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Messages - burghblast

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Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: My Trip to Pittsburgh
« on: April 25, 2006, 05:36:55 PM »
Ha ha ha.  That's okay.  I can travel for law school, but my home will always have FIVE superbowl rings haha.

And let's not forget that Pittsburgh was voted the MOST LIVABLE CITY in the country!*

* In 1985

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: My Trip to Pittsburgh
« on: April 22, 2006, 09:55:09 PM »
I'll be working in Pittsburgh for 10 weeks this summer, and I only have like 1 or 2 friends left there anymore.

Can I hang out with all you Pitt people this summer??


Given a choice of Kent Law and Uof Iowa for Chicago jobs (I would like to go into Biglaw)... which one would you choose?  I've posted this question before and get mixed reviews.  I'm not sure if these people have attempted to get jobs in Chicago and actually know the market but perhaps you have some experiance or know those who have had some experiance finding work in Chicago...

I am purely interested in my ability to find a good paying (80K+) after graduation.

I would have said Kent, but the other poster replied with the exact opposite response.  I guess Iowa is a very good regional school, and it's in the midwest.  So it wouldn't surprise me if a lot (even most) of their grads ended up in Chicago.  I'd recommend looking at USNWR's detailed stats for Iowa and finding out where most of their grads go.  If 75% of them take the IL bar exam, then it's a good bet you won't have any trouble getting into Chicago Biglaw with an Iowa degree.

As far as Biglaw firms here in Chi-town not hiring from Kent, I can't speak one way or the other on that.  My assumption was that other than NU and UoC, all other Chicago schools probably competed pretty equally for jobs here.  But I'm not familiar with their rankings - is Kent a T4 school, and are DePaul, Loyola, and John Marshall T2 schools?  Maybe that makes a difference, I don't know.  At the very least, I'll say that if you want a Biglaw job coming out of any of those lower ranked schools, you better be in the top 10 or 15% of your class to make the interview cutoff.  And if, for whatever reason, Biglaw firms don't interview at your school at all, then you might be totally SOL.

Burgh, this anecdote you gave about people not finding work coming out of Kent or Loyola: do you think it applies to people who want to do IP as well? I've always felt that people going into IP law are a little bit less affected by the whole rankings thing.

I know you were EE so I'm wondering if you know about this. Are you looking to do IP as well?


I can only speak to my intuition about this.  I don't really have any hard empirical evidence to support a conclusion since I don't know anyone doing IP at Kent or Loyola.

I assume that no matter where you go to school, it will be easier to find a job if you have an engineering degree and are interested in doing IP.  I had over half a dozen interviews for firm jobs this summer, which is a lot for a 1L.  But more than half of those were places that only appeared interested in my EE degree for patent/IP law, despite the fact I'm not interested in patent/IP and made no mention of it in my cover letters.  And the stereotype sticks to me like stank on a fat chick - as soon as anyone hears I have an engineering degree, they assuume the reason I came to law school was to do patent/IP stuff, and when they find out I'm not interested in that field they act all disappointed like I'm missing out on some huge, incredible opportunity. 

I was talking to the woman at NU who coordinates our clerkship program and when I mentioned my background she exclaimed, "Oh, yes a clerkship on the federal circuit doing patent/IP stuff will be perfect for you!  The IP firms will love that!"  To which I replied, "Um... I have no interest in doing IP law."  To which she replied, with a stunned, sad look on her face, "Oh, that's ashame... you could have really written your own ticket!"  To which I replied again, "Gee, thanks a lot... I hope to be able to write my own ticket in whatever field of law I choose, that's why I'm paying $38,000 for an NU degree."

So yeah, I think your odds will be improved with an EE degree in IP law.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: this sucks..Yale vs. NYU full ride
« on: April 18, 2006, 03:47:05 PM »
I hate my life. Please leave some input on this decision. Thanks


Wait, which part of this sucks?  The fact that you were lucky enough to get into THE best law school in the country, or that you were also lucky enough to receive a full scholarship from one of the top 6 schools in the country, absolving yourself of the six-figures of debt most of your classmates will graduate with?

Oh wait, I see... it's the fact that you didn't also get a full ride from Yale, a school that offers no merit-based aid to anyone.

Agreed, your situation is pretty much hopeless.  At least you can take solace in the fact that you're not alone in your feelings, because pretty much everyone who reads this will hate you too.  Hopefully this validation will help dull the pain of your sucky life.


