Law School Discussion

GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??

GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??
« on: April 01, 2008, 09:03:26 PM »
I've been given a scholarship for 60,000 at Vanderbilt, and I -think- I eventually want to work in the South, but I'm not positive.  I'm also not positive that I want to be in BigLaw for the rest of my life, and might eventually want to do academia or something along those lines.  I also like the idea of living in Chicago for my 3 years in school.  Here are my concerns:

Northwestern would be a great school, but, despite their USNews ranking, their reputation scores among both peers and employers are lower than everyone's in the T14 (thus, GTown's) and very close to Vandy's.  Does this matter?  Does anyone know how these rep scores are tallied, and whether they should truly carry any weight in my mind?  And if NW's employment prospects are a lot greater than Vandy's, what exactly do the reputation scores imply?

If you had these choices, what would you pick?  What do you think are the general pros and cons for each of these schools for someone who is mostly unsure about what direction their career might take, but 80% believes it will involve BigLaw at some point in time?

Re: GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2008, 09:50:25 PM »
Let me get a crack at this...

First, none of the three schools you listed have a great reputation of producing academics.  Schools like Yale are factories when it comes to producing academics; either by choice or not, lower ranked schools have a hard time competing.  With that said, you can still go the academia route if you intern for a prestigious judge (i.e. US Supreme Court).  The published numbers (forgive if I can find the link right now) have shown that Northwestern holds a significant advantage in this area over the two other schools.

Second, Northwestern does present much better career aspects than Vandy.  Whether or not it's worth $60K is a question you will have to answer for yourself.  While the Vandy and GTown degrees will not hurt you, the NU degree will definitely open more doors (in location and career opportunities).

Lastly, the reputation score is a very slow moving animal.  The people surveyed are graduates of certain schools, and they have vested interest in seeing those schools remain high in the rankings.  Therefore, it is unlikely that the reputation scores will reflect the current changes going on in the legal world.   

Re: GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2008, 08:20:28 AM »
Its true none of your choices have a great repuatation for producing academics but I think Northwestern is stronger than GTown and Vandy in a couple of respects.  NU is smaller than GTown, so it will be easier for you to make the connections with faculty that would ultimately help you to write publishable work.  Also, NU has a joint PhD - JD program which is seen as key at the moment to breaking into legal academia and we have a couple of current professors that have a particular interest in helping students who want to break into legal academia. Also as mentioned we have a strong clerkship record.  We had 3 Supreme Court clerks last year, which for a small school is very good.

More info on the PhD-JD program is available at http://www.law.northwestern.edu/academics/jdphd/

More info on clerkships and other employment prospects is available at http://www.law.northwestern.edu/career/statistics/

Re: GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2008, 03:25:31 PM »
Its true none of your choices have a great repuatation for producing academics but I think Northwestern is stronger than GTown and Vandy in a couple of respects.  NU is smaller than GTown, so it will be easier for you to make the connections with faculty that would ultimately help you to write publishable work.  Also, NU has a joint PhD - JD program which is seen as key at the moment to breaking into legal academia and we have a couple of current professors that have a particular interest in helping students who want to break into legal academia. Also as mentioned we have a strong clerkship record.  We had 3 Supreme Court clerks last year, which for a small school is very good.

More info on the PhD-JD program is available at http://www.law.northwestern.edu/academics/jdphd/

More info on clerkships and other employment prospects is available at http://www.law.northwestern.edu/career/statistics/

To the extent a smaller school and a JD/PhD program run by leading academics can open up doors for academia, Vanderbilt has amazing opportunities as well. As of last year VULS is the only program to offer an in-house PhD program in economics, and they stole two Harvard professors to come set it up. (http://law.vanderbilt.edu/academics/academic-programs/phd-program-in-law--economics/index.aspx .) And Vanderbilt's strength throughout the south would be of significant value if that's the region you'd be looking to do academic work in down the road... but agreed none of these schools are known for pumping out professors. If that's your ultimate goal you should definitely be looking more closely at the dual-degree programs and think about focusing your career in the area you'd eventually like to teach/research.

That said, I suggest you strike GULC and then start looking at the joint degree programs at NU and Vandy. Whether NU's higher rank is worth turning down the $$ from Vanderbilt is a decision you'll need to make... also, check out this article about the Vault employer rankings released last month. NU and Vanderbilt are at #9 and #11 respectively, and if the validity of these rankings holds I would think USNews might have to consider including more job-related criteria in their formulas, which would definitely help out both programs at the expense of others that rely heavily on their historical prestige.  http://randazza.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/rankings-are-garbage-but/

G'luck.

Re: GTown, Northwestern, or Vandy with $$??
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2008, 05:30:06 PM »
Academia is virtually impossible first off, no matter what school you are from.

Having said that, HYS with a Federal clerkship seems to be a prerequisite for academia.

Gtown, NU, or Vandy, you can attend any and have the same shot at academia- very slim.  You pretty much will need to be at the top of your class, law review, and a prestigious federal clerkship.  If you have the ability to pull this off at one of those 3, you will be able to do so at the other 2.

So having said all that, I'd go to NU