Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

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jcoming11

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Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby jcoming11 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:31 pm

First time poster here, long time lurker. At this point I have been accepted to Cornell with 35,000 a year, Ohio State (where I'm currently an undergrad) with a full ride, and Berkeley with no financial aid info yet. For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume that I can leverage Berkeley to give me the same or slightly less than Cornell did. With that in mind, COA would be about 45,000 per year for Cornell, 12,000 per year at OSU, and 50,000+ per year at Berkeley. My parents are willing to help me with some cost, which I would pay back, but I would probably have to take out loan money for Berkeley if I was given no money.

Beyond money, my debate between the three schools boils down to my desire to stay near my long term girlfriend (who will be in Columbus for med school) and to go to the school that affords me the best opportunity for the careers that I am interested. While I would appreciate any comments about my decision in general, what I am really looking for is a breakdown of career options/opportunities at the three schools.

I have several potential career paths I am interested in, mostly centered in Government work including: Getting a federal clerkship, working in a U.S. attorney's office, JAG corp, career work as a Judge, possible ambitions in Legislation/Policy.

I would be OK working in Big Law to pay off debts/make money early in my career, but it is by no means my goal. Working as a prosecutor in a city (mid to large sized) is also something I would consider, but ideally as a way to gain experience in pursuit of some of the other goals listed. While Cornell and Berkeley obviously have a higher % of students getting federal clerkships and going into Big Law, it's hard to gauge how vital a T14 school is for some of the other career goals I have listed above. AS for work location, I have no connections to the West coast, but wouldn't be opposed to working or living there. I would be OK living on the East coast (if Cornell) and have some small connection to New York. In the midwest, I would prefer to stay in Cleveland or Columbus if at all, and have connections to both cities. I would prefer to start my career out of Ohio, but would not be opposed to settling there in the long term.

Sorry for the rambling post. Bottom line is this; Is Ohio State a long-shot for the career goals I listed out above? Is it worth leaving money and personal connections behind to attend Cornell or Berkeley for a more regional choice?

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cavalier1138

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:44 pm

Of your current options, Cornell wins hands-down.

Ohio State just isn't going to give you a good shot at the career tracks you're interested in. The only caveat is that a lot of USAOs require a few years of experience, and depending on the district, that often means biglaw, not local prosecution.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby jcoming11 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:57 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Of your current options, Cornell wins hands-down.

Ohio State just isn't going to give you a good shot at the career tracks you're interested in. The only caveat is that a lot of USAOs require a few years of experience, and depending on the district, that often means biglaw, not local prosecution.


Thanks for the response! Would it make any difference at all if I held the same goals but specifically in Ohio? That is, would my odds of achieving any of the above (clerkship, USAO, Judge, Policy, JAG) in Ohio make Ohio State more comparable to Cornell/Berkeley, or not have much of an impact?

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:19 pm

Ohio USAOs may prefer to hire from Ohio schools, but that's something you'd need to investigate yourself. Find AUSAs and ask them about their background and the makeup of their office. It's entirely possible that staying local may be better for you.

Also, just don't plan on being a judge. Maybe it's something you can hope for, but it's such a random process, even at the state level.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby nixy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:26 pm

Part of the problem is that of the goals you've listed, it's extremely hard to pick where you will get any of them. It's hard to limit a clerkship search to one state and be successful. It's hard to target a specific USAO because you don't know when that office will have openings. (if you become a judge it'll be where you've been practicing, so would be Ohio if that's where you work, but being a judge is so far down the line and so dependent on success in all kinds of other jobs and making connections and so on that it's not something really to weigh at this point in your life.) I'm pretty sure JAG corp will place you where they want you. Legislation/policy, it will depend on what your focus is. If you're interested in working on Ohio-specific projects, sure. If you're interested in, say, immigration policy, or national economics or something, you will likely need to be in DC or some other major city. So limiting yourself to Ohio probably won't make it easier to get any of these things - if they do happen out of Ohio State they are likely to be in Ohio, but it doesn't really work the other way around (if you limit yourself to Ohio it will make it easier to get from Ohio State).

