Northwestern vs. Duke?? Need to decide by Sunday!

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Northwestern vs. Duke?? Need to decide by Sunday!

Postby bailey0718 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:44 am

Hey everyone!

I have to choose between Northwestern and Duke before the 22nd, and am totally stuck! I've received comparable scholarships from both schools, so that is no longer a factor here.

I have a strong interest in pursuing a niche area of first amendment law (focusing on the intersection of free speech torts and civil liberties), so the fact that Duke has a first amendment clinic is definitely attractive to me. That said, I was able to visit briefly and noticed that the students were all on the younger side... though I don't want to assume that the small sample size that I observed is representative of the whole. I'm a 27-yr-old single Jewish female, and it felt as though I didn't quite fit the mold. I'm also a big city person (), and I had a hard time envisioning what life would be like in Durham; I appreciated the natural beauty, as I do spend a lot of my time outside the city climbing, surfing, skiing and doing other outdoor activities, but I still couldn't find the city/university's pulse.

On the flip side, my fear with Northwestern is that I won't be able to specialize in the kind of law that I'm hoping to, given there is no specific programming (beyond a handful of courses). I believe I could probably find externships or other opportunities to supplement my learning given NLaw's location in a major metro area, but I'm still not sure if that's the right approach. That said, when visiting Northwestern, I felt immediately at home and really enjoyed speaking to current students, all of whom were around my age and had a similar experience of working between undergrad and law school. Perhaps because I am a bit older and have spent more time out of school, finding a school that is the right cultural fit is definitely something that is important to me, as I feel like that will impact how well I'll be able to connect with and build a strong, positive network with my peers.

Anyways... what are your views on these schools? Do you have any advice on how I should approach this decision, or other things that I should be considering?

Any and all guidance would be hugely appreciated!!

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Re: Northwestern vs. Duke?? Need to decide by Sunday!

Postby Sls17 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:58 am

There’s no objectively right way to approach this, but if it were me, I’d definitely prioritize fit and location over a speciality clinic. Northwestern will have the resources and the launch power for you to explore your niche interest, and inevitably the majority of your law school experience will be a diverse and generalized education either way.


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Re: Northwestern vs. Duke?? Need to decide by Sunday!

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:43 am

You have other interests, right? Because that's a very, very specific niche practice area. You're unlikely to find a job in that area right out of school.

I'd try to ignore the "culture" impressions. Top schools are basically interchangeable in terms of their student bodies; you'll find your group wherever you go. I definitely wouldn't go to Duke solely because of the clinic. If you felt like there would be more opportunities to get experience in Chicago related to your practice area (which I think is probably right), that's going to be a better bet. Clinics aren't a sure thing: you might not get a spot, the teacher might go on sabbatical, etc.

If costs are truly equivalent, I think Northwestern is more likely to give you term-time opportunities to get experience in your desired field, but that's something you need to look into for yourself.

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