UCLA vs GWU for PI

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LSATsurvivor77

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UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby LSATsurvivor77 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:42 pm

I am having a difficult time choosing between these two schools. I have modest scholarships from both. I know that UCLA is a much better school, but I don't want to be out in California after graduation. I much prefer DC as a city and a place to practice and I want to work in government (local, state, or federal) so that leads me to believe that, despite UCLA being a great school, I would have better luck achieving my career goals given GWU's location. I also know that the DC market is incredibly flooded and it doesn't help that GWU is pushing out something like 500 grads a year, so that gives me some concern. Looking at LST employment data, though, it seems like ~15% of grads are working in government of some kind. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania so I would also not be opposed to finding local or state government jobs in PA should DC not work out. The biggest problem I have with UCLA is that not a lot of their grads place in DC, and I'm sure those that do are in BigLaw and not government. I'm also not sure if having a few years experience in CA and then trying to lateral in to a federal job in DC is another possibility. But if I'm trying so hard to end up in DC anyway, why not just go to the school that's already there?

Also, I know that federal government jobs are really hard to get, but I feel like something has to be said for the fact that at a school like GWU there is unfettered access to federal government internships during the school year. Do those experiences and connections carry no weight? To clarify I don't just mean elite jobs like DOJ, but any federal agency like Labor or Homeland Security.

Or conversely, is it prudent for me to give up on my dreams of DC and just accept living in California indefinitely as a realty by going to UCLA?

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:56 pm

It doesn't sound like either school is a very good choice for your goals: your modal expectation from either is ending up 1) in a job you don't like 2)
making a medium five-figure salary 3) with six-figure debt.

wanderinglawyer

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby wanderinglawyer » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:20 pm

You seem to have many misimpressions about UCLA. Did you attend the admitted student's reception in DC? The dean addressed many of your concerns, as they are common among non-California applicants, and it would have given you the opportunity to talk to many UCLA graduates who currently work in DC.

As the dean discussed, one of the top reasons UCLA's employment data does not show many graduates in DC is selection bias. Many people who go to UCLA want to be in California. Because of that, the numbers don't tell you much about how easy or hard it would be for someone who wanted to go to DC to do so.

I know multiple UCLA grads who have worked in big law, in government, and in public interest fellowships in DC. Some people started out in DC biglaw, others in fedgov or public interest fellowships, and others transferred from California firms. One friend who went to UCLA started in government and spent several years there, now works at a firm, and I expect that at some point this person will return to government. This friend also participated in the UCDC program and spent a semester externing in the part of fedgov where they got their first job.

Another consideration is the kind of PI are you interested in. Which school is a better fit for that kind of PI and has the programming, classes, resources, etc. that will help your application stand out? For example, if you want to do environmental law, UCLA has the Emmett Center.

I would suggest that before you write UCLA off you should do your homework. Instead of asking this forum, why don't you ask UCLA to put you in touch with a current student or young alum who has been in your shoes? They will be a far better source on this topic than random people in this forum.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:48 pm

wanderinglawyer wrote:You seem to have many misimpressions about UCLA. Did you attend the admitted student's reception in DC? The dean addressed many of your concerns, as they are common among non-California applicants, and it would have given you the opportunity to talk to many UCLA graduates who currently work in DC.

As the dean discussed, one of the top reasons UCLA's employment data does not show many graduates in DC is selection bias. Many people who go to UCLA want to be in California. Because of that, the numbers don't tell you much about how easy or hard it would be for someone who wanted to go to DC to do so.

I know multiple UCLA grads who have worked in big law, in government, and in public interest fellowships in DC. Some people started out in DC biglaw, others in fedgov or public interest fellowships, and others transferred from California firms. One friend who went to UCLA started in government and spent several years there, now works at a firm, and I expect that at some point this person will return to government. This friend also participated in the UCDC program and spent a semester externing in the part of fedgov where they got their first job.

