Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Discuss comparisons of various school choices and the various metrics that inform them, including rankings, student life, location, etc.
somelawperson
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Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by somelawperson » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:41 pm

Paging people familiar with PNW markets, Washington / Oregon / Idaho / Montana, Portland / Seattle / Boise / smaller markets such as Spokane, Tri-Cities, Salem, Missoula.

My decision is made, but I'm posting a more general question because this is information I never quite found on *the old board* and I think it would be useful for folks in the future. That's also why I loaded this post up with searchable terms.

For some context on the law schools in the region, here are 5-year weighted averages for Full Time, Long Term, Bar Passage Required positions / Under-employment. Data is c/o 2012-2016 via LST.
Spoiler:
School: FTLTBPR/Underemployment
Washington, U of: 66.1/21.3
Montana, U of: 65.7/19.9
Idaho, U of: 64.2/18.8
Gonzaga: 58.1/23
Lewis and Clark: 49.3/23.4
Oregon, U of: 46.8/35.4
Seattle U: 46.7/27.4
Willamette: 45.5/28.3
Concordia: has not existed five years
For someone trying to get back to [insert PNW market here], in what situations does it make sense to attend
a) one of the three respectable state schools (U of WA/ID/MT)?
b) one of the local schools that has dicier employment stats?
c) a well-known out-of-state west coast school, such as UCLA/USC, if ever?
d) a T13?

I'm curious for what goals and at what prices folks would recommend the options above. I think this is a clearer question for someone gunning for Seattle/Spokane/Idaho/Montana, where there are clearly dominant schools with decent employment numbers overall. I think it is much less clear for Portland/Oregon markets, where there are three schools with coin-flip employment stats.

BearCat
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by BearCat » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:49 pm

Rowdy wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:41 pm
c) a well-known out-of-state west coast school, such as UCI/USC, if ever?
ftfy

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 pm

Rowdy, I should get to a response tomorrow. It'll be a combination of thread and PM, because I can provide pretty detailed info on this region.

somelawperson
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by somelawperson » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:32 pm

MT Cicero wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 pm
Rowdy, I should get to a response tomorrow. It'll be a combination of thread and PM, because I can provide pretty detailed info on this region.
I'd love any details you can PM, and I'm sure future applicants would appreciate anything you can post publicly. 👍

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abujabal
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by abujabal » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:27 am

Rowdy wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:32 pm
MT Cicero wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 pm
Rowdy, I should get to a response tomorrow. It'll be a combination of thread and PM, because I can provide pretty detailed info on this region.
I'd love any details you can PM, and I'm sure future applicants would appreciate anything you can post publicly. 👍
Not sure if I can piggy back on the PM, but at the very least checking into this thread as a 0L trying to get back to a PNW market (tar makes it obvious) during and after law school

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:36 am

abujabal wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:27 am
Rowdy wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:32 pm
MT Cicero wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 pm
Rowdy, I should get to a response tomorrow. It'll be a combination of thread and PM, because I can provide pretty detailed info on this region.
I'd love any details you can PM, and I'm sure future applicants would appreciate anything you can post publicly. 👍
Not sure if I can piggy back on the PM, but at the very least checking into this thread as a 0L trying to get back to a PNW market (tar makes it obvious) during and after law school
Yeah, happy to. I'll try and put as much in the thread as possible though.

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Bushwhacker
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by Bushwhacker » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:51 am

Would also love to be in on whatever info I can get. I’m a few days away from the seat deposit deadline at UWashington. Thanks in advance to all who contribute!

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:42 am

If your most important goal is to work in the region, options C and D are not good ideas. The various legal markets in the PNW are pretty tight for SA positions, and you've gotta hustle hard to land something after taking the bar if you don't get an SA job. Anecdotally, I've had friends from T10 schools struggle to break into Seattle firms, especially if they don't break in initially for an SA. Ties are very important and you'll definitely be asked about them and "why Seattle?" in most interviews. And you can definitely be rejected for lack of ties. The exception would be Perkins Coie, since they take lots of Harvard students along with UW. But literally everyone is trying to work there. Tons of UW students, tons of out of state students who want to be in Seattle, everyone at the other schools. Everyone. It's super competitive.

