bump for me visiting next week!
So how was this visit? Incredible?!
Yes, and no. Yes, because Portland is amazing, easily my favorite city in the U.S. that I have visited thus far. No, because after talking to students and alumni throughout the area, I'm pretty discouraged by their employment experiences and the reality of their lives after L&C. Due to that, I'm actually kinda leaning towards Wisconsin at this point...I have to let them know by Monday, so we'll see how this weekend of deep thinking treats me!
Really? What kinds of things did they have to say? That is worrisome indeed...
What did you end up deciding?
Well, I ended up contacting about 20+ attorneys in Portland who are graduates of L&C and I asked them about their experiences with the school and job market afterwards and I specifically asked them to be as blunt as possible and not to sugarcoat anything. The general responses were:
1.) If you want a Biglaw job in Portland or Seattle, you should be around the top 5-10%, with law review, etc.
2.) If you want mid-law or gov't work in Portland, there really isn't a big market for either of those, so again, be in the top 5-15%
3.) If you are in the lower 65% of the class or have no law review, etc, be prepared to accept a job that you will probably not have any interest in doing, ie, personal injury, insurance defense, and things of those nature.
4.) If you are planning on doing environmental work; in DC or East Coast - be in the top 5%; in Portland - not really a market. They said the people who had designs on doing environmental work usually misunderstood the job prospects in that, a majority of environmental jobs are in rural areas, ie, Eastern OR, Western Idaho, etc. They said that, frankly, there aren't a lot of environmental legal jobs in Portland or other big cities, and that those jobs usually go to the top 5% with credentials, or else to T14 students.
5.) The Career Services office is essentially useless, so don't look to them for a ton of help.
All that being said, most of them "overall" liked the school. They just told me to be very, very careful with employment expectations and outlooks after graduation. They said that many of them and their classmates have taken less-than-pleasing jobs in fields that they aren't that interested in, simply because the Portland market isn't that huge and many people want to be there. So overall, they said you can find a job, maybe just not the type, salary, location, that you want.
But also, Portland, as a city, rocks
As for me, I decided that it wasn't worth the risk. I will be going to Wisconsin. I talked to many alumni from Wisconsin as well, including about a dozen in Portland and Seattle (who said lots of PNW firms recruit Wisconsin grads), and they were generally much more satisfied with their career opportunities out of Wisconsin. They were able to a.) take advantage of diploma privilage and stay in Wisconsin, b.) if in the top 5-10%, head out to the East Coast, c.) if in the top 50%, head to Chicago or West Coast. So overall, for me, it makes more sense to go this route. And who knows, maybe I'll end up out in the PNW after all is said and done!