I am actually a fairly strong advocate for strong state flagships, for local work, but you need to be realistic. City prosecutor in Ohio is probably very doable out of Ohio State. The Ohio USAO may well like local grads, and many USAOs will hire local prosecutors, but maybe when you're looking to make the jump they get a USA who went to Penn and wants to fill the office with T14 grads. Getting hired could happen, but is hard to predict and hard to rely on, so you'd need to be comfortable considering alternatives. (I actually know a number of AUSAs from state flagship schools, and some end up in the region they went to school, but others have to move around to get the job.) If your interest in legislation/policy would include working in local Ohio government/politics/policy (say, I don't know, urban planning in Cleveland or something), yes, you can probably do something like that out of Ohio State. Do these sound like good options to you? or are you looking for something more national? If the latter, you're better off at Cornell/Berkeley.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby jcoming11 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:23 pm

nixy wrote:Part of the problem is that of the goals you've listed, it's extremely hard to pick where you will get any of them. It's hard to limit a clerkship search to one state and be successful. It's hard to target a specific USAO because you don't know when that office will have openings. (if you become a judge it'll be where you've been practicing, so would be Ohio if that's where you work, but being a judge is so far down the line and so dependent on success in all kinds of other jobs and making connections and so on that it's not something really to weigh at this point in your life.) I'm pretty sure JAG corp will place you where they want you. Legislation/policy, it will depend on what your focus is. If you're interested in working on Ohio-specific projects, sure. If you're interested in, say, immigration policy, or national economics or something, you will likely need to be in DC or some other major city. So limiting yourself to Ohio probably won't make it easier to get any of these things - if they do happen out of Ohio State they are likely to be in Ohio, but it doesn't really work the other way around (if you limit yourself to Ohio it will make it easier to get from Ohio State).

I am actually a fairly strong advocate for strong state flagships, for local work, but you need to be realistic. City prosecutor in Ohio is probably very doable out of Ohio State. The Ohio USAO may well like local grads, and many USAOs will hire local prosecutors, but maybe when you're looking to make the jump they get a USA who went to Penn and wants to fill the office with T14 grads. Getting hired could happen, but is hard to predict and hard to rely on, so you'd need to be comfortable considering alternatives. (I actually know a number of AUSAs from state flagship schools, and some end up in the region they went to school, but others have to move around to get the job.) If your interest in legislation/policy would include working in local Ohio government/politics/policy (say, I don't know, urban planning in Cleveland or something), yes, you can probably do something like that out of Ohio State. Do these sound like good options to you? or are you looking for something more national? If the latter, you're better off at Cornell/Berkeley.


Thanks for the response, I appreciate the time and effort you put in here. As for the legislative/policy path I was considering, I would be interested in national, but also some sort of city or state level positions so from that perspective it seems like OSU would give me an OK shot at the more local opportunities. I think that I would be happy with starting and even putting in a significant chunk of time into city prosecution, but long term I would like the flexibility to enter into some of the other options I've laid out. It seems like Cornell and Berkeley obviously offer a higher chance of achieving some of those goals (I understand its all still a crapshoot). I'll have to do more research into my state level USAO's. Thanks again.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Wubbles » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:42 pm

Just a heads up, Berkeley is unlikely to give you much. I got 120k from Cornell and 0 from Berkeley with similar numbers.

If you want to leave Ohio and go to say, DC, to do federal government work, then I would say Cornell wins out of these options, hands down. Ohio State will set you uo to work in Ohio, with some opportunities in surrounding places like Indiana and Western PA and Michigan. You could get to major cities like DC or on the East Coast, but you'd have to unpredictably crush 1L

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Goldie » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:56 am

I went to Ohio State for 1L before transferring to a YSH school, and now practice in Ohio. Look, Ohio State is a strong school for many options within Ohio, but some of the things you want will be hard to get from Ohio State unless you happen to be close to, or at, the top of the class. And that's not something you can count on. Lots of people go into law school (at Ohio State and elsewhere) hoping to be close to, or at, the top of the class, but the odds are against you.

OSU seems to produce 1-3 circuit court clerks and a few more district court clerks each year. But these tend to be people at the very top of the class. Being a federal judge is almost impossible to plan for, from any school. Ohio elects judges, and OSU may position you as well as any school to be an elected judge in Ohio, both because of the name and the ability to start investing in networking and personal connections in Ohio as soon as possible. (I think that's similarly true for some legislation/policy jobs, in Ohio.) OSU produces at least some JAG corp lawyers, and I think these tend to be students who do pretty well (top 15%, maybe?). Getting a job in a US Attorney's Office is pretty competitive, so you'd also want to be towards the top of the class. Local prosecution in Ohio seems to be easier to break into. Biglaw is far harder to get from OSU than it is from Cornell or Berkeley.