If you want to practice in Idaho, go to Idaho. Montana, then do Montana. Both of those states will want to support students from their local schools and the networking ties will be strong. Otherwise UW is going to be the safest bet.

The dicier schools on that list are almost never worth it unless you have a very substantial non-conditional scholarship to reduce their costs. UW ends up taking 10-20 transfers from those schools, mostly SU and then a smattering of others. Otherwise, many grads from those schools really struggle. Garden City Group, a claims administration company with a big Seattle office, takes a bunch of SU grads on a temporary basis for projects. Perkins Coie and DWT will cycle through contract attorneys for discovery. Otherwise it's a small legal market. Beyond that, there are JD advantage jobs, but that means conceding you may not practice law after graduating.

Gonzaga isn't necessarily a bad option, but it is hyper-local to Eastern Washington and is a very small school. You're not going to go BigLaw from Gonzaga. On the other hand, plenty of Gonzaga law grads do well in their careers locally around the state. But, again, there's the question of costs and the fact you won't be making more than $60k for the beginning of your career and maybe longer.
Last edited by HelloYesThisIsDog on Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:50 am

MT Cicero wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:36 am

Yeah, happy to. I'll try and put as much in the thread as possible though.
Sorry for stealing any of your thunder on this. Happened to see the thread and figured I'd share my knowledge from my own experience going through OCI and stuff at a PNW law school and watching friends at other law schools in the region go through the same.

somelawperson
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by somelawperson » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:01 am

HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:42 am
Thanks for your response!

What about Portland? If the dicier schools aren't a great option and UW does not seem like a strong bet for Oregon...

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:03 am

I am not as familiar with the Portland market. A classmate of mine is working there in a larger firm. And UW usually has a handful go there. But I don't know whether it's UW's cachet or their own ties/interest in Oregon having the bigger effect on their placement.

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Nony
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by Nony » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:47 am

(I think it's great to talk about Idaho and Montana but do they count as the PNW? I consider them pretty much the west or mountain west.)

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archipm
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by archipm » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:19 am

Nony wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:47 am
(I think it's great to talk about Idaho and Montana but do they count as the PNW? I consider them pretty much the west or mountain west.)
I thought this too as a Portland person but then last year I met someone from Missoula who was excited to meet me as another person from “the Missoula-Portland-Seattle PNW triangle”

A lot of pdx lawyers I know practice in OR/WA/ID and a lot of rich people in Portland have vacation homes in Idaho so it kinda feels like part of the region to me

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Nony
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by Nony » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:03 am

good to know!

limelacroix
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by limelacroix » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:32 am

I have relatives who got their JDs from Montana because they wanted to live in Montana. Prior to Law School, neither of them lived there (spent some time in Colorado, Washington, Idaho) but they knew they wanted to work in Montana. They're both now semi-prominent in the legal scene in their city, but they both say they don't hire people who didn't go to Montana - this includes other schools in the PNW, they only hire Montana grads. It's an extremely insular place.

That being said, their market is pretty small, and idk if Montana is actually the PNW and Seattle/Portland are much larger.

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:03 am

archipm wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:19 am
Nony wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:47 am
(I think it's great to talk about Idaho and Montana but do they count as the PNW? I consider them pretty much the west or mountain west.)
I thought this too as a Portland person but then last year I met someone from Missoula who was excited to meet me as another person from “the Missoula-Portland-Seattle PNW triangle”

A lot of pdx lawyers I know practice in OR/WA/ID and a lot of rich people in Portland have vacation homes in Idaho so it kinda feels like part of the region to me
Yeah, it's interesting where to draw the lines, but having lived in the middle of the non-coast PNW, there's kind of three larger swaths that go from PNW to MW the way I've found it. You have (1) the coastal PNW that you tend to think of (Seattle, Portland et al.), (2) the eastern WA/OR +ID/western MT "smaller town" portion, and (3) the MW which kind of starts east or south of that. This is based mainly on where I see people "from" in and around the PNW. Idaho for instance, has its major city & capitol (Boise) only 40 miles from the Oregon border, and its state flagship school virtually on the Washington border up north. Northern Idaho is on Pacific time to be the same as Washington cities, and southeastern Oregon is on Mountain time for the same reason (to be on the same time as Boise and and the Simplot farms). The University of Washington has a medical school for WWAMI: Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (Wyoming was the most recent add).

