Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

All things being equal, which law school would you choose to attend?

Boston University
 28 (34.6%)
University of Southern California
 43 (53.1%)
University of Minnesota
 10 (12.3%)

Total Members Voted: 81

Author Topic: BU vs. USC vs. UMN  (Read 7705 times)

indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2007, 11:43:31 AM »
BU is not known for it's entertainment law program, but Boston, believe it or not, is a big city for sports agents, perhaps behind only Los Angeles and Miami.

While it is very true that you should never go to a school based only on a program, when you are looking at three schools that are somewhat close in rank, it is perfectly fine to zoom in on something you think you will like, like entertainment law, and take the school that is strongest in it. If we were talking, UMiami (a great entertainmnet law school) versus BU (not a great EL school), then even if you want entertinment law, by all means go to BU. And if you go to USC and your interest wanes in EL, so what? It really isn't a big deal, it's a top law school, you can switch to any other type of law focus. Same thing if you want, say, international law. It is perfectly fine, among such similarly ranked schools, to choose the school that is best in this area - say it's BU (no idea if this is the case). And if you are at BU, and the international thing doesn't work out, so what? You still are at a top law school, and can do whatever you choose.

I, personally, would consider geography over speciaility. USC is somewhat national, as is BU. UMinn is pretty regional.

I agree that this is true to a limited extent...it's also probably why UMN grads in general don't make as much as USC or BU grads, they just don't get into as many BIGLAW firms. Then again, from year to year they usually have about 20% or more of their class get judicial clerkships, which I understand is pretty high. Since I don't know exactly what I want to do with my J.D., I do find that somewhat interesting.

indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2007, 11:48:32 AM »
i don't know too much about sports and entertainment law at BU. we have at least one class on it. david e. kelley has his JD from here (producer of ally mcbeal, boston legal, the firm, etc.), and so does general counsel for the patriots...  we also have the "communication, entertainment and sports law association," which is a student-run club.   

that being said, my two cents for you:  unless you're dead-set on entertainment law, i would caution you about deciding on a law school for of a particular program.  nobody gets to law school really "knowing" what they want to do (unless they've left a career to go to law school and they plan to go back to their old line of work; e.g. bankers, MBAs, etc.). 

a lot of people take one class on tax law, or trusts & estates and something immediately clicks in their brains, and they decide that's what they want to do.  you must be thinking, "tax law? that sounds horrible..."

i mean, it's not my cup of tea, but i have friends here who would argue for hours that it's the most interesting line of law and they can't wait for a tax practice.  in contrast, alot of people come in wanting to do international law, until they find out its all transactional work...  lots of people don't decide until they get job offers.  the founding partner of my firm left law school wanting to do estate planning, but he was assigned to the litigation department at his first firm.  he loved litigation so much that 30 years ago or so he started his own trial firm.  most people don't go on to start their own firm, but they do choos what they like doing based on their first job, which ends up being pretty random...   

the law school job process is a lot like the law school application process: most people try to go to the most prestigious firm they get an offer at, and then they decide what kind of law they want to do once they start working.

i think the most important point is this:  law school teaches you a way to think, but you learn the actual law "on the job."  so if you're interested in entertainment law, you should go wherever you go and apply to firms that do entertainment law when the time comes.  you can feel confident that your entertainment law class(es) in law school will be a distant memory on the job...   

all that being said, BU may be great for enterainment law, but i have no idea about the program.

I knew about the student club, but I didn't know about the famous BU grads involved in the field. Good info! And I am decidely not determining where I go based on my current area of interest, because I am fully aware that it may change during law school (and some would say that it probably will). But I am getting down to the wire with needing to make a decision soon (I CANNOT afford to put down deposits at all 3!), so I need something help me differentiate between my options....

