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Notre Dame or GWU

edited March 2019 in Law School Admissions 9 karma

Currently deciding between these two and could use advice. Right now it's full price at both so not an option about negotiating scholarship. Would like to practice big law after grad. Which one has better name recognition/national reach?


  • PrincessPrincess Alum Member
    821 karma

    I feel like I couldn't really tell you the right option because I don't know much about George Washington. As for Notre Dame, I've heard good things and that Big Law is a possibility. I feel like it is better known in like Indiana, Ohio, etc. The Ohio or Indiana law schools are a bit lower in the rankings, so this stands out as prestigious in those states. It would also depend on where you want to stay. I feel like Notre Dame would be okay, but if you're very set on big law (which is how I was), I was just trying to aim for Top14. I hope you're able to make the best decision for yourself and I'll keep up to see where you go! :smiley:

  • eRetakereRetaker Member
    2038 karma

    I think Notre Dame...but it's close. You can find employment reports for both here.

  • Jonah Chadwick GriegoJonah Chadwick Griego Alum Member
    623 karma

    Where do you want to practice?

    If Chicago, then ND.

    If DC, then GW.

  • Adam HawksAdam Hawks Alum Member
    990 karma

    For no scholarship $$$? I think that's a big gamble to take either one of these schools, especially for cost of living in DC.

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    3279 karma

    Retake. Neither school places well into big law and sticker at either of those schools is a risky investment.

  • KeepCalmKeepCalm Alum Member
    807 karma

    Congratulations on both your admissions! Notre Dame and George Washington are such great schools! You should be very proud of yourself :smile:

    ROI (Return on Investment): In terms of name recognition, national reach (etc.) Notre Dame and George Washington rank pretty close in various scales as well (aside from Big Law). Which brings us back to square one :hushed: & I second what @"Jonah Chadwick Griego" said, your decision heavily depends on where you would like to practice. Where do you see yourself in five, ten years? Are there specific areas you feel passionate about? Where do you feel you would gain the most from?

    VOI (Value of Investment): Prioritize yourself over the prestigious University of Notre Dame and the renowned George Washington University--your wellbeing is just as significant. Living in a location where you will feel happy is just as important as being academically secure. Would you be open to visiting each campus? It would be great to check out the schools and their local communities to determine which one you would enjoy living in. It will be three years of your life (and possibly more!) of which you deserve to feel content and comfortable. Wherever you choose to go to law school should feel like home :innocent:

  • FoolProofFunFoolProofFun Alum Member
    edited March 2019 122 karma

    Can you give us any more information on whether you need an east coast city placement? When I think of ND, I actually think its unique value is that it is Catholic (the people I know who went there all went at least partially for its Catholic-ness), although it is still definitely a tier-1 school if not T-14 with ties in the midwest (ATL puts it very close to Georgetown). GWU definitely has pull in DC. One thing to potentially keep in mind is that DC biglaw is narrower than NYC biglaw. So while GWU does have regional pull in DC, it has regional pull in perhaps the most selective biglaw market. Even at a school like Georgetown, you still have to be excellent to receive DC biglaw from what I know. I am not up to date on the GWU discrepancy in ATL/USN rankings. Can anyone flesh that out? Are GWU students getting weird Fed jobs that hurt them somehow? Personally, I'd try to find a way to squeeze money out of ND and go there, and then try for great grades.

  • Better every dayBetter every day Legacy Member
    246 karma

    If you are talking about name recognition within the general population then this isn’t even close. Everyone knows Notre Dame primarily from their sports programs. GW probably has more pull in DC biglaw, but as people have mentioned these are difficult to get. I would imagine the employment statistics are relatively similar for these schools, but I would personally take ND.

  • mjmonte17mjmonte17 Alum Member
    757 karma

    I live in Indiana, ND will give you connections in big law around the region, particularly in Chicago.

  • thanks everyone! I do want an east coast placement- and see what everyone is saying about the long-term location goals. I'll have to think a bit more of where I'd like to end up. For now I am thinking ND.

    For those saying retake, I am not under the impression these are terrible schools--if you look at their LSAT, the median is at the 92 percentile so maybe don't put them down too much!

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    2793 karma

    Just keep in mind that sticker at ND with cost of living included for 3 years will come out to be around $250,000. 59/186 students in 2017 received employment in Big Law or a Federal Clerkship ( You also can see which states students end up in at the bottom of the report. Big Law is definitely not a guarantee at ND and it would likely be tied to your academic performance/appeal to employers. Only you can make the call about risk/benefit/ debt tolerance, however, you should also consider what would happen if you did not get a job in Big Law and how you would handle the debt. Weigh that against the costs of possibly retaking for a better shot at more scholarship money or a school that places a higher proportion of students in Big Law. Really view it as if you are comparing investment opportunities as you are investing in yourself and future and want to maximize the payoff for minimal costs. Whatever you decide just make sure that YOU are comfortable and happy with the implications. Congrats on your acceptances and good luck!!

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    Are you funding law school only with loans? Or do you have family support for cost of living or anything?

    To clarify, I don't think people are saying re-take because these aren't great schools, but because of not receiving scholarship money. Paying full sticker at any school is a pretty big risk. You may already know, but entry level lawyer positions tend to have a bimodal salary distribution, with peaks at around $190k (those biglaw jobs) and around $60k (everyone else). So when you hear statistics like the "average starting salary" for new lawyers being $110k, that is not exactly an accurate picture. It's the average because most people are either making $190k or $50-60k. If you land biglaw and can hang on to it for long enough to pay down your debt (likely at least 4-5 years, and many people quit or are fired within 3 years), then things work out. But if you come out of law school with $250k in debt and a job that pays $60k... things are going to get sticky.

    So if you are planning to finance entirely with loans, I hope you are shooting for biglaw. Notre Dame seems to have GW beat in pretty much every category (honestly, looking at the two of them I'm not totally sure why they are similarly ranked). Here's a nifty comparison:

    And again, I'd take note of those numbers at the bottom showing the full cost. It's just a matter of how much risk you are willing to take. Student loans are non-dischargeable even in bankruptcy, so you are stuck with them for good until they are paid off. I personally think only the very top ranked schools are worth considering at full sticker, because the risk is much less (much easier to get biglaw, and the LRAPs are better for PI). I don't know what your stats are, but if you are willing to wait a year and re-take, there could be scholarship money in it for you.

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