Deciding Where to Go > Choosing the Right Law School

University of Michigan / Georgetown / Vanderbilt

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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.

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.

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:
These are all great schools, and I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them.

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.

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!

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?


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