Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

Which school?

UMichigan ($130k debt)
 1 (100%)
Georgetown ($130k debt)
 0 (0%)
Vanderbilt ($55k debt)
 0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 1

Author Topic: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt  (Read 1518 times)

BobLobLaw14

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University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« on: April 25, 2014, 08:35:17 PM »
I am still waiting on the final call for financial aid from michigan and georgetown, so the debt may change. I am legitimately torn between the three. However, as of right now, I am leaning more towards UMichigan > Vanderbilt > Georgtown.

I want to practice somewhere in south florida. I am born and raised in south florida, have a degree from UMiami, have family/personal connections to several law firms in the area, am hispanic, and speak spanish. I am also engaged, so I am a little bit debt-adverse.

Ideally, based on my background, I would like to focus on international copyrights/trademarks, transactions, and/or corporate law.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Miami88

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 10:58:59 AM »
No idea... Haha! My gut would say Michigan, but other people may have a different perspective? Are you trying to focus on BigLaw?

Employment prospects are probably a little stronger at Mich than at Vandy. Mich also has a stronger, more collaborative student body and beautiful campus. But the weather is prob horrendous (compared to south florida) and I'm not sure if it's worth the extra 75k... Hopefully Michigan comes back some money to make your decision easier.

GTown has a lot of students. A lot. If you really want to focus on international law, however, they may be a little stronger. I'm not sure how the rep compares for each one of these schools down here in Miami though. Vandy has nice rep in the South, but Miami really isn't the same thing as Atlanta. I know Miami firms send reps to Michigan to recruit, however, I believe they do the same for Michigan as well...

Sorry I can't be of more help... CityLaw or Maintain would be the "go-to" people for a call like this.

Good luck and congrats! You certainly have a good problem to have! I am considering Mich. myself.

Miami88

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 11:05:39 AM »
Also, take a look at Michigan's loan repayment program. One way to look at it is... if you end up snagging a big law job (making in the mid $100k), $75k in the long run isn't a bank breaker. However, if you don't get a big law job, Michigan will basically pay your IBR payments and interest for the first ten years. This could easily ammount to around $50k+. So, in a way, it's like a conditional scholarship (safety net).

From this perspective, Michigan is coming close to vandy's offer if you take lower paying work. And if you take higher paying work, the extra debt is more than manageable. Michigan certainly has more "prestige" in law firms and both are prob. equally significant in Miami. So I would go with Michigan.

But I would really wait out to see what Michigan offers you. Maybe the 75k extra debt (since you are going to get married) is really not worth it.

Anyways, good luck!

Maintain FL 350

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2014, 02:21:33 PM »
These are all great schools, and I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them.

Location
Always a huge factor. Each of these schools has a big enough rep that you can probably score job interviews in Miami based on pedigree alone. However, even coming from these schools, big firms will still want high grades and at least some relevant experience.

Perhaps ten years ago a degree from any of these schools would have meant a nearly guaranteed high paying Big law position. Now, you will be expected to compete for those dwindling number of jobs with many other applicants who have equally impressive pedigrees. However, you will be able compete.

With smaller firms and government offices a degree from these schools can be a huge advantage.

Cost
Of these three schools, Michigan definitely has the greatest cache. Is that worth the extra money? I don't know, only you can answer that. It's important to understand that even graduating from one of these powerhouses it is still entirely possible that you won't be making $150,000 to start. You've got to do a cost/benefit analysis based on your own needs.

Other options?
It's always good to examine all possibilities. One thing to at least consider is that if you have the numbers to get into Michigan you might be able to score a full scholarship to someplace like UF or Miami. Depending on your long term goals, graduating from a solid regional school with zero debt may not be a bad plan.

Again, these are all very well respected schools. I tend to be very debt adverse, and always encourage people to think about what it really means to pay $2000 per month in non-dischargeable debt. Good luck and congratulations with whatever you decide!

