Iowa v UCLA

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hulten

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Iowa v UCLA

Postby hulten » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:24 pm

I am struggling to make a decision here.

I will be 38 when starting this fall. I have 3.87 gpa and 164/163 LSAT. I have thought about holding off another year, but I would be really up against the age cutoff for JAG and I want to get this process started. Also, if it is at all relevant, I have a science Ph.D., but I am not interested in intellectual property law.

I got into Iowa, William & Mary, Georgetown, and UCLA. I've been waitlisted at Chicago, UVA, Texas, Emory, and GWU. Still waiting to hear from Berkeley, but not holding out much hope there.

I got full scholarships to Iowa and W&M and $60K for UCLA. I've written off Georgetown because I can't owe $300K for something I don't live in. I'm from Iowa and I liked the school, but had some mixed experiences between their open house and admitted student day. Their resources (library, career services seemed excellent). I visited UCLA and was not thrilled with LA, but thought the school was nice (most of the visit I felt a slight lean toward Iowa). I had some great conversations with a few professors at UCLA - somewhat related to my prior work experience and education - which is really making this decision hard. UCLA has a much broader curriculum and just bigger faculty and I would like to go somewhere where there are professors working in areas I have a real interest.

I am stuck because I will still owe about $160K coming out of UCLA compared to maybe $40-50K in living expense loans at Iowa (all at the lower interest rate level). I am thinking that I would like to do criminal law with an international dimension, but ultimately work for the federal government. I was hoping someone might have a perspective or two on this. Both schools are good, with good employment numbers, but I am too close and too deep on this decision and I am not making much progress.

QContinuum

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby QContinuum » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:23 am

Congrats on your offers!

It's not clear to me what your goals are. First you suggest your goal is to join JAG. But then you say that you want to practice "criminal law with an international dimension," which is quite different from military law. (Also, what exactly do you see as "criminal law with an international dimension"? Are you thinking of things like cross-border white-collar securities fraud cases? Or prosecuting Latin American drug cartels? Or do you actually mean joining JAG and practicing military law in Iraq?) And finally, you say you want to work for the federal government. Do you envision this as, say, working for the VA or SSA or DHS? Or do you envision this as working at the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission or Federal Reserve or the EPA? What kind of legal work do you envision performing as a federal employee?

icansortofmath

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby icansortofmath » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:31 am

Federal positions are very competitive and GULC places especially well into those positions. UVA and Chicago even better if you get in.

You’re staring at PSLF and LRAP and forgiveness by the time you get past about 100-150k in loans. You really shouldn’t let the cost deter you.

Anonguy715

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby Anonguy715 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:12 am

QContinuum wrote:Congrats on your offers!

It's not clear to me what your goals are. First you suggest your goal is to join JAG. But then you say that you want to practice "criminal law with an international dimension," which is quite different from military law. (Also, what exactly do you see as "criminal law with an international dimension"? Are you thinking of things like cross-border white-collar securities fraud cases? Or prosecuting Latin American drug cartels? Or do you actually mean joining JAG and practicing military law in Iraq?) And finally, you say you want to work for the federal government. Do you envision this as, say, working for the VA or SSA or DHS? Or do you envision this as working at the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission or Federal Reserve or the EPA? What kind of legal work do you envision performing as a federal employee?



I second Q. I know it's hard to think about exactly what job you want to end up with before even starting law school, but it's a pretty important part of the decision here. In addition the questions Q asked, where would you like to practice? West coast? Midwest? Elsewhere?

hulten

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby hulten » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:11 pm

QContinuum wrote:Congrats on your offers!

It's not clear to me what your goals are. First you suggest your goal is to join JAG. But then you say that you want to practice "criminal law with an international dimension," which is quite different from military law. (Also, what exactly do you see as "criminal law with an international dimension"? Are you thinking of things like cross-border white-collar securities fraud cases? Or prosecuting Latin American drug cartels? Or do you actually mean joining JAG and practicing military law in Iraq?) And finally, you say you want to work for the federal government. Do you envision this as, say, working for the VA or SSA or DHS? Or do you envision this as working at the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission or Federal Reserve or the EPA? What kind of legal work do you envision performing as a federal employee?



First, thank you for the reply. Absolutely, I didn't articulate my goals well. Let me try again.

1.) I don't have a particular region of the country I am drawn to. I am much more willing to let the kind of job I get dictate where I live. I would say I am more desirous of limiting my restriction to any given region, though I know this is not as realizable outside the top few schools. I am cognizant of the regional restrictions of both UCLA and Iowa.

2.) Let me step away from the "international dimension" comment and just simply say that my immediate career goal is to become a JAG. Following that, I had envisioned eventually transitioning out of the military and into a position as a prosecutor, ideally at DOJ. If JAG doesn't work out, then my goal would be to pursue the prosecutor position right out of school. I'm not sure how much school prestige plays into hiring decisions at JAG.

