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Why do people want to go Harvard?

TheBatmanTheBatman Alum Member

I know that HLS is among the top 5 law schools on ratings, there is a certain image, prestige, and level of success to attend such a school. I imagine being a HLS grad opens doors to unique opportunities (e.g. jobs) and has wide range of resources for one to access.

It's really expensive, and other law schools teach basically the same stuff.

But, are there other reasons why HLS is a desired destination? Why Harvard?

Comments

  • Return On InferenceReturn On Inference Alum Member
    edited April 2018 497 karma

    Personally, I want to do transactional work/M&A in China and the Harvard name actually goes quite a ways in China. I think that the prestige factor might even be a bigger factor over there than elsewhere; the Chinese really value education and many parents dream of sending their kids to Harvard.

    But more than this, Harvard also has some cool student organizations that I'd like to join like the HLS China Law Association. Also, it seems that Harvard offers the option of studying part of your J.D. in China, which would be a big help to me and my future career goals.

    Tl;dr: In addition to the prestige and having the best M&A program, Harvard also has interesting student groups and study options that pertain to my interest in China.

  • NorthernAtticusNorthernAtticus Alum Member
    edited October 2019 79 karma

    [deleted]

  • JPJ July2021JPJ July2021 Monthly Member
    1532 karma

    The simple answer is because it's Harvard. Prestige, name recognition, an amazingly well connected alumni network, ability to get pretty much any job you want, etc.

  • mcglz_64mcglz_64 Alum Member
    891 karma

    So basically ^ the brand

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    Harvard, Yale, and Stanford all place better than any other law schools into prestigious positions. If you want to clerk, to be a professor, or some other very competitive job like working in the most competitive big firms, these are bar none the best law schools.

    Of these schools, Harvard is by far the largest so more people have Harvard as their Top 3 option than Yale or Stanford.

    The point of Law school is to get a legal job and the top 3 schools are the best at this. The main reason not to attend if admitted would be that you got a big scholarship well inside the Top 14. However, not all students at Harvard get these options since Harvard has a huge class size and accepts more people than other schools can offer scholarships. Additionally, even people who do have such offers may choose to attend Harvard and pay off the debt with one of the best LRAPs in the country or to get Big Law which they can count on from Harvard and pay off the massive debt fairly quickly.

    I would make a subtle distinction. I think Harvard should be thought of as Top 3 rather than Top 5. Harvard places much better than Columbia and better than Chicago into the most prestigious jobs. Additionally, Harvard has features like grading(or not grading) policies which allign more with Yale and Stanford as well as the fact that the Top 3 don't offer merit aid. Finally, those three schools have been on top of the rankings together for a long time.

    So sure people want Harvard for the brand and the prestige, but those are mainly just means for them to get a really nice job.

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    edited April 2018 3521 karma

    The brand.

    From what I've heard from legally-affiliated professors, I think their quality of education is far below that of Chicago, Stanford, and Yale (time you get with your professors, student-to-student interactions, etc. - ESPECIALLY in 1L). I've heard one has to be "particularly entrepreneurial" to know your professors at Harvard, while at Chicago/Stanford/Yale (or smaller schools more generally) they know you by default. I'd venture to say Michigan and UPenn are probably better too.

    All it has above those schools are its lay prestige - so when your Uber driver asks you where you go to school and you say Harvard they say "wow."

    That being said, brand matters a lot to a lot of people and is valuable in its own respects.

    Also none of the stuff that I said matters if you just want to go into Big Law. For those that want to go into academia or clerkships, I think there are better schools. Granted Harvard still has a good clerkship rate at 15%, but Chicago is at 22%, Stanford ~27%, and Yale 30%+.

    Just depends what you want.

  • AllezAllez21AllezAllez21 Legacy Member Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    1917 karma

    Granted Harvard still has a good clerkship rate at 15%, but Chicago is at 22%, Stanford ~27%, and Yale 30%+.

    Just to clarify, the three year rolling average for Harvard clerkship prior to this year is 17.8% and Chicago's is 15.8%. I think Chicago had a particularly good year in 2017 and Harvard a somewhat sub-standard year.

    I also disagree that Harvard's quality of education is lower than YS and C. I'll accept your anecdata, but I've heard from others that it's in some ways better than Y and S in terms of learning. No doubt professor connections take a bit more work at Harvard.

    For me, Harvard's size actually has many very important benefits. It has the greatest variety of programs, student groups, professors, etc. and the most money and resources to put behind those.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @AllezAllez21 said:

    Granted Harvard still has a good clerkship rate at 15%, but Chicago is at 22%, Stanford ~27%, and Yale 30%+.

    Just to clarify, the three year rolling average for Harvard clerkship prior to this year is 17.8% and Chicago's is 15.8%. I think Chicago had a particularly good year in 2017 and Harvard a somewhat sub-standard year.

    I also disagree that Harvard's quality of education is lower than YS and C. I'll accept your anecdata, but I've heard from others that it's in some ways better than Y and S in terms of learning. No doubt professor connections take a bit more work at Harvard.

    For me, Harvard's size actually has many very important benefits. It has the greatest variety of programs, student groups, professors, etc. and the most money and resources to put behind those.

    As I understand it, a subtantial portion of Chicago's clerkships are with certain loyal conservative judges since Chicago is the home of law and economics. That is fine if you want those jobs, but if you would match better with a less ideological judge or a liberal judge and your resume is geared in that direction then a lot of that placement will be useless to you. Additionally, it is still a little lower than Harvard on average.

    I agree that the size has benefits and drawbacks. The alumni network is unrivaled by any school because of the combination of Harvard's size and quality. However, personal contact with profs probably requires being more assertive.

  • TheBatmanTheBatman Alum Member
    edited April 2018 255 karma

    Thanks everyone, good points.

    @"Return On Inference"

    I want to do transactional work/M&A in China and the Harvard name actually goes quite a ways in China.

    @"alaric.taves"

    the Harvard name carries weight that most others don't (roughly on par with Yale and Stanford, and outside the US, where I want to practice, it even beats these).

    Yeah, you both have a good points. The reason why I asked is I too was thinking of Harvard (if I get in) for it's weight it carries outside of the US, among a other reasons.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    Anecdotal. But i had numerous professors who graduated from harvard law but none practice law. They all have great jobs in think tanks but their aversion for the law probably speaks to their personality/lack of fit rather than the school itself. Harvard law is great if you want the prestigious PI jobs or get into academia. Keep in mind that six figure loans can pose a life altering burden. If you have the skills to get into harvard, you probably got into a lower t14 with money, which may be a better option depending on your risk aversion. Even though harvard has a nontraditional grading scheme, the high honors, honors, pass system lends itself to its own competition for the competive PI jobs as well as biglaw.

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Alum Member
    5244 karma

    For one thing, getting accepted is an honor in itself; even though they have a larger school, there's obviously not many spots relative to the number of applicants. Plus they have really good employment numbers, lots of well-known alumni, and an excellent track record of helping their graduates get some of the best jobs in the field. However, this isn't to say someone can't do these things elsewhere.

  • testfromawaytestfromaway Alum Member
    edited April 2018 280 karma

    The legal job I want puts me in competition with lawyers trained internationally. To maximize my odds of being hired, I really do have to go to one of the best schools in the US because I'm not just fighting for a job amongst American peers, but American peers and folks in Europe. A name people recognize has weight, as do connections.

    This, I feel like, would be less crucial for me if I was looking at most kinds of job within solely the United States. We all know that grads from a variety of schools make it into biglaw positions. But when the pool of prestige opens up to include Oxford and Cambridge, I've similarly got to come into the game with a degree that immediately holds that weight.

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