I guess, bottom line, several of the things that you want are theoretically possible, but probably unlikely, from OSU. Your chances of doing those things are more likely, but still not guaranteed, from Cornell or Berkeley. Generally, you should go to a school where you are willing to graduate at median, and I feel like you'll be far more happy if you end up at median at Cornell or Berkeley than if you end up at median at OSU.

(Somewhat relevant anecdata: one of the new CA6 judges is a Berkeley grad that did 1L at OSU before transferring. He clerked back in Ohio, practiced in DC biglaw, was an AUSA and then a US Attorney, then became a district judge and is now a CA6 judge. I have a feeling he'd say that going to a better school made that all more likely.)

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby jcoming11 » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:19 pm

Goldie wrote:I went to Ohio State for 1L before transferring to a YSH school, and now practice in Ohio. Look, Ohio State is a strong school for many options within Ohio, but some of the things you want will be hard to get from Ohio State unless you happen to be close to, or at, the top of the class. And that's not something you can count on. Lots of people go into law school (at Ohio State and elsewhere) hoping to be close to, or at, the top of the class, but the odds are against you.

OSU seems to produce 1-3 circuit court clerks and a few more district court clerks each year. But these tend to be people at the very top of the class. Being a federal judge is almost impossible to plan for, from any school. Ohio elects judges, and OSU may position you as well as any school to be an elected judge in Ohio, both because of the name and the ability to start investing in networking and personal connections in Ohio as soon as possible. (I think that's similarly true for some legislation/policy jobs, in Ohio.) OSU produces at least some JAG corp lawyers, and I think these tend to be students who do pretty well (top 15%, maybe?). Getting a job in a US Attorney's Office is pretty competitive, so you'd also want to be towards the top of the class. Local prosecution in Ohio seems to be easier to break into. Biglaw is far harder to get from OSU than it is from Cornell or Berkeley.

I guess, bottom line, several of the things that you want are theoretically possible, but probably unlikely, from OSU. Your chances of doing those things are more likely, but still not guaranteed, from Cornell or Berkeley. Generally, you should go to a school where you are willing to graduate at median, and I feel like you'll be far more happy if you end up at median at Cornell or Berkeley than if you end up at median at OSU.

(Somewhat relevant anecdata: one of the new CA6 judges is a Berkeley grad that did 1L at OSU before transferring. He clerked back in Ohio, practiced in DC biglaw, was an AUSA and then a US Attorney, then became a district judge and is now a CA6 judge. I have a feeling he'd say that going to a better school made that all more likely.)


Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you laying out your own personal experience here. In response to some of your comments, I'm comfortable with the idea of not achieving the goals I've laid out above, considering how competitive it is and impossible to predict how well I will end up doing in law school. I'm not comfortable with closing those doors (or in essence closing them) before I've even started 1L. One thing I've been struggling to gain an understanding of is how long the name recognition/law school quality sticks with you. If I start my career at a more local level (city prosecution/state clerkship) will I ever have a chance of rising up to more speciality legal careers based on work experience, or will law school continue to matter years into my career? I think you and others have more or less answered this, but its something I would appreciate as much advice on as possible.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Wubbles » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:25 pm

jcoming11 wrote:
Goldie wrote:I went to Ohio State for 1L before transferring to a YSH school, and now practice in Ohio. Look, Ohio State is a strong school for many options within Ohio, but some of the things you want will be hard to get from Ohio State unless you happen to be close to, or at, the top of the class. And that's not something you can count on. Lots of people go into law school (at Ohio State and elsewhere) hoping to be close to, or at, the top of the class, but the odds are against you.

OSU seems to produce 1-3 circuit court clerks and a few more district court clerks each year. But these tend to be people at the very top of the class. Being a federal judge is almost impossible to plan for, from any school. Ohio elects judges, and OSU may position you as well as any school to be an elected judge in Ohio, both because of the name and the ability to start investing in networking and personal connections in Ohio as soon as possible. (I think that's similarly true for some legislation/policy jobs, in Ohio.) OSU produces at least some JAG corp lawyers, and I think these tend to be students who do pretty well (top 15%, maybe?). Getting a job in a US Attorney's Office is pretty competitive, so you'd also want to be towards the top of the class. Local prosecution in Ohio seems to be easier to break into. Biglaw is far harder to get from OSU than it is from Cornell or Berkeley.