These are my rough mental sketches and I have a fairly strong commitment to seeing this plan through. Still, I haven't taken a class yet and so I am remaining open to other career avenues that may reveal themselves as I proceed with my education. Because of my background, there are aspects of environmental law that are appealing and I was really able to geek out at UCLA over professor's policy research on science and law. I also have a fair interest in national security law, but I assume this truly requires attending a DC-based University.

Anonguy715

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby Anonguy715 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:03 pm

I think that additional information was really helpful!

While going to a stronger school will help for JAG applications, I don't think the difference between UCLA and Iowa will be all that meaningful. Plenty of students are accepted to JAG from schools that are peers to Iowa. JAG is also never a sure thing, which makes me a bit wary of recommending UCLA in this circumstance. If JAG doesn't work out and you end up wanting to do something outside of PI/Gov, the price difference between UCLA and Iowa suddenly becomes very important. UCLA is definitely the better choice for ending up in the DOJ, though.

Where do you want to be a prosecutor? I know you said you don't want to limit yourself to one area, but this is also useful information. Are you thinking of a major city? What about a midsize city or a small county? Prosecutor positions in major markets like Chicago and LA can be extremely competitive. In that scenario, the extra bump of UCLA could be important. If you're more interested in the midsize city (like DSM) or a small county, I think Iowa would be the way to go. You have Iowa connections and not a whole lot of students from Iowa/peer schools aim to be rural prosecutors.

hulten

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby hulten » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:39 pm

Thanks for the thoughts. They are definitely useful. In a broad sense, I was thinking the same. Iowa gives me the most flexibility when it comes to future debt and being forced into certain career choices, but UCLA could give me some more options when it comes to the network and resume.

I guess I am thinking of living in a mid to large city, but honestly, I have lived in a lot of places and the quality of the job means more than the size of the town. I just want to be good at this and I'll take whatever road best gets me to that place.

beinghuman

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby beinghuman » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:55 pm

What you should consider is what you would do if your plans do not go through.
Based on your posts, I sense a hint of naïveté and think that you do not really know how the legal market/hiring works because my understanding is that JAG is very competitive and so are many PI jobs. So maybe taking a full ride would be your best choice here if you really want to go this year. Because at least if things do not pan out and that is very possible, you would not have to worry about dealing with a large amount of debt in your early 40s.

Golradaer

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby Golradaer » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:38 am

Why aren't you considering William & Mary? In several ways, it's a stronger school than Iowa (despite what the ranking difference might lead you to think). It has government ties, a location near multiple military bases, and places into Richmond, D.C., and NYC (to satisfy your mid-large city desires).

I agree that lots of debt at UCLA isn't a good fit for you given your age and flexible goals. Pick based on which region most appeals to you: Iowa for the Midwest, W&M for the East Coast.

cavalier1138

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:16 am

Why JAG?

The info you provided doesn't seem to indicate that you have a military background, and there are easier routes to local/federal prosecution. So what's the draw of the JAG program?

icansortofmath

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby icansortofmath » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:29 am

hulten wrote:Thanks for the thoughts. They are definitely useful. In a broad sense, I was thinking the same. Iowa gives me the most flexibility when it comes to future debt and being forced into certain career choices, but UCLA could give me some more options when it comes to the network and resume.

I guess I am thinking of living in a mid to large city, but honestly, I have lived in a lot of places and the quality of the job means more than the size of the town. I just want to be good at this and I'll take whatever road best gets me to that place.


Legal jobs are in large cities. DC in particular has a large cluster of federal jobs. JAG is very competitive. All of the above suggests you should be going to GULC to be honest. And more importantly, all of the above suggests you should do another year and bump up the LSAT and try for a slightly higher ranked school. (I am specifically thinking UVA)

I know you don't want to hear that taking on 300k in debt is the best idea but if you're set on public service and want better backups, UCLA shouldn't be in the running at all because there isn't much of a difference between 160k and 300k student loans with PSLF (or in the alternative, you can REPAYE with biglaw and live comfortably). Iowa with basically no cost and a JD may be an option if you're okay with low paying legal jobs and basically getting stuck regionally unless you basically kill it (either with grades, networking, or some combination) there.

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:56 am

Assuming there’s a person with a gun to your head saying go this year to one of the two options you named (which of course there’s not which is why your situation seems a tad silly), go to iowa if you would be okay spending your entire life in Iowa (or right around there). Otherwise, go to UCLA. Frankly in that latter scenario I’d also try to crush 1L then gun for biglaw and do that for a couple years before going to the public sector, which is not an uncommon path

hulten

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby hulten » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:43 pm

Thanks everyone for the input.

I am not sure if I follow regarding the silliness of my situation, though I gather the original was not a particularly appropriate question question to pose to this forum. I appreciate all of the advice and I think it helped me clarify how poor are the options I have in front of me. I think I will bow out now and think hard if these options don't reflect somewhat on my future performance in the field.

hulten

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby hulten » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:46 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Why JAG?

The info you provided doesn't seem to indicate that you have a military background, and there are easier routes to local/federal prosecution. So what's the draw of