Law School Discussion

OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham

OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« on: December 20, 2010, 04:29:34 PM »
It's still early in my application cycle, and I know financial aid packages could change things, but I'm curious to get your opinions on what I should do.

Education: BA with an individualized major; AAS in Fashion Merchandising

Work Experience: 1 year as a legal secretary at a V50 in NY; 1 year as a secretary (who sometimes did analyst work) for the M&A group of a major bank in NY; 2 years in a research role at the same V50 in NY; 6 months+ (currently employed) as an analyst for a Fortune 500 retailer in the Midwest

Immediate goal post-law school: return to V50's Chicago office as an associate in corporate transactional (or possibly restructuring or IP transactional)
Long-term thoughts: Move into a recruiting or client development role at the firm; go in-house somewhere; lateral to a specialized firm;  lateral to an entertainment firm (I know that's extremely difficult); or partner-track

*My husband's job is here (he's a 1st year resident)
*Even if no aid is offered, in-state tuition is super cheap
*I enjoyed the class I sat in on
*Hang On Sloopy is a really catchy tune
*I don't want to stay in Ohio long-term
*There is only one firm whose Chicago office was represented at OCI this year (and it's not my old firm)

*Strong brand
*Places well in Chicago
*Scholarship $ makes up for OOS tuition
*Less than 2 hours from my hometown
*COL in UC is really low
*My old firm wasn't represented at OCI
*Not sure about living in a college town

*Is the only school to which I've been accepted so far where my old firm participated in OCI this year.
*I have a really strong support system in NYC
*I love NY
*Decent brand despite its ranking
*Expensive... really expensive
*They didn't allow me to sit in on a class when I visited as a perspective student
*It's neither NYU nor CLS

Sorry for the novel; thanks for your thoughts!

Re: OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2010, 06:20:08 PM »
Congrats on the acceptances.  I am curious to know if your firm would hire you no matter where you went to school.  Depending on what the answer is, things could change.

If you believe they would hire you as long as you went to a decent school, the stay at Ohio. 

If you want Big Law in NYC, the choice is Fordham as a no brainer.  It feeds students into NYC Big Law specifically but I do not believe the degree travels well.

If you don't want to be tied down, Illi

Re: OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 04:42:28 AM »
Congrats on the acceptances.  I am curious to know if your firm would hire you no matter where you went to school.  Depending on what the answer is, things could change.
Thanks!  I guess that's the million dollar question. :)  I'm confident most transactional attorneys in the NY office know my name/face, and I have a handful of strong contacts there.  The current head of the recruiting committee in NY is also good friends with my former boss.
My contacts in Chicago are not as strong/plentiful... I did work closely with one partner there, and he has offered to help with the disclaimer that the recruiting committee has never asked for his help (he said this in a self-deprecating, joking way  ;)).  A couple of the really big deal partners in Chicago also knew who I was and passed on compliments to my old boss, but I don't think they'd go out of their way to help me get a job.

My first boss there (when I was a secretary) was on the recruiting committee, so I know they're very grade focused.  I think I'd have a shot if I did well at OSU, but nothing is guaranteed.  The youngest OSU alumnus currently employed there is c/o 2008, so I'm worried it's fallen off their "acceptable schools" list.

Hmm.  Anything else I should be considering?

Re: OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 05:40:40 AM »
Hmm.  Anything else I should be considering?

Yes, why don't you get your old boss to set an informational interview with someone in the Chicago office?  Simply ask them what your chances are at each school, what they look for, and whether they have a GPA or rank minimum from each school. You can also use the interview to get some face time in (ask them about their law school experience, whether they have any tips/tricks, etc.).

Attorneys love to talk about themselves and to feel like they're helping those less fortunate than they are.  These partners are not beyond approach.

Also something to consider:  Firms are scaling back their summer classes.  In order to land a V50 from ANY of those schools listed above, you're going to have to do some serious hustling.  Now is not the time to be shy or timid.  Start building your network and talking to attorneys so that you'll have something lined up for your 1L and 2L summers.

Re: OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2011, 06:19:33 PM »
You shouldn't place too much weight on whether your firm participated in a law schools OCI program.  While participation in a law schools OCI may be indicative of how the law firm views the law school, it often is not.  Many law firms participate in OCI for a law school without any realistic intention of recruiting any candidates for summer associate or associate positions from the law school.  Conversely, most BigLaw recruiting committees are as likely to look at a résumé from a candidate from the law schools you mention as they are to look at a résumé from a candidate in that same range of law schools where the firm does participate in the OCI (as long as the grades are good).

You should also get a feel about how your firm views hiring former support staff as associates.  For many BigLaw firms, there is a stigma that attaches to a law school graduate if he or she previously worked there as support staff which may hurt the graduate’s chances of being hired.  It's part of the white shoe mentality that exists at many BigLaw firms.  A good sign would be if you could find evidence of current associates (or, better yet, partners) that were previously employed as support staff at the firm before graduating from law school.

If you are not planning to seek employment as a first year associate in NYC then you should not weigh Fordham's brand power in the NYC metropolitan area too heavily.  The advantage is not as great when you are seeking employment as a lateral as opposed to seeking employment as a first year associate.

Finally, if you are financing your law school education with student loans, then tuition costs and living expenses are a very important consideration.  If you are not planning on pursuing an associate position in NYC that would move Fordham even further down on your list.  Besides the high tuition, the cost of living in Manhattan is much higher than the cost of living where you are.

You should have a backup plan in case things don’t pan out the way you hoped in terms of how well you expect to do in law school (the old adage is that 80% of enrolling law school students believe with conviction that they will be in the top 20% of their class).  Minimizing the amount of debt you incur to finance your law school education can be a very important part of that plan.  If you do end up in the top 5% of your class and on law review, then your prospects for getting into the regional office of a law firm, even a BigLaw firm, should not be significantly diminished if you go to OSU instead of UIUC.

Re: OSU v. UIUC v. Fordham
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2011, 04:24:56 AM »
Thanks!  I'm definitely talking to my former bosses.
Since posting this, I actually got a little bit of game changing news.  I received one of the $40k/year scholarships to IU-Bloomington.  My husband is okay with that distance (since it's a pretty easy drive from here), and I really love the school.  It'd also be really close to my parents.  That said, now that I feel I have the freedom to move, I don't really want to.  The logistics just seem awful.
So, I'm going to try to negotiate a better (as in, less I owe after the scholarship as $40k is more than in-state tuition) scholarship from OSU.  If that doesn't work, I'll head to Bloomington. 

Having minimal student loan debt will allow me to have options.  Yes, I'd like BigLaw, but I don't want my only choices in 3 years to be BigLaw or Live in a Box. :)

As for working for my old firm...
I was actually hired as part of a program where they hired individuals from respected schools (Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Howard, etc.) to be legal secretaries.  The idea is that we'd learn from the attorneys we assisted and then go on to law school (and come back?).  A number of attorneys preferred the ambitious fresh graduates because we typically cared more about the content of the work.  This type of hiring stopped, though, when they stopped hiring secretary classes altogether.  Most decided law wasn't for them after all and pursued other careers.  However, a few did return as attorneys. 
I think if I had remained as a secretary and hoped to return to the NY office, it could be a bit awkward.  I mean, one of my friends could end up as my secretary!  Awk-ward.  As it is, though, I left after a year and a few months later returned to a role that was a combo of research, attorney training, and client development.  I interacted primarily with partners, and some of my assignments were akin to the non-billable assignments given to associates.  Plus, I want to go to a different office than the one where I worked, which helps.

Anyway, sorry for rambling and thanks again!