Law School Discussion

The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?

botbot

  • ****
  • 2793
    • View Profile
Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2480 on: April 15, 2009, 09:24:20 PM »
What's the difference between BigLaw and Market?

I've always heard the two terms used somewhat interchangeably.

All biglaw = market paying firms.
All market paying firms != biglaw.

The reason for the distinction in Tulane's case - there are numerous NOLA, ATL, Bama, Houston, and Dallas firms that pay market but aren't on the NLJ 250 list (basically all of biglaw.)

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2481 on: April 16, 2009, 03:50:37 AM »
Talisker, I am just curious as to what you think accounts for the decline in prominence? It doesn't seem as if the numbers are determinative, because if anything LSAT medians and GPA medians have increased. Is it the ascendance of other schools? Has Tulane lost quality professors and have those losses crippled its prestige? And has Tulane declined as much as you seem to suggest? For what it is worth, US NEWS reputation scores are still pretty high. Now I think that the notion of top 25% being eligible for market Biglaw is pretty farfetched, but less than 10%? Seriously, is it that bad? And does Tulane distort its' numbers that greatly? I am still attending regardless, but that would be dissapointing.

The numbers have been steadily improving, but also consider that that's the case for essentially all law schools, and especially private schools who aren't forced to admit any in-state applicants, so Tulane isn't unusual in this regard.  In fact, as some pointed out earlier in the thread, Tulane's numbers have been slower to improve than many other schools, and not for lack of effort.  Also, Tulane recently cut class sizes and faculty.  This was partly for budgetary reasons, but I also believe there was some real concern about dropping back closer to 50 or all the way into the second tier in the rankings if the LSAT margins didn't start seeing some progress.  When a school's ranking suffers, people tend to get fired.  This wasn't the sole reason as the all the school's grad programs saw cutbacks, but it was certainly a consideration.

I would say that overall the faculty is better, but the improvements are marginal in the grand scheme of things - it hasn't really helped or hurt the school.. I've discussed this quite a bit with other people over the last three years, and the conclusions seems to be that Tulane is losing ground because schools like WUSTL, Emory, and W&L who can afford to buy better students (with tons of scholarships) and faculty have been ascendant and have heavily cut into the a flow of students that used to be more interested in Tulane.  Tulane still has a large draw from the NE considering it's location, but its ability to pull students who just missed their first choices in the Northeast has serious declined and been surpassed by other schools.  Fear of hurricanes, decline and treading water in the rankings, and lack of ability to offer as many scholarships (and thus attract the best students) have kept Tulane's student body quality static.  The recent slashing of the class size will help, but it's questionable as to whether it's just a band-aid or will actually change things. 

It's also worth noting that Tulane was a more national presence when there were simply fewer law school options and students, and it's maintained something of a halo effect from the past (as well as the continuing higher ranking the med program).  NOLA was once the energy center of the US and a lot more affluent, and Tulane truly did carry a reputation as 'The Hah-vahd of The South (or Sea, as some like it).'  It was tongue in cheek back then as well, but overall the school just had a higher profile.  In a lot of ways it has either failed to compete or simply been a victim of circumstances, but it's simply not what it once was.  This isn't to say it sucks by any means, but Tulane was altogether more prestigious and desirable 20 years ago, which helps with the reputation scores quite a bit.  Also, a note on those scores - have a look at this:

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=58629

As you can see, Tulane does well and in it's in a certain tier of decently regarded schools, but once you get to that level, you're basically splitting hairs.  A reputation score of 3.X doesn't really get you much more or less than one or two decimals above or below - at best it means that Tulane is about as well regarded in its region as schools with similar scores.  They're a good general indicator, but nothing you want put too much stock in.

I'll address the market/biglaw distinction in a follow-up post, although botbot did a pretty decent job already.  So far as fudging the numbers - the 'median starting salary' is famously inflated, and just about student here will tell you that.  The majority of private schools do this, so I don't hold it against Tulane and you'll get straight answers from the career development people if you go down there and talk to them.  I won't break down the vagaries of how it works right now, but essentially, Tulane usually derives its average starting salary from a very small percentage of the class who 'report it,' almost all of who are in private practice and probably in the top 20% of starting salaries relative to the whole student body.  I believe that a few years ago it hit an all-time low and the school based its median starting salary on something like 18% of the class.

