Law School Discussion

How important is location?

How important is location?
« on: October 20, 2012, 11:02:34 AM »
I live in Knoxville, TN so I have always thought I'd end up at UTK, Vanderbilt (If I do great on the LSAT) or maybe Memphis.  However, I want to live and practice in New York City.  Of course going to UTK would be much cheaper both in terms of tuition and living costs since I can stay at home during my time at law school.  I'm just wondering if location of your law school is such a big factor that it would be worth trying to get into a school in or around New York?  Will going to a school in or around New York City make it so much easier to get a job that it would be worth taking loans to cover the extra cost?  If anyone has been in a similar situation or just has some general advice that would be great.  Thanks in advance. 

Re: How important is location?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 04:37:55 PM »
As a general rule, unless you're going to an elite national school, you should go to law school where you intend to practice. If you want to live in NYC you will have far better options for internships and networking if spend those three years in NYC. Going to school in TN, and then showing up after graduation is going to put you at a disadvantage (unless you go to Vanderbilt).

Does the cheap tuition in TN outweigh the career development prospects in NYC? I can't say. You need to take your long term goals and financial situation into account to answer that one. Do you want biglaw, or are you alright with small firm work and government? Those are major factors in deciding where to go.

If you're not accepted to a very well regarded NY school, however, be wary of debt.
Consider this: NYC is one of the most competitive legal markets in the nation. Let's say Vandy is out and you must choose between UTK, Memphis, or a local NYC school like Brooklyn or Hofstra. If you go to a NY school you may rack up a $150-200K debt, and have to compete against tons of NY and out of state grads for jobs. There is a decent chance you'll end up back in TN or some other part of the country anyway if you can't get a job. That kind of debt can really cripple you.

Conversely, you could go to school in TN, build up few years of experience, and then make the move when you're more marketable. It's not easy, but people do it all the time. 

Re: How important is location?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 06:26:56 AM »
I'm facing the same problem. My friends who are in this industry for more 10 years told me to go there where you can practice. But, i'm trying to find a good university for a MBA course abroad and i'm thinking to go in Germany, which is making it harder.

Re: How important is location?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 10:46:00 AM »
Practically speaking location is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing a law school for several reasons explained below.

Although law school is difficult you will have plenty of time to socialize and more importantly you will deal with the realities of living in one of the most crowded and diverse cities on a day to day basis. If you attend law school in New York you will deal with the subway, crowds, noise, etc.  So first if your from Tennesee this will be a big culture shock.

On top of that you will be far away from your family, friends, and comforts of home. You will go to a new city in a new school not knowing anyone and this can be difficult for many people. If you have not been away from home before this may be something to consider. I have lived in New York City and tell you it is not for everyone and although it may sound glamorous and look cool on T.V. there are a lot of headaches attached with living in NY. However, there are a lot of amazing things as well, but starting something as a difficult as law school away from all your support group family, friends, etc can be to much to handle for some and others do great it is a very individual thing.

As Roald suggests if you want to live in New York then go to law school in New York. There are 7 law schools in NY state alone and 3 more in New Jersey not to mention numerous people from around the country are seeking in NY jobs. So most NY places are not likely to fly out of state to Tennessee, Memphis, or even Vanderbilt there are plenty of recent grads looking for work in NY city as it is.

Furthermore, you can get internships in school in NY if your in NY. You can't clerk for a NY judge 20 hours a week during law school if your in NY and furthermore, even if you wanted to have an interview out in New York you would need a flight, hotel, etc and since there are already thousands of recent grads in NY looking for work a firm is not going to spend money on those items you will cover the cost yourself and on a law student salary of 0 dollars a week that can be a lot of money.

On top of that your professors and career services departments will know people locally so at Hofstra the career services will interact with primarily NY firms and agencies. While in Tennessee they will work with Tennessee firms and agencies.

This is a real consideration and if you can live at home and get cheap tuition that is huge. You may not end up liking living in NY as it is not for everybody, but the debt you incur there will be very real and accruing interest. So really think about how much you want to live in NY before accruing 200,000+ in debt accruing 8% interest a year.

Especially since it is certainly possible to go to law school in Tennessee and pass & take the NY bar then move to NY trying to find a job. Although for the reasons stated above this may be difficult to accomplish finding a job in NY city when you have no affiliation with NY and thousands of other recent JD's will be looking for work well be difficult.

Law school is a long 3 years and most people make new friends get into a serious relationship, get an apartment they like, and simply get settled in over 3 years wherever they are. Therefore, if you go to law school in Tennesee or Memphis you may get into a serious relationship, get a job your comforable with, etc etc and odds are you won't leave. Most people I went to law school with stayed in the location I'm in, but during 1L many people said they planned to move to NY, L.A., or somewhere else after graduation. Some did, but the vast majority stayed put for the factors I mentioned above.

In my anonymous internet poster opinion which doesn't mean a lot location is probably the biggest factor to consider when choosing a law school. If your dream is to be a lawyer in NY the best way to make that happen is by going to law school in New York. However, if you have never lived there I would consider doing that and making sure you like it before making a 3 year 200,000 commitment on something you simply think will be amazing. NY has a lot of great things, but a lot of annoyances that are not for everybody. Good luck to you.

Re: How important is location?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 12:09:45 AM »
In this matter if you get a place to practice never left unless you got the another chance to practice.