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Should I choose the top five school or the tier 2 school that is giving me a full ride?

combsnicombsni Free Trial Member

As I have posted before, I was accepted into the University Chicago but it doesn't look like I'm going to have much help financially. However, I have received full ride offers from Chicago Kent, Michigan State, DePaul, and Indiana McKinney. I have also gotten into a couple of top 25 schools but I am facing a similar dilemma. My ultimate goal is to get into big law and I have been told that if I graduate in the top 5% at a tier 2 school then that shouldn't be a problem. Curves matter to me too and I also want to take that into consideration when choosing a school

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Comments

  • stgl1230stgl1230 Member
    edited February 2017 821 karma

    Chicago law, without a trust or rich parents, is going to cost you over $300k + interest in debt. Chicago gives you the best job prospects. But even if you make $170k+ as an associate, you're basically going to be living like a pauper for a long time. I don't know if that's worth it.

    Do you not have offers from other T14s? I'm assuming that if you got into Chicago you should have substantial scholarship from a T10. I would attend the T10 with scholarship money and forget your full rides to second tier and T25 schools. (FWIW, that is what I'm doing, as hard as it is to pass up some of the T6. Take the money and run.)

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    edited February 2017 4141 karma

    I'd consider my job prospects upon graduating from the second tier school. Check out their stats for students who get jobs when they graduate. Money is awesome but the market is super saturated with people who have JDs. If you don't have a job lined up or the connections to get one you also don't want to be one of those people who get stuck with a JD and no job.

    With a top tier school you also tend to have more mobility with where you work. I would say choose whichever one you can live with. If you would be happier to graduate debt free and will get hired upon graduation and wouldn't regret passing up a top law school, then take the free ride.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27800 karma

    Chicago will open doors for you that the others just can't. Yes, you'll be crushed financially for awhile, but I'd imagine the lifetime earnings expectancy of Chicago grads would far surpass the others, even factoring in the debt. The problem is one of distribution more than anything.

    That said, those others are great schools. Their lacking compared to Chicago is probably much more a matter of recognition and prestige than quality. You'll get a great education at any of them.

    So I think in actual value, the money tips the scale. But in perceived value (which is very real) the prestige of Chicago balances it back out at the very least.

    It also depends on what you want to do. If you go to Chicago, you can do it. Period. Whatever it is. At the others, what you do and where you do it will have limitations.

  • JustDoItJustDoIt Alum Member
    3112 karma

    Congrats on both! My vote would be for Chicago as well. I was waitlisted there last year and easily would have gone for it if they would have accepted me. Reasons why? They are consistently one of the top schools, if not the top, in the NJL rankings and have some of the best firm placement. Clerkship ranking is top 5 every year when it comes to federal clerkships. Academia is a viable opportunity. Literally whatever you wanna do you probably can coming out of Chicago.

    Cons: it is arguably more rigorous than other schools. Money (obvi). Super rigorous and unusual grading system (can go either way actually).

    Again it's your decision. The pros definitely out weigh the cons if you ask me. But regardless, I would definitely choose Chicago.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" I am actually leaning towards Chicago Kent at the moment. I know car people that went there and got biglaw jobs right off the bat, starting at $160,000. Everyone is definitely right, when talking about limitations. The way I have interpreted a lot of this is the fact that I basically would have to graduate at the very top. I know one of the partners at Polsinelli and one at Kirkland & Ellis. I probably won't make a decision until April

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    Personally, I'd go to the best school regardless of money when we are talking calibers of top 5 and tier 2. It's a lot of money, but the door a UChi JD will open up is well worth the debt. Also, don't ever assume or make decisions that you'll be the top X% at whatever law school. Grading is very different and professors can be quite mercurial with their grading.

  • Chipster StudyChipster Study Yearly Member
    893 karma

    I vote for University of Chicago. What a really great accomplishment.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    Yeah, prosperous just opens up so many doors the money is almost unquestionably worth it. I know 7 law grads, personally. As friends. 3 work with me doing compliance work. 2 work at V20 firms. and 2 are interns where other unpaid college students work too. It's rough. In my estimation, take the best school you can get. Big debt presents itself as a monster when you're 200k in the hole at Cardozo with nothing lined up. Chi and you'll be fine. Yeah, debt isn't fun, but it's an investment. And it's way more prosperous, prudent and smart when you look at the data. Whether your goal is to be a PD or a prosperous at CSM/WLRK, etc. The doors are opened to you that otherwise won't be. Congrats again on such a wonderful acceptance!

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Alex Divine" but if I can get the same $160,000 starting salary, why wouldn't I take the debt free route? Polsinelli is a pretty strong firm to have a connection to. I get what you are saying when warning me not to expect to graduate very high but that's all I've ever done. I have always performed at a very high level. I don't see why law school would be any different, even with a bell curve of 3.2 or something in that ball park.

  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    edited February 2017 2424 karma

    @combsni Almost everyone you will find in law school, whether it is a T-5 or T-70, will be over achievers who have always performed at a very high level. Many of them will be people who got into top-ranked law schools but chose to go lower because of the scholarship money. Everyone wants to be in the top 5 percentile of the class but only 5% of the people can do so. In other words, you will be no different than your peers and assuming you will be at the top of your class a priori is dangerous. Just food for thought!

  • David BusisDavid Busis Member Moderator
    7165 karma

    If I were you, I'd go to Chicago.

    1. It's not a given that you'll be able to get a biglaw job after graduating from a tier-2 school, nor is it a given that you'll be able to graduate at the top of your class. Even if you're a butt-kicker, you could get sick, or go through a terrible breakup, etc.

    2. You might change your mind about your career path. Chicago will give you the flexibility to do anything—clerkships, public interest law (which, like everything, is extremely competitive), academia, or the biggest, baddest law firms anywhere in the country.

    3. As I think @"Cant Get Right" was getting at, the Venn diagram of "perceived value" and "value" from a given law school mostly overlaps. That is, perceived value IS the value. Lawyers like prestige.

    But, of course, debt sucks.

    Congrats on having such a hard choice!

  • Mo ZubairMo Zubair Alum Member
    edited March 2017 391 karma

    I get it why most people here would go for UofC. Heck, even i would go for Chicago but that's because of my personal affinity to that school. Also, it can't be denied that Chicago will open doors that a 2nd tier school just won't open.

    With all that said, i truly believe your thinking that you can earn a similar starting salary after a JD from second tier school is also not wrong. And if you can rationalize and are confident on your ability, i'd say go for it. It is unlikely you won't have a job after JD if you are only a little smart but you will absolutely have no debt. That's big!

    To support this, a little personal story. I chose a state school in NYC over big names like NYU where i was also accepted. Goal was always to end up working in a bulge bracket investment bank. These days, at work i sit next to a team member of mine who graduated from NYU a year before me. We earn absolutely the same salary with only one difference in our monthly financial obligations: I don't make any student loan payment while he does.

    So if you think you can do it, i say go for it and graduate debt free. But Chicago is there in case the urge to attend a T14 school stays with you. With Chicago acceptance in hand and full ride offers from other school, you are still in an enviable position. So big congrats!!

  • MoosaderMoosader Alum Member
    234 karma

    Personally, I am influenced as much by pragmatism as prestige/ambition. I would bite the debt and go to U of C. If being a lawyer is what you want, why not shoot for as high as possible. The worst likely outcome (unless you're a horrible law student) is that you're stuck for 3-4 years at a less prestigious big law job you don't like (110k) to pay off your debt. The benefits are that you get the pride of graduating from a T5, job placement in any legal field, and an amazing achievement to put on your resume for any job.