Suggestions anyone?

moo cow

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #42 on: April 20, 2007, 05:22:29 PM »

What matters more, GPA or rank?  I feel like it would be hard for me to drop out of the top ten percent at Miami, but just as possible to drop out of the top half at GW or BU.  Being 8 LSAT points above the 75th %ile at UM should be somewhat predictive of success, no?  Being smarter than most everyone in the class has always seemed to help earn good grades and leadership in every instance I know of.  I know law exams are kind of random, but doesn't that favor the handfull of students the prof is impressed with? (easier to identify the best than to discern preferences amongst the middle of the pack, hence more confident in dominating at a low Tier2 than being considered as above average at a low T25)

Maybe at BU its more moot.  What about GW?  Do they rank everyone?  At that point what does the curve matter?  Hypothetically, what would be a stronger credential:  top 5% at UM or top 55% at GW?  What is the GW curve?  I've heard people say its not a cut-throat school but I find it hard to believe.  Nearly every student there wanted to go top 14, is in the middle of a huge legal market, and wants to get a top job to pay off big loans.  And they are all quite smart.  That seems so much tougher to me than competing at UM.  I'm putting this all out there so you can school me a bit if I'm wrong but to consider some points I think are valid too. 

In addition to the objective case I think there is a personal tendency for me to be much more motivated when I feel like I can be one of the best of my peers (potentially the case at UM), than when I feel in the middle and intimidated by the talent of the top handful of students... then I slide into the jovial role of contented in the middle of the pack - perhaps the phenomena that makes top25 schools less comptitive as you say.  At Miami, mediocrity would not be an acceptable option for me.  Is that the case for many students there, thus making it competitive as you say?  The impression I get from the facebook for UM '10 and posts I've read about UM's ASW was that there were lots of people wanting to work in Miami (do-able with mediocre grades) and a noticable contingent of "kids of lawyers looking to treat LS like extension of UG".  ASW impressions included thinking the UGs represented were unimpressive.  Plus the numbers are what they are... I've never attended a class regularly and handed papers in by due date then not gotten an A.  It seems at top25 I'll be rolling the dice but at UM I wouldn't even have to come off as a gunner, just do the work, to get mostly A's.  With a 3.17 curve how many A's are there in a group of 100?  This may illuminate things to me and change my mind.

I think a lot of your points are really good, and I definitely believe that the big fish in a small pond factor plays a huge role in how you will do in law school. 

But one thing for you to consider is this:  I personally studied for the LSAT for many months and managed to swing a decent score.  I have friends from undergrad that are MUCH smarter than me that didn't think studying was a big deal.  They ended up with much lower scores, and consequently at much worse schools than BU. 

I think it's different when you're talking about a 4th tier, but a school like UM is going to have a lot of really smart students who just didn't study that much for the LSAT, or smoked a little too much pot in undergrad and hurt their GPA.  Point is, you should expect really stiff competition.  You may be right, and chances are you are right, you'll be the big fish in small pond.  You will do better than others and that's that. 

but here's the catch: if you're wrong (admittedly possible) then you're at a T2, with a number attached to you, constantly reminding you how wrong you were.  the thing to realize about law school is that it's very different, especially when you throw the curve in.  writing a good paper undergrad is a question of how much time you put in.  but law school is way more than that. 

contrast:  at BU you also have a bunch of really smart kids who all want to do well.  but we're not ranked, so you will never really know if you're in the middle of the pack or at the top or at the bottom (unless you're at the very top, then they tell you).  it seems like the safer bet...

all that being said, there were many many times that i wished i had gone to a worse school because it would be easier to get top grades.  but the big risk and major counterargument is that it's a gamble:  worse schools rank, and if you're not at the top then you're ranked low at a T2...   

Hurricane Lazlo

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #43 on: April 20, 2007, 07:28:47 PM »

I think a lot of your points are really good, and I definitely believe that the big fish in a small pond factor plays a huge role in how you will do in law school. 

But one thing for you to consider is this:  I personally studied for the LSAT for many months and managed to swing a decent score.  I have friends from undergrad that are MUCH smarter than me that didn't think studying was a big deal.  They ended up with much lower scores, and consequently at much worse schools than BU. 

