Law School Discussion

In off Cornell WL

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2006, 11:06:00 PM »
Just a quick comment, If you go to any school outside the top six or so will be terrible for academic or supreme court placement. If you wanna be a prof and your at either of these two schools your screwed as is.

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2006, 11:38:23 PM »

I think you are overstating the case quite a bit. GW's full-time enrollment is 415 per class, and these students are by-and-large much stronger than the 100+ part-time enrollees (and they get the best jobs). Cornell's enrollment is about 190 -- so the class size difference is closer to 2-to-1. If you want to make some per capita adjustment for placement, fine, but that's not wholly practical: when it comes to finding a job, if there are twice or thrice as many graduates of one school in a market, that will certainly help one's chances of landing a position. I would take the 65 grads over the 26 anyday -- regardless of what schools they are associated with. Law School of the Pumpkin Truck -- I don't care. More grads in market = better chances of landing a job through a connection. Period.

Again, look at the placement data in Sullivan's update to Brian Leiter's study @

Total # of lawyers at national firms surveyed: Cornell 457, GW 814. For certain markets, Cornell has an decisive advantage: Los Angeles (Cornell 64, GW 49), Boston (Cornell 45, GW 27).  For other markets, GW has an equally decisive advantage: DC (GW 65, Cornell, 26), Philly (GW 98, Cornell 29), Miami (GW 93, Cornell 26), San Diego (GW 39, Cornell 18), etc. You need to look at the actual data. As well, for DC, GW's edge is over two-to-one.

Incidentally, for Chicago it's GW 77, Cornell 42. For NYC, it's Cornell 15, GW 14. That's pretty surprising given Cornell's proximity to NYC. Most would expect this to be much stronger for Cornell....

Cornell is simply not better for most things. Look at Leiter's study (a few years old) as a starting point.

For international law -- the poster's interest -- Cornell is ranked 9 and GW 10.
For constitutional law, both are tied at 17th.
For admin and environmental law, Cornell is 13th and GW 15th.

As a rough proxy for faculty quality, it's a useful overview. GW is very, very cloes to Cornell. For international law, it's basically a wash. Moreover, Cornell's class offerings look quite anemic to me....

As for govt jobs: you are crazy if you think Cornell has an edge based on an anecdote. Govt placement is what GW *does*. Cornell has a trickle of folks, that's it.

Personally, I am not biased one way or another, as I have no interest in GW or Cornell. But take a more careful look at the two -- for "Decisions'" sake.

Good idea to visit the Corn -- and best of luck in your decision.

The sullivan/leiter study is horrible because in looking at the best firms in nation completely underrepresents NYC.  The majority of the top firms have head offices in NYC, but this study only takes 3 NYC firms (2 of which have small numbers for BigLaw).  They also take 3 firms from all the other major/secondary markets such as LA, Boston, Chicago, DC, Seattle, Philly, Houston (which all have lower population and far fewer top Biglaw firms).  They really should have made an attempt to aggregate how many firms they chose for each city based on both how many people (and subsequently, lawyers) and how many top firms are in the city, to account for the fact that NYC has many better and more selective firms than some place like Seattle.  Even with this horrendous oversight that especially harms Cornell since it sends a very high percentage of its class to NYC biglaw, the numbers still favour Cornell.  You have Cornell with a student body that is less than 40% the size of GW having a total number of lawyers in these firms that is about 60% of the number of GW lawyers.  So Cornell's per capita placement is over 150% of GW's. 


Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2006, 09:53:14 AM »
decisions, which school is it going to be?

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #43 on: July 28, 2006, 11:22:24 AM »
The Sullivan/Leiter study is certainly limited, but I am not so sure it *especially* harms Cornell. If you look at the number of top firms & their starting salaries (at for both DC and NYC, there are a huge number of elite firms in *both* markets that are not listed. If Cornell students self-select for NYC and are not captured, there are also a lot of GW students who self-select for DC and are not captured. It's less clear how many Cornies want to go to DC and how many GW's want NYC, and how many of either want to go to cities other than DC and NYC. If the poster was set on BIGLAW in Boston or LA, I would say Cornell, sure. But that's not what's on the table....

For the poster's stated desire -- i.e., to live in DC -- the study prolly harms GW more than the Corn.