    If you to a 2nd Tier school, it is possible that you will end up with a big law job; however, considerably less likely. This also will determine your entire future career in the legal profession, eliminate legally--related jobs like academics, and not be an impressive mark on your resume in general. Worst, likely outcome: You get (or don't get, given the over saturated market) a basic law job at 65k and work your way up 90k.

    Most importantly from my perspective, when I'm old and crusty, I would rather look back and say, "Paying off that debt sucked for 4 years," than "I had the opportunity to go to one of the best law schools in the world and didn't."

    Regardless of whether you come to share my perspective, I hope this helps!

    PS: America is doomed so debt doesn't even matter, and only U of C will be respected internationally.

  • BinghamtonDaveBinghamtonDave Alum Member 🍌🍌
    8689 karma

    This is an excellent, excellent thread. It is threads like this that make this forum one of the best in the LSAT community.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Mo Zubair" that was a very reflective comment. Quite frankly, I am surprised that so many people are on the U Chicago train and understandably so. I have never failed after betting on myself. Admittedly, without the connections I have, I would potentially view this situation differently.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @ respectively said:
    @"Alex Divine" but if I can get the same $160,000 starting salary, why wouldn't I take the debt free route? tutelage is a pretty strong firm to have a connection to. I get what you are saying when warning me not to expect to graduate very high but that's all I've ever done. I have always performed at a very high level. I don't see why law school would be any different, even with a bell curve of 3.2 or something in that ball park.

    Because chances are you won't. I don't want to act negatively, but getting big law is extremely hard outside of ... well .. they just aren't easy jibs to land. I have a few mentors, and 2 are older lawyers. (ages 37 and 45, respectively) and they have instilled in me more strongly over time that prestige trumps basically everything when it comes to law. You likely HAVE NO experience in bg law or a corp. environment as demanding such as tutelage, so you're just kidding of banking on a job you might get, will probably hate, be extremely competitive, and a bunch if other hubris.
    Under the tutelage of my bosses at work and mentors, I cannot stress to you the importance of name recognition and law. So many kids think they will all be the top 15% at Fordham and land a big law job. 15% do, but usually it's a different 15%, they hate it because they were chasing jobs of which they knew nothing.

    Go to Uchi so if you decide (more likely than not) you have a world of options open to you. I had a senior partner give me a fee assignments I'd shared on here on what word big law at a junior level would consist of... I'll email it to you.

    Your connections will likely land you the job you THINK you're going to get debt free, man. Nepotism is one thing and it exists, but UCHI is better in way you slice ir or dice it. Your stint in BL (if you get it) averages less than 3 years. And I hate to hammer on the point, but do you really kow what most junior BL associates do? Again, I have the mock assignment sent to me from a senior associate at a V10. I also work with ex-biglawyers who will tell you it is the WORST job on the face of the Earth. You can believe all of them.... I can't imagine all 40 I've gotten drinks with are lying while the bankers are all much more happy and drink way less.

    TL:DR What @david.busis said haha

    Uchi is an amazing school that justify the debt tag along with it. And the REALLY, REALLY reiterate: lawyers are prestige whores. That's the way it is. Your life going to Uchi for 300k vs Podunk X for free will likely lead to two path so different that I can't explain.

    Congrats on your Uchi acceptance! Take it because the other options wont get you where you want. Say you get BL after 3years and leave like most. Your Podunk X degree isnt going to get you a job in beautiful Reston, VA, for example. Debt isn't always a bad thing when its a top law institution. Again, I work with these guys:
    PRESTIGE obsessed.

    Good luck, friend!

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Alex Divine" you have an interesting take. I don't know why I would only last 3 years in biglaw. Granted I only know Partners at a couple big law firms but I've been told that most people quit. I was told that a lot of them think it is a ruthless business and that is why they end up leaving. Even if it is, I've never had a problem being ruthless or doing whatever it takes to get ahead. But as you have pointed out, you never know how you are going to feel about something until you get in it and there is a chance that I will hate it and the hours that come along with working at a biglaw firm. Uchicago definitely gives me all the prestige that I will need. However, there is another school that is second-tier but they have connections to a Supreme Court Justice. Clarence Thomas has given many clerkships to students that go to Creighton. This isn't to say that they would take the cake over Chicago but my point is there are opportunities everywhere. I absolutely agree with everyone, when they say that the University Chicago will open doors in a lot of places will not open or that will not become open to me until much later in my career. However, this decision is not as easy for me as other people are making it out to be. Both of Indiana University's law schools are on the table and Michigan state is appealing because it is in my home state and my soon-to-be fiance lives here. I like Chicago Kent because that is the school that all but one of my connections in the city went to the other went to DePaul.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    @combsni said:
    @"Alex Divine" you have an interesting take. I don't know why I would only last 3 years in biglaw. Granted I only know Partners at a couple big law firms but I've been told that most people quit. I was told that a lot of them think it is a ruthless business and that is why they end up leaving. Even if it is, I've never had a problem being ruthless or doing whatever it takes to get ahead. But as you have pointed out, you never know how you are going to feel about something until you get in it and there is a chance that I will hate it and the hours that come along with working at a biglaw firm. Uchicago definitely gives me all the prestige that I will need. However, there is another school that is second-tier but they have connections to a Supreme Court Justice. Clarence Thomas has given many clerkships to students that go to Creighton. This isn't to say that they would take the cake over Chicago but my point is there are opportunities everywhere. I absolutely agree with everyone, when they say that the University Chicago will open doors in a lot of places will not open or that will not become open to me until much later in my career. However, this decision is not as easy for me as other people are making it out to be. Both of Indiana University's law schools are on the table and Michigan state is appealing because it is in my home state and my soon-to-be fiance lives here. I like Chicago Kent because that is the school that all but one of my connections in the city went to the other went to DePaul.

    I hear you man. To answer your question why you'd only last 3 years in BL? Well it is a multi-facetted answer. 1) Most people find it miserable and become broken and eventually leave or are given a soft push out. There is a lock-step up and out model. (Developed and known as the Cravath model) Essentially, you are promoted to failure. I implore you to talk to some big lawyers that you can get to know and trust. I mention it a lot, but I work with maybe 10% "Big law refugees" we call them, and EVER SINGLE ONE has expressed the same thing. The misery and the constant fire drills and bullshit work. It can't be that all those smart people came to the same conclusion, so much so that they would take pay cuts to go into finance. (Pay cuts at least for now.... but still leave law all together.) The fact that many have top degrees allow them to get into consulting, finance, and ibanking.... You aren't going to get an interview without a top 6 degree. Also, most people don't leave big law because of the ruthlessness of it... That's just... no. They get pushed out or leave when they find they want to have a family and move to less demanding in-house jobs or get out of law all together. The average BL V500 employee lasts 3 years or less. They WANT to push you out because clients don't want to pay you more for doc review and simple tasks that first years can do for much less. It's the way of the business model. And you may be the perfect person who will "do whatever it takes to get ahead." However, trust me, firms and Wall Street are FULL of people just like you.

    Connections I hate to tell you are really overrated when it comes to post-law school employment. Everyone knows someone, but when it comes time for you to get a job you don't want to risk it. UCHi is 100% the right answer here and anyone I know who works in law would agree.

    Donald Trump's top attorney went toThomas Cooley.... anecdotes are just that. And times have changed.