I think it's different when you're talking about a 4th tier, but a school like UM is going to have a lot of really smart students who just didn't study that much for the LSAT, or smoked a little too much pot in undergrad and hurt their GPA.  Point is, you should expect really stiff competition.  You may be right, and chances are you are right, you'll be the big fish in small pond.  You will do better than others and that's that. 

but here's the catch: if you're wrong (admittedly possible) then you're at a T2, with a number attached to you, constantly reminding you how wrong you were.  the thing to realize about law school is that it's very different, especially when you throw the curve in.  writing a good paper undergrad is a question of how much time you put in.  but law school is way more than that. 

contrast:  at BU you also have a bunch of really smart kids who all want to do well.  but we're not ranked, so you will never really know if you're in the middle of the pack or at the top or at the bottom (unless you're at the very top, then they tell you).  it seems like the safer bet...

all that being said, there were many many times that i wished i had gone to a worse school because it would be easier to get top grades.  but the big risk and major counterargument is that it's a gamble:  worse schools rank, and if you're not at the top then you're ranked low at a T2...   


Thanks, I agree with your points.  I know I will have to put in a lot more time, study, and outline, not do things last minute.  My concern is perhaps I can't match the combo of study habits and smarts that I'll need at top 25 because I'm rusty and have been out of UG for 7 years.  I expect first semester to be a bit rough for me.  And my worst fear is getting discouraged and frustrated... I want to enjoy LS and feel confident in my abilities heading into the job world, not get burnt out quickly.

SORRY to OP for hijacking the thread for a bit.  Minnesota is pretty sweet with its COL, academic quality, but I think USC gives the most options unless you're sure about the east coast, public transportation, and enjoying four seasons - you get those and comparable job options at BU, probably with better professors and in a more intellectual city.
I'm just struggling with the idea of taking Miami over Fordham.
But it may be moot.  I will take BU or GW over Miami and my admit results arent' even in yet.
Right now all I have solid is that I'll choose Miami over Mason and sit on GW waitlist.

Thanks MOOCOW.  CURVE QUESTION:  3.17 curve means it is the average each class has to hand out, right?  Mostly B's, as many B+ as C+ a few more A's than C's. 
What is the curve like at BU?  You get a GPA but not a rank.  Do a lot of people get 3.5+ without being cum laude?
thanks again.
Fortunate Fool: Miami, ASU, GMU.   (in)
Staple It Together:  GW, Fordham   (wl)
Inaudible Melodies: Penn, UCLA.    (pending)
The Horizon Has Been Defeated: GULC, BU, Michigan.   (dinged)

moo cow

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2007, 08:10:05 PM »

CURVE QUESTION:  3.17 curve means it is the average each class has to hand out, right?  Mostly B's, as many B+ as C+ a few more A's than C's.  What is the curve like at BU?  You get a GPA but not a rank.  Do a lot of people get 3.5+ without being cum laude?
thanks again.

Check out WUSTL's grade distributions: http://law.wustl.edu/Registrar/index.asp?id=2243.  BU stopped making these public because students were picking classes based on which professors maximized the curve instead of content, but lots of schools still do.  Basically, a prof can have a maximum mean of 87.5 and a minimum mean of 86.5.  Some profs will give as few bad grades as possible, others give many bad grades and offset them with many really high grades...  take a look at a few professors at WUSTL, you'll get the idea. Ohh, and BU's curve is a B+ (same as WUSTL's, I imagine our distribution system is identical).  Last year, everyone above a 3.52 was cum laude, but the specific GPA changes every year.  You get cum laude for top 1/3... 

indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #45 on: April 23, 2007, 07:45:25 PM »
Thanks, I agree with your points.  I know I will have to put in a lot more time, study, and outline, not do things last minute.  My concern is perhaps I can't match the combo of study habits and smarts that I'll need at top 25 because I'm rusty and have been out of UG for 7 years.  I expect first semester to be a bit rough for me.  And my worst fear is getting discouraged and frustrated... I want to enjoy LS and feel confident in my abilities heading into the job world, not get burnt out quickly.

