Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Discuss comparisons of various school choices and the various metrics that inform them, including rankings, student life, location, etc.
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MichiganHoosier
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Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by MichiganHoosier » Sun Apr 11, 2021 4:50 pm

It definitely feels weird to be posting one of these, especially when I feel that I've been lurking these boards for quite a while now. With that, thank you everyone for the wisdom and guidance both shared on this board and pre-2018 when everyone was on TLS.

This is less a "help me decide" and more of a compass check on my thinking process to ensure I'm not missing something big. As of now, this has been my cycle applying with a ~3.3/173 (applied everywhere at the end of September), and I have full GI Bill + Yellow Ribbon (tuition paid for, housing stipend, books stipend):

Yale: R
Stanford: Still Waiting
Harvard: R
Chicago: WL
Columbia: "Hold"
NYU: "Hold"
Penn: A
UVA: A + $15k/yr stipend (scholarship converted to living stipend)
Berkeley: WL
Michigan: A + $20k/yr stipend (scholarship converted to living stipend)
Duke: WL
Northwestern: WL
Cornell: WL
Georgetown: A
UCLA: A

At this time, I am leaning toward Michigan. I am originally from Michigan, and most of my family is living in the state, so after being away for quite some time it will be nice to get close. My goals right now are to go the Big Law litigation route, and then after a few years transition to government / boutique / smaller firm with better work/life balance. My ideal market to start BL in would be in this order: Boston, D.C., Chicago. I do not want to go to NYC. I think after a few years in Big Law, my wife and I will then assess whether we want to stay where we're at, or whether we want to go back to Michigan. It's essentially either/or as my wife eventually wants to start her own medical practice, so we kind of need to put down roots at some point.

Here is where my hesitancy is: Michigan has been lagging behind in employment numbers, especially compared to its historical peers UVA and Penn. I've heard the PI self-selection argument, but I'm not buying it based on it's PI numbers compared to its peers. I think it's more believable that maybe students are going to smaller markets where they don't count toward what we consider "big law" numbers. But who knows.

Before fully committing to Michigan, I'd like to make sure that by choosing Michigan over UVA and Penn, I'm not closing the door on other opportunities or drastically altering my margin of error. I'd like to think I'd have similar OCI success at either of the schools given my background, but of course I really don't know. The stipends are great at UVA and Michigan, but since my wife will be working and will make more than enough money, I don't want to make a decision solely based on that.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and provide any input. Also, huge shoutout AJordan (the real MVP), Stranger, MT Cicero, BlendedUnicorn, UVA2B, dcc617, and countless others for being sounding boards during the application process.

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Hey_Everybody
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by Hey_Everybody » Sun Apr 11, 2021 5:33 pm

I think if you're from Michigan, have family there, and potentially want to wind up there long term, then Michigan is a no brainer. FWIW everyone I know who wanted biglaw got it from Michigan. Sure, some people strike out, but it's very rare and I don't think that's unique to Michigan either. And the self-selection into PI is a real thing. I know for a fact that 95 out of the 362 people in my class didn't do OCI at all. My guess is that number is far lower at UVA and Penn. So if roughly two thirds of the class goes into biglaw or fed clerkships and a quarter of the class intentionally goes into government, PI, or something else, then that leaves less than 10% who struck out. Obviously some of the people who didn't do OCI are clerking, so that math is a little too favorable to the school. But it sounds about right that roughly 1 in 10 people who want biglaw might actually wind up not getting it. And with the GI bill it wouldn't even be a terrible outcome or anything anyway. But there's no real wrong answer here, just go with your gut

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Stranger
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by Stranger » Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:17 pm

Look, if the money is good *and* you'd be happier at Michigan, that's a pretty sweet combo. It's one of the very few schools that truly places around the country (there are several that *can*, but only a handful really *do*). That's obviously no guarantee of getting a particular city that you want, but if you'd also be happy with biglaw in a mid-market city if Boston/DC/Chicago don't work out, you're probably pretty safe going that route. I don't know that there's a *wrong* answer here, it's really just more a question of balancing goods against each other. If Michigan feels right and you'd like to return, I'd say pull the trigger.

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DankHill
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by DankHill » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:52 am

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Last edited by DankHill on Wed May 05, 2021 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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icechicken
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by icechicken » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:00 am

Boston, D.C., Chicago
This preference washes out most of the marginal benefit of Penn, which punches above its weight in New York (and, I assume, is great for Philly or maybe western PA) but otherwise is "just" another T14.

If you'd truly prefer D.C., I think you should take a hard look at UVA, because they are in the pole position there (relative to these other schools). But Michigan is likewise good for Chicago biglaw, and I agree with the rest of the thread here that it wins out based on intangibles. The stipend is icing on the cake.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:06 am

yeah, only potential gamechanger would be getting into Stanford or Chicago, but even then I'd be mildly inclined to take the stipend at Michigan given your goals/circumstances.

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Slytherpuff
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by Slytherpuff » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:11 am

Michigan would be great for you. If you were DC or bust I'd say UVA, but I think Michigan is a better choice given the stipend, ties, and your goals.

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deputydog
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by deputydog » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:32 am

Go to Michigan. I went there and new a bunch of vets who got similar deals to you—gov picks up all tuition and they work with you to get your scholarship to be a living stipend. 20k a year is more than enough to live in A2 with essentially $0 COA. After your summer biglaw gig you’ll be sitting even prettier.

Sounds like you’re from the area so you probably already know, but going to school at Michigan is an insane amount of fun, the town absolutely rules, and Michigan grads scatter after graduation because of a lack of a true market. The result is you basically have a strong nationwide network and can get a toehold just about anywhere. This is coming from someone who didn’t
Buy any of the Michigan student pride BS or Dean Z’s weird cool aunt schtick and picked Michigan solely on COA grounds.

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deputydog
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by deputydog » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:37 am

Also, FWIW, I don’t think Michigan’s numbers are as bad as the data might bare out. There is a strong PI culture there and bc of the lack of a true market, people go all over the country so a lot of the reported numbers are actually great outcomes that show up as bad gigs. For instance, my first gig out of law school was for a firm of less than 100 people in a weird part of the country making almost cravath scale. Im sure I’m counter on LST as an “underemployed” stat but I can assure you I’m not.

Anecdotally, I know zero people from my class that are fucked job wise. Even weird people with bad grades that’s shit the bed at OCI have low six figure gigs

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:51 am

If you get into one of the new york schools I'd be tempted to go just for the $4,000/month BAH.

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pancakes3
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by pancakes3 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:14 pm

go blue

MichiganHoosier
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by MichiganHoosier » Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:23 pm

Thank you everyone for the great insight / perspectives. It's good to know that I'm not too off with my thought process. While it's very doubtful, I'll update if I hear anything back from S, C, or N to see if that changes the equation.

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blueapple
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Re: Help Me Decide (Penn/UVA/Michigan)

Post by blueapple » Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:59 am

Late to the party here but I think Michigan makes the most sense for you based on your current choices. I'm a Michigan grad (2016) and, anecdotally, everyone I know who wanted to go to Boston for big law was able to. i work in government so I don't have as much law firm knowledge as others, but i'm always happy to chat about Michigan if you have any questions or concerns

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