    You at this point have absolutely no idea what big law is (Beyond the 160-180k) or probably what most law work consists of. Who knows what you will end up becoming interested in? UChi opens all the doors you could ask for. Kent and all the other Tier 2s are going to require nepotism, luck, and you being at the top of your class to get near any of the the rare opportunities ruthlessness will give you.

    Again, reach out and network and talk to some actual lawyers. It's an amazing opportunity that I think you'd regret. Matter of fact, I'd recommend getting a job in law right now as a paralegal or as an analyst at an iBank. The work and hours are pretty comparable.

    Just trying to look out for you man. Either way, again, congrats on getting into UChi. T4 school. Go and don't look back. :)

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Alex Divine" I see where you're coming from. I just have one question for you. Do you think the people that you call biglaw refugees are a little biased? And I am not saying the people that I know that are partners aren't. Of course they are. People that have stayed in biglaw would probably respond to you by saying that they have been successful because they have played within the system.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    sounds like a wonderful idea. you figured out what all those ivy goers couldn't.

  • TheLoftGuyTheLoftGuy Alum Member
    690 karma

    IMO it would be foolish to bit off $300k in debt to potentially get a position that you still might get overlooked for. I would go to the best of the full rides. They are still great schools and will open doors.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Alex Divine" I just feel like a lot of people who don't make it aren't willing to give up their personal life and make the other sacrifices necessary to succeed. If you look at the people that have made partner at a lot of these firms, there are common denominators.

  • alex.e92alex.e92 Alum Member
    edited March 2017 239 karma

    If your goal is to work in biglaw in a large market (NYC/CHI/DC) I think that you should absolutely take on the debt and go to Chicago. I really do get your concern here -- it's a lot of money. It's a plus that you have partner connections at large firms that you think you would like to work for, but unfortunately, at a t2 school, interviews as a result of those couple of people pulling strings might be the only biglaw interviews you get. & then of course you have to convince the other prestige-obsessed partners and associates that will interview you that you deserve a place at the firm. & that's IF the particular partners you know can even ensure that you will get an interview. Getting your foot in the door at any biglaw firm that you don't have connections at will be the hardest part, regardless of your GPA. A lot of those top vault firms recruit entirely from their OCI process (on campus interviews) and rightly, or wrongly, they only go to ~14 schools. Many of the large firms just went to $180K for first year associates last summer. That's before a bonus. If you plan, and budget well, even in a high cost-of-living area you should be able to pay this down relatively quickly. IMO Chicago is absolutely worth the options it will bring you, otherwise you are betting your future entirely on a couple of connections. I would re-consider Chicago. (Source: s/o works in biglaw NYC).

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @ acquaintances said:
    @"Alex Divine" I just feel like a lot of people who don't make it aren't willing to give up their personal life and make the other sacrifices necessary to succeed. If you look at the people that have made partner at a lot of these firms, there are common denominators.

    Just not true. Friends and acquaintances with a good amount of what you'd consider BL or EX-BL lawyers. Just had drinks with about 10 of them last night because, well, drinking is the thing to do.

    And what does it say about a profession where people base line need to give up their personal lives for a "chance" just to make the common denominator? AKA not get the soft boot. Go on linkedin and see the many people who have spent 2-3 years at Gibson Dunn, then Simpson Thatcher and then X . Always moving because that's the nature of the game. Many leave the professions all together. I think something like 20-30% to be exact, but the figures very by the year.

    Also, I haven't even gotten into the nitty gritty of the work itself. But I'm sure with your hubris that won't be any trouble for you... Though, do find a good mentor and have him show you what he showed me.

    If you look at the people who made partner at a lot of these firms the common denominator(s), if any, is that they went to _top school_s**were serendipitous, and hired pre-2008 crash. As well as 2 divorces and a drug addiction.... Yup, that seems to be the formula (roughly because again like 1-2% of your starting class will make partner). I'm not trying to make you feel bad, bud, but you seem to have a tenuous grasp of the way corp law at Vault firms work. It's up and out. It's not all doom and gloom and there are people who manage to end up doing well. You just have to have the treasure map so to speak. And end game; exit ops: and a good degree. If you want to work at a PD office go to Podunk X for free and network. But when you're tired of making 45k a year and want to leave, there ain't no where to go.....

    If you want big law.... Go to a top 13 school. I'd even count GT out as of late. BL is a lot like being a gladiator and NYC is Rome!

    I hate to make the big law game seem all doom and gloom, but it largely can be if you're uninformed. First, if you want to make money and are decently smart go the route of finance. However, finding a mentor or two really helped me see what to expect, what the actual work is (which so few people understand) and how working in big law is a lot like digging for treasure;

    You can be a Mexican day laborer digging for 18 hours a day. Again, you'll never hit gold without a treasure map. That map in many ways is a JD from a top school and work experience at a large firm, a god mentor, and a good plan.

    I'm not good at a lot of things, but I've worked in the corporate world since I was 18-21 via internships and 22-25 now in bulge bracket banking. In those 6 years, I've been largely lucky to have learned and observed as much as I could. I was lucky to find 2-3 amazing mentors along the way. No one with a shred of experience if going to tell you I'm wrong about going to UCHi vs X if you want Big law.

    Like the LoftGuy said above me... That's just wrong. I'm sorry. Your chances of the job from Kent or X Podunk or even Notre Dame vs Uchi are just on magnitudes further apart then our sun from Proxima Centauri. Talk to people my man. A lot of these guys I've just asked out for lunch or met through linkedin. Don't take my word for it.

    But to answer your question more succinctly: Do I think the BL "refugees" are biased? No, because I have examined a good sample size. Couple standard issue white collar folks from HYS, another couple from mid tier 14s like Duke, Penn, UVA, few who are women. Ages range from 25-37?.... These are just my friends, too, BTW. I know maybe 30 other who have told me the same. Then theres TLS, Reddit, interwebs... They ain't all wrong, buddy. What's foolish is imprudence, ego, and hubris. Also known as being a "special snowflake" whereby you'll work harder, be in the top do whatever it takes... But it isn't like other jobs or UG. Everyone and I mean EVERY ONE has that same mentality. That was one of the biggest shocks for me when I started working where I work now a couple years back. I knew I was smart, hardworking, and had that same mindset. Only I found out when you're put against your true peers (not like in your UG History class where half might not have given an EF) things change. Stress levels increase and the work gets pilled on.

    @TheLoftGuy said:

    IMO it would be foolish to bit off $300k in debt to potentially get a position that you still might get overlooked for. I would go to the best of the full rides. They are still great schools and will open doors.

    They aren't great schools compared to UChi, particularly if you are gunning for big law. I sometimes feel it a fool's errand to try to explain big law and corp to those who haven't experienced it. So, again, I would implore you to get a job at a big firm or in ibanking. You can land these jobs with decent UG grades. See what the work is all about. I'm on the spectrum where I basically have the opposite of ADD (autism to some extent) So sitting at a computer for 16 hours a day doesn't kill me. Having few friends also helps.

    Again, apologies for the doom and gloom nature of my posts, but when it comes to this stuff, I like to let people know what they don't seem to see. I'm leaving in less then 2 weeks for a reason. Granted it isnt BL, but iBanking and BL are as similar for juniors as idk Football and Rugby... lol

    p.s sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors, I've typed this on my iPhone.

  • alex.e92alex.e92 Alum Member
    edited March 2017 239 karma

    @"Alex Divine" said:

    If you want big law.... Go to a top 13 school. I'd even count GT out as of late. BL is a lot like being a gladiator and NYC is Rome!