Actually, if you do the per capita comparison, it's Cornell's full-time enrollment is 46% of GW's full-time, but its placement per Leiter/Sullivan is 56% of GW's placement in elite firms studied. Sure, it's a touch better, but 10% not 20%. You are right -- there are a lot of firms not captured -- and at the end of the day if you go to Cornell or GW you can make the big bucks somewhere at a top firm -- even if it's not necessarily Sullivan and Cromwell.

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2006, 11:29:09 AM »
You can't discount all of the PT GW students.  Do you honestly think that they aren't taking any big firm jobs?

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #45 on: July 28, 2006, 11:38:05 AM »
Anyways, since we're sticking with flawed placement studies to distinguish between the 2 schools, how about the NLJ article on placement in the 50 biggest firms.

School/# associates hired in 50 biggest firms in 05/# JDs awarded 04/% of JDs awarded in 50 biggest firms
Columbia Law School 151 397 38%
Northwestern University School of Law 82 224 37%
University of Pennsylvania Law School 91 249 37%
University of Chicago Law School 69 191 36%
Stanford Law School 57 177 32%
Cornell Law School 59 186 32%
New York University School of Law 137 439 31%
Harvard Law School 166 551 30%
University of Virginia School of Law 103 359 29%
Duke Law School 61 237 26%
Yale Law School 46 183 25%
University of Michigan Law School 87 387 22%
University of California, Berkeley School of Law 72 322 22%
Georgetown University Law Center 149 687 22%
Vanderbilt Univeristy Law School 38 195 19%
University of Texas School of Law 88 466 19%
University of Illinois College of Law 39 214 18%
University of California at Los Angeles School of Law 48 328 15%
Univeristy of Notre Dame Law School 24 166 14%
Boston University School of Law 33 233 14%

Now, obviously biggest 50 does not equate perfectly to 50 most "prestigious", but this list is much more in line with the rankings, and shows a clear drop once you get out of the top 14 or so schools. 

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2006, 11:40:24 AM »

Re: the academic placement: I would say the top nine. Berkeley, Michigan, and UVA all place academics at top 10 law schools, and per Leiter's per capita data ( Berkeley and Michigan fare as well as Columbia and NYU.

But you're right on the whole -- once you get past these nine, you're looking to live the dream.

And let's face facts -- for Supreme Court placement, no matter who you are and where you are, you're more or less looking to live the dream anyways. If you calculate per capita percentages, even the most successful school -- Yale -- has only placed 3.57% of its student body in SC clerkships from 1991-2005. If you calculate similar percentages -- based on Leiter's data -- for all schools, it's pretty insane. Unless you can guarantee you're top 1% of your Harvard class going in, it's a huge amount of luck involved. Likely far more so than teaching, as the legal academic market places value on publications, cognate degrees, etc.

Here's the per capita Supreme placement -- i.e., Supreme placement as percentage of student body from 1991-2005. While this data is rough, and not complete, it gives the picture.

Yale University   3.571428571
University of Chicago   2.321428571
Stanford University   2
Harvard University   1.662337662
Columbia University   0.571428571
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor   0.428571429
University of Virginia   0.387755102
University of California, Berkeley   0.342857143
Northwestern University   0.321428571
New York University   0.285714286
University of Notre Dame   0.285714286
Duke University   0.25
University of Texas, Austin   0.174603175
University of Pennsylvania   0.142857143
Brigham Young University   0.142857143
University of Kansas   0.142857143
University of California, Los Angeles   0.114285714
Vanderbilt University   0.107142857
George Washington University   0.089285714
Georgetown University   0.083333333
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign   0.057142857
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill   0.057142857

PS While Cornell fell out of Leiter's study, it's percentage is 0.037593985.

PPS And the GW number above -- based on Leiter's data -- is out-of-date. As far as I can tell, I think it should now be: 0.116666667 -- just over Vandy and UCLA, if Vandy and UCLA hold constant due to possible recent hiring and if Leiter's data for them is accurate.

PPPS For purposes of comparing Cornell and GW -- or any two other schools -- it would be far better to compare federal appellate or just simply all federal clerkships (per capita) over the same stretch of time. But, alas, I haven't the time or desire to seek out the data. Would be curious to see how Corn fares vs. GW there, though....


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Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #47 on: July 28, 2006, 11:53:13 AM »

You are ignoring a point I made earlier - that some firms go onto campus hoping to recruit only one or two people. Law firms love diversity, whether that mean color of skin, sexual orientation (well, some do), or law school attended. A lot of prestigious firms go onto each campus hoping to recruit only one or two people and get the rest of their associates from other schools.