Burgh, thanks for the info . . . you did, however, forget Depaul.  Any tips for getting in off the waitlist?  I'm planning to visit NU next week, then hopefully write a letter of continued interest about how special my visit was. 

Ahh DePaul, I knew I was leaving someone out.  And I was just in their neighborhood two nights ago for wings and beer.

As far as the WL goes, I don't know of anything specifically helpful for NU.  I got into Michigan off the WL last year after staying in continued contact with the dean herself and the admissions office.  I sent a couple e-mails reiterating that Michigan was one of my top choices and that I was really hopeful about getting in.  I think I even let them know I was in at NU and needed to make up my mind soon - from what I understand dropping the names of other schools that "compete" with the school you're trying to get into can be enticing. 

I see you're in at UoC and I know NU loves to steal students away from them, so if you have a particular, compelling interest you'd rather be at NU than UoC, emphasize that.

[EDIT] Whoops, my bad - I just realized you didn't get into UoC.  So nevermind that last piece of advice :)

Conversely, I was WL'd at WUSL, where I expected to be a near "auto-admit" based on LSN's numbers and my success at several higher ranked and comparable schools.  However, WUSL was the one school I showed absolutely zero interest in after mailing the application.  I never called or e-mailed to check on my status.  I didn't stay on the WUSL waitlist, so I'll never know if I might have eventually been admitted there.  But the lesson seems to be that these schools really keep track of the little, personal signals you send - or lack thereof. 


So the big clerkships are totally out of the question for those out of the top 20.
But is local big law out of the question for those from average schools?

Out of the question? Hell no.  Harder to get?  Hell yes.  I'll explain why, instead of working on my property outline like I should be doing right now:

Exampe: Chicago.  The city has almost half a dozen law schools: Loyola, Kent, John Marshall, UoC, and NU (Am I forgetting any?  If so, my bad).  Students at any of these schools have "a shot" at working for most of the firms in Chicago.  But at the extreme end, the absolute biggest and most competitive firms might only interview at NU and UoC.  As far as I know every major firm in the city interviews at both.  But firms like Skadden and Kirkland Ellis might not even interview at the other Chicago-area schools.  This is pure speculation on my part, and I would assume that the majority of firms, even BigLaw firms, probably do.  But you might be "locked out" of the top 1 or 2 firms unless you go to NU or UoC.

Secondly, and more importantly, NU and (I presume) UoC don't publish class rank, so the interview process is done by lottery.  You select the firms you want to interview with and bid on them using a points system.  Interviews are then assigned somewhat randomly, but with some regard for student preference.  If all of a firm's interview slots don't fill up, then any student can just sign up for an interview with them.  At lower ranked schools, BigLaw firms will come in and say, "We want to interview the top 10% of your class."  So the same 15 or 20 people who got the highest grades will be the only ones competing for the BigLaw jobs.  Those in the middle, or God forbid, bottom of the class won't have a shot. 

Finally, I think it is next to impossible to get a BigLaw job outside of the city or region where you went to school unless you go to one of the "national" schools (This is where the term "T14" comes from - these schools offer their graduates employment opportunities throughout the entire country).  I read Law School Confidential, and they advise that if you only get accepted to law schools outside the city or state where you want to practice, and you don't get into a top 10-15 school, withdraw all your applications and reapply next year.  The odds of getting a job in an entirely different area coming out of a lower ranked school - apparently even a T1 school - are not in your favor. 

An anecdote:  I have friends at Loyola and Kent.  One night last week a bunch of us went out to dinner and the topic turned to summer plans.  The Kent and Loyola people debated the importance of doing something "law related" your first year summer, as opposed to taking the entire summer off or flipping burgers.  They seemed to believe it was entirely acceptable and normal to do so.  I was a little shocked, because I only know one person at NU who isn't doing something law related (either a judical externship, faculty research, public interest, government work, or a firm job) this summer.  I knew most people didn't get paying firm jobs, but I didn't realize it was even an option to do something entirely unrelated to law your first summer, and apparently a lot of people at the lower ranked schools can't find anything law related at all, paid or unpaid. On top of that, one of the Loyola guys was a 3L on Law Review and the Moot Court team with outstanding grades.  He doesn't have a job lined up yet.  He has no idea what he's going to be doing in a couple months.  Almost everyone at NU secures a full time job very early in their 3L year - you typically end up at the firm you summered with as a 2L.  As a result, almost no 3L's even participate in the on-campus-interview program here, because they already have jobs.  And here's this brilliant Loyola kid - on law review - graduating in less than a month, with no job. 