    ^this. can confirm. great metaphor. GT has become somewhat of a happy hour punching bag as of late, (sorry GT friends) but that's a perfect example of the prestige-oriented culture that you'll be up against.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @"Alex Divine" that is fair and all but I am 100% expecting myself to graduate in the top 5%. I do have biglaw connections to and they are telling me some of the opposite. I am a guy that will ask if there is any chance at all and that answer is clearly yes and I have been in the top 5% of my entire life. If you go back to one of my first posts, people on here were telling me that my goal for my LSAT score was unrealistic but guess what I went out and I crushed it. If you are the very best in the world at what you do then people will take you. One of the main Partners at Kirkland & Ellis went to John Marshall. You can't tell me that if I graduate number one at Chicago Kent that I won't have a pretty damn good job lined up because I would. You can say I'm full of hubris all you want but I have never been anything other than exceptional and I'm not an overachiever, I am just that good. Even if I go to the University of Chicago, I expect the graduate top 10 percent.

  • Mo ZubairMo Zubair Alum Member
    391 karma

    I don't think anyone in this entire post has denied here that a t14 school gives the best possible shot at big law job. Do not think there are two views on this.

    But a t14 school is the only way for a big law job is just not true. If you believe that there are no exception to this big law rule that most jobs go to t14 grads, then you are just seeing in a tunnel.

    The question is if you can be that exception? I don't think anyone else but yourself or those who know you very well can truly judge that.

    There is absolutely no reason for not to bet on yourself, if you know your ability and also are aware of the odds. And you have your stellar past record to back it up.

  • stgl1230stgl1230 Member
    821 karma

    OK not to be that person but I'm going to say it again: do you not have other T14 offers with money?

    I get why you don't want $300k in debt. That's really not fun, and it may not be worth it for many people. But the offers you have (or at least listed here) are really extreme. Choosing between UChi and second tier schools is really like apples and oranges and I'm not sure how your options are so...different.

    If you've somehow decided that you are not going to take your other T14 offers with money...you should really reconsider. That would be a happy medium here.

    If UChi is your only T14 acceptance and you're extremely debt averse/leaning toward a second tier...you should maybe reapply next year with a higher LSAT or at least apply to more schools. A UChi acceptance should almost always equal scholarship money at a lower T14.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @stgl1230 Northwestern is on the table but I didn't apply to a lot of other places because I want to stay in the Midwest. Detroit, Chicago, and Indianapolis are the cities that I am looking at.

  • alex.e92alex.e92 Alum Member
    edited March 2017 239 karma

    @"Mo Zubair" said

    I don't think anyone in this entire post has denied here that a t14 school gives the best possible shot at big law job. Do not think there are two views on this. But a t14 school is the only way for a big law job is just not true. If you believe that there are no exception to this big law rule that most jobs go to t14 grads, then you are just seeing in a tunnel.

    quick rebuttal to this point: I don't think anyone denies that an airplane is the most efficient way to travel between Miami and NYC. But saying that flying is the only way to NYC from Miami is not true. You could also walk. If you believe that nobody can ever walk from Miami to NYC then you have tunnel vision.

    I don't think anyone has claimed it's not possible, I think many are saying it's not prudent. Frankly, I don't think the cost benefit analysis is very close at all. Like the commenter above said, these options are apples and oranges. It seems like a lower t-14 or even $$ to a t-20, even if that means sitting out a cycle, would also be a reasonable option (say, driving from Miami to NYC) but a t2 with a goal of biglaw? Seems like unnecessary risk, not risk aversion.

    At the end of the day I hope OP does what ever OP wants, but I think the arguments being made here are probabilistic, not absolute. Everyone thinks they're the exception to the rule.

  • stgl1230stgl1230 Member
    821 karma

    If you have over $100k from Northwestern, I'd take it.

    Northwestern is an AWESOME school. Its big law numbers are great, especially in Chicago. Plus, with your connections, Northwestern with money is an easy sell imo. You don't even need to be at the top of the pack with connections (which is NEVER a guarantee, even at a second-tier school - even if I have no doubt that you are smart and hardworking) to land Chicago big law if you go to Northwestern.

    Sure, it might not be as prestigious, which isn't great if you want to be a judge or in academia. But from what I understand, if you are going solely the firm route, Northwestern is a perfectly great school. It also gives you the option to move out of the Midwest, should that need ever arise. Dunno if you can really do that with the other schools you are looking at.

  • ianrobertparkinsianrobertparkins Alum Member
    23 karma

    300K in debt with interest @ 5% for thirty years is $581,210, that's more than half a million dollars in non-dischargeable debt that YOU owe if you attend U of Chicago. Or you could get the same JD from a less prestigious school for free. Civil Procedure is the same at Chicago as anywhere else. No offense to the other commenters but I think you would be insane to choose the debt, especially in a down legal economy. Your debt-masters don't care if you can't find a job. Additionally, you can't eat prestige or feed others with it. However, if you're independently wealthy then that is another matter.

    "Disdain the debt-chain, preserve your freedom; and maintain your independence: be industrious and free; be frugal and free. Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt." Ben Franklin

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    Good luck ! You seemed to have it all figured out.

    @combsni said:
    As I have posted before, I was accepted into the University Chicago but it doesn't look like I'm going to have much help financially. However, I have received full ride offers from Chicago Kent, Michigan State, DePaul, and Indiana McKinney. I have also gotten into a couple of top 25 schools but I am facing a similar dilemma. **My ultimate goal is to get into big law and I have been told that if I graduate in the top 5% at a tier 2 school then that shouldn't be a problem. Curves matter to me too and I also want to take that into consideration when choosing a school"_

    Well saying you expect to be in the top 5% of a tier 2 school isn't taking that much into consideration. Did you take into consideration that 100% of the students there expect to be in the top 5%? Why not be top 5% at CHi? Why not re-take the LSAT and get a full scholly? You're clearly smart and have the belief you are top 5%.....

    I know you think you're different and you're obviously a smart guy. But you don't seem to want to discuss the merits of your decision; you seem to want everyone to tell you what you've already chosen is the right thing and confirm that taking the $$$ and banking on top 5% at Kent is the better idea. Right? I know that feeling because I do it a lot with lesser decisions. Like buying a stupid expensive car or a new iPhone.

    Well I can objectively say that if big law is your goal, going to Kent is an objectively bad idea. PERIOD. Betting you'll be in the top 5% ... also a bad idea. Period. I think you have an awesome opportunity that you worked very hard for and you shouldn't throw it away for some tier 2 school if you want big law. That's at the crux of my argument here: You want big law. It's hard enough to get from damn GT now -a-days from their top 10% ... Yeah, shit is real out there. You don't hear about it because it gets covered up and numbers get fudged. But GT is really losing its T14 status and Cornel is acting strange this cycle indicating that something is going on. Several theories, but I'll save that for another time. This is way more important.

    I'm telling you man, I was the same way. Always the top. Valedictorian. Tons of awards from high school to the day I spoke at graduation. Then I got a job where I work now where every one told me basically to chill out with that attitude. First, it drives people mad. Second, have you ever honestly been surrounded by people who are your actual intellectual peers? To be honest, outside of a few AP classes in High school 5-6 years ago I never was. Not until I started my job. It knocks you down a few pegs and you realize that everyone in the room is as smart as you. Yup. Some smarter. Better. Gotta except it. It doesn't mean you don't try to be the best you can be. But it also doesn't mean the answer is to go through life with an inflated ego.

