Law School Discussion

USC or W&L ($)

USC or W&L ($)
« on: June 12, 2005, 08:00:16 PM »
I was all set to go to W&L with an $11,500 a year scholarship (no terms attached) when I was accepted to USC off of the waitlist last week.  One of my big fears with W&L is adjusting to the small town.  I was born and raised in Los Angeles and went to undergrad in NYC.  I've never lived in anything other than a major metropolis. 

I'm interested in criminal law, but open to anything.  I don't mind living in LA, but I prefer NY and was hoping to get back out there at some point.  I know USC probably doesn't place particularly well there, but I could stand staying in LA for a few extra years if I have to. 

Both schools are similarly ranked and both are small with well respected faculty.  I'm leaning towards USC, but it's a little bit hard to turn down that money from a school with lower tuition and lower cost of living (but also much lower quality of life).  What would you all do?


Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2005, 08:32:18 PM »
I don't know much about either school but I am familiar with the Lexington area and there is not much there.  Some people may take offense by your "much lower quality of life" statement but what I took from that is that you are used to LA and NYC and you would be unhappy or at least you think your quality of life would be lower if you were stuck in a small town.  Also, I'm not sure about W&L placement but I would check to see if many grads go to LA or NYC, they probably stay in the northern VA/ DC area.  One of the most important things in choosing a law school is choosing where you think you'd want to practice and if VA is not on that list then I'd pick USC.  I've also heard that it is easier to transfer from one big city to another such as LA to NYC rather than from a smaller city to a bigger city.  Something like: you can always move down or laterally but it's hard to move up, not from law school but from practice. 

I wasn't offered any money when I started law school last year so I can't imagine what you're struggling with but if you would really be unhappy you should go to USC.  Just like some people say that rankings and potential salaries should not affect your school choice, potential debt shouldn't either, particularly based on your posted choice of practice.  With a job in LA or NYC you probably won't have a problem paying off that debt. 

You never know, you might like a small town but if you just can't stand the idea of mountains and sheep, skip VA and stay in CA.

This is my humble opinion so please don't base your decision on my post, just something to think about.  Hopefully someone from USC or W&L will chime in and be more helpful.

Jen

(Disclaimer: I grew up in VA, I like VA and I am thinking of moving back to VA but it didn't sound like mcgrohan would be very happy in Lexington.  If you're from W&L and you disagree, chime in and lure mcgrohan to VA.)

Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2005, 08:51:54 PM »
Just to clarify, I used the phrase "quality of life" because I think it's an actual phrase used in all of those Princeton Review and other college guides.  I actually went to W&L's open house and had a great time.  But, Lexington clearly presents a different lifestyle than what I'm used to.  Who knows?  Maybe it's better suited for studying law. 

But, I didn't mean any offense by the phrase.

Thanks for the input.  I just wanted to gather some thoughts from other potential law students before I make my big decision.


Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2005, 09:12:28 PM »
Congrats on getting off the waitlist. I got into USC as well with some money but I turned it down because I wanted to go work in New York. If I were in your situation, I would definately go to W&L. First, you will have far less debt going to W&L then USC. This will give you more mobility into the type of law you can do instead of worrying about a job that will pay you at least 130K a year to pay off your loans. Secondly, if you want to end up in NY, W&L will present more opportunities because of the fact it is located on the east coast and it is a reputable law school. USC is basically nonexistent on the east coast according to those I spoke to. But you should do your own research. What I did was call different firms that I may be interested in working on both the east and west coast. The firms in NY I was interested in barely had any associates from USC. In fact, the few attorneys I spoke to in charge of hiring attorneys basically told me it would be more advatangeous to go to a school towards the east coast because schools such as USC dont carry the same weight on the east coast as it does on the west. Of course, Im assuming this doesnt apply so much for schools such as Stanford or Berkeley. Also, the attorneys I spoke to doesnt necessarily represent the majority.

