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Erin: "Hi Dave,
I would greatly appreciate your insight on my top choices. I am interested in working at a small to midsize firm doing Trust and Estate Law. I don’t have any specific place I want to live, but preferably would enjoy a population of 100,000 – 500,000. I’m currently in Texas, but from Nebraska, so I received in-state tuition to both of those places. I am concerned about debt, as I have 60k from undergrad. Biglaw sounds awful, but I am worried this opinion may change once I enter law school. I don’t want to give up on biglaw when I don’t know much about it, so this factor is making the prestige vs. scholarship decision harder. I am able to submit reconsideration forms with Texas and Georgia (but I would have to commit ASAP once new offer is released), so there is a possibility those two schools could get a bit cheaper. Right now, my top options from below are Texas, Georgia, and Utah.
US ranking/Above the Law ranking
#16/15 University of Texas (8,000/yr scholarship) Total COA – $147,000
Small firm – 6.40% Overall Employment – 85.50%
#22/16 Notre Dame (25,000/yr scholarship) Total COA – $171,000
Small firm – 1.60% Overall Employment – 86.00%
#31/18 University of Georgia (in-state and 12,500/yr scholarship) Total COA – $78,870
Small firm – 12.70% Overall Employment – 89.50% (Not UBE)
#38/30 University of Wisconsin (full tuition and fees) Total COA – $66,000
Small firm – 17.40% Overall Employment – 85.20% (Not UBE)
#45/none University of Utah (full tuition plus GA stipend) Total COA – $56,250
Small firm – 23.50% Overall Employment – 74.10%
#76/49 University of Nebraska (full tuition and fees) Total COA – $54,000
Small firm – 24.80% Overall Employment – 76.10%
How do you view these options and if I were to submit reconsideration forms to Texas and Georgia, which schools would you use to negotiate?"
Dave Killoran: "Hi Erin,
Thanks for the nice rundown of your options! A few thoughts here:
• Given your description of law interest and desired city size, I’m not sure you need to worry about biglaw so much. While it’s incredibly attractive on the salary scale, not many people “love” practicing it because it’s a meat grinder. Sure there are exceptions, but it’s a major commitment in terms of work, and the idea of “life/work balance” largely doesn’t exist–it becomes your life. In other words, usually in these value/prestige decisions something has to give, and you are already signalling in multiple ways that the prestige factor (in terms of biglaw hiring) may be less important to you.
• With that in mind, let’s narrow your list. Texas knock out Notre Dame in my opinion because it’s cheaper and it’s T14. Georgia knocks out Wisconsin as it has better job outcomes overall, and they are worth the extra $12K. Utah and Nebraska are a toss up to me, but you seem to favor Utah so we’ll keep them. With that, my list matches yours: Texas, Georgia, and Utah. Taking it one step further, I personally would think Georgia’s current offer knocks out Utah’s offer, which would put you at Texas or Georgia.
• Let’s look at negotiation. With Texas, you don’t have a true comp school. Schools won’t compete with other schools they deem not to be on their level, and no school here matches Texas. I think you can try using Notre Dame, but I seriously doubt that Texas will view them as a real competitor. Regardless, what’s the harm in taking a shot? With Georgia, use Notre Dame again. They will accept the comp but the problem is they will know the costs (schools don’t just compare scholarships, they look at your COA too). You can mention Wisconsin as well, but I’m not sure Georgia will care about them.
Depending on how things shake out, I think you could attend either of these schools and be happy and successful. Texas will cost more but has a higher national profile whereas Georgia is cheaper but doesn’t deliver the big jobs as well. Is that $70K difference worth the bigger draw? If your initial description of your job interests is accrutae, then it’s not. But if you really want the biglaw door open, then it is. Only you can make that call
I hope that helps!"
Thank you so much for the advice! I have a couple follow up questions.
1. Would the fact the Georgia is not a UBE state sway you? I’m not stuck to any location, but I would like the ability to go other places after school.
2. Would you just use Notre Dame for a Georgia reconsideration, or should I include Texas, as well?"
Dave Killoran: "Hi Erin,
Thanks for the reply! Here you go:
1. No, that does not.
2. I’d likely focus on ND. Texas is a big jump from Georgia currently, and they know that