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Messages - moonpie

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I have a friend that did two years at LSE and then finished off her third year at USC in california - their program gives you an LLB from LSE and a JD from USC.

Acceptances, Denials, and Waitlists / Re: UVa vs UCLA
« on: May 04, 2008, 08:57:10 AM »
Go UVA.   I go to UCLA, and I really like it, but I place highly in the class. It's true not every student gets their job through OCI, but almost any job worth having in gov't or private practice is achieved through OCI. Law school isn't worth your time and effort if you won't be guaranteed a good career as a lawyer.  It's definately doable from UCLA, but your path will be a lot easier at UVA - go UVA.  You always want the statistics in your favor.  People have this tendency to say "well, I'll be OK" when anything could happen on law school exams.  Incoming credentials can help predict class rank, but there's plenty of variance, and the last thing you want to be is the exception who had a good GPA and LSAT coming in but bombed because it turns out you're not good at law school exams.

Acceptances, Denials, and Waitlists / Re: UCLA v. Georgetown
« on: May 04, 2008, 08:53:21 AM »
My favorite legal statistician, Bill Henderson, did a study on placement.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Rejecting the Coasts
« on: May 01, 2008, 05:11:38 PM »
Your best options are the top 14, especially if you have southern roots.

Uh, if you want to do a firm and then public int'l law (i.e. working for the gubmint) then you should go to georgetown, hands down. Not even a question.  Georgetown may be a Satanic Mill spewing lawyers over the foetid swamp DC is built upon, but they're the best school in the capitol, a clearly better school than Vanderbilt, and has so much more to offer you in terms of name recognition and networking if you want to go to a firm or the government.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Why choose USC over UCLA?
« on: April 30, 2008, 12:13:21 AM »
I got into both and chose USC over UCLA. There are actually quite a few people who choose USC over UCLA.

Here are basically the advantages that sold me (in no particular order):

1) Location. While the general area around USC is bad, the campus is generally safe (and having walked around UCLA in the middle of the night and USC in the middle of the night, I felt safer at USC - better patrolled). But much more importantly, the niehgborhood is much less important in law school becuase everyone lives where they want in L.A. and commutes. What is important then is parking - USC guarantees parking for 1st years (and everyone I know had no problem getting it for 2nd and 3rd year too), whereas UCLA doesn't guarantee parking (last I checked at least), and can sometimes be difficult to get. And living in Westwood is insanely expensive so that's not a good option either - you can live in much nicer areas of L.A. for cheaper (you pay a premium for being walking distance to UCLA).

I go to UCLA. I certainly think USC is a good school (I know lots of undergrads and law students there), and a fine choice.  USC is definitely more dangerous than UCLA - muggings around the fortified USC compound are common, as are property crimes in the immediate area around campus.  Usually, the people that get personally attacked by roving gangs are just stupid though - you only get in trouble if you walk alone at night, don't use the campus escort services, etc. So usually it's men being attacked because they just walk around on their own.

Parking is somewhat short at UCLA - they ration it.  So if you live within walking distance of campus, you don't get a parking pass. But everyone else I know - even people living on off-campus grad student housing with a bus route to campus - get parking passes.

As for housing: USC is definitely a commuter school.  People live all over los angeles. UCLA is a bit different - something like 1/3rd or more of the class lives in weyburn, these really nice, new grad apartments by campus. They're like 1000 for a 1bed/1bath with utilities and internet service.  That said, if you wanted to live close to campus, prices are generally more expensive or with worse housing stock than what I paid for living in westwood ($900).  This is because the area around USC is really habitable only in two directions - north and east - (you don't go west of vermont unless you're looking for trouble), and there are so many undergrads jammed into that .  So housing prices are really high.

I got out of westwood after my 1L year and am living by the beach, and am a 15-minute drive or bit longer bus drive from school.  I know people that live on the east side, and i wouldn't recommend it - it's a total hassle to do an east-west commute.  So if you want to live downtown,k-town or echo park your first year, USC is a better bet.

2) Alumni network. The USC alumni network is amazingly strong. While both schools place similarly for first year jobs, alumni connections can be very useful for getting jobs later in your career.
This is hard to quantify, but probably true. We get lots of alumni contact at UCLA, too, but i suspect that it's somewhat stronger.

3) Job placement. While at both schools 50% generally do fine and 50% generally have trouble, it is possible (given gpa/lsat admissions statistics for each school), that there is less competition at USC. Those alumni connections can also be useful for helping someone who is in the bottom 50 to get a job opportunity that otherwise would likely be out of reach. With the schools having such similar reputation, you basically want to go to the school where you're likely to do the best, because that's what it will come down to (also relevant for Law Review membership, etc.). 

