Law School Discussion

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CUNY v. CU

CUNY (total est. debt: $40K)
 2 (22.2%)
CU-Boulder (total est. debt: $60-80K)
 7 (77.8%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Leave T1 for niche TTT?  (Read 2603 times)

outofthewest

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Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« on: July 23, 2011, 09:32:29 AM »
I posted on the transfer forum a while back, but figured I'd post here because I really need some objective advice.

I finished my 1L year at Colorado Law (ranked about 47th in USNWR), and while I really like the school, the area is really not for me and I could not see myself being here longterm. While Colorado is a T1, it's one with a very regional bent, so my job prospects would be mostly in this area. I'm in the top third of my class, have good relationships with a few profs and will be on a secondary journal next year, but I'm worried about portability. I don't have to tell anyone here about the poor job prospects for JDs generally, and I know it would be even worse if I'm trying to shop a degree outside of my school's market. If I stay here, I would probably try to "visit" a school out east my third year to try to do some kind of networking.

Before coming to law school I was doing nonprofit work in NYC, and I'd really like to get back into that at some point and restore some of what my life was before law school, but the schools in the city are outrageously expensive. I'm on scholarship at CU and would be paying sticker at a transfer, so I applied to (and got into) CUNY because it was cheap and has a public service niche, and was the only school where I could justify the expense. I know it's not considered a great school, but I think it might give me better prospects for public interest work in NYC and would actually cost less. I would also be able to live with family for very cheap to keep living costs down. (See debt estimates above.)

So my choice is to stay at a T1 out of my target region, or transfer to a cheaper niche TTT in the area I would want to live longterm. Keep in mind that I would prefer to do public interest or government work and am not interested in working for a firm. Any advice would be appreciated

nealric

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2011, 11:49:28 PM »
This sounds like a terrible idea. The debt difference is insignificant and CUNY isn't going to get you any more leverage for public interest jobs than CU. Also, with the cost of living difference, I'm not convinced you would even save much.
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Thane Messinger

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2011, 01:55:51 AM »
This sounds like a terrible idea. The debt difference is insignificant and CUNY isn't going to get you any more leverage for public interest jobs than CU. Also, with the cost of living difference, I'm not convinced you would even save much.

I would tend to agree.  Focus instead on a targeted networking plan to get where you want to go. 

By the by, a non-profit world in NYC is certainly possible, but it's not likely, without family connections, to be the sort of dream life one might imagine.   Are there other parts of the country with a need and which you might like?

(Among other reasons against transfering, by the way, are the significant logistical downsides, quite apart from a downward-ranking move.  Read Art of the Law School Transfer for a description of these significant factors.  A move from Colorado to Chicago might ameliorate some of these downsides, but to CUNY?  Not so much.)

There are a number of factors, however, and among these are personal.  Do what you absolutely, positively must.  Also, there are practical benefits, such as potential scholarship offers from the original school awaiting transferrees.  Law schools *hate* to lose their top students, and are willing to pay to keep them.  Harder with a downward move, but that too can be explained.  This can, to put not too fine a point on it, be a cost-negotiating lever even if you are seriously debating not leaving.

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outofthewest

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2011, 11:43:55 PM »
This sounds like a terrible idea. The debt difference is insignificant and CUNY isn't going to get you any more leverage for public interest jobs than CU. Also, with the cost of living difference, I'm not convinced you would even save much.

Question: When you say CUNY won't give me any more leverage for PI jobs, do you mean in general, or for NYC specifically?

I have some strong personal reasons for wanting to be in NYC, even though I know the job market is extremely competitive. I don't think CU will have much or any recognition in the city, whereas CUNY might at least have some and would give me the opportunity to make contacts. Is my logic flawed?

I should also note that I'm willing to accept non-legal employment if need be.

Hamilton

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2011, 07:32:13 AM »

I should also note that I'm willing to accept non-legal employment if need be.

Then why waste the time and money on law school?  One generally goes to law school for 1 reason - to be a lawyer.

You are in a position that is very enviable to many: you are in a decent T1 in Colorado.  T3 job prospects are not that great out there.  Tferring from a T1 to a T3 makes little sense.

bigs5068

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2011, 11:38:50 AM »
Well I respectfully disagree with everyone. The most important thing is location it sounds like you want to be in New York and if that is the case you should go to law school in New York. CUNY offers a great tuition rate and I worked with numerous grads fromCUNY and other New York law schools at the New York City Attorney's office. I can't recall anyone from Colorado working there.  The reality is you can start interning and building connections in New York if you go to law school in New York. It will be difficult to interview with anyone while your in school at Colorado to get a summer job and I am speculating there are not a lot of New York employers offering OCI at Colorado. You couldn't just up and move there then find a job over the summer, because by the time you did that summer would be over. It is possible, but it would be a real burden I'm sure.