Another consideration is the kind of PI are you interested in. Which school is a better fit for that kind of PI and has the programming, classes, resources, etc. that will help your application stand out? For example, if you want to do environmental law, UCLA has the Emmett Center.

I would suggest that before you write UCLA off you should do your homework. Instead of asking this forum, why don't you ask UCLA to put you in touch with a current student or young alum who has been in your shoes? They will be a far better source on this topic than random people in this forum.


I completely disagree with this. Admitted students receptions are marketing events.

OP, what's your total COA at UCLA? It may not make financial sense to attend either of these schools if you're taking on substantial debt and exclusively want to do government work.

cavalier1138

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:00 pm

wanderinglawyer wrote:You seem to have many misimpressions about UCLA. Did you attend the admitted student's reception in DC? The dean addressed many of your concerns, as they are common among non-California applicants, and it would have given you the opportunity to talk to many UCLA graduates who currently work in DC.

As the dean discussed, one of the top reasons UCLA's employment data does not show many graduates in DC is selection bias. Many people who go to UCLA want to be in California. Because of that, the numbers don't tell you much about how easy or hard it would be for someone who wanted to go to DC to do so.

I know multiple UCLA grads who have worked in big law, in government, and in public interest fellowships in DC. Some people started out in DC biglaw, others in fedgov or public interest fellowships, and others transferred from California firms. One friend who went to UCLA started in government and spent several years there, now works at a firm, and I expect that at some point this person will return to government. This friend also participated in the UCDC program and spent a semester externing in the part of fedgov where they got their first job.

Another consideration is the kind of PI are you interested in. Which school is a better fit for that kind of PI and has the programming, classes, resources, etc. that will help your application stand out? For example, if you want to do environmental law, UCLA has the Emmett Center.

I would suggest that before you write UCLA off you should do your homework. Instead of asking this forum, why don't you ask UCLA to put you in touch with a current student or young alum who has been in your shoes? They will be a far better source on this topic than random people in this forum.


This reads like a UCLA Admissions brochure. UCLA is a great school, but it primarily services California (as in almost 80% of its graduates stay in-state). It is in no way comparable to a local DC school with regards to DC outcomes.

You can find alumni from any school in DC. The question is whether it's a reasonable expectation for the average UCLA graduate.

QContinuum

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby QContinuum » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:00 pm

I think there's been a bit of a misreading of OP's goals ITT. OP isn't shooting for BigLaw and, while they're shooting for fed gov, they're not only looking at competitive agencies like DoJ or SEC or FTC. Rather, they're open to less "in-demand" outcomes as well:
LSATsurvivor77 wrote:To clarify I don't just mean elite jobs like DOJ, but any federal agency like Labor or Homeland Security.

If OP's open to working at, say, DHS or VA or SSA or USPS or one of those other less "in-demand" agencies, I think they could get there with GWU and networking. T13 grads aren't knocking down the doors to join SSA.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:18 pm

QContinuum wrote:I think there's been a bit of a misreading of OP's goals ITT. OP isn't shooting for BigLaw and, while they're shooting for fed gov, they're not only looking at competitive agencies like DoJ or SEC or FTC. Rather, they're open to less "in-demand" outcomes as well:
LSATsurvivor77 wrote:To clarify I don't just mean elite jobs like DOJ, but any federal agency like Labor or Homeland Security.

If OP's open to working at, say, DHS or VA or SSA or USPS or one of those other less "in-demand" agencies, I think they could get there with GWU and networking. T13 grads aren't knocking down the doors to join SSA.


I think GW actually makes total sense if OP wants to be an agency attorney in DC in a vacuum, but not if s/he is going to be taking on a ton of debt. That's the part that gives me pause.

