Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Discuss comparisons of various school choices and the various metrics that inform them, including rankings, student life, location, etc.
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Which should I go?

Cornell
8
42%
USC
11
58%
 
Total votes: 19

lannister
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Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:19 am

Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by lannister » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:01 am

Hello! I'm a long time lurker seeking your opinions on which school I should choose.

Cornell ($) v USC ($$$)

Short-term goal: Entertainment law at big law in NYC or LA
Long-term goal: In-house lawyer at a talent agency

My background:
  • 3+ years of work experience in the theater industry
  • A few connections in NYC, no connections in LA
  • Enough savings to cover COA
  • International, work visa required after graduation
Cornell:
Pro: Great big law placement, alumni network, Ivy league prestige (??)
Con: No "entertainment law program"
COA: $190k

USC:
Pro: Great entertainment law program, connections to Hollywood
Con: Limited employment opportunities (?)
COA: $120k

- Rejected/waitlisted by other T-14 schools
- Second cycle
- Multiple LSAT takes, no option to retake and apply again

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:13 am

"no option to retake" is false, unless your hands fell off, seeing as you can take the LSAT an unlimited number of times.

USC is fine for your goals, but I understand landing a gig in entertainment law is pretty difficult, and you'll be competing with some classmates seeking the same. Do not go to Cornell, T14 notwithstanding, unless you're genuinely unsure about this entertainment law thing.

lannister
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Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:19 am

Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by lannister » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:25 am

HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:13 am
"no option to retake" is false, unless your hands fell off, seeing as you can take the LSAT an unlimited number of times.

USC is fine for your goals, but I understand landing a gig in entertainment law is pretty difficult, and you'll be competing with some classmates seeking the same. Do not go to Cornell, T14 notwithstanding, unless you're genuinely unsure about this entertainment law thing.
Thank you! My LSAT score is low 170s and applied early so I'm not planning to retake.

Could you tell me your reason for "Do not go to Cornell"? I thought Cornell has pretty good biglaw placement in NYC....

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icechicken
Lost in the sauce
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by icechicken » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:58 pm

It's probably very difficult to get entertainment law from Cornell for the same reasons it's tough from most places. Cornell offers great opportunities but doesn't have any particular "in" to entertainment. $190k is also pretty expensive for even the best law schools.

The intersection between entertainment law and biglaw salaries, as far I understand, exists almost entirely in work for big studios in southern California or for NBCUniversal-type conglomerates in New York. In NYC you're especially likely to have to start doing generic transactional work and then try to pivot over to entertainment specifically (your network should help you here). This means you might well get stuck doing non-entertainment corporate law if you go to Cornell, and if that's an unacceptable outcome to you then I agree that you shouldn't go to Cornell.

I would add that "in-house to a talent agency" is an extremely unicorny goal - most of the in-house exit options for entertainment law are going to be, again, working for big content producers/distributors like Netflix or CBS. If you want to work in a talent agency, law school is probably not the best route, and that's before we consider the six-figure price tag.


To put it another way: your median expectation from Cornell is high-paying biglaw that has nothing to with entertainment. Your median expectation from USC is something tangentially related to the entertainment business that pays like $50k a year. You'll have to really outperform your classmates at either to get the kind of entry-level job you seem to be interested in.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:25 pm

lannister wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:25 am
HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:13 am
"no option to retake" is false, unless your hands fell off, seeing as you can take the LSAT an unlimited number of times.

USC is fine for your goals, but I understand landing a gig in entertainment law is pretty difficult, and you'll be competing with some classmates seeking the same. Do not go to Cornell, T14 notwithstanding, unless you're genuinely unsure about this entertainment law thing.
Thank you! My LSAT score is low 170s and applied early so I'm not planning to retake.

Could you tell me your reason for "Do not go to Cornell"? I thought Cornell has pretty good biglaw placement in NYC....
The poster above describes why I said don't go. If you are entertainment law or bust, you're not putting yourself in a position to get that at Cornell. Entertainment law is a unique, geographically limited practice area with many small firms and boutiques and some biglaw folks sprinkled in the mix (think O'Melveny). Cornell is in upstate NY, away from any networking you could be doing in NYC or LA, and to my knowledge isn't bursting with entertainment law practicing alumni who can connect you to people.

And, like the other poster said, it's a unicorn goal, so have some ideas for what you'll settle for.

lannister
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by lannister » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:18 pm

Thanks everyone! Yea I know it's a unicorn goal....
Last edited by lannister on Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:13 am

lannister wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:18 pm
Thanks everypne!Yea I know it's a unicorn goal....
Ok to have unicorn goals. Just good to know they are unicorn and be thinking smart about getting there. Glad you asked about Cornell vs USC.

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Tsuga
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by Tsuga » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:54 am

I voted USC. It gives you a better chance at entertainment law than Cornell for a lower price, but I imagine it’s still a risky goal from USC with $120k in debt.