BobLobLaw14

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 04:12:42 PM »
Thank you both for the above information! I really appreciate your perspectives in helping me decide.

If I can get it, I am certainly interested in at least starting my career in a large law firm in Miami (I have a few hiring partner contacts at the big ones). If not, I am also very interested in mid-sized law firms specializing in intellectual property or even working (eventually) as an in-house counsel.

Miami88, I did look at the repayment program, however, I am skeptical of it. I am not fully confident of its long term stability (10-25 years) given the current political climate. That is not to say anything bad about Michigan's program, I just don't see the validity of significantly founding my decision on the merits of a potential "conditional" scholarship (as you put it) that may very well be gone by the time I graduate or shortly thereafter. As of right now, their repayment program is a tie-breaker at best.

Maintain FL 350, I received a 2/3 tuition scholarship from University of Miami with the condition that I remain in the top half of my class. I tried to get more money or, at the very least, removal of the condition based on my other offers (which were the same amount of aid with no conditions from top 20 schools), however, they basically (and, sadly, somewhat smugly) said no. I in turn withdrew my application. I already have plenty of ties, education, and a few years of work experience in Miami, so I am not overly worried of trying to "break into the region/market."

My main goal is simply to have a solid, reliable job somewhere in south florida (where my family lives and my fiancÚ's family lives) without having to constantly worry about money. Michigan seems to have the best cache (as Maintain FL 350 put it) and may help open the most doors. I am also extremely impressed by their cooperative student body (as you said Miami88). But I'm still not sold on it being worth the extra $75,000. I am hoping they come through with aid, otherwise it might be Vanderbilt.

Any other thoughts?

Maintain FL 350

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 05:50:31 PM »
Maintain FL 350, I received a 2/3 tuition scholarship from University of Miami with the condition that I remain in the top half of my class. I tried to get more money or, at the very least, removal of the condition based on my other offers (which were the same amount of aid with no conditions from top 20 schools), however, they basically (and, sadly, somewhat smugly) said no. I in turn withdrew my application. I already have plenty of ties, education, and a few years of work experience in Miami, so I am not overly worried of trying to "break into the region/market."

Yes, that is somewhat surprising. I would've thought a 75-100% scholarship with easy stips ("good standing") was in order.

Look, Michigan has a huge reputation. There are very few schools that can truly claim national reputations, and Michigan is one of them. A good friend of mine went there and it definitely helped him land a Biglaw job in California. However, he once told me that he wished he had accepted a full scholarship from another school instead because his current job does NOT require an elite pedigree, and if switches jobs again his prospects will be based on his experience rather than his degree. So again, it really just depends on what you want to do.

If you already have solid connections in the Miami area, I have to think that a degree from Vanderbilt + connections is worth basically as much as a degree from Michigan + connections. At that point, the connections are the crucial factor and the degree is icing on the cake.

75k is lot of scratch and for me, personally, that would be the deciding factor. But you need to do what's right for you, and maybe the mythical siren's song of Ann Arbor is just too powerful!

 

BobLobLaw14

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 01:02:08 AM »
75k is lot of scratch and for me, personally, that would be the deciding factor. But you need to do what's right for you, and maybe the mythical siren's song of Ann Arbor is just too powerful!

Bah! My thoughts exactly!

Citylaw

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 03:43:16 AM »
Something sticks out in your post is that you want to live in South Florida with your family and your fiance's family. If that is what you want then you should attend law school in South Florida or as near South Florida as possible.

Many law incoming law students myself included as a 0L do not take into account the realities of location and realistically when choosing a law school in my anonymous internet poster opinion you should consider the following factors in this order. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; and (5) last and certainly least U.S. News Rankings.

Location:
Your goal is to end up in South Florida where your family and fiance's family reside. If you attend any of these schools you will not be able to easily access South Florida. Additionally, is your fiance going with you and if so what will she do in Michigan for example and how will you handle sub-zero temperatures?