That's it, I'm done - I really have to accomplish some outlining tonight. 

No one has dealt with my original question very substantively. Of course you will get better jobs more easily coming out of a top-tier law school as opposed to a lower tier one. This is also very true of college.

The study I linked to in my original post, however, showed that over time, this initial advantage doesn't mean anything. In the end, the evidence is against the idea that where you went to college matters very much for your prospects in life. The study ingeniously corrects for selection bias by comparing students who got into the same schools but went to different ones.

So the question is: does the same logic apply to law school? It seems fairly clear that initial prospects are better at some schools than others, but how true does this hold over time?

If someone were to do the same study with law schools, and look at people who got into top schools but didn't go, compared with those who did go to the top schools, what would it reveal and why?

If it matters which school you went to even long after you graduate, there can only be three explanations, as I see it. One, it could be that the law is just a more prestige-oriented profession than any other and therefore people will always judge you first by where you went to school, even if you have the same career accomplishments as someone else.

Two, it could be that the quality of the education you get and the connections you make in the three years of law school is so important that it fundamentally changes your capacity to succeed in the legal profession.

Three, it could be that your initial post-law school job is vitally important to your future career prospects. In other words, the legal career is like a race in which it a small head start at the beginning makes a huge difference.

None of these reasons sounds super compelling for me, which is why I question how much it matters which school you go to in the first place.

I'm at NU and I know being here has opened up doors that would have been closed if I'd gone to a lower ranked school.  I got a BigLaw firm job this summer as a first year student - in a market in an entirely different state.  While I'm in the minority among my classmates, those of us who have paying summer jobs as first years students are by no means rare. The numbers I've heard have around 20% of our class getting paying firm jobs as 1L's.  This is a pretty significant windfall, since you can earn $25,000-$35,000 over the course of the summer - that's almost like a full scholarhip for next year's tuition.  Also, from what I've been told, having a firm job on your resume going into fall interviewing next year is very advantageous.  This is but one example of something "tangible" that a top school buys you.

Another example: Judicial clerkships.  NU is a very respectable school, and I'm sure I'll have a shot at clerkship positions in 2 years that would be totally out of my reach if I'd gone to a less presitigious school.  A federal appellate judge who spoke to our class a couple months ago flat out told us that he only hires his clerks from "the top 10 or 15 schools, according to USNWR."  Beyond the perceived "prestige," I think you're much more likely to come in contact with faculty who did SCOTUS and/or appellate clerkships themselves at higher ranked schools.  This is a significant advantage since letters of reccommendation play a huge part in getting a clerkship, and if you're tight with a professor who clerked for Justice Roberts 20 years ago, then that's just money in the bank.

Now the other perspective from my point of view: I realize that I'm at a significant disadvantage here relative to YHS and, to a lesser degree, CCN students when it comes to clerkships.  One of the few NU professors who clerked on the Supreme Court gave a talk today about the process, and the jist of it was that the absolute minimum requirements for an NU grad looking to do a SCOTUS clerkship are:

* Top 10 percent of the class
* Law review, preferrably an editorial position
* A 50-100 page writing sample that reflects serious academic research done for a journal or a professor
* 3-5 very enthusiastic letters of recommendation from professors
* A lot of luck, because even with all these requisites getting a SCOTUS clerkship is like being struck by lightning

They didn't give us exact numbers, but I believe only a handful of NU students get SCOTUS clerkships (On average less than 1 per year, I assume).  I don't want to say that YHS students can take SCOTUS clerkships for granted, but I bet the "lightning" factor is reduced or eliminated for them.  Maybe the editor in chief of the YHS Law Reviews can take a SCOTUS clerkship somewhat for granted, while the editor in chief of the NU Law Review has a shot but still needs a lot of luck.   

Similar analysis holds true for appellate and district court clerkships, which are much easier to obtain for YHS students than NU students, although a couple dozen NU students do go on to federal clerkships every year. 

So I guess my answer to your question is:  If you want to work for BigLaw, then going to a "top" school matters.  If you want to work for any size firm in a different region than the region where your school is located, then going to a top school matters.   You can take getting a BigLaw job almost anywhere in the country for granted at any of the top 10 or 15 schools, but might have to work your ass off and be a little lucky to get it elsewhere, especially in regards to the geography aspect if you're applying out of state.