Botbot is correct that NOLA is doing above average in the current economy, but that leads to the last problem with Tulane, which is that it doesn't exactly have a perfect home market.  This is both good and bad in the sense that it has created a wider network of alumni by necessity (and self-selection, as many never wanted to practice in NOLA or LA to begin with), but it also means there's no rock solid market that Tulane places into.  Loyola is on equal footing in New Orleans, and LSU is the boss everywhere North.  You'll find that most of the 'market' firms in NOLA aren't going to take Tulane grads who don't make coif and that Southern law firms in general are more interested in local ties and other factors outside of raw ranking prestige, so Tulane doesn't enjoy an overwhelming advantage in its home city, which is not the case with schools like SMU or a lot of the other city schools.  Another thing to consider about the economy thing is that NOLA is artificially boosted right now by the hurricane money, but it's questionable how long this will last and whether it will do anything in the long run.  Even before the storm the local business base had basically crawled to a halt outside of a few areas, and so far there's no indication of real revitalization once all the public works dollars and projects have dried up.  But if you're a typical Tulane student and don't want to practice here, this has zero effect on you.

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2482 on: April 16, 2009, 04:06:09 AM »
What's the difference between BigLaw and Market?

I've always heard the two terms used somewhat interchangeably.

Biglaw is a nebulous term - I actually wouldn't agree that all Biglaw equals market, especially if we're talking about the NALP 250.  A lot of those firms are actually at $125K or lower in markets that support the full $165K, although its possible that this figure is going to be reduced in the near future.  I generally define real Biglaw as the Vault 100, but everybody has their own ideas on this - suffice to say that it's a large firm with at least a few national offices.

'Market' just means that you're making the top salary offered to associates in the area.  Real market salaries are the $165K you can find in NYC, LA, Houston, Chicago, and a handful of other places.  In NOLA I believe that market is a little over $90K, which obviously isn't the same thing.  It gets more complicated when you consider that some people are more regional about - for instance, ATL, if I'm remembering correctly, has a local 'market' of $145K or something, but there  are a few associate jobs in the city with small branch office from NYC that moved up to the $165K level, which means it was atypical for the elite firms in the city but technically the highest salary available for first years.

At any rate, market is simply the highest salary available in a given area which defaults to state-wide in most areas of the South, and Biglaw is going to be different depending on who you ask.  Most all the 'market' firms in NOLA aren't technically Biglaw and are closer to a the 'midlaw' designation, which means regional firms with a good number of attorney's, but still too small or unknown to be ranked or really handle anything outside of local business.

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2483 on: April 16, 2009, 05:36:21 AM »
First off all, thanks botbot and talisker, you guys are both very helpful. So, I was wondering a couple of things. Why do so many Tulane students choose to leave the New Orleans Market? Particularly curious as so many students again and again remark how they fell in love with the city. Is it simply because they are transplants from across the country and were determined to return home following law school regardless? Also, Loyola and Tulane are truly peers in the NO market? Despite Tulane's far better reputation and better quality of student body, you still have to make coif to be competitive with firms like Phelps Dunbar and Adams and Reese? Coif is top %10, right? I may very well be interested in remaining in NO, and if not, then the South in general, and it is somewhat off-putting to learn that there may be a real resistance to Tulane students there. Is the reluctance to embrace Tulane grads really so pronounced? If anything, I am nearly certain that I don't want to return to New York and have always had little interest in Tulane's odd traction there, I want to remain in the south, but I don't yet have much in the way of ties there except for some family (not immediate) in Georgia and Florida.

botbot

  • ****
  • 2793
    • View Profile
Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2484 on: April 16, 2009, 01:36:16 PM »
Is it simply because they are transplants from across the country and were determined to return home following law school regardless?

I know students from NOLA that leave and students from other markets that stay.  Still, when 65-75% of our students come from other markets many are going to leave at graduation.

Quote
Also, Loyola and Tulane are truly peers in the NO market?