QContinuum

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby QContinuum » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:41 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
QContinuum wrote:I think there's been a bit of a misreading of OP's goals ITT. OP isn't shooting for BigLaw and, while they're shooting for fed gov, they're not only looking at competitive agencies like DoJ or SEC or FTC. Rather, they're open to less "in-demand" outcomes as well:
LSATsurvivor77 wrote:To clarify I don't just mean elite jobs like DOJ, but any federal agency like Labor or Homeland Security.

If OP's open to working at, say, DHS or VA or SSA or USPS or one of those other less "in-demand" agencies, I think they could get there with GWU and networking. T13 grads aren't knocking down the doors to join SSA.


I think GW actually makes total sense if OP wants to be an agency attorney in DC in a vacuum, but not if s/he is going to be taking on a ton of debt. That's the part that gives me pause.

That's a good point. It gives me pause too. That said, and not to cavalierly encourage OP to take on an enormous debt load, but if they do get an agency job out of GWU, as we agree is likely, wouldn't PSLF take care of that debt? This isn't a case of wanting to do SmallLaw, where they'd be on the hook for repayment.

wanderinglawyer

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby wanderinglawyer » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:51 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:You can find alumni from any school in DC. The question is whether it's a reasonable expectation for the average UCLA graduate.

I don't disagree with this. But the question is what is the reasonable expectation for the average UCLA graduate who wants to work in DC. That's why the overall employment numbers don't work. Many people who probably could get jobs in DC simply don't want those jobs and never try.

OP should be trying to figuring out how hard it is for students from UCLA who want to go to DC to do so. I'm not saying it's easy or hard to do so, or even that UCLA is the right choice for OP. But right now, it sounds like OP has no basis for knowing whether returning to DC is a reasonable outcome. For example, OP assumed that UCLA grads are in biglaw, not government. If that's true, that could be cause for concern, or, again, it could be selection bias. If it's not true, that might allay some of OP's concerns about GWU's network vs. UCLA's network. Fwiw, I think taking into account a school's network is quite correct, but right now OP doesn't seem to know what the facts are about UCLA's network. But at the end of the day, OP should be trying to figure out what metrics are needed for a reasonable shot at government from UCLA, and whether that is a reasonable outcome to expect. Asking an alum who made the jump, or a student who is trying to do that, about their experience getting a job in DC, and evaluating the credibility of the response (including it is a sell by someone who wants OP to attend UCLA), is one reasonable way to try to evaluate that question.

The point is that OP should be doing their diligence and looking at the facts and not making assumptions.
Last edited by QContinuum on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed quote formatting.

LSATsurvivor77

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby LSATsurvivor77 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:07 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
wanderinglawyer wrote:You seem to have many misimpressions about UCLA. Did you attend the admitted student's reception in DC? The dean addressed many of your concerns, as they are common among non-California applicants, and it would have given you the opportunity to talk to many UCLA graduates who currently work in DC.

As the dean discussed, one of the top reasons UCLA's employment data does not show many graduates in DC is selection bias. Many people who go to UCLA want to be in California. Because of that, the numbers don't tell you much about how easy or hard it would be for someone who wanted to go to DC to do so.

I know multiple UCLA grads who have worked in big law, in government, and in public interest fellowships in DC. Some people started out in DC biglaw, others in fedgov or public interest fellowships, and others transferred from California firms. One friend who went to UCLA started in government and spent several years there, now works at a firm, and I expect that at some point this person will return to government. This friend also participated in the UCDC program and spent a semester externing in the part of fedgov where they got their first job.

Another consideration is the kind of PI are you interested in. Which school is a better fit for that kind of PI and has the programming, classes, resources, etc. that will help your application stand out? For example, if you want to do environmental law, UCLA has the Emmett Center.

I would suggest that before you write UCLA off you should do your homework. Instead of asking this forum, why don't you ask UCLA to put you in touch with a current student or young alum who has been in your shoes? They will be a far better source on this topic than random people in this forum.


I completely disagree with this. Admitted students receptions are marketing events.

