« on: March 14, 2009, 10:14:52 PM »
Only you can make this decision, but if you are willing to work for a firm or a reasonably well-paying government position, I would go to UCLA.
Yes--the economy sucks, so it's not clear that you will easily find a job. On the other hand, you won't be in the market for a permanent job until 2012, right? Even the largest economic pessimists expect a great deal of progress by that time.
I'm not sure, as a 0L, that you can truly appreciate the importance of a strong alumni network. As resumes pour in for a limited number of jobs, your chances of an interview go up exponentially if the person vetting resumes attended your school. And, once you have the interview, it will go much smoother if you're speaking to an alumnus--they'll want to chat about the professors you had, whether you know certain people, etc. Basically, going to a well-known school in your target area give you entry into the legal profession. I have two friends at Drexel Law, which also offered a free ride to their first classes. One will not be a practicing attorney, so it was a fine decision for her. The other still cannot get a job, despite being on Law Review and having good grades.
Now, I think UCLA has a slightly better rep nationwide, but my understanding is that in Cali USC is considered more or less equal. If that's true, try to play off your acceptance to UCLA to get more money out of USC. Certainly graduating with as little debt as possible is desirable, but if you actually want to be a lawyer, by going to Irvine you're putting yourself in an incredibly risky position.