No, but Loyola does place well in NOLA.  You will see more Loyola grads in NOLA firms, but that has more to do with Tulane graduates leaving town than it does Loyola's placement.

Quote
Despite Tulane's far better reputation and better quality of student body, you still have to make coif to be competitive with firms like Phelps Dunbar and Adams and Reese?

Not coif, but top 25% to be competitive.  The higher the GPA the better, obviously.

Quote
Coif is top %10, right?

Yes.

Quote
I may very well be interested in remaining in NO, and if not, then the South in general, and it is somewhat off-putting to learn that there may be a real resistance to Tulane students there. Is the reluctance to embrace Tulane grads really so pronounced? If anything, I am nearly certain that I don't want to return to New York and have always had little interest in Tulane's odd traction there, I want to remain in the south, but I don't yet have much in the way of ties there except for some family (not immediate) in Georgia and Florida.

You will have to sell the firms on why you want to stay.  Firms like to believe that roots in the area will keep you from bolting when a better NYC opportunity arises.  Marry a southerner  ;)

Quote
In NOLA I believe that market is a little over $90K, which obviously isn't the same thing.  It gets more complicated when you consider that some people are more regional about - for instance, ATL, if I'm remembering correctly, has a local 'market' of $145K or something, but there  are a few associate jobs in the city with small branch office from NYC that moved up to the $165K level, which means it was atypical for the elite firms in the city but technically the highest salary available for first years.

NYC capped at $160.  Dallas, Houston, and ATL all have the $145/160 two tiered market.  NOLA is/was at $105 during interview season.

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2485 on: April 16, 2009, 06:30:55 PM »
First off all, thanks botbot and talisker, you guys are both very helpful. So, I was wondering a couple of things. Why do so many Tulane students choose to leave the New Orleans Market? Particularly curious as so many students again and again remark how they fell in love with the city. Is it simply because they are transplants from across the country and were determined to return home following law school regardless? Also, Loyola and Tulane are truly peers in the NO market? Despite Tulane's far better reputation and better quality of student body, you still have to make coif to be competitive with firms like Phelps Dunbar and Adams and Reese? Coif is top %10, right? I may very well be interested in remaining in NO, and if not, then the South in general, and it is somewhat off-putting to learn that there may be a real resistance to Tulane students there. Is the reluctance to embrace Tulane grads really so pronounced? If anything, I am nearly certain that I don't want to return to New York and have always had little interest in Tulane's odd traction there, I want to remain in the south, but I don't yet have much in the way of ties there except for some family (not immediate) in Georgia and Florida.

1.  Why do so many Tulane students choose to leave the New Orleans Market?

Botbot answered that - a large percentage either aren't from NOLA or they just want to leave.  Part of the concept behind Tulane having greater 'reach' than other private schools is that so many people here are from further away, although it's not really a national student body like you'd find at a T14.  Also, there simply aren't all that many lucrative law jobs in NOLA and the market can be tough to crack.  The idea that any Tulane student not form the South is viewed with suspicion as some kind of carpetbagging outsider is wildly overblown, but firms around here to look for connection to the area beyond the fact that you went to law school, and because there aren't many large firms or openings to begin with, they can afford to be quite selective.

2. Loyola and Tulane are truly peers in the NO market?

I partially disagree with botbot on this.  It really depends on the firm.  It is widely recognized that Tulane is a more selective school and has higher quality students, but depending on the firm and individual, I would say that a top quarter student at either school has about the same level of access and opportunity with local firms.  People debate this heavily (the schools are literally next to each other and Loyola has an awesome parking garage that we all lust for, so comparative speculation can't be helped), but the fact is, most of the state Supremes, a ton of local judges, and many, many local partners are all Loyola alumni, and nobody in the city will look down on you for having a Loyola JD, especially if you did fairly well.  It's a truly local school and enjoys that advantage.  That being said, there are some really poor students there and people know this, so if you fall around the median there, you have far less opportunity for any kind of job than you would from Tulane.  On the flip side, I know many Tulane students who get frustrated when they run into unremarkable Loyola kids with superior SA positions and jobs lined up after graduation, and these are almost exclusively in NOLA.  So essentially, they're close to peer schools if you're working in NOLA - Loyola has a fine rep but you need to do well, and Tulane is probably preferred at a few firms and is recognized as a better school, though that's hardly always decisive for jobs down here.