Given that, one would clearly be at a disadvantage for work in DC comming from GW, compared to Cornell. You are competing with all of your classmates for jobs (or at least greater than 70% of them), and GW is also a massive school compared to Cornell.

I really think it would be easier to get a top-paying job in DC comming from Cornell than it would be from GW. Just because more Cornell people don't choose to work in DC does mean it's any harder.

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #48 on: July 28, 2006, 12:04:34 PM »
Slick --

The NLF 50 is definitely also useful and flawed. Yes, Corn places a greater perecentage of its class in the top 50, but that ***really*** artificially narrows the market. I mean, for the love of Mike, what tool is going to hang himself if he gets top 250 but not top 50??? As well, the self-selection problem is here too: for example, 18% of GW's grads go into govt, but only 1-2% of Corn's. Presumably, you have a *greater percentage* of the Cornell class seeking Biglaw, so if a greater percentage of them wind up in Biglaw, it's not that surprising. Yes, Cornell has some national Biglaw placement advantages over GW, but you have to think a bit about their student bodies and what they are aspiring to. If 16-17% or more of GW's students never enter the Biglaw market, their % will be lower, surely. And it's probably much greater than 16-17%, as GW has strong public interest placement, while only about 2% of Cornies go into public service right out of the gate....

Put differently: a school like Yale falls to 11th in the NLF 50 obviously because most of its students are not so interested in Biglaw. True for other elite schools to varying extents -- NYU, Harvard, UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, etc. -- all such schools fall *below* Corn for different reasons, but certainly a smaller percentage at many places (like Michigan) give a hoot about Biglaw.

For GW, I would think many of those 18%+ percenters who get a job in govt go to GW **to get that job in govt.**, not because they seek Biglaw. In sum: more of Cornell's students are corporate tools, even though its has some placement advantages in select markets.

But thanks for posting the study. Will look at it in more detail. It's useful to add it to the mix....

Re: In off Cornell WL
« Reply #49 on: July 28, 2006, 01:36:37 PM »
The decision is for Cornell.

My reasoning is well summarized in a quote from earlier in this thread by Undecided06:

if you might want to entertain other legal markets, or wonder about transition options from private to gov't to in-house etc, I think it becomes obvious that Cornell will have a lot of advantages.

I think the distortion that "because GW places 65 in DC and Cornell places 26, GW must be definitively better for DC BigLaw" is pretty easy to see through. This doesn't account for the fact that Cornell, even moreso than most other T14 schools, suffers from a lot of regional self-selection. A lot of kids go to Cornell knowing they want to end up in NYC, or feel the most opportunities are present there, and end up going there. This does not mean that if more Cornell kids suddenly went for DC jobs that they couldn't get more than 26 (they easily would). It also does not account for the fact that GW has over twice as many students entering the job market each year versus Cornell. I think even most DC lawyers will tell you that Cornell is simply a better law school than GW.

Statistics that at first glance appear to favor GW grads for D.C. jobs don't have legs when you take into account:

1. Class size - I'd like to see stats on how many GW grads were UNABLE to land the job they wanted in D.C.  That would be much more telling than the number of lawyers in the area, which is clearly skewed by the fact that GW is cranking out 500 attorneys a year.
2. Target city for graduates - The career services woman explained yesterday, as many on this thread have pointed out, that the target city for Cornell grads breaks down like this
1)New York, 2)D.C/Boston, 3)L.A./San Fran.  If D.C. were the main target city for "Cornellians," as it is for GW grads, it would be a different story.  (That is the first and last time I will ever use the term "Cornellians." Blech!)

Numbers and reputation arguments aside, the place just felt right yesterday.  I rolled in there not knowing what the decision would be and left town confident.  I was born and raised in upstate NY, so Ithaca will not be a jolt to the system.  My fiance felt comfortable there and that made a HUGE difference as well.  There's a gorge next to the law school where we talked about the decision we were about to make.  For the first time in two days, we were at peace.  Plus we'll be spending next year apart, so the closer proximity will be nice.  If I had turned down Cornell for GW, I would have been left with regrets.  So far I don't have any.  Those are my reasons.

Thank you to everyone on this thread.  I went over every one of these posts with a fine-toothed comb.  If you don't think this board makes an impression on our decisions, you're crazy.