    One of my best mentors told me that law school, big law, and life in many ways is like finding treasure. And if you don't have a map, you are fucked. I know I repeated myself before, but I care enough to repeat it again. Hard work and being smart -- those are necessary conditions to do well in law school/big law; they aren't sufficient. Sometimes people at the top of their classes get dinged from firms because of their attitude, the way they look, etc. Shit happens man and you have to prepare for it. If you think you can be the top 5% of anything get into iBanking and make some real money, haha ;) Just busting your chops...

    If you graduate basically at all from UChi you can get a big law job. Top 20% and you can easily snag V20 if you interview well. And If that's your ultimate goal, why would you not do one of my most important things and go to a top school? That's the X on the map to big law my friend. Going to a top school. Finances are important to consider, but like I said, the issue is life expectancy for juniors at big firms are low. (I know, I know, this won't be you) Which is everyone who I know who now works in big law's famous last words. So realize that if and when you let go or leave because you hate it, your Kent degree isn't really going to be worth much to other firms/recruiters/companies. However, like I said, something important to consider is your UChi degree will follow you for the rest of your life and help you get jobs people at Kent couldn't dream of. The financial risk seems like a lot, but doing some quick back of the napkin math, you'd make millions more if you went to UChi. And we are due for another crash... big law work is slowing down at a bunch if firms. Another crash hits top 1% at Kent is going to be hurting.

    However, I admire your drive, but at some point it becomes arrogance. Humble out a bit, dude. Keep that killer fire inside, but think about the "What ifs?" Shit, what if you find out you hate law? A lot of people do and they leave. They come work where I work. And again, with a UChi JD you can get into finance, business, consulting, just about anything......... Kent degree not so much.

    I know I wrote a lot, but I know its a BIG decision to make! I just think it comes down to if you want big law go to a top school. It's really that simple. If you want to work at Goldman go to Wharton. Don't get an MBA from Iowa State and justify it with the anecdote that some dude who's a VP went there. There's always exceptions. But in law, it's always better to go by the rules. Hehe see what I did there.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I actually have a few pals who work at top firms who might talk to you via skype or something if you'd be interested. Probably busy, but I'm sure you can exchange emails and they'd help me help you out in deciding.

    At the end of the day, UChi is an amazing school and congrats for getting in! Just don't be the old drunk guy in 30 years working traffic court in an old suit talking about how I got into UChi back in 2017.... LOL at those dudes. I know a couple. Guy named Burt drinks Wild Turkey out of a thermos. I don't think he got into UChi to be fair though.

  • ianrobertparkinsianrobertparkins Alum Member
    23 karma

    This is a link to a 3 minute video about a Georgetown Law grad who makes $40,000 per year and lives with his Mom. It's worth watching if you are considering any law debt. It could save your life, financially.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    @ianrobertparkins said:
    This is a link to a 3 minute video about a Georgetown Law grad who makes $40,000 per year and lives with his Mom. It's worth watching if you are considering any law debt. It could save your life, financially.

    Yup.... Partly parody, so damn true. Thanks for posting this! gave me a good laugh too. The truth about all this law/real life career shit is that you're indoctrinated by the blind leading the blind from 7Sage, TLS, Reddit, etc. My contention is to actually see and meet these people who have "won the big law game," so to speak. Simpson Thatcher juniors living with 3 roommates. Most of them miserable and ALWAYS looking for a way out. That's the one thing I realized the most about every BL lawyer I meet... Always looking for a way out.
    Then there's the entire issue of 180k after taxes in NYC won't have you living like Harvey Spector, either. So I think there's this notion you'll be living the high life.... You'll be good but damn NYC is expensive.

    I think the issue is people don't actually know what "big law" is and are only attracted to it for the money. Which is fine (That's why I'm doing it) That said, you really should look into what types of tasks it requires of juniors and what that stress and mercurial personalities do to people. I've said it before.... There are very few truly HAPPY BL associates at all. And I think that's partly because the high stress combined with the most boring work AND the fact people are only doing it for the money.

    There are those on the spectrum (like myself who are kind of aspy and just grind) and there are more healthy people who eventually have to turn to drugs. alcohol, and golden handcuff-purchases to stay another day
    It's hard to explain to someone what working 16 hour days 6 days a week is like.

    Again, thank you for posting, lmao!

    I do often wonder how strong some people's cognitive dissonance is? "It will NEVER be me" mentality types. I implore all considering T2 schools to go on linkedin and just type random tier 2 school networks in and see where these grads work. Usually some glorified clerk job or "actively searching opportunities". Look at the dismal 509 reports for places like Kent. Half the damn class aren't lawyers. They work in "JD advantage jobs." Aka. Hourly wage doc review.

    However, I'd like to be very clear and say that not all T2/T3 schools are the same. There are actually some really decent T2/3 schools where employment is good. They are rare, but, for example, if you want to work in a small city as a PD and get a good scholly, some T3s aren't bad. You just have to be smart and understand that some options are off the table once you decide to go that route. Big Law generally being one of them.

    That won't be you though. If you can be top 5% You'll be one of the 8-15 students who get BL jobs from Kent. And again, they play with these numbers heavy, so be cautious. I remember a couple years ago someone making this same argument to me about going to Charlotte Law School on a fully scholly (IIRC) who had almost identical 509 reports..... Yeah. Now he's pretty screwed. Good military guy with a family... breaks my heart.

    Also, something I should add is that you are judged by working at a top firm with a TT degree. It's not anything crazy, but it can affect who gives you work, your social network. Shit, just the network in general makes UCHi better. If you are going to be in the top 5% of Kent, that doesn't even necessarily mean anything. Networking matters a lot in law and so does prestige. But do know networking will prove just as important as grades if you go to Kent.
    It's just the way it is. Again, I wish I could have you meet all the ex-big/mid/shit law lawyers where I work. But, again, it's a fool's errand to try to explain color to the blind.

    Great video though, parody or not, it illuminates the truth perfectly. Having lived in NYC, I have a lot of friends and friends of friends who went to Fordham, NYLS, CUNY, Cardozo, etc .. all expecting to be in the top 10%/5%. One manages an Enterprise Car Rental. The others got something decent stuff, but have to live far away with like 4 roommates. The thing is a few of them knew and understood this and the others had that special snowflake mentality.
    The Fordham girl I know is still in school and she has something lined up, but she did say OCI was kind of non-existent there as of late and hustling hard to get BL for Fordham was getting harder than it had been.

    Man, I wish it were the 80s/90s were it was like Wolf of wall street and everyone was partying, and it didn't matter as long as you had a JD... Damn how things have changed. On the there hand, to be fair, many are doing pretty well. They just aren't rich. And not as happy as if they had done something else. But they seem pretty alright. So I think I've been a but unfair and unbalanced with the doom and gloom.

    I just hope you like reading 500-page contracts in 10pt font 16 hours a day. Fixing redlines/edits. I asked a friend in big law once to give me some "homework" to show me what kind of stuff juniors do a while back and well... I figured it would be some pretty interesting stuff... Read your next iOS/Apple iTunes update contract. The 300-page one we all just hit "accept." to. Then summarize it and make sure the terms sheet matches the legal terms. Big law, baby! There's certainly more interesting stuff and some people like it better than others. I'm kind of just giving the negative side. There's fun stuff like depositions that mid-associates get to do and more substantive work I hear as you move up. But with that comes more stress and whatnot.