The point is many incoming law students myself included back when I was at that stage do not realize law school does not exist in a vacuum although law school is difficult life happens. If your fiance moves to Michigan where there are no jobs away from her family and in an area where she has no friends what will she do? She will likely get depressed and upset causing you to do poorly in school and damaging your relationship. No maybe you have friends and job opportunities and it has been a well hatched plan between you and your fiance where you want to live, but I am guessing you are the typical incoming law student that thinks law school will be all consuming and making the decision more complicated than it needs to me I know I did as a 0L.

First priority sounds like your family and your fiance so think of how the location of the school you choose will impact those relationships.

Aside from the relationships realize that if you attend any of these law schools you it will be impossible for you to intern in South Florida for 9 months of the year, because you will not be able to drive or fly daily to South Florida from Michigan, Tennessee, or D.C instead if you attend Michigan you will make connections in the Midwest. Tennessee in Tennessee D.C. and D.C.

Additionally, you will have to take a state bar exam and if you attend Michigan odds are you will take the MI exam, Vanderbilt Tennessee, D.C = D.C..

Final fact to consider is Ann Arbor Michigan, Nashville Tennessee, and Washington D.C. are very different cities and you will be living in Subzero temperatures in Michigan, which being from South Florida you have likely never experienced.

Bottom line if your overall goal is to keep close to your family, fiance, you love South Florida, and want to end up in South Florida then attend law school in Florida. South Florida i.e University of Miami or Florida International University, which has an amazingly cheap tuition rate for in-state residents, Florida and Florida State also have extremely cheap-in-state tuition rates. University of Miami does not, but if you went there for undergrad maybe you will be comfortable there .


Costs:
If you are in-state Florida Resident you have three of the best cost options for law school in America. Florida International University, Florida, and Florida State all offer extremely cheap tuition rates.

University of Florida 18k per year x 3= 54k in tuition 

Florida State 18 k per year x 3= 54 k in tuition

FIU 16k per year x 3= 48k in total tuition

University of Miami does not offer the cheap tuition.

Your current schools


Vanderbilt 46k per year x 3= 132k in total tuition

Georgetown 46k per year x 3= 132k in total tuition

Michigan 49k per year for non-resident= 137k in total tuition.

At this point the three schools you have listed are nearly three times more expensive and more than 1,000 miles away from the area you want to settle in and again what is your fiance going to do? At this point of the analysis if your goal is to minimize your debt and end up in South Florida then none of the three schools you have listed are better options than Florida, Florida State, or FIU.

(3) Personal Feelings About School:

Assuming you are going to choose from the three in your list is important to realize that each law school does have a culture and some you will like others you will not. To each their own, but the only way to know if you will like the culture of a school is to visit the school talk to professors, admins, walk around the campus etc.

I would highly recommend you do this to any school you are seriously considering and I would encourage you to visit Florida, Florida State, and FIU as well.

(4) Reality of Legal Education
At any ABA school you will learn the same exact thing your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Crim Law. In these courses whether at FIU, Georgetown, Michigan you will read Supreme Court Cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate opinions for each school. You will read Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro to learn about notice; Palsgraf in Torts to learn proximate cause etc; etc.

At the end of three years you will then sign up for the BarBri or Kaplan Bar Review Course hopefully you end up taking the Florida exam it may not happen if you do not attend law school in Florida and then you will study for the exam with law students around the country and after a few months of agonizing studying you will sit in a giant auditorium taking the bar exam and if you pass you have a license to practice law if you do not pass your not a lawyer. The school you went to will have no real impact on whether you pass the bar exam it will have everything to do with your own motivation and ability to handle pressure.

(5) U.S. News
Remember this is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. Many law students use the  magazine to make the life altering decision of where to attend law school and forgot to use common sense I hope that is not the case with you. U.S. News Ranked Albuquerque, New Mexico as the best place to live would you move there because of that?http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live

I would not and I would hope your not moving 1,000 miles away from your fiance and your family because some magazine says X school is better.


