concentration of corporations.  Dallas has insurance.  Houston has big oil.  Denver has some banking, some land use, and some telco, but mostly there is no dominant economic force comparable to these other cities.  This means that biglaw opportunities are much smaller at CU than at say, UH or Fordham. 

The upside to this market is that while you’ll make less money (+/- $75,000 salary is typical) you will also have a much lighter billing load than the biglaws in DC or NYC.  A Denver law firm may ask for 1800 hours billable where a Houston firm would ask for 2000 and a NY firm would ask for 2200 and a majority stake in your soul.

My understanding of the breakdown is this:
Top 5% - great shape for top jobs in the City. $100,000 - $125,000
Top 10% - great shape for six figure jobs, solid chance at V100 satellites in Denver
Top 25% - can land a good job at one of the large but not international firms (Brownstein, Ragonetti, etc..)
Top 50% - This is where the $75,000 salary comes in to play – midsize firm, sometimes we’re talking out of Denver market
Below – not easy, need connections or spend a few years in govt (DA, PD, Gov offices)

This distribution is probably similar to other regional schools like Utah and Denver.  The difference is that the graduating class is much smaller, so there are fewer poorly placing graduates each year entering the market. 

As a smaller school, CU’s network is not on par with many peer (and top 25) schools.  USC and Notre Dame are very famous for their outreach programs, CU does not have this kind of benefit.  However, like any market, several large firms like CU grads, several have CU partners.  DU has many more lawyers in the Denver market, which boosts networking potential and helps with fundraising.  CU does not have these advantages, but there are thousands of CU grads (undergrad, graduate,etc..) in Denver, and hundreds of lawyers as well.


The Law school has been relocated from Norlin Quad – which is essentially the heart of CU, to the south part of the campus.  This was a very wise move.  While it’s been noted that the new building is a huge upgrade, it is also a smart relocation.  The south part of campus is somewhat removed from the undergraduates and the keystone lite on the lawn atmosphere.  It is near the Kittredge dorms, which are best at CU, and usually go to some of the best undergraduates (somewhat more tame).  This relocation allows students to feel somewhat removed from the crush of the undergrads, but still a part of Boulder (1 mile from the hill, 2-3 from Pearl St.)  Also, the parking is better. 

There is legitimate criticism and illegitimate criticism.  The following schools stand out in my mind:

1. Chicago: Legit in that it is cold and difficult, illegit in that people seem to be convinced that USNWR matters to the extent that UChi gets shafted bigtime.

2. Penn: Legit in that it is wildly overrated and gaming rankings, illegit in that...well...actually Penn sucks, every criticism I've seen is acceptable.

3. UVA: legit in that C-Ville is pretty lame, but illegit in academic criticism or quality - essentially UVA is really high quality and people forget this to bash softball playing and polo shirts

4. Mich: Legit in that it's cold and in the midwest and near detroit.  Illegit in some placement criticisms - when this difference is probably more through self selection than quality/prestige.

5. Gtown: legit in that it is big and away from main campus, illegit in that people forget great proximity to incredible legal market - especially public sector opportunities. 

Overall, UChi gets the most unfair criticism in my opinion.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Michigan (10k/yr) v. Chicago
« on: April 04, 2007, 03:25:25 PM »

Well, I think they are two very different experiences.  To answer your 50% question - you'll be in very good shape from UM and UChi.  UChi will place somewhat better, but not drastically so (unless we're talking clerkships).  The real difference is in atmosphere:

1.8 x larger class size
University Atmosphere
Interdisciplinary strengths
less competitive - friendly students
Cheaper Cost of Living
marginally better weather, but more space
Reputation is very strong. - higher than USNWR rankings...

Small class
City atmosphere
Law & Economics
Very strong tradition of rigorous standards
Excellent teaching, clerkships
Regardless of USNWR, UChi has an amazing reputation as one of the very best (esp. outside of NY)

If you throw out clerkship/academia considerations, which you seem to have decided against, these schools become very very close re: your choices.  IT basically comes down to comfort level.  Where would you be most comfortable/happy for three years?  You can do biglaw, and can place at any of these markets from the 50%ile.  

I was in a similar position between NYU and UMich, and decided on UMich for a few reasons which are less applicable to you, but a few that may apply: It saved money for small loss in prestige.  The law quad was amazing.  I really liked the cooperative vibe. Also, I realized that I'd be spending several years of my life in a large legal market, and that three years in A2 sounded like a great experience before I set out to DC or LA.  

This decision is between two great schools, each with advantages and disadvantages, but in your situation, neither is a clear-cut superior choice over the other.  When the choice is this close, I recommend going to visit, then going with your gut.  What feels right, etc..?

Congrats on your situation though, it really is a win-win.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Iowa vs Colorado
« on: April 02, 2007, 01:17:23 PM »
Those are all fair considerations, but do you weigh certain thoughts over others?  Weather and geography would be a huge + for CU, higher rep. should be huge + for Iowa.

Also, think about the trend of the rankings.  Iowa has held steady in the top25 for sometime, and may(*may*) have peaked, but will probably say in the same range.  CU on the other hand, jumped up 7 spots this year and gained last year also.  CU will continue to rise for the next three years and then probably level off. (Remember, this is just the 2nd class to be recruited with the new facility, which is NIGHT AND DAY over the old one: Think of a one room shack compared to a modern facility)

I think CU will level off in the high 20s, which is possibly where Iowa will end up as well. So rankings will probably be a wash within 3-5 years (or at least the gap will narrow significantly).  If you're into environmental law, then CU for sure (#9 in USnews2007)  Prestige however, will still be in Iowa's favor, as many do not recognize CU's quality, and CU doesn't place on the east coast.

As for employment, we're basically talking Denver at CU and then a host of secondary markets at Iowa (Des Moines, St Louis, Kansas City, Pitts.).  Personally, I think the Denver market is a hell of a lot better than most midwestern markets, but you may think differently.

I would think seriously about where I wanted to practice after graduating, then I would pick CU, because Denver is better than those markets, and there will be little qualitative difference in my education, it'll be cheaper, and the geography/climate will be much better.

The Buffs will be back in the top 25 under Dan Hawkins, which means they'll still be inferior to Iowa, but at least they won't have to play Michigan and Ohio St. all the time.

As for basketball, CU's program doesn't need rebuilding, it needs disaster relief/state of emergency level attention.  It's a grim reality, save yourself and root for your UG school instead.

Random Thought
Also, easily my favorite Buff alum is Byron White (Supreme Court Justice) who "was the first and unquestionably last person in history to lead the NFL in rushing the same year he placed 1st in his class at Yale Law School."

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Withdrawing from UVA
« on: March 12, 2007, 08:35:16 AM »

I just emailed the admissions office with a nice 2 paragraph email thanking them for everything, but that unfortunately, I had decided to attend school x. 

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