While your biglaw approximations are correct, UCLA students don't have trouble finding jobs even if they're further down the class rank ladder. I would also say that UCLA has a stronger public interest community.

4) Class size. USC is considerably smaller than UCLA (USC has 200 per year whereas UCLA is over 300). For a professional school, that was the environment I preferred. I just found that USC was a lot more personal than UCLA and that was really nice.

This is true. I liked that about USC when I toured. I consider myself pretty social and have gotten to know most of the people in my class I want to know.  I feel like I had a wider pool of people to form connections with when there were more people at school.  The USC library also felt a lot smaller (and there was some talk of seat shortages at finals time? Not sure about that, though.)

5) Competitiveness. USC is probably the least competitive school in the U.S., from what I've read about other law schools. I have no doubt that students are less competitive at USC than UCLA. I heard before joining USC that they were less competitive, and from personal experience USC is not competitive at all. Students share notes and outlines with other students in their class, students sometimes combine to put together 1 joint outline for classes, etc. There's a lot of cooperation and students helping each other. Honestly I've actually found the level of cooperation slightly puzzling when you consider that classes are graded on a curve! But definitely a nice atmosphere.

That said, since they are similar and there's a not insignificant risk of not being able to get a big law job from either school (as was pointed out, roughly only 50% go to big law), it might be wise to go to the school which leaves you with less debt, if there is a significant difference. I think UCLA also has better clerkship rates, so if you want to clerk that might be a factor (I didn't so wasn't a factor for me). As far as national placement, I've heard that UCLA has a better rep nationally, but USC has certainly placed well on the east coast (at firms like Cravath, etc.), so you're certainly not limited in that respect by going to USC. And the reputations are pretty much equal in L.A.

Even Hastings says they're not cutthroat.  I've had nothing but positive experiences with my classmates at UCLA, and everyone at USC says the same.  I wouldn't worry about that.

I think it comes down to two things for you:
1) Do you already have friends in Los Angeles? It was easier for me to bond with my 1L friends when we all lived 5-10 minutes from each other around UCLA than if we were spread across the city (traffic often BLOWS on the 10, the 5, or the 405 to try to visit people)

2) Cost: do you get in-state tuition? If so, and you're not receiving any grant money, UCLA is going to be about $10,000 cheaper a year.  That should be decisive when the schools are so hard to distinguish otherwise.

"Small law" is generally a later-in-life career. For a couple of reasons.

1) Coming out of law school, you don't know anything.  If you're going to price your services accordingly, they're going to be cheap, and you will probably screw things up anyway.
2) One way to get around this is to be an associate at a small firm.  But small firm practices - insurance defense, injury, whatever, don't need that many lawyers.  So on one hand, you'll likely be doing the scut work the partner doesn't to do.  On the other, there's no incentive to train you - its' time and energy intensive for a firm without much infrastructure.  It will be cheaper and easier to lateral in people that know what they're doing.
3) The margins of these practices mean you'kll be working a lot, for not a lot of money - especially at the bottom of the pyramid.

Some big firms are doc review hellholes, but they also have high turnover, such that you will be needing to do higher-level activities by the time you're a 3rd or 4th year.  That gives the partners and senior associates an incentive to train you because they'll have to rely on you for more and more as time goes on. 

If you're really adverse to a large firm, I would try to get into a gov't agency.  I would avoid PD/DA: they're chronically overworked for trials and understaffed.  The case load/workflow for a city attorney's office or a state agency is more reasonable and lets you tuck into issues right away.  City attorneys do lots of liability work, if the idea of doing torts the rest of your life excites you.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: UCLA $$$ v. Boalt $
« on: April 27, 2008, 11:51:04 AM »
Thanks for the banter.

In my heart of hearts, I feel it is coming down to  Boalt's grading system and faculty vs. UCLA fin aid and location.

The portability of Boalt's degree may be better, but I feel that if I go to UCLA I will be able to perform very well and attain a high GPA. Whereas if I went to Boalt, I would just take the easy street to passes and a couple  high passes.

If UCLA would just pony up a full ride, I think I could make the decision today for it today. I really don't even know why thats the deal breaker.

Err...undergrad GPA and LSAT correlate, they're not an iron predictor.  You're hedging a lot of risk by going to berkeley.  You have no reason to "feel" that you'll do well at UCLA - even if there are broad trends, there's no way to know you'll be part of that trend.  Plus, if you want fellowships, clerkships or other prestige-weighted jobs after graduation, being at boalt helps a lot. 

I'm trying to put together a list of schools that give you big $$ grants, but require you to maintain a certain GPA.  Can you PM or reply to me if you know about any schools that offer these?

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: NYU vs. UCLA
« on: April 19, 2008, 12:23:27 AM »
Compare LRAPs - UCLA has one now but no word on details.

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