OP, what's your total COA at UCLA? It may not make financial sense to attend either of these schools if you're taking on substantial debt and exclusively want to do government work.


COA at UCLA would put me around 150K and it would be about 10K more for GWU. I don't expect to take on this kind of debt in a mid or small firm position, but both of these schools' LRAPs would help substantially if I was in a government, or otherwise nonprofit, position. I would also be relying on PSFL.

The reason I put such a large emphasis on government is because I am under the impression that GWU has good placement in government agencies. I am mostly interested in immigration and employment law which is why I bring up DHS and DoL.

LSATsurvivor77

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby LSATsurvivor77 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:23 pm

wanderinglawyer wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:You can find alumni from any school in DC. The question is whether it's a reasonable expectation for the average UCLA graduate.

I don't disagree with this. But the question is what is the reasonable expectation for the average UCLA graduate who wants to work in DC. That's why the overall employment numbers don't work. Many people who probably could get jobs in DC simply don't want those jobs and never try.

OP should be trying to figuring out how hard it is for students from UCLA who want to go to DC to do so. I'm not saying it's easy or hard to do so, or even that UCLA is the right choice for OP. But right now, it sounds like OP has no basis for knowing whether returning to DC is a reasonable outcome. For example, OP assumed that UCLA grads are in biglaw, not government. If that's true, that could be cause for concern, or, again, it could be selection bias. If it's not true, that might allay some of OP's concerns about GWU's network vs. UCLA's network. Fwiw, I think taking into account a school's network is quite correct, but right now OP doesn't seem to know what the facts are about UCLA's network. But at the end of the day, OP should be trying to figure out what metrics are needed for a reasonable shot at government from UCLA, and whether that is a reasonable outcome to expect. Asking an alum who made the jump, or a student who is trying to do that, about their experience getting a job in DC, and evaluating the credibility of the response (including it is a sell by someone who wants OP to attend UCLA), is one reasonable way to try to evaluate that question.

The point is that OP should be doing their diligence and looking at the facts and not making assumptions.


This is exactly the dilemma as I see it, thank you. I have been in touch with current students at UCLA to get their thoughts and basically what they've said is that it's possible and that they have friends who are taking positions in DC, albeit at big law firms. The impression I have from LST stats and what the students have said is that government in DC straight out of UCLA is probably unlikely. What I'm left to conjecture is whether a jump to DC is feasible given a few years legal experience in state or local government in CA. I was hoping I might get some clarity on that point from this site.
Last edited by QContinuum on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed quote formatting.

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mi-chan17

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Re: UCLA vs GWU for PI

Postby mi-chan17 » Wed May 08, 2019 8:08 pm

As a GW alum who went BigFed, I thought I’d offer my two cents for what they are worth:

First, UCLA is a great school. There is no doubt. In my five-and-a-bit Year’s of federal practice, however, I’ve yet to meet one of their grads. Now, part of that is assuredly self-selection, but it still matters in that they don’t have a huge alumni network in the government to draw on come application time. Networking is certainly not the be-all end-all in federal hiring, but it is still helpful. Just as a data point, in my portion of my agency’s OGC 5/8ths of us are GW grads.

Second, being able to do fedgov internships year-round is valuable. First, in government, dedication to public service is a big deal. A consistent history of public service internships is proof positive that you aren’t someone who is considering government a fall-back option or someone who intends to use it as a revolving door to the private sector. Second, you can get internships with more “prestigious” parts of the government during the school year that you might not otherwise have been competitive for due to reduced competition. And, of course, as government offices are consistently understaffed, if you’re a decent intern you’ll get given substantive assignments that will make you more attractive when you apply for post-grad employment because we won’t have to expend as many of our meager resources to train you.

GW isn’t the right choice for everyone. It’s not even the right choice for everyone who wants fedgov. Some offices are notorious prestige hounds. That said, given OP’s stated goals and a comparable cost of attendance, I think TCR is GW.



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