If you want to do a judicial clerkship and/or work in academia, then going to a top school matters, and going to a REALLY top school matters even more.  But if your goal is only to work in BigLaw - or even in another field entirely like public interest or government work - then the difference between going to a T6 and a T14 school is probably minimal as far as career prospects go. 

If your goal is to work outside of BigLaw in the same city where you go to school, then going to a top school might not be that beneficial for your career.  However, I will say that there are certain other intangible benefits to choosing the most "challenging" school you can.  I feel like I push myself harder than I ever have in my life at NU, and I feel like everyone around me has so much to offer that I'm constantly becoming a better person just by being in this environment, almost through osmosis.  I'm not sure that I would have had that same feeling if I'd gone to some of the "lesser" schools that offered me scholarships, and I definitely wouldn't have the same career opportunities. 

I didn't mean that Northwestern had bad placement.  What I consider to be the distinguishing factor in terms of Michigan and plaement is that they have alums all over the place.  The law school graduates go in relatively equal numbers to LA, DC, NY, Chicago, and Michigan (state of).  I think b/c people at NU love Chicago (and i love it too don't get me wrong) more of them stay there. 

If you want to get a job at a biglaw firm anywhere in the country, I think you will have an equally easy time doing so whether you go to NU or Michigan.  I'll admit Michigan may have the advantage of numbers, since I believe their class size is significantly larger than NU's.  So I won't dispute the bloated alumni base relative to NU's :)  I will say that size is no proxy for quality.  Yale only admits 120 kids every year, but no one claims you're better off going to Georgetown because they have a more established alumni base.  Also, NU's smaller class size creates a better student/faculty ratio which has its own advantages.

We of course, do have better football.  At least in recent years  ;D

You got me here.  I went to the Penn State/Northwestern game in Evanston last fall and there were way more Penn State fans (myself included) than NU fans.  It was pretty pathetic. 

And as a NU 1L, I'll offer my 2 cents:

I was faced with this exact decision this time last year, and I chose NU strictly because of location.  At the time, I saw Michigan as slightly more prestigious, slightly better for clerkships, and slightly cheaper (I got no aid from either school, but I'm talking strictly about differences in tuition and COL).  I saw NU's location as significantly better, since I did not want to spend 3 years in a college town.  Now, more than halfway through my first year of law school, I see pretty much the same differences, except the COL difference is much more significant than I expected.  I never thought I'd pay $4 for a gallon of milk and $2 for a dozen eggs, but I do in Chicago.  Also, I'm glad that there are more people my age (late 20's) here than I suspect there would be at Michigan or any other school.  I'm not sure how much different my law school experience would be as "the creepy old dude," which, at 28, I probably would have been at most other schools. 

As far as placement goes, I question the assertion that Michigan is any better than NU as far as firm jobs go.  People in my class got paid firm jobs this summer (as first year students) in Kentucky, Arizona, Alaksa, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, and D.C.  Those are only the ones I know of, and I'm sure others went elsewhere.  This seems pretty spectacular to me, since getting a paid firm job as a first year student isn't even a remote possibility at most schools, let alone in other states.  I don't doubt that Michigan 1L's have similar success, but I do doubt that it's any "better."

I do know that Michigan touts a better clerkship record than NU, but their clerkship placement isn't comparable to YHS or even CCN.  At best, Michigan's clerkship record is marginally better than NU's, and might be one relevant factor to consider for applicants who are planning on doing a clerkship.  I'll admit that if it wasn't for my strong desire to be in Chicago at this time last year, I probably would have chosen Michigan over NU for this reason and the lower cost.

But my first year of law school has been one of (if not the) best years of my life.  The people here are great, the professors are great, and out of 250 students in my class, I know of only 2 who are unhappy with NU, and their reasons may have more to do with law school itself than NU.  I didn't think I would actually love sitting in class everyday, but I do.  I didn't think I'd find myself enjoying the work, but I do.  I didn't think the people here would be so universally great, but they are.  I've had only one or two gripes with things at NU, which I've talked about in other threads.  But I don't imagine that any law school is perfect, and if I had it to do all over again, I'd still choose NU over Michigan (Even after we "plummeted" in the rankings :))

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