Then it also sounds like you might be a bit homesick. I imagine Colorado is a LOT different than New York and you don't have your friends and family from N.Y. and this can be difficult. There is a lot to be said about your overall happiness over the name of a law school and Colorado is not that prestigious of a school it could be a tier 2 by the time you graduate.  In 2009 Colorado was 38th, 2010 it was 45th, 2011 it is currently in a 3 way tie for 47th. What is changing at this school I am sure nothing the rankings make little sense and are based mostly on judges filling out scantrons. So some judge in Miami checked a 3 and Colorado went down a few spots and it may go down more. The ranking is pretty much irrelevant because Colorado although good is not that impressive. It is 47th and a 3 way tie for 47th so it might be 50th.   If it was Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, something with a truly impressive name then the prestige might be worth the two years and additional cost. However, if it is Colorado and I can't imagine many people in New York being that impressed by a Colorado degree.

Here is some more realistic job information form both schools as you can see at either school the majority of students did not have a reportable salary.

http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=cuny-queens&show=flow
20% at CUNY with lower salaries.

http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=colorado&show=flow
34% had reportable salaries at Colorado with higher numbers.

As you can see the tier 1 does not open does not open that many more doors.

You don't necessarily have to go to CUNY either you may be able to get into Fordham, which has some pretty good numbers employment size http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=fordham&show=flow 64% of the people had jobs.

Still CUNY offers great tuition and if you want to do public interest work in New York pay cheap tuition and save money by living at home it could work out nicely. Kind of a long rant and hopefully it helps.

pslaw2011

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2011, 03:48:06 PM »
What about talking to career services/alumni office at Colorado? They have to have some alumni in NYC that you could talk with & go from there.

You could also try for summer positions there- even unpaid public interest positions to get some networking going while finishing at Colorado.

Transferring in law school is surely a lot of work, it sounds like you just need some networking to get a job lined up- not a transfer.

outofthewest

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 11:09:19 PM »
@bigs5068: Thanks for the advice and encouragement. The cost and personal considerations really are the driving factors for me right now, and I agree that the CU name just isn't going to carry in NYC. I had a very helpful talk with one of my professors today, who would not BS me, and he agreed it was a sound idea given the considerations. I think it's the right decision, but part of me is (perhaps unreasonably) worried about the stigma of "transferring down."

If you don't mind, I'm curious to hear more about the CUNY students you worked with. Not to draw too much from examples, but did they seem any more or less prepared than your other peers? Is it normal for CUNY grads to get those kind of positions, or were they anomalies? Also, do you mind if I ask what school you went to?

bigs5068

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 04:35:27 PM »
There were a bunch of people from the New York Schools where I worked the majority were from CUNY-Queens or New York Law School. The rest in my department were from Cardozo and Brooklyn then there was one from NYU and one from Penn. Nobody there knew anything about non-east coast schools and I never met an attorney there in the whole place that wasn't from the area. I'm sure there had to have been attorneys from other areas, but I just never met them. I sat in on interviews for attorneys and there were a lot from CUNY, New York Law School, Harvard, Columbia, the list went on. CUNY grads were in the running and got hired at the New York City Law Department. I had to interact a lot with the New York child services and the Firefighter and Police Attorneys and there were some from CUNY there as well.

I think if you want to be in New York then go to school in New York. You will meet judges, attorneys, students, etc in the New York area if you live in New York. You won't meet them in Colorado. I am sure Colorado is GREAT for Colorado, but you will be unable to build any connections or learn how the courts etc work in New York unless your there. I simply can't imagine any firm reaching out to Colorado when New York has an army of law schools.

No I don't know if you have to go to CUNY with your performance etc you might be able to get into Fordham, which I think is worth the money the rest of the NY schools not so much. I also thing Rutgers offers a reasonable tuition rate if you can get residency in Jersey not sure though, but it is an option.


Hamilton

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Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 11:43:09 PM »
I think it's the right decision, but part of me is (perhaps unreasonably) worried about the stigma of "transferring down."

Right or wrong, you will, in large part, be judged by the school you went to when it comes to getting interviews.  It is not unreasonable to weigh this element.