Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Degree Appreciation

Sometimes, after being productive for what feels like too long without pause, I like to click around on random websites to find a distracting tidbit. It's like a battery charge for my brain. I just need a little boost, and that boost comes from turning it off and reading something mindless. This is why, at my busiest, I am unusually up on celebrity gossip.

Today, after billing a solid 4 hour block to something involving painstaking details and lots of squinting, I clicked over to Above the Law (an online gossip blog about law, law school, and BigLaw firms). I don't check ATL nearly as much I used to. It was fun in law school when it seemed like every day was an update on which firms were raising their associates' salaries, but when it switched to depressing updates on how many associates were being laid off from those same firms, I stopped reading (unless, of course, someone sends me an article about my firm, then I click right over).

Today I found an article called, "Best Law Schools for Getting a BigLaw Job" and guess who was #1?

I don't know why that made me happy, since I'm on the other side of that issue, but it did. As long as I'm paying $2,000/month in loans, I suppose the least my school can do is get jobs for those who will soon be doing the same. Plus, I'm on the local alumni admissions committee, so now I have a stat to tell the admitted undecided students. I was also glad to see that the class number has remained under 200. The small class size at Chicago matters a lot. I believe that even more so now that I've graduated and have talked to my colleagues who went to other, larger law schools (mostly UT and Harvard, which are both huge). I think it's hard not to let numbers creep up, after all, it's extra money and Chicago doesn't have a large endowment, but I'm proud they're sticking to it. That article links to another article about Chicago's grading system describing students' battle with the administration about our low (and possibly lowered) curve. I'm kind of proud of that too (the low curve, not the complaining, though I think it's good to have a voice; another good thing about the small class size is the administration is usually responsive, even if their response is no); it's a tough school. Some days when I feel overwhelmed by whatever task is in front of me, I'll catch a glimpse of the picture of Chicago's chapel that is framed along with my diploma. The chapel is where we graduate- where I got my hood and carried Landon down the aisle, and I think, if I survived 3 years there, then I can probably handle this.

Something I should keep in mind right now, actually. I'm drafting a response to a motion in limine that involves a terribly complicated area of IP law and I keep putting off my westlaw searches (and my reading, oh the reading that needs to be done) in favor of things like checking Above the Law and writing about it. (Also accomplished so far: catching up on the Go Fug Yourself and TLo fashion posts and planning my outfit for tomorrow: a navy blue and white striped jersey dress with pale yellow peep toe wedges and pearl earrings. It makes me feel cheerful to think about it and I'm afraid I'm going to need the cheer.)

Okay, back to work, I need to be in bed by midnight. An update on other things, like the Biscuit, her superhero-obsessed brother, and JP's job search coming soon.

Oh, but P.S. This WSJ article about playing Monopoly at UChicago in the 1970's made me smile. A constitutional convention for the game? Protest signs? It is truly a haven for nerds and it makes me happy they have a place to run free.


  1. wow. 58.97 percent is HUGE. I think I know of ONE person from my just barely top 100 law school class in big law (of course I don't know that many people from law school since I wasn't very involved, but still). Thank goodness I don't have biglaw ambitions, since it's basically NO WAY IN HELL, ha!

    Oh and happy belated birthday! You make 28 look good. :)

  2. I've heard that some people believe your law school is THE best law school, despite US news usually ranking it below yale, harvard and stanford.

  3. I saw that ATL post and I immediately thought of you.

  4. How funny. I'm at work right now (at 10 pm) working on something hard and complicated, and I've probably checked your blog for updates a thousand times today. Thanks for the distraction!

  5. In fairness to schools like Harvard (my alma mater), that list doesn't count judicial clerks that end up in BigLaw jobs after their clerkship. Not that Chicago is not an awesome school, and I know both employers and judges agree! :)

  6. Very true, and the ATL post mentions that, although I think Chicago has about the degree of judicial clerkships their first year (smaller number, for sure, but the percentage is probably close). I think the small class size makes a big difference- the bottom number in the calculation is just so much smaller than a Harvard, and it seems like most Biglaw firms try to get a sampling of students from the top 8-10 schools. If they each try to get one student from Chicago, it makes that employed number very high. This is also BigLaw employment- I'd guess Harvard has a larger percentage of students who want to stay in public interest, and can because Harvard has a great loan forgiveness program for those who do. Chicago doesn't have nearly the endowment, and while they have an LRAP program, at least when I was there, it wasn't as good as Harvard's (or NYU's and a few others).

    And that's my numbers analysis for the morning. Back to work!

  7. Agreed LL! Bottom line is both are fantastic schools and anyone would be lucky to go to either of them! For the record also I think Chicago is better regarding financial aid because it gives merit-based aid, whereas HLS did not.

  8. Interesting, I didn't know that. So is all of Harvard's up-front aid need-based? They're kind of flipped then. Harvard may get your more loans, but if you do public interest, they better enable you to pay them off. Chicago may land you with fewer loans, but it's harder (though not impossible) to do public interest afterwards because of the payments.

    The answer, I think, is to be born with a large trust fund that you can tap into for these purposes. Though I suppose if you had that, why be a lawyer at all?

  9. As a HLS-Chicago public interest family, your last comment is exactly right. Chicago has since improved its LRAP somewhat (no help to us, but nice), but it is still, in my opinion, the highest-ranked law school with a truly bad public interest support system (career advising, LRAP, summer money, etc.).

    I do think the clerkship, PI, and academia numbers are what are causing this list to diverge from US News. You'll notice Yale is #15. You'd be crazy to suggest you can't get a biglaw job out of Yale as well as at the top schools, but the reason is that over half of Yalies go into the other three areas I mentioned by choice.

    I am a secret Fug fan myself :)