Law School Discussion

Schools in Boston

Schools in Boston
« on: October 13, 2009, 09:24:10 AM »
I noticed a thread below in regards to BU vs BC, and it was rather helpful.  In a way I am expanding a bit further on that point.  My family is from Boston, and I would find it a great deal easier to rely on family for support by attending law school in Boston.  However, I find BU and BC as reach schools.  I was looking into Northeastern as a safety school; as it is is still a "tier 1" school and is ranked at least in the top 100 as 94.  They offer a decent internship program through their Co-Op program.

However, I want to pursue a career within a private law firm rather than practicing public law. Northeastern happens to be ranked as one of the best public law schools in the country according to The National Jurist and preLaw Magazine.

My question is: How would attending Northeastern be viewed in the private law firm arena with such apparent emphasis on public law, and would it be in my best interest to look outside of Boston if BU and BC became unattainable over attending Northeastern?

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2009, 10:41:18 AM »
I've basically got the exact same questions and issues.  I would love BU and BC.  Visited both and would be thrilled to be accepted by either.  BU is just a bit better in my eyes with the more urban location.  I also visited Northeastern and I like the area it's in as well, but I feel it would be a big gamble to attend Northeastern.  Public interest law is not the only area that I'm looking at in terms of employment.  I would like to have biglaw as an option.  With the current market, Northeastern would be a major hindrance to that as far as I'm concerned.  It's the fourth best law school in Boston, so what would compel hiring partners to even reach into its graduate pool when searching for new associates/summer associates?   Add to that, it doesn't rank or have grades/GPAs and it does not have a strong national reputation, it's got its cards stacked up against it. 

The student bloggers at Northeastern help provide some context as to the usefulness of the co-op program.  One past blogger was hired by Bingham McCutchen after doing a co-op there and that did surprised and slightly reassured me that Northeastern students had a shot in Boston biglaw.  She answered my questions in an honest way, though, and said that it's very tough for her class finding jobs and that she was very lucky.  Kind of echoing the national trends. 

And, although Northeastern is "tier 1" as you put it by virtue of it being in the top 100 (it dropped from 88 to 94 this past year...what's up?), I think the "official" tier 1 cut off is 50, so it's really Tier 2. 

All in all, I think the co-op program offers a distinct advantage in that you come out with half of your law school time as full-time legal work experience.  It can be a major boost.  If you want to look outside of Boston if BU and BC are unattainable, I can suggest what I'm doing and that is looking at Drexel.  It offers the same drawbacks as Northeastern, though.  Low--or in Drexel's case, no--U.S. News ranking and it's overshadowed by better law schools in the same city.  UPenn and Temple.  Drexel also has a co-op program and when I read about it, I started to become suspicious in the back of my mind of the potential that co-op programs are a gimmicky tactic that lower-ranked schools use to try to get people.  I wonder if anyone else here has thoughts on that. 

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2009, 12:09:19 PM »
Even if Northeastern had traditional grades and the economy was good, you'd still need to be near the top of the class to get a biglaw job. Biglaw rarely recruits below the top 10% at the schools ranked in the 50-100 range. Biglaw from these schools doesn't become an "option" until you make the grades, plain and simple.

If you're at a school below the top 25 or so, you're going to need high grades and probably law review as well. Right now, even students at the top 10-15 schools are having trouble getting biglaw jobs. I doubt the situation is going to improve in the next couple of years.

What I'm trying to say is, if you're looking at non-top schools and comparing them with Northeastern I doubt attending one of those other schools is going to confer any advantage. Unless you can get in-state residency and in-state tuition to save money. Other than that, attending Northeastern and living at home to save $$$ on living expenses seems like a pretty good idea.

Personally, I don't think the co-op program is a gimmick, but I don't attend Northeastern so I don't know if it's any good. I wish more schools (including my t14) would make more of an effort for students to gain a substantial amount of school credit through similar programs.

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 01:26:54 PM »
So does that mean that among the top 30 schools, the higher the rank, the more likely you can find a biglaw job given the same class rank?

Are there notable exceptions in this range?

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2009, 03:32:48 PM »
Well not exactly. There are groupings within even the top schools. And students from schools like Yale and Stanford tend to funnel into prestigious judicial clerkships.

For example, you're going to need roughly the same percentile rank to get a biglaw job from Michigan and Virginia even though one might be ranked higher than the other in any given year.

Plus firms like diversity in their classes, Biglaw firm X in NYC might rather hire, say 5 students each from UM, UVA, and Penn, even though UM has a larger class and there are more students sitting at X percentile rank that Biglaw firm X requires than at the other two schools. And students from say, Berkeley might prefer to take a job at a firm that pays biglaw money, but only has west coast offices, which means those students don't fit the definition of what many people think is biglaw.

I think once you get past UCLA/USC/Vandy/Texas, the rankings become pretty mushy. For example, does WashU really place better than GW? I doubt it, but in recent years WashU has been higher ranked. Schools like W&L, W&M, Minnesota, etc. have never had great biglaw placement. Yet those are so-called top 30 schools. Ranking doesn't equate with placement.

Check this out for a very rough idea of how biglaw placement works. Note that when the data the legal job market was in a boom. Or at least the tail end of a boom.

Here is another interesting link. Note that this is for the class of 2005.

Basically, in a good economy, if you want a very good chance at a biglaw job, you're best shot is to attend a top 10 school, or preferably, a top 5 school.

Just keep in mind that right now all bets are off for biglaw no matter where you go unless the economy substantially improves. And outside of biglaw, salaries drop off considerably. Depending on what state or region you are in, $30-50K at a small firm might be considered "good" if you can find a legal job at all. For the next few years, you are going to see a lot of fresh law grads doing quasi-legal or non-legal work for low pay. Many will be lucky to have health insurance and a salaried position. That's even students from top 20 schools.

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2009, 04:01:02 PM »
ahh, thanks, your info and link are very useful.


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Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2009, 05:20:05 PM »
To balance out the previous poster's rather ominous predictions...I think it's important to point out that it's not impossible to stand out in a #15-100 ranked law school if you want to go into big law, but you will want to look at the regional prospects.

According to those charts (specifically, the regional one), Northeastern will still be able to help you get a job, assuming you perform well, but you will still be a long shot for biglaw.

Obviously the economy is in the gutter, but I personally don't expect it to be this bad in 4 years when you're graduating, so I doubt you'll be starving. :)

Re: Schools in Boston
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2009, 08:58:29 AM »
Thanks guys for the quality responses.  This truly helps out with making my decisions.