Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Wisconsin to Michigan  (Read 955 times)

dewalters

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Wisconsin to Michigan
« on: July 10, 2010, 07:00:04 PM »
I am in dire need of some advice here.  I just finished year one at Wisconsin and ended up in the top 15%, and I then reapplied to my dream school--Michigan.  To my great surprise, I got in.  So my question is whether it is worth it to transfer, but the specifics are important.  My goals are to first be a clerk at the federal appellate level and then become a law professor.  At Wisconsin, I'm enrolled in a joint PhD program in political science, and my understanding is that having a PhD might have made up for the lower ranking of the law school in getting a lawprof job.  On the other hand, it seems clear that Michigan produces more clerks and more teachers (much more) than Wisconsin.  But Wisconsin was free (so long as I stayed in the PhD program) since I could be a teaching assistant in political science classes.  Michigan will be about 48k in out of state tuition and fees alone for each year, not to mention the living expenses.  I'll therefore have to take out massive loans to cover all of that--somewhere in excess of 100k.  I should add that I may return to Wisconsin to finish the PhD after law school if I decide to go to Michigan.

So, given my goals, does it make sense to take advantage of this opportunity or stick it out at Wisconsin?  My family is telling me to choose Michigan since I've always dreamed of going there and because of its reputation, but I'm afraid that that is easy to say when you aren't the one about to incur that kind of debt.  Thanks in advance for your help!

the white rabbit

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 362
    • View Profile
Re: Wisconsin to Michigan
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2010, 09:53:54 AM »
I am in dire need of some advice here.  I just finished year one at Wisconsin and ended up in the top 15%, and I then reapplied to my dream school--Michigan.  To my great surprise, I got in.  So my question is whether it is worth it to transfer, but the specifics are important.  My goals are to first be a clerk at the federal appellate level and then become a law professor.  At Wisconsin, I'm enrolled in a joint PhD program in political science, and my understanding is that having a PhD might have made up for the lower ranking of the law school in getting a lawprof job.  On the other hand, it seems clear that Michigan produces more clerks and more teachers (much more) than Wisconsin.  But Wisconsin was free (so long as I stayed in the PhD program) since I could be a teaching assistant in political science classes.  Michigan will be about 48k in out of state tuition and fees alone for each year, not to mention the living expenses.  I'll therefore have to take out massive loans to cover all of that--somewhere in excess of 100k.  I should add that I may return to Wisconsin to finish the PhD after law school if I decide to go to Michigan.

So, given my goals, does it make sense to take advantage of this opportunity or stick it out at Wisconsin?  My family is telling me to choose Michigan since I've always dreamed of going there and because of its reputation, but I'm afraid that that is easy to say when you aren't the one about to incur that kind of debt.  Thanks in advance for your help!

With that kind of debt to payoff ratio, I would probably stick with Wisconsin.  I mean yes your chances at appellate clerking and law prof gig are higher at Michigan, but they're not so great that I think they're worth an extra $100k in debt (calculus changes if your family happens to be loaded).

Maybe something to explore is talking to folks at Wisconsin, explaining to them your goals and your choice here, and seeing if they'll be willing to provide you with any additional assistance in terms of attaining those goals?  I mean it's a longshot but doesn't hurt to ask.

Good luck with your decision and let us know what you end up doing.  :)
Mood: Tired but cheerful.  :)

Morten Lund

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
Re: Wisconsin to Michigan
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2010, 02:28:56 PM »
I would go the other way, but certainly acknowledging the money concern.  The PhD is far less valuable than a UM degree for private sector jobs - for teaching spots I don't know how much the PhD counts, but the doctorate is additive.  You can always get a doctorate later if needed, but you only go to law school once, and for a teaching job you want the best degree pedigree you can get.  Can you finish up your UW PhD while at Michigan law school?  Does UM have a loan forgiveness/assistance program?

UM will significantly improve your teaching opportunities over UW, in my opinion - but I am not in teaching.  Perhaps Thane will weigh in.

dewalters

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Wisconsin to Michigan
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2010, 05:07:17 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  I can finish the PhD after Michigan, and, in fact, I can take a few Michigan political science classes to count towards both the JD and the PhD because of the Big Ten Consortium deal.  I believe Michigan does have a loan forgiveness plan (though I need to ask them about this since they don't give many specifics in their brochures), and, of course, so does the federal government when it comes to public service jobs.  That raises another question:  does anybody know if the federal government's loan forgiveness plan under the College Cost Reduction Act includes clerkships and/or teaching jobs at public universities? 

Baby Lawyer:  What do you mean by additional assistance?  I'm not sure I follow.

Also, would it change the calculus greatly if I had a guaranteed spot on law review at Wisconsin but had to take my chances with the transfer write on process at Michigan?

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Wisconsin to Michigan
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2010, 04:57:40 PM »
I am going to chime in, but I am a law student who probably knows less than anyone else who commented so take it with a grain of salt.  I would think that the odds of being a full time-law professor no matter what school you went to would be extremely difficult.  The odds are not in your favor even if you go to Harvard I can't imagine there is even 1,000 full-time law professor positions in America almost all of which, are filled. It is a pretty awesome gig that people don't leave often.  It is an awesome goal to have and Michigan will give you probably a 5% chance of it ever happening, while Wisconsin might give you a 3% chance, but the odds of being a full-time professor at any ABA school in America are probably small.  So to change your entire life around for it might not be worth it.

I would say it would be like transferring from Butler Basketball to UNC to get to the NBA. Sure UNC will give you a better shot at, but still the odds are not good that you will ever be in the NBA.

I am also not sure if this is still true, but I thought that if you graduated from either of the Wisconsin schools you passed the bar there automatically.  That is a huge pro I would think, because you will have that in your belt no matter what and you could study for another states bar and be licensed in 2 states and that would open up more doors professionally. I mean if you are licensed in two states your options basically double.

Again, these are just random thoughts from a fellow law student and I am sure there is better advice out there.

the white rabbit

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 362
    • View Profile
Re: Wisconsin to Michigan
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010, 05:42:44 AM »
Baby Lawyer:  What do you mean by additional assistance?  I'm not sure I follow.

Eh, I was mostly rambling.  I didn't have anything specific in mind, but I thought maybe if you talked to the school they could give you reasons why it would be easier to reach your goal by staying where you are.
Mood: Tired but cheerful.  :)