I guess, bottom line, several of the things that you want are theoretically possible, but probably unlikely, from OSU. Your chances of doing those things are more likely, but still not guaranteed, from Cornell or Berkeley. Generally, you should go to a school where you are willing to graduate at median, and I feel like you'll be far more happy if you end up at median at Cornell or Berkeley than if you end up at median at OSU.

(Somewhat relevant anecdata: one of the new CA6 judges is a Berkeley grad that did 1L at OSU before transferring. He clerked back in Ohio, practiced in DC biglaw, was an AUSA and then a US Attorney, then became a district judge and is now a CA6 judge. I have a feeling he'd say that going to a better school made that all more likely.)


Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you laying out your own personal experience here. In response to some of your comments, I'm comfortable with the idea of not achieving the goals I've laid out above, considering how competitive it is and impossible to predict how well I will end up doing in law school. I'm not comfortable with closing those doors (or in essence closing them) before I've even started 1L. One thing I've been struggling to gain an understanding of is how long the name recognition/law school quality sticks with you. If I start my career at a more local level (city prosecution/state clerkship) will I ever have a chance of rising up to more speciality legal careers based on work experience, or will law school continue to matter years into my career? I think you and others have more or less answered this, but its something I would appreciate as much advice on as possible.

Your school name will drag you down less later on, but where you start your career will continue to keep you from the mobility you might have had had you started closer to the top.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Goldie » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:11 am

Wubbles wrote:
jcoming11 wrote:
Goldie wrote:I went to Ohio State for 1L before transferring to a YSH school, and now practice in Ohio. Look, Ohio State is a strong school for many options within Ohio, but some of the things you want will be hard to get from Ohio State unless you happen to be close to, or at, the top of the class. And that's not something you can count on. Lots of people go into law school (at Ohio State and elsewhere) hoping to be close to, or at, the top of the class, but the odds are against you.

OSU seems to produce 1-3 circuit court clerks and a few more district court clerks each year. But these tend to be people at the very top of the class. Being a federal judge is almost impossible to plan for, from any school. Ohio elects judges, and OSU may position you as well as any school to be an elected judge in Ohio, both because of the name and the ability to start investing in networking and personal connections in Ohio as soon as possible. (I think that's similarly true for some legislation/policy jobs, in Ohio.) OSU produces at least some JAG corp lawyers, and I think these tend to be students who do pretty well (top 15%, maybe?). Getting a job in a US Attorney's Office is pretty competitive, so you'd also want to be towards the top of the class. Local prosecution in Ohio seems to be easier to break into. Biglaw is far harder to get from OSU than it is from Cornell or Berkeley.

I guess, bottom line, several of the things that you want are theoretically possible, but probably unlikely, from OSU. Your chances of doing those things are more likely, but still not guaranteed, from Cornell or Berkeley. Generally, you should go to a school where you are willing to graduate at median, and I feel like you'll be far more happy if you end up at median at Cornell or Berkeley than if you end up at median at OSU.

(Somewhat relevant anecdata: one of the new CA6 judges is a Berkeley grad that did 1L at OSU before transferring. He clerked back in Ohio, practiced in DC biglaw, was an AUSA and then a US Attorney, then became a district judge and is now a CA6 judge. I have a feeling he'd say that going to a better school made that all more likely.)


Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you laying out your own personal experience here. In response to some of your comments, I'm comfortable with the idea of not achieving the goals I've laid out above, considering how competitive it is and impossible to predict how well I will end up doing in law school. I'm not comfortable with closing those doors (or in essence closing them) before I've even started 1L. One thing I've been struggling to gain an understanding of is how long the name recognition/law school quality sticks with you. If I start my career at a more local level (city prosecution/state clerkship) will I ever have a chance of rising up to more speciality legal careers based on work experience, or will law school continue to matter years into my career? I think you and others have more or less answered this, but its something I would appreciate as much advice on as possible.

Your school name will drag you down less later on, but where you start your career will continue to keep you from the mobility you might have had had you started closer to the top.