Conclusion:

I am an anonymous internet poster so \take my advice with a grain of salt along with advice received from other posters on this board, but I do encourage you to apply common sense to your situation.

If your goal is to live in South Florida and not accumulate debt attend one of the in-state tuition law schools in Florida. You will remain close to your family, fiance, friends, and be in the City you want to live in. Additionally, your debt load will pay 1/3 of what you would at the schools on your list.

I would really reevaluate your decision overall and make sure you have thought about the location angle and what your fiance will do if she moves to one of these cities or if you are planning on doing the long distance relationship/law school situation that did not work out for a single law school classmate of mine.

It is a tough decision, but really think about what you want and apply common sense do not over think the situation and I think you will come to the right decision. I know it is a very difficult time and I nearly made from stupid decision when I was 0L, by not using common sense and over thinking. 

Good luck and congrats on your law school acceptances they are very difficult schools to get into.




BobLobLaw14

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 08:55:28 AM »
Hi CityLaw. Thank you for the very well though-out analysis!

Let me give you some more information that may help clarify a few things.

My fiancÚ will be moving wherever I go sometime within my first year. We have over four years long distance already under our belts, so a few months really is old hat. Also, depending on where it is we decide to go, she will be able to transfer within her company. She has already spoken with her employer and they support her 100%. Her company has offices in Ann Arbor and Washington DC, however, not in Nashville. Finally, we have an extremely strong network of friends and contacts in Nashville which will offer both of us a strong source of support. Of the three cities, we both love Nashville the most. Of the three law schools, we both love Michigan the most (student body, the "feel" of it, etc.).

Also, I already have several contacts to law firms and businesses in Miami. All of them, from smaller law firms to big ones, have encouraged me to go for one of these top schools. These are hiring partners that went to Miami, UF, and up to Harvard. Some of them have even hinted that, assuming I go to one of these top schools, they may be interested in at least taking me up for paid summer work.

As for staying in South Florida: If I was going to do this for the location and family, UF and FSU are off the table. From this perspective, the only schools worth it are Miami and FIU. Miami, as I noted in my above post, was going to cost too much money with too risky of a stipulation (not to mention for basically the same employment opportunities) in relation to FIU, so I withdrew. FIU's decision was much more difficult. In the end, we wanted the best chances for the best opportunity after law school. We are more than happy to live and work outside of Florida if we can't find solid work down here. FIU, in comparison to UMichigan for example, is just too limiting to work within Miami. FIU and UMichigan just don't compare in this regard. As far as the social factor, we are both more than okay with living away from our families, we would just prefer to live closer to them after law school if at all possible. Moreover, my fiance has expressed (several times) that she would like to live outside of Miami for the experience (she has never lived anywhere else). If we picked FIU, we would pretty much be here until retirement. Hah!

In the end, this is all moot because I already withdrew my application from FIU as well. Unless I withdraw my application from all the other schools and just start over next cycle, this option is pretty much off the table.

So in sum, it really is between UMichigan, Vanderbilt, and Georgetown.

Any more thoughts given the above is greatly appreciated. Note that I should hear back today or tomorrow regarding aid.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 05:39:58 PM »
As a general rule, I agree with Citylaw that if you want to live in Miami you should go to law school in Miami. I think this is true for the vast, overwhelming majority of students.

Additionally, I think the rankings scheme is a crock (as Supreme Court justice Alito recently said).

However, there are exceptions to every rule. Michigan is one of the very few law schools (along with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and few others) that can legitimately boast about a national reputation. A law degree from UM will be carry weight in L.A., NYC, WDC, or Miami.

Is it worth the expense? That I can't answer, but I do think your situation is a little different from someone who is trying to decide between say, FIU/Miami and a higher ranked (but not elite) school. It's a tougher decision, IMO.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that after a couple of years your degree will be subordinate to your experience. No institution's name alone can carry a career indefinitely.