    This is the last thing I'll say though about it though... Go to UChi. It's one of the best schools in the WORLD. It is a notorious big-law feeder and if that's what you want, why the hell would you not go!? I understand the financial aspect (partially), but what you have to consider are that things worth more cost more. The quality of education you get from UChi is top notch. Best profs, best courses, and you really get to learn the law and theories behind it. Many T2/3s like Kent function essentially as 3-year bar review courses so they can keep ABA accreditation. That makes a BIG difference and employers know that. It's not some secret. That's something I really think you should consider.

    I'm in my mid 20s, and I don't have all the answers, but one thing I've learned is that when everyone who has experience tells you something: Listen, they're usually right. I've also had what is soon to be the end of a 2-year tenure working at an ibank -- which at a junior level is not so dissimilar from big law (Mundane research, literally making "binders/Power points", proof reading shit, responding to emails from dusk to dawn.) When I meet girls at the bar and they ask what I do, I joke and tell them I make power points and binders. It's a good convo starter.... lmao. It's mind numbing, depressing at times, but you can learn a lot and if you work with good people, life can be OK. And from what I know this is generally the same with BL.

    I wish I could tell you all I've learned, but one important lesson is that law is a profession of prestige whores. At least at the big law level. Chances are you won't be at one firm forever (I think something like 10% stay their entire careers at one firm) Again, with a UChi J.D. you'll be good AND mobile. With the Kent one, you might get lucky and land a BL job. OK, but when its over with or whatever happens... It's a HELL of a lot harder to get something else. These tend to be the people who leave the profession all together and sell real estate or something.

    Again, for posterity: http://www.kentlaw.iit.edu/Documents/Departments/Career Services/Chicago-Kent 2015 ABA Employment Summary.pdf

    You're a smart-driven dude, so you'll probably be more at home at UCHi anyways and I think that's worth something, right? And with big law, you can pay that debt down especially if you live and work in Chi and not NYC.

    Either way, over and out. Good luck. You're smart and a hard worker and I think you'll be fine no matter what route you choose. I just wanted to detail all the reasons why I think you owe it to yourself to live your dream. I wish you the best :blush:

    Tl;dr I don't think I'd be a good mentor to tell you that if you want Big law then Kent is a good idea.

  • TexAgAaronTexAgAaron Alum Member
    1723 karma

    @"Alex Divine" So I have been following this thread pretty regularly. I have a question that is slightly off but still relevant, and I figured you (or anyone else!) could give me an interesting perspective. I have been debating in my head of whether to even to do big law. I have no want whatsoever to go work in NYC/D.C./Chicago or in the Northeast; I want to stay in Texas. The $180,000 salary isn't the end all be all for me either, so I have sort have leaned away from it. I do want some sort of work-life balance, and yes I understand it won't be perfect because this is the nature of the beast.

    With that being said, I have started to look at the mid-sized firms (give or take). They still offer competitive wages (at least to me) and seem to be a bit less on the craziness. I have looked at their staffs and have seen plenty of TT and even a few TTT depending on the location (I want to be in Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth). I am aiming high for school though (Southern Methodist, University of Houston, Baylor,.....maybe UT though I don't know if my resume is what they'll be looking for).

    From reading this thread though, and please forgive me if I have misconstrued what you have said, but it seems like that some of these TT and TTT don't even have a prayer to get a job period at even a mid-sized firm since the rest of the T level students will be grabbing them. Just curious on your thoughts.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    @akeegs92 said:
    @"Alex Divine" So I have been following this thread pretty regularly. I have a question that is slightly off but still relevant, and I figured you (or anyone else!) could give me an interesting perspective. I have been debating in my head of whether to even to do big law. I have no want whatsoever to go work in NYC/D.C./Chicago or in the Northeast; I want to stay in Texas. The $180,000 salary isn't the end all be all for me either, so I have sort have leaned away from it. I do want some sort of work-life balance, and yes I understand it won't be perfect because this is the nature of the beast.

    With that being said, I have started to look at the mid-sized firms (give or take). They still offer competitive wages (at least to me) and seem to be a bit less on the craziness. I have looked at their staffs and have seen plenty of TT and even a few TTT depending on the location (I want to be in Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth). I am aiming high for school though (Southern Methodist, University of Houston, Baylor,.....maybe UT though I don't know if my resume is what they'll be looking for).

    From reading this thread though, and please forgive me if I have misconstrued what you have said, but it seems like that some of these TT and TTT don't even have a prayer to get a job period at even a mid-sized firm since the rest of the T level students will be grabbing them. Just curious on your thoughts.

    Hey @akeegs92,

    Happy to answer your question. Now like I've said not all T2/T3s are created equal if you will. And not all cities/states are either. Texas big law is very big on what are called 'ties." So this means that they tend to prefer people born, raised, and/or have been residents of Texas/southern region for some time. Mid-sized firms can be gotten with T3/T2 degrees... However, good paying, mid-sized firms jobs tend to be unicorns in many ways. They exist, but they are few are far between and generally don't hire as many students. The firm is just smaller, so less people in - less people out.

    So it is almost paradoxically harder to some extent to land a mid-sized firm job. Many BL lawyers actually covet these mid-law jobs that pay 90k or whatever and have half the required billables as a typical big firm.

    I think you've understood what I've written pretty well. If you go to a t2/t3 don't expect a big law job. It isn't that is impossible to get, but you're paying a lot of time and money for something that maybe LITERALLY 10 kids in the entire class might get. And 5 of those kids probably had connections of some sort. And the other 5 networked like crazy and had amazing grades, law review. Too much serendipity involved. Another thing I forgot to mention, is that often times where you went to UG matters a lot. A good example is a discussion I was having with a friend I know who attends Fordham. She and I were talking about Fordham and big law and all that. She brought up a great point that it seems like all the kids who get/got big law from Fordham went to Ivy Undergrads. Now this could just be that they are self-selected and are smarter, and thus had better grades. But it also is equally true that they probably had better networks. Something 0Ls often under look are the idea of networks. Which undergrad you attend and subsequent law school you choose has a massive effect on your job placement opportunities because of that network. That is again why all T2/T3s aren't the same. The older ones have larger networks and some T2s used to be T1s and that changes the calculus a bit on how useful that current T2 network could be.

    However, again, TX BL market is unique and if you have ties and go to a place like Baylor or UT; do well, network, I think you might have a decent shot at big law. I'm not AS familiar with TX big law as I am with NYC/general corp. But this is what I know...

    My whole thing has been to please find out why you want to practice "big law' and what type you might be interested in. Most juniors of course start out doing M&A-esque busy work as they learn quickly during their first year. I've met some happy BL lawyers and mostly stressed out ones on 2 xanax bars a day. One thing they all agree on is the work is boring and stressful at the same time. Odd combo that I never understood until I got my job now.
    I imagine it being like having to do an all-nighter writing a 15-page paper due at 8am on something mundane. It isn't hard, but it sounds awful, too.

    A little about me:
    I started off wanting to be a finance/business lawyer helping people years ago. I didn't understand fully how balkanized the big law deal groups were. I somehow got the big law fever that many get without truly knowing what it is. I was lucky enough to find some great mentors who are ex and current attorneys show me. Through them now I know more than a few junior associates at a couple firms and I'm happy to call them friends. If you want work-life balance, law probably isn't the best profession, period. That said, if you could land a mid-sized firm job many can be just as demanding as typical BL firms, but most are not from my understanding. Firm culture varies significantly in NYC as I'm sure it does in Texas. I know Kirkland Ellis is known as a "sweatshop" whereas Vinson & Elkins is spoken about as more "less shitty." The trade off is K&E is more prefstigious, lol. And lawyers tend to care a lot about those things.