I think I agree with Wubbles here. Your school name and first job won't necessarily dictate where you end up--some people end up outperforming their school name and first job. But I think there can be a really positive snowballing effect if you start with a better school name and better first job. People will give you the benefit of the doubt and that can get you in to jobs you would otherwise have to prove you're good enough for.

(Also, I totally get where you're coming from. It's why I transferred. I didn't realize how prestige-focused the legal profession was when I started, but I decided after 1L that I wanted to be turned down only for jobs I wasn't good enough for, not for jobs that my school name would make people assume I wasn't good enough for.)

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby beinghuman » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:14 pm

I agree with what is said above.
I think Cornell with 35k/year is a great outcome. It will definitely open more doors for you than your other options, which is a good thing because you might change your mind about what you want to do later in life and where you want to end up.
If you have ties to OH/the midwest and can show it, I do not think that having attended law school in Upstate NY will hurt you. On the other hand, if you decide you want to work in a large market Ohio State might limit your options.

As for Berkeley, I do not think the difference in rankings will make a real difference and if attending Cornell will be cheaper, I'd go with that.

jcoming11 wrote:First time poster here, long time lurker. At this point I have been accepted to Cornell with 35,000 a year, Ohio State (where I'm currently an undergrad) with a full ride, and Berkeley with no financial aid info yet. For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume that I can leverage Berkeley to give me the same or slightly less than Cornell did. With that in mind, COA would be about 45,000 per year for Cornell, 12,000 per year at OSU, and 50,000+ per year at Berkeley. My parents are willing to help me with some cost, which I would pay back, but I would probably have to take out loan money for Berkeley if I was given no money.

Beyond money, my debate between the three schools boils down to my desire to stay near my long term girlfriend (who will be in Columbus for med school) and to go to the school that affords me the best opportunity for the careers that I am interested. While I would appreciate any comments about my decision in general, what I am really looking for is a breakdown of career options/opportunities at the three schools.

I have several potential career paths I am interested in, mostly centered in Government work including: Getting a federal clerkship, working in a U.S. attorney's office, JAG corp, career work as a Judge, possible ambitions in Legislation/Policy.

I would be OK working in Big Law to pay off debts/make money early in my career, but it is by no means my goal. Working as a prosecutor in a city (mid to large sized) is also something I would consider, but ideally as a way to gain experience in pursuit of some of the other goals listed. While Cornell and Berkeley obviously have a higher % of students getting federal clerkships and going into Big Law, it's hard to gauge how vital a T14 school is for some of the other career goals I have listed above. AS for work location, I have no connections to the West coast, but wouldn't be opposed to working or living there. I would be OK living on the East coast (if Cornell) and have some small connection to New York. In the midwest, I would prefer to stay in Cleveland or Columbus if at all, and have connections to both cities. I would prefer to start my career out of Ohio, but would not be opposed to settling there in the long term.

Sorry for the rambling post. Bottom line is this; Is Ohio State a long-shot for the career goals I listed out above? Is it worth leaving money and personal connections behind to attend Cornell or Berkeley for a more regional choice?

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:20 pm

How serious is this relationship? If this is a person you see yourself marrying in a few years, I personally would vote for OSU.

Also, JAG recruits from virtually every law school, not just t-13. Planning on becoming a judge is impossible because you either need to win an election, or have a great reputation and political connections to the party controlling the White House. Becoming a state prosecutor is definitely doable from OSU, while AUSA is hard to get from most schools.

I'm guessing you received the Moritz Scholarship. Every Moritz Scholarship recipient I know ended up in biglaw or federal clerkship except one. The one who didn't snag either ended up in midlaw is making low 100K. Graduated within the last six years from OSU, btw.

Given the crap shoot that is fed clerkship and AUSA hiring, your significant other, next to debt free legal education, and your desire to stay in Ohio, I vote OSU. If your relationship with your significant other is just a typical relationship and nothing special, might as well go to Cornell.

Congrats on outcome!

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby Sprinkler » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:44 pm

I recently read where Cornell grads earn the most money. IVY league prestige is also a plus.

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Re: Cornell vs. Ohio State vs. Berkeley

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:05 pm

Sprinkler wrote:I recently read where Cornell grads earn the most money. IVY league prestige is also a plus.


No.



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