I honestly have no idea how localized and ties-sensitive entertainment law is, so take this entire paragraph with salt, but my guess is that if your theater work is in NY and you want to practice in NY, a school like Fordham at $$$$ would be a better choice; and if your theater work is outside of LA and you want to practice in LA, a couple years work experience in LA prior to pursuing entertainment law at USC/UCLA with $$$$ would be ideal. Obviously these hypos both require retaking and/or reapplying, so if that’s not what you want to do, I think you just need to pick based on your comfort with non-entertainment big law at Cornell vs. non-big entertainment-adjacent law at USC.

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Rowdy
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by Rowdy » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:00 am

*work visa required*

I am not an expert but this is the only thing that would make me lean more into Cornell. I don't know how hard it is to get a work visa outside of big law, someone else will have to chime in. If it's pretty much "big law or leave the country" Cornell is a MUCH more risk averse option.

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Tsuga
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by Tsuga » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:37 am

Damn I totally missed the work visa required part. I would do a lot of research into how plausible securing one is in non-big entertainment-adjacent law (ie if you went to USC) vs your comfort with non-entertainment big law (ie if you went to Cornell). I would switch my vote to Cornell because I think, in almost all circumstances, finishing law school and being able to practice in the US would beat finishing law school and being forced to leave.

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Stranger
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by Stranger » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:18 pm

On the other hand, the odds of alleviating the work visa requirement through marriage within three years might be considerably easier in LA than Ithaca....

lannister
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by lannister » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:30 am

Thanks everyone!
Tsuga wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:54 am
I voted USC. It gives you a better chance at entertainment law than Cornell for a lower price, but I imagine it’s still a risky goal from USC with $120k in debt.

I honestly have no idea how localized and ties-sensitive entertainment law is, so take this entire paragraph with salt, but my guess is that if your theater work is in NY and you want to practice in NY, a school like Fordham at $$$$ would be a better choice; and if your theater work is outside of LA and you want to practice in LA, a couple years work experience in LA prior to pursuing entertainment law at USC/UCLA with $$$$ would be ideal. Obviously these hypos both require retaking and/or reapplying, so if that’s not what you want to do, I think you just need to pick based on your comfort with non-entertainment big law at Cornell vs. non-big entertainment-adjacent law at USC.
Thanks! I worked in NY. Fordham waitlisted me so that's not an option unfortunately. I can cover COA with my savings so I technically won't be in debt but less money is better, of course.
Rowdy wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:00 am
*work visa required*

I am not an expert but this is the only thing that would make me lean more into Cornell. I don't know how hard it is to get a work visa outside of big law, someone else will have to chime in. If it's pretty much "big law or leave the country" Cornell is a MUCH more risk averse option.
Yea, I agree. Cornell might be a much more risk averse option for me. I know some "entertainment" lawyers who used to work at big law in NY, so I think I should start making some connections....hopefully.
Tsuga wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:37 am
Damn I totally missed the work visa required part. I would do a lot of research into how plausible securing one is in non-big entertainment-adjacent law (ie if you went to USC) vs your comfort with non-entertainment big law (ie if you went to Cornell). I would switch my vote to Cornell because I think, in almost all circumstances, finishing law school and being able to practice in the US would beat finishing law school and being forced to leave.
Yup, only one year of OPT (Optional Practical Training) after graduation is guaranteed, and I might be forced to leave after that. Cornell is much more safer in that regard.
Stranger wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:18 pm
On the other hand, the odds of alleviating the work visa requirement through marriage within three years might be considerably easier in LA than Ithaca....
LOL now that's something to think about....

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:25 pm

Well I missed the work visa bit too, but I still feel like Cornell is pretty much going to ice your entertainment law dreams. It won't be impossible but it's still literally the opposite direction of what you want.

So I guess you need to decide how comfortable you are with risking not finding a job willing to sponsor your visa after graduation. And your comfort may cut against your unicorn goal.

lannister
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:19 am

Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by lannister » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:23 am

HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:25 pm
Well I missed the work visa bit too, but I still feel like Cornell is pretty much going to ice your entertainment law dreams. It won't be impossible but it's still literally the opposite direction of what you want.

So I guess you need to decide how comfortable you are with risking not finding a job willing to sponsor your visa after graduation. And your comfort may cut against your unicorn goal.
I truly appreciate your input. It really is a hard decision. Although I know it's a unicorn dream, I want to build my career in entertainment and USC's curriculum is perfect for me....

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icechicken
Lost in the sauce
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Re: Cornell ($) v USC ($$$) for Entertainment Law

Post by icechicken » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:06 am

USC's curriculum might be cool but it's worth less than nothing if you can't get employment that will sponsor a visa.

If you can't increase your LSAT enough to get into HYSBerkeley (a full ride at USC/UCLA or a T14 would also be reasonable, I guess), and "normal" biglaw isn't a career you'd be happy in, and non-biglaw is a non-option because you need visa sponsorship, then you probably just shouldn't go to law school. I'm not trying to be a downer - there are ways of fixing all 3 of those problems. But ignoring that trilemma and paying $120k for USC is like taking out a mortgage to play blackjack.

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