Law School Discussion

UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??

UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« on: March 08, 2007, 08:22:32 AM »
Here's my deal:

As of now, I'd rather practice in the midwest, but only because I've never really been out to CA/don't have any family or friends there.  I'm a MN resident so I get in-state tuition at Wisconsin (almost half the price of UC-Davis).  I also have a serious girlfriend who will be in Chicago.  However, I want to work in BIGLAW and I found some interesting stats for each school from NALP.  UC-Davis has 145 BIGLAW firms (defined as those with starting salaries over $100K) recruiting on campus for a class of 190 students.  Wisconsin has 80 BIGLAW firms recruiting on campus for a class of 280 students.  Conventional wisdom would say go to Wisconsin but I just can't get over those employment numbers (and I don't really know anything about Davis or the surrounding area, but I've heard good things).  Any suggestions/advice/other information that is helpful would be appreciated.

Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 08:26:53 AM »
Willing to take a risk and try something new?  Then go to Davis, but besides that, in your case Wisconsin would be better.  The BIGLAW data for Davis is actually slightly misleading because salary in California will naturally be higher - in reality, Davis is actually known for producing students who DO NOT want to practice in BIGLAW.

If you want more information about Davis feel free to PM me.


Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 09:02:20 AM »
Go to Madison, for a number of reasons:

1) In state tuition - What a deal! Don't underestimate the power that debt can have on your career after law school.
2) Your career goals - You stated that you want to practice in the Midwest, and Madison will position you perfectly for this.
3) Location - Madison is on every best cities list, Sacremento is the armpit of California.
4) Job prospects - Don't be fooled, these Biglaw recruiters will happily place you in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles where homes cost 800k, every woman has silicon implants and you will drive yourself into the ground and will feel out of place coming from the Midwest.
5) Home Prices - Nicer cities in Orange County, San Fran, San Diego are also possibilities, but they are ALL extremely expensive. EG: A home that's 250k in Madison will cost 700k+ in all those cities I just listed. I live in San Diego and visited Madison and compared home prices last year.
7) Cost of living - To give you an idea, beyond housing, my auto insurance is 700 here / 350 in Madison, groceries are 30% higher, and on and on. A salary of 70k in Madison is the same as a BigLaw salary of 125k here.
8) Commutes - Always an issue in CA cities, unlike Madison.  
9) Girlfriend - If it matters to you, she'll be closer - could be good or bad.

As a law student, you may not care much about buying a house, but I mention these things because if you go to Davis you would likely stay out here and eventually deal with them. If you have family in the Midwest, want to work there, and got into Madison, I would go there. Envision where you want to be 10 years from now. People like you and I in their 20s and 30s are fleeing California now for lower cost of living states where they can establish a life, buy a home, put their kids in safe schools and just take a deep breath and forget about congested interstates, materialistic people and the general all about me mentality of areas out here, especially SoCal. Don't be seduced by the figures that show a few more recruiters at Davis and go to the school in the region that you want to eventually practice. Madison may be a better school anyway, and any salary out of there will allow you to live a great life in the Midwest. Out of Davis, if you don't get a BigLaw job you will be living in poverty making 70k a year in CA. It only makes sense to go to Davis if you really want to stay out here long term, although even then you could go to Madison, have no debt and then move here.

Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 10:22:19 AM »
Thanks for the responses.  One other question, too.  I know both schools are regional, but which one has a better national reputation?

Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 10:24:18 AM »
I'm slightly biased, but I'd say Davis. I mean, they're both similarly ranked, excellent public schools, but you can't beat the "UC" label.  Overall probably neither pulls much weight nationally.

Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2007, 03:48:05 PM »
3) Location - Madison is on every best cities list, Sacremento is the armpit of California.

Since the OP obviously isn't very familiar with CA, I don't think this info is useful. First off, I agree that Sacramento is the armit of CA, and I love Madison. However...

Davis is 10 miles outside of Sacramento. It is a college town and, though admittedly part of the Sacto metro area, not at all the same as living in Sacramento proper, which I find to be a pretty depressing city. Sure, Davis might be hot as all hell in the summer, and occasionally smells like manure, but where would you rather be from November through March? Davis is also an hour from Berkeley/Oakland/San Francisco. Do you like to ride a bike? Davis is a very bike friendly place. You could bike to school in January. Never tried to do that in Madison, but I'd bet it would really suck. On the other hand, maybe you love the snow and a real four seasons climate. It just depends on you...

In short, Davis (the town) has its merits. Don't rule it out because this guy lumps it in w/ Sacramento as the "armit of CA."


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Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 04:32:38 PM »
To be honest, I think the OP should go to Wisconsin for all the reasons he already listed.  It seems like the best choice.

At the same time, I'm also from Minnesota and can't wait to move to the Sacramento area if that's where I decide to go.  I like how culturally diverse Sacto is and how friendly its residents are.  The weather is also pretty nice (it does get really hot in the summer, but I've lived in Georgia where humidity rules, and compared to that, Sacto's heat is nothing).  Davis is also close to a bunch of different places like others have mentioned.  The one hour drive into San Francisco is nothing if you drive during non-rush hour times.  Squaw Valley is an hour away, and Tahoe's around 2 hours if you start missing snow.  Napa/Sonoma are about an hour away, too.

Like I said, I think the OP should go to Madison, but Northern California is a fine choice, too, should the OP decide to try something different. :)


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Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2007, 07:22:21 AM »
Unless Fresno has up and moved from Cali, you guys are nutso if you think Sac is the armpit. Unless of course we are counting two armpits and even then I'd probably pick another city or two (Stockton? Bakersfield? Modesto?).

Nonetheless, I've been to Davis but not Madison. I agree you cannot beat the UC name but I've heard that Madison is one of the countries best college towns. Davis  sure as hell isn't. I'd say go wherever is cheaper.

Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2007, 07:17:06 PM »
I'm a big Davis fan but have to say that from the OP's notes, it sounds like Wisconsin would be a better fit.  Unless the OP really wants BigLaw and the numbers turn out to be far lower coming out of Wisconsin (Davis places about 25% per year for firms 250+) then Wisconsin is probably the better choice. 

However, I think some of the posters are right in that you should connect Davis (for living and employment purposes) more to SF than Sacramento.  And in fact, Sac. is not as bad as people make it out to be.  If you're downtown or in midtown it's quite nice - tree-lined streets, good restaurants and bars, with a generally upbeat atmosphere -surrounded by politics of course.


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Re: UC-Davis or Wisconsin ($) ??
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2007, 10:27:31 AM »
If you are basing job prospects on OCI, you are already giving yourself a big disadvantage. I will look up stats on it if you want, but the majority of students DO NOT get their jobs from OCI.  Just because an employer does/doesn't participate has no impact on whether they will hire you.  Also, you are assuming that you will be at the top of your class.  That's a big "if."  You should choose a school where you feel the most comfortable. Choose a school where the classes and clinics and journals suit your interests.  If you are happy at your law school, odds are that you will do well.  If you choose because of a # (in your case OCI prospects), you are likely to be disappointed.  Go visit both schools.  Find out about programing that will really interest you.  Then choose. 

Most of the people I know are getting jobs (in firms) by using networking and by sending resumes out by the dozens.  1Ls don't have OCI.  For the 2Ls and 3Ls, you will find that only a lucky few get jobs from OCI.  Be very cautious about basing job prospects on this.