    My only real advice is to explore and talk to as many people/lawyers as you can. See what type of law actual interests you and perhaps there is a group within a mid-sized firm you'd really like. Many firms have everything from employment and labor, tax, to capital markets and M&A. Some people find they hate litigation but love deal work. Others are genuinely interested in labor law... Look into it all, talk to some people (Hell, I've randomly linkedin messaged a few people and learned some cool stuff) Many want to help. Lawyers love talking about themselves, lmao.

    So just to recap: If you're from TX a mid-sized firm job from Baylor/UT is certainly possible. I think top 20% a year from UT gets BL and I'm assuming that means mid law is also very possible from top 20-30%. (Check the 509s because I'm guessing here)

    1) Mid-sized firm jobs are in some cases harder to get then big firms because they hire less people. So keep that in mind. And check the bios anytime you see a T3 grad at a firm. If they were hired in 2005 then .... well ... that's different then if they were class of 2014.

    2) Find out some more about what interests you specifically about different areas of law. Like I said, for me I'm genuinely interested in finance. I've worked doing it now and have found that the legal side seems to be more where I'm going to be better off because of my skill set. To be promoted past where I'm at now I need better math and analytical skills or an MBA. None of which I am interested in. I much better fit into the lawyer realm of deal work. So off to be a scribe for an iBank hopefully in a few years. I am grateful that I know what I'm getting into.

    3) Keep an open mind. If I go to law school and fall in love with something else, I'm going to give it a shot. A long time ago I interned at a real estate law office and actually remember really liking it. It was face-paced, not boring, and seemed legit: like you were talking with people and just rubber stamping forms. I liked the personal aspect of it all. Not that I did much more than shadow and file shit.

    I hope I've answered you're question though. If not feel free to send a PM for more specifics. :)

  • TexAgAaronTexAgAaron Alum Member
    1723 karma

    @"Alex Divine" Thanks for your answer! You definitely have some great points and info I wasn't sure of. I did just graduate from Texas A&M which boasts one if the elite alumni networks; extremely close knit and especially in Texas. I am planning to start my networking once this LSAT monster is slain by starting with fellow Aggies.

    I definitely get the work-life balance and understand it won't be great; just the nature of the beast, but I'm ok with that. I definitely have noticed the regional school recruiting; seems like a bit more of a even playing field though my dream school is SMU.

    Thanks again for your thoughts! I really appreciate it! Always good to hear a different point of view!

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    @ something said:
    @"Alex Divine" Thanks for your answer! You definitely have some great points and info I wasn't sure of. I did just graduate from Texas A&M which boasts one if the elite alumni networks; extremely close knit and especially in Texas. I am planning to start my networking once this LSAT monster is slain by starting with fellow Aggies.

    I definitely get the work-life balance and understand it won't be great; just the nature of the beast, but I'm ok with that. I definitely have noticed the regional school recruiting; seems like a bit more of a even playing field though my dream school is SMU.

    Thanks again for your thoughts! I really appreciate it! Always good to hear a different point of view!

    Of course, man! If you went to A&M and go to any of the mentioned schools and do well I would bet almost anything you can land the mid-sized job you want. Ties are big and A&M's network is massive vis-a-vis TX law, so you will be just fine. Work hard and explore. With my little experience, I think one of the biggest faults of 0Ls is saying they want something they don't even truly understand. Mid law can mean a lot of things. So just to re-iterate, the best advice I've ever gotten is to find out what type of law you're interested in and pursue it. See where it leads you. The money will come if you're good. And if your convictions are such that money isn't what motivates you, the rewards of helping folks will. I also believe there's somewhere in the middle where you can do both. I hope that's where we end up. Good money. Good work. And doing something we can stand.

    This is a bit off topic, but I thought it was appropriate to post here: My best friend is in med school and we talk about law versus medicine shit quite a lot. And there are so many similarities. For instance, a lot of med students early on want to be pediatric heart surgeons or something of the sort. (Much seen as the same prestige as big law) They however never really know the stress involved and the weight of possibly fucking up. In med you might kill someone. In law, you'll have your partner throw a folder at you and admonish you -- so clearly med seems worse; but still, there's this idea that we always want to chase prestige and money without truly knowing what it is OR, more importantly, having a good life. You seem like the rare type of lawyer looking for a good balance whereby one can make a decent living and have a somewhat normal life. I admire that and think that's a very good thing! Don't lose that.

    Keep that balance and happiness as your north star. The truth is (And if anyone tells you different they are bullshitting, crazy, or both) is that law is pretty boring. You read. You summarize. You do a lot of boring shit that you're told has to be done by 5pm when it doesn't have to be done until next Thursday. It's OK to do it for the money, but I also think having some end goal and perspective like you have is imperative. For me, I eventually want to be in a place where I can do several things law and non-law related. I want to start a hedge fund, write, be a success coach, a father, business owner. I want to do it all!

    Sorry for another one of my long posts, just happy to hear you're on the right path it seems. A&M is an amazing school. Start networking now and you will be good at UT/Baylor/SMU. Literally, message people from mid-sized firms and just talk to them. They either won't answer or take 2-weeks and will answer and then you build a relationship. I met some random guy 10 years my senior at a V5 via Facebook. I creepily messaged him and he got back to me. It took 2 weeks, but now we've gotten drinks 2 times and talk every now and again. A good person to know and a reference should I need one... Network = Net worth. ;)

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    P.S. Sorry to everyone for my constant grammatical and spelling errors on my comments. I swear I'm not that illiterate. I often sit up at night and answer from my iPhone/iPad and not a laptop/desktop.

    For some reason it tends to have me making more spelling, grammar, and just poor sentence structure. Also, I didn't sleep tonight, but I don't have much to do today besides errands and a doc appointment.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @akeegs92 @"Alex Divine" there are also some midsize firms that pay pretty well. For instance, in Detroit, Butzel Long starts people off at like a hundred and five or a hundred and ten thousand. Often, pay ranges from firm to firm.

  • TexAgAaronTexAgAaron Alum Member
    1723 karma

    @"Alex Divine" I'm pretty wide open right now with which part of law I want to do. I hope through networking I'll be able to narrow it down a bit. I've already started to tap in to the alumni network a bit too.

    Kelly Hart is #4 on Vault for best mid-sizes firms and is located in Fort Worth. I looked at a ton of bio's and am encouraged so that is a place I will make contact early on to talk to people. I think pay starts at $145k which is plenty to me lol.

    @combsni Just to give you my opinion on what I've read, I think I'd go to UChi. I can tell you are a go getter and want to be the best. Go study with the best. The opportunities there are enless. I compare this to me wanting to go to A&M. I didn't get there out of high school but it didn't stop me from transferring there because I knew it was a great school with amazing connections. If you are as serious about BL as you say, UChi is the only way to go. Even if you're not at the top of your class, the opportunities will still be far greater than anywhere else. And as Alex said, nothing is guaranteed in law school. So why not go somewhere where the margin of error is a little bigger? Just my two cents. You'll be fine. I can see you're drive.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited March 2017 23929 karma

    @combsni said:
    @akeegs92 @"Alex Divine" there are also some midsize firms that pay pretty well. For instance, in Detroit, Butzel Long starts people off at like a hundred and five or a hundred and ten thousand. Often, pay ranges from firm to firm.

    Absolutely! I've just made it my crusade to let you know that these mid sized law jobs aren't easy to land. Like I said, often they are HARDER to land than big law. A big law firm class can sometimes take 50-80 new hires a year with the model of most leaving (attrition) Mid law pays amazingly well at places like Buzel, but a lot of people if you check their firm info are laterals from V100s or straight out of top schools.