These lines are blurry, of course, but one thing seems to unite all of them: their annoyance with Californians that decide to move in.

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:05 am

HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:50 am
MT Cicero wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:36 am

Yeah, happy to. I'll try and put as much in the thread as possible though.
Sorry for stealing any of your thunder on this. Happened to see the thread and figured I'd share my knowledge from my own experience going through OCI and stuff at a PNW law school and watching friends at other law schools in the region go through the same.
No, please do! And others with experience as well. Smaller-market law will be the most anecdotal, so to the extent we get more voices, it'll only help.

I'll jump on my post in a second.

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:51 pm

In my opinion, there are two factors which will play heavily into this decision: (1) whether your target market is Seattle/Portland/Boise vs. another city, and (2) how deep your pre-law school ties are to that market. So, I'll address my thoughts based on those factors. Also, this will be a bit one-size-fits-all, and others might disagree for very specific circumstances.

I want Seattle, Portland, or (to a lesser extent) Boise

No pre-law ties: Scary proposition here in my opinion. You're simply not guaranteed to work here in this scenario. You could go to a T13, go to UW and finish good but not outstanding, or go to a local school in the specific market you want...and still strike out, at least initially. You can get beat out by people at very local schools, who perhaps worked at "midsize firm X" before law school, and could only get into Seattle or L&C or U-Oregon. And since you want a larger city with no ties, I'm guessing you're more into the biglaw than someone in another scenario I'd describe. If that's the case, I'd take a T13 over a local school (Stanford/Berkeley would be nice), work like hell to develop ties during 1L summer, but be fully prepared to work somewhere else if you're looking for the larger firm life, and don't limit yourself when OCI comes around.

Deep pre-law ties: This is a pretty good situation to be in, and where I would actually take T13 (esp. Stan/Berk) > UW >>> others (cost dependent, of course). This was me. When I say deep ties, I mean, "my fiancee works at at [hospital in Seattle] and this is the only place I want to practice law," "I've lived here for 18 years and am keeping my house near the Willamette...which I'll be moving back into after I finish at Michigan," etc. These kinds of ties, combined with a T13, protects against the overall strike out, while also keeping you feeling like a local. Also: you shall do your 1L summer in said market. You shall network during that summer, without seeming thirsty (be someone people want to work with/be around). You shall begin the job hunt in mid-July of your 1L summer while you're there, and not wait for the standard timelines. I say shall,

I want Spokane, Idaho Falls, Helena, Missoula, other small city

No pre-law ties: I don't see this being the case for more than 1 in 100 people targeting these markets. But HelloYesThisIsDog is pretty much spot on. I'd take Idaho for Idaho, Montana for Montana, etc. Probably take UW for smaller Wash/Ore. He's right about Gonzaga & Spokane, and the pay, and the unlikelihood of anything resembling biglaw. And that'll hold for most of the other cities as well. Boise is a weird netherworld that can feel a little like the bigger city for a few firms, but also has a ton of U-Idaho (and now some Concordia) types filling up those same firms, and nearly all the smaller firms. You'll get some crossover, where Idaho grad wants Spokane, Gonzaga in Boise, both in Coeur d'Alene, etc. But just realize that there are very few jobs in cities that are not the three listed above. Not biglaw jobs, just jobs period. And they're very insular, like Dog said. An 8-person shop that does insurance defense will almost all have gone to schools in the region, and would be very unlikely to randomly hire a Cornell or NU grad, unless it was one of their sons/daughters/nephews/nieces.

Deep pre-law ties: Not much changes from the above, except that you could venture out to UW or Berk or maybe another T13 if you wanted (for options), and still maybe get back to Idaho Falls or Missoula, for example.

But what if I have decent-but-not-great ties? Well, you're rolling the bones in between the above. You are the anecdote of your own life, so YMMV in a big way in these types of scenarios. Realize that the cost-benefit analysis will still apply, and that opening up other markets may be important, even if you don't know it now (this was me, who was "dead set" on my current market, yet after my clerkship will be heading back to T13 market biglaw for various reasons that all hit at once during 3L). There's nothing wrong with being all-in on a market outwardly, while absolutely making sure you've got backup plans in place. You don't have to be Cortez and burn the damn ships. It's not very prudent in our profession!