3. Is the reluctance to embrace Tulane grads really so pronounced?

It's overstated by many, but it does exist.  You can overcome by simply being very clear about your desire to be in the city during OCI and any other interviewing.  They want to see investment and connection to the city, not gushing about how much you love getting drunk at The Columns and wondering around Magazine St., so make it clear that you're looking to make a career there, not just score your first job in a city you kind of like.  People make it happen all the time; it's really just a matter of approaching it the right way and fostering as many local ties as you can while still a student.  If you can afford to buy a condo or house, that goes a long way towards demonstrating that you're serious and it's easy to bring up in interviews.  Most people can relate over some of the unique challenges of home ownership in NOLA.







Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2486 on: April 16, 2009, 06:49:39 PM »
I get the feeling that if Tulane were in the midwest/northeast, it would be seen as more in the caliber of Fordham, Boston-U, Washington-U, GWU or USC.
If you compare the T numbers to the GW or BU numbers, you see they are much different.

T is more like a UConn or maybe Maryland, it seems.  Very very strong but not a GW or WashU.

Yes, but those numbers (GPA's, LSAT', and even scholarly citations) would theoretically be different. Look at the facts. New Orleans isn't for everyone. And many people who might cansider Tulane do not because of ignorance about the city, Katrina, etc. Sometimes schools attract because of self-fulfilling prophesy, not because of what's actually inside of the package. And Tulane has an excellent package. If Tulane kept everything the same, but moved to D.C., got a bigger library due to the needs created by geographic demand...you'd be looking at a GWU or maybe even a Georgetown.

What people tend to do is compare schools "as they are". Move Tulane and keep its core qualities intact and I would venture to think it would be much more prestigious...to the point of leapfrogging about 20-25 schools

And forget USNWR, it has little credibility, outside of the top-10, in my mind.

http://www.top-law-schools.com/tulane-law-school.html



Actually, what people tend to do is to compare schools by reputation, not "as they are."  And again with the citing of TLS.  While I'm at it, I'd like to say thanks for making it so obvious where you're heading next year

Cheers!  :)

P.S. I'm just pointing out ways in which LawDog is wrong.  It's a demanding job but somebody's got to do it! 

Nothing but love for Tulane.  :)

Uuuuugh! Guess again...Tulane did recruit me (as did Wake Forest, North Carolina, Illinois, WUSTL, GWU, Iowa and Texas) and, upon applying to these schools I was offered scholarships to all...but, I'm not going to any of them by a longshot. You need to think top-10. Could it be somewhere in NY? Chicago? Virginia? D.C.? Or geographically close to the former(s)?! Hmmm...maybe I'll just head to UCLA. No matter...see u in claaaaas? lol.

I like that pointing out my wrongs is "a demanding job". That means I am either correct, or at least well-marshaled, most of the time. lol. 

As for comparisons by "reputation", the word is arbitrary and abstract. I tend to think that, based on the Tulane student's responses, the Tulane Law student is assuming moving Tulane and keeping EVERYTHING, including student body and faculty, the same. Schools cannot be fairly compared that way. In general, the east coast bias that permeates most American institutions is alive and well in school rankings. That's my point.

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2487 on: April 16, 2009, 07:16:16 PM »
IMO, Tulane's national reach is mostly explained by the same dynamics as those affecting Vandy or Michigan. There are few "top" firms in the area, so most out-of-state students enter knowing they will not practice in Tennessee or Detroit. Furthermore, this is ok with their administrations.

Tulane is uniquely situated, otherwise, b/c of Katrina and an artificially inflated economy. Who knows whether the governments help will translate into revitalization? It will be really interesting to see what happens over the next five-ten years.

Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2488 on: April 16, 2009, 08:48:05 PM »
IMO, Tulane's national reach is mostly explained by the same dynamics as those affecting Vandy or Michigan. There are few "top" firms in the area, so most out-of-state students enter knowing they will not practice in Tennessee or Detroit. Furthermore, this is ok with their administrations.