    I want to put a disclaimer that a lot of this is what I've been taught and told by mentors and younger associates. But I really want to reiterate that "mid law" isn't like the easier version of big law to get. The prestige aspect is lesser and in that regard it can be and some places just are easier. Defining mid law is hard because it doesn't have that same lexicon and number-based ranking Vault firms considered big law has. But of course, "paying well" is really something that I've learned is one of the most subjective things in life. If my 18 year old self told me I could make my paycheck now my I'd be naive enough to think I would be rich and dating Mila Kunis. Then life happens, taxes hit, student loans, and just living in a city where a cardboard box is 2k.

    Another interesting phenom about working in finance/big law/mid law and whatever is that there are always people you get to know who make 10x more than you. I honestly think most people would be ecstatic making 250k a year. But no matter what you tell yourself when you find out so and so partner makes 2.5 million and you see their house and life.... I don't know. It doesn't make you feel poor, but that shock goes away. Driving a BMW is great until your VP pulls up in a Ferrari. And his boss has a driver. It's all relative bs because people who tend to get into law and big law specifically are status/money obsessed driven people. So that's my take on it.

    Totes right that mid law firms that pay well are out there. Just have to figure out whether you want to forgo OCI for big law or try and gun for it. Or, again, you can lateral like most associates at these firms do after 3-5 years in big law. I think that seems to be the hardest part of navigating landing these jobs right out of school. You have to sort of go "all in" sometimes and do a summer or two at a mid sized firm and hope for an offer, whereas big law firms tend to let you know upfront barring some major fuck up you'll get an offer. That's a hard thing to turn down. Mid law firms don't generally publish their offers so it's so damn hard to know what you're getting into. Also, big law summer associates that pay market give you like 3-4k a week, wine and dine you, fancy lunches, and just make you feel special. From what LITTLE I know, mid sized firms don't pay as well, don't have the wine and dine aspect and you just don't get that feeling of prefstige, which again many in this profession are after.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @akeegs92 said:
    @"Alex Divine" I'm pretty wide open right now with which part of law I want to do. I hope through networking I'll be able to narrow it down a bit. I've already started to tap in to the alumni network a bit too.

    Kelly Hart is #4 on Vault for best mid-sizes firms and is located in Fort Worth. I looked at a ton of bio's and am encouraged so that is a place I will make contact early on to talk to people. I think pay starts at $145k which is plenty to me lol.

    @combsni Just to give you my opinion on what I've read, I think I'd go to UChi. I can tell you are a go getter and want to be the best. Go study with the best. The opportunities there are enless. I compare this to me wanting to go to A&M. I didn't get there out of high school but it didn't stop me from transferring there because I knew it was a great school with amazing connections. If you are as serious about BL as you say, UChi is the only way to go. Even if you're not at the top of your class, the opportunities will still be far greater than anywhere else. And as Alex said, nothing is guaranteed in law school. So why not go somewhere where the margin of error is a little bigger? Just my two cents. You'll be fine. I can see you're drive.

    Awesome! Yeah, tap into that network for sure. When you know what you want to do, or at least are at least interested in, it gives you a direction. And I truly think that is something I see a lot of people lack who I know and it tends to be their achilles heel. People leave law all together because they can't fucking stand capital markets work, but end up really being able to deal with litigation.

  • TexAgAaronTexAgAaron Alum Member
    1723 karma

    You have to sort of go "all in" sometimes and do a summer or two at a mid sized firm and hope for an offer, whereas big law firms tend to let you know upfront barring some major fuck up you'll get an offer. That's a hard thing to turn down. Mid law firms don't generally publish their offers so it's so damn hard to know what you're getting into.

    @"Alex Divine" Really? So they pretty much tell you up front that you'll most likely get a job? Never knew that.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @akeegs92 said:

    You have to sort of go "all in" sometimes and do a summer or two at a mid sized firm and hope for an offer, whereas big law firms tend to let you know upfront barring some major fuck up you'll get an offer. That's a hard thing to turn down. Mid law firms don't generally publish their offers so it's so damn hard to know what you're getting into.

    @"Alex Divine" Really? So they pretty much tell you up front that you'll most likely get a job? Never knew that.

    I mean, I'm not exactly sure if it's put so black and white, but yeah, they (some firms) are 100% offer firms and I know they let associates know upfront not to be so stressed and just do good work product, network, and do whatever else it is expected of you and you will get an offer.

    So that is just a fancy way of saying don't get too drunk at the firm events and you'll be gucci. And even then there was this chick back in like 2009 who got drunk and dove into the Hudson River and still got an offer. I think there's are article on Above The Law about it; hilarious!

    The ones that aren't 100% offer still are like 90%. This is of course assuming there is not another 07-10 recession where like 50% got no offered. People do get no offered for a multitude of reasons, but as it stands, if you get an SA the odds are in your favor pending you avoid any big problems. It's basically a 8 week long job interview. So if you think about it that way it makes more sense.

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    Joining the party late here.. but it seems like you are super defensive and trying to stand up for a t2/t3 alternative to UofC. That's fine. It is your life, your debt and your career that is in discussion. Obviously it impacts you more than anyone else. I think your best option is to try and leverage more scholarship money from Northwestern. Tell them you got applied to UofC and they will likely come back with a nice offer.

    As far as opportunities go.. NW and UofC will basically give you the same doors if you want big law in the midwest. Both have obvious ties to Chicago firms and you will be making the same out of school at both. NW is my dream school and I don't have a damn shot at UofC, but I would not settle for a t2/t3 with your situation. Leverage a better offer a a lower ranked T14.

  • combsnicombsni Free Trial Member
    652 karma

    @Mellow_Z I just grew up around a lot of businessmen. Though my mother alienated her wealthy family, I have been able to keep those connections. Naturally, a lot of these people are very anti going into debt. I am also very stubborn. I could easily take over a couple businesses and make the $400,000 or $500,000 year that a lot of people would dream of but I want to pave my own path. I am far more proud of my connections to Lotus and General Motors than any connection I have with my family and I do believe that I could use a lot of my professional connections to land some of these larger jobs. I have listed a lot of the reasons why I like Chicago Kent and schools like it. I have also seen people go for the Ivy Leagues / more prestigious schools and fall on their face. My cousin went to Yale and his career isn't exactly thriving in the financial industry. I still haven't made up my mind yet. I love the University Chicago and the culture there but I have my reservations.

  • EmmaWI88EmmaWI88 Alum Member
    213 karma

    I'm in a similar boat in regards to debt. It's a very scary number to take on. However, I can tell you that if I had been offered a spot at U of C, I would take it. Have you looked at Law School Transparency? It's ranked higher in their employment score than HYS.

    https://www.lstreports.com/national/

    A lot of the HYS stuff I'm sure is lower because many are doing joint MBA and going into consulting after. But if you're betting on something, U of C is a very very safe bet to have. Look, my bro went to a second tier school and got a BL job. He's been at it for a very long time now (graduated in 2007) and does a very good job and is clearly valuable to the firm. However, at the end of the day, he'll never be offered partner because he doesn't have the name brand. It's bullshit and unfair perhaps, but that's the legal world.

    If you're not into BL, then yes you really need to consider whether the debt is worth it. If your dream is BL, then go with what will guarantee it for you.

    Anyone have opinions on taking a full ride at a number 20 school vs. paying sticker price for a T14?

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