SORRY to OP for hijacking the thread for a bit.  Minnesota is pretty sweet with its COL, academic quality, but I think USC gives the most options unless you're sure about the east coast, public transportation, and enjoying four seasons - you get those and comparable job options at BU, probably with better professors and in a more intellectual city.
I'm just struggling with the idea of taking Miami over Fordham.
But it may be moot.  I will take BU or GW over Miami and my admit results arent' even in yet.
Right now all I have solid is that I'll choose Miami over Mason and sit on GW waitlist.

Thanks MOOCOW.  CURVE QUESTION:  3.17 curve means it is the average each class has to hand out, right?  Mostly B's, as many B+ as C+ a few more A's than C's. 
What is the curve like at BU?  You get a GPA but not a rank.  Do a lot of people get 3.5+ without being cum laude?
thanks again.

Don't sweat it, Lazlo...I don't consider it hijacking at all since it (a) kept the thread active so that other people can see it and contribute advice or responses and (b) led to me learning some more things about BU...it's all good  :)

Plus, I totally understand the difficulty in making a decision...we'll get a quality legal education at any of our options, but still, it's a choice that will affect the rest of our lives...

indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2007, 01:28:55 PM »
I am officially withdrawn from UMN as of today, so now it's down to BU or USC.

I'm leaning toward USC at the moment, but not by much so it may change (about 55% USC/45% BU).

bump for any additional insight/opinions/advice

HerculePoirot

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2007, 05:18:06 PM »
I am officially withdrawn from UMN as of today, so now it's down to BU or USC.

I'm leaning toward USC at the moment, but not by much so it may change (about 55% USC/45% BU).

bump for any additional insight/opinions/advice

I was accepted at both BU and USC.  I went to both school's preview day, and I have to say, without a doubt, USC ran a better event.

Even though the choice probably hinges upon where you want to get your first job, I think USC outperforms BU in general.  USC's undergraduate school ranks higher than BUs, as well as the graduate programs.

USC has better known athletics, if that means anything to you.  College sports fans might want to be your friend in the hopes you can hook 'em up with tickets.  Perhaps clients too  :P

USC has campus, a really pretty campus, BU does not.

I like Southern California weather compared to the dismal, dreary weather of New England.  I have lived in New England my whole life, and I am ready for a change.

But the main reason why I most likely am going to USC is because its academic program is stronger. 


indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #48 on: April 26, 2007, 11:41:01 AM »
I was accepted at both BU and USC.  I went to both school's preview day, and I have to say, without a doubt, USC ran a better event.

Even though the choice probably hinges upon where you want to get your first job, I think USC outperforms BU in general.  USC's undergraduate school ranks higher than BUs, as well as the graduate programs.

USC has better known athletics, if that means anything to you.  College sports fans might want to be your friend in the hopes you can hook 'em up with tickets.  Perhaps clients too  :P

USC has campus, a really pretty campus, BU does not.

I like Southern California weather compared to the dismal, dreary weather of New England.  I have lived in New England my whole life, and I am ready for a change.

But the main reason why I most likely am going to USC is because its academic program is stronger. 



HP, thanks for your perspective! I am glad to have heard from you and others (such as ButImAGilmore) that had the choice between BU and USC, especially since you've actually visited both schools.

What kind of feel did you get from the student bodies at both schools?

As for sports, I'd want to be my friend for USC tickets! Have you heard anything about how difficult/expensive it is to get tickets (especially for football and basketball) if you go to USC?


indomitable

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Re: BU vs. USC vs. UMN
« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2007, 11:58:04 AM »
I've decided to send in a deposit to USC and am doing so today. I would've already, but having to send in a passport-sized photo of myself was more of a pain than I'd anticipated (plus, I hear one professor actually puts the pic up on-screen when he calls on students in class...yikes!).

Anyway, I'll have seat deposits in at USC and at BU (apologies to any waitlisted persons at either). I am not 100% committed to either yet, although I am definitely leaning strongly toward one over the other. A lot of factors could come into play or change my mind though (such as increased money at either), so it may be a while before I have any clarity in the matter. I am definitely NOT putting down a second seat deposit at both places, so that means I'll make my decision by June 1 (BU's 2nd deposit date) at the latest.

Thanks for all the comments/insight so far...I'm still open to more if anyone has anything to add.