Happy to bat it around with any follow-ups. And I'll also zap some PMs on some specifics in my market, and what I've seen for firm cutoffs, who's getting SSC clerkships, the bigger law jobs, etc. (and in what numbers) over the course of the last few years based on my anecdata.

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MT Cicero
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by MT Cicero » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:57 pm

Also, I'll add that as you move to the southeast of the PNW (southern/southeastern Idaho, maybe southwestern Montana), Utah and BYU can become players as well. I don't know a lot about the LDS crowd in terms of their pipeline, but there is certainly a decent LDS attorney population in Idaho.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:12 pm

I also saw a BYU attorney come to Seattle and do OK without ties (that I was aware of). Could be they relied on a church connection. I noticed when I worked at a company run by Mormons that they love to bring in other Mormons.

I will add in another anecdote that a friend of mine who grew up in Seattle, went to NYU law, and came back, couldn't find a job and moved back to NYC for work. On the other hand, a dear friend of mine from college with very strong ties is finishing up at GULC and has a job at K&L gates lined up. So definitely YMMV. Seattle is just a weird market.

My basic story - good ties to Seattle (didn't grow up there but living there for many years), went to UW, ended up in biglaw in California. Partly self selection for my practice and partly got turned down for almost everything else that I wanted. Biglaw is extremely hard to get in Seattle.

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abujabal
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by abujabal » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:21 pm

Out of curiosity - how many BL entry-level openings would you say exist in each of these markets? I've heard some guesses, and I'm assuming that Seattle is at most 50ish, but how right/wrong would that be?

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:24 pm

MT Cicero wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:57 pm

Your post was really excellent. I like the categorization.

We should work on some content of major Seattle employers for lawyers. I'm thinking covering which biglaw firms have offices and take summers, the handful of midlaw places, government agencies that do entry level hiring (I'm thinking King county prosecutor which has a summer program, and state AG). For small law, it might be more of a "let's sample what we know" since it's hard to be comprehensive.

Not sure it's worth covering Amazon or Microsoft since there is no entry level hiring and they usually draw from biglaw for attorney positions.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:30 pm

abujabal wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:21 pm
Out of curiosity - how many BL entry-level openings would you say exist in each of these markets? I've heard some guesses, and I'm assuming that Seattle is at most 50ish, but how right/wrong would that be?
I haven't done anything comprehensive to account for this, but I think 50 is the upper limit of any estimate. The firms with the biggest summer classes are going to be Perkins and K&L, and those still won't be more than 10-15. The small biglaw satellite offices are taking 1-3 summers (if they take any).

There are midlaw options (Foster Pepper being the biggest of those), and small-mid (Hillis Clark), and these can get you to similar outcomes that I know you're looking for (go to fed govt), but they have much smaller classes. Hillis is like 2, FP is maybe 5 if I recall. And again, having ties matters. I'd also argue that T13 can be tricky with these smaller shops because they don't want to invest in you if they think there's a risk you will leave because you want the fancier clients being pulled in by Perkins or another biglaw shop. I definitely got needled on this in a callback interview with a mid size firm when I mentioned I had an offer from a big firm. The questions became "why us?"

somelawperson
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by somelawperson » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:01 pm

MT Cicero wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:51 pm
This is awesome, thanks for taking the time to go through this. This is exactly the information I wish I had spelled out when I was starting my application process.

I'd love for anyone else in the area with anecdata to continue to chime in too. ThisIsDog or Archi or anyone.
Nony wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:47 am
(I think it's great to talk about Idaho and Montana but do they count as the PNW? I consider them pretty much the west or mountain west.)
I included MT because I wanted to include more than just the I-5 corridor, and ID, Western MT, and Eastern WA/OR have a lot in common like Cicero mentioned.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Pacific Northwest Law Schools

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:07 pm

Spokane calls itself the "Inland northwest," fwiw. Idaho is 30 minutes away so you can lump them together. Montana is more of a stretch, but there are a lot of people with families across Eastern WA-Idaho-Montana and I-90, and many of them still come over to Spokane (the "big city") for shopping and other needs.

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