I've Been Admitted to Law School. The Question is...Can I Survive?


Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Cheap Tier 2s or the Horribly Expensive Tier 1s (Top 14)

My problems are thus:

Having embraced my paranoid soul and the advice of all law school sages such as Richard Montauk (How to get into the Top Law Schools) and PrincetonReview.com I applied to the required amount of safeties, of course the safeties were just if I didn’t get into my reaches. Here’s the thing, I got into all of my safeties with a TON of money and a couple of my reaches, both of which I’d go to in a heartbeat but more than likely I’ll get no money from them. Do I take the money and have a debt free graduation with maybe average career opportunities or do I go to my reaches, be indebted for approximately $120 000 and have above average career opportunities – assuming of course I do well among the super competitive really bright folk that are going to be there? Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that the people who go to Tier 2 through 4 schools are any less than the Tier 1 folk it’s just that from what I gather, this distinction matters a LOT to prospective employers.

I should mention I am somewhat of an academic snob, but not so much that I can’t change (with a little counseling perhaps) for zero debt and a job in 3 years time? Is that name on that little piece of paper worth it? Right now, I tend to think so, but would an objective financial advisor agree? Pity I’m too poor to afford one.

I'll post the schools I actually got into later...or maybe tomorrow...I'd love some feedback.


I'm not an expert (hopefully some will weigh in). But I do know that every source I have ever consulted, from books to advice columns to real live lawyers and law school profs, has said to go with the best school you get into. It probably depends what you want to do, but if you want to work at a firm, get a good clerkship, or just keep your options open, you should probably go for the top 14 school. If you measure out the $120K over a career, it probably evens out. For instance, if you're making $20K more a year as a T14 graduate, in 10 years you've made back your $120K plus more.

From personal experience, I know that having a fancy name on your resume can make a big difference -- and I'm not even in a status-obsessed field like law. (I'm a software engineer.)

In spite of all this, I'm considering going to a not-quite-as-good school for lifestyle reasons... I KNOW it makes more sense to go to the better school, though. I just wish it didn't make that much of a difference.
Thanks for your take. I appreciate it. I do know that Undergraduate rank is a big deal, I feel that my UG opened up a ton of opportunities for me just on name alone (it's top 3). I'm assuming that the same will hold true for T14s.

I've been trying to get used to the idea that I can live with that much debt. It's really scary...

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