Tulane is uniquely situated, otherwise, b/c of Katrina and an artificially inflated economy. Who knows whether the governments help will translate into revitalization? It will be really interesting to see what happens over the next five-ten years.

Look, I have to ask this - are you for real, or this some kind of elaborate joke?

Are you honestly suggesting that Tulane and Michigan have 'reach' for the same reasons?  Michigan is one of the nation's few elite law schools and they have 'reach' for many reasons, the very least of which is that there aren't many law firms in Ann Arbor.

Comparing Vanderbilt to Tulane is equally ridiculous - they simply place better, and part of this actually the result of their having a pipeline into decently sized local markets, including Nashville.

Your final statement about the NOLA economy is contradictory.  On the one hand you're trumpeting Tulane's reach, and the next you're stating that it's well-situated because the local economy is artificially maintained by federal relief dollars and the recovery projects.  The state of the local economy is only relevant if you expect a large number of Tulane grads to actually stick around NOLA, which historically isn't the case and in any event certainly isn't what you're advertising with your first two statements.

You can convince yourself of anything you want, but you're really doing a disservice to other 0Ls who might be impressionable by spewing all these delusional ideas about Tulane's quality and placement.  It's a decent Southern private school that has a historical connection with some NYC firms and a less regional student body than its peers like Wake or SMU - nothing more, nothing less. 

bl825

  • ****
  • 541
  • There are just so many reasons to smile.
    • View Profile
Re: The Tulane Thread on Tulane Greatness: Got Questions?
« Reply #2489 on: April 16, 2009, 10:01:26 PM »
I get the feeling that if Tulane were in the midwest/northeast, it would be seen as more in the caliber of Fordham, Boston-U, Washington-U, GWU or USC.
If you compare the T numbers to the GW or BU numbers, you see they are much different.

T is more like a UConn or maybe Maryland, it seems.  Very very strong but not a GW or WashU.

Yes, but those numbers (GPA's, LSAT', and even scholarly citations) would theoretically be different. Look at the facts. New Orleans isn't for everyone. And many people who might cansider Tulane do not because of ignorance about the city, Katrina, etc. Sometimes schools attract because of self-fulfilling prophesy, not because of what's actually inside of the package. And Tulane has an excellent package. If Tulane kept everything the same, but moved to D.C., got a bigger library due to the needs created by geographic demand...you'd be looking at a GWU or maybe even a Georgetown.

What people tend to do is compare schools "as they are". Move Tulane and keep its core qualities intact and I would venture to think it would be much more prestigious...to the point of leapfrogging about 20-25 schools

And forget USNWR, it has little credibility, outside of the top-10, in my mind.

http://www.top-law-schools.com/tulane-law-school.html



Actually, what people tend to do is to compare schools by reputation, not "as they are."  And again with the citing of TLS.  While I'm at it, I'd like to say thanks for making it so obvious where you're heading next year

Cheers!  :)

P.S. I'm just pointing out ways in which LawDog is wrong.  It's a demanding job but somebody's got to do it! 

Nothing but love for Tulane.  :)

Uuuuugh! Guess again...Tulane did recruit me (as did Wake Forest, North Carolina, Illinois, WUSTL, GWU, Iowa and Texas) and, upon applying to these schools I was offered scholarships to all...but, I'm not going to any of them by a longshot. You need to think top-10. Could it be somewhere in NY? Chicago? Virginia? D.C.? Or geographically close to the former(s)?! Hmmm...maybe I'll just head to UCLA. No matter...see u in claaaaas? lol.

I like that pointing out my wrongs is "a demanding job". That means I am either correct, or at least well-marshaled, most of the time. lol. 

As for comparisons by "reputation", the word is arbitrary and abstract. I tend to think that, based on the Tulane student's responses, the Tulane Law student is assuming moving Tulane and keeping EVERYTHING, including student body and faculty, the same. Schools cannot be fairly compared that way. In general, the east coast bias that permeates most American institutions is alive and well in school rankings. That's my point.

Who knows what's top-10 in your mind.  ::)

And it's only demanding because there's just so much wrong to point out.  :D

Reputation is not arbitrary.  It's quantifiable and has been quantified.