In regards to lifestyles, they are two completely environments. A big reason why I picked Cornell was because of the environment. I lived in LA all my life and I opted for a more peaceful (a.k.a boring) lifestyle because I wanted to concentrate for the next 3 years on my studies. Also, I hate LA traffic not to mention the rent is ridiculous. But you should personally see what you are more comfortable with. Even though USC is in the ghetto, it is in LA and the night life is awesome.

ASNetlenov

Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2005, 06:41:32 AM »
For NYC you certainly should go to W&L. Do not think you can escape to DC easily from Lexington. You should also consider seriously the fact that you may not enjoy Lexington at all because I have heard from many recent LS grads that comfort level is very important. Sorry I cannot be more helpful.

GoHuskies05

Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2005, 07:04:01 AM »
I would go with USC, as it's a notch above W&L.  Even in NYC, more firms recruit at USC than W&L.  Do a quick nalp search, and you will find 15 firms conducting OCI at SC and only 9 at W&L.  I think W&L is basically a Southern school, with a little bit of pull in the DC area. 

Neither school is ideal for NY, but I think USC provides better opportunities overall.

Lenny

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Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2005, 07:13:58 AM »
The NALP numbers are misleading because many firms headquartered in various cities have NYC offices.  The NALP numbers only account for firms headquartered in NYC.  Thus, all of the DC, Atlanta, Texas, Ohio, etc. based firms that interview at W&L and not at USC and have NYC offices do not show up in the NALP numbers.  But, these firms are still interviewing for the NYC office usually.  This is not to say that W&L is better or worse than USC or that either school is a better fit for OP, but I just wanted to caution you all to not take the NALP numbers at face value.

GoHuskies05

Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2005, 07:20:33 AM »
The NALP numbers are misleading because many firms headquartered in various cities have NYC offices.  The NALP numbers only account for firms headquartered in NYC.  Thus, all of the DC, Atlanta, Texas, Ohio, etc. based firms that interview at W&L and not at USC and have NYC offices do not show up in the NALP numbers.  But, these firms are still interviewing for the NYC office usually.  This is not to say that W&L is better or worse than USC or that either school is a better fit for OP, but I just wanted to caution you all to not take the NALP numbers at face value.

I'm gonna disagree with you.  Put in a search for any school that has a high number of OCI's - Harvard for example.  You will see that each specific office is actually listed.  Thus, if a firm has an NYC office it will show up as that.  Looking at Harvard, you will see Dechert listed like 10 times, with each office (Charlotte, NYC, DC, Palo Alto, etc.) all listed. 

Now it's possible that W&L takes part in a NYC based career fair, but it's my understanding it's typically harder to get a job thru this avenue. 

I'm not suggesting USC has some kind of great reputation on the East Coast, but it's not a bad one either. 

Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2005, 07:29:48 AM »
Good decision to have to make! 

I'm a W&L law graduate, but when I was deciding where to go, USC was also in my mix.  I grew up in southern California and knew that I was not going to return there once I graduated law school, so it wasn't a very difficult decision for me. 

I was also in the same boat as you in that W&L gave me a lot of money to attend and USC gave me something like 1K.  Gee, thanks.

When you say you want to practice criminal law, do you mean defense or prosecution?  I am now in the US Attorney's office and have spent the past seven years in government work. I can tell you that my lack of huge law school debt is what allowed me to do what I wanted to do. If I'd had owed 100K from USC, I would not have been able to afford criminal prosecution.

Many people change their minds on what kind of law they want to practice once they get to LS.  But, if you KNOW you want to do criminal, then I would probably go with the cheaper route.

Just my two cents.  Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions.

Josh

Lenny

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Re: USC or W&L ($)
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2005, 07:32:51 AM »
Then we agree to disagree.  I speak from experience, as I am a 3L that has gone through the on-campus law firm job search process twice and currently have friends working in NYC, DC, Atl, LA, Chicago, etc. at firms that were not actually interviewing for that office according to career services and NALP.  Bottom line:  go where you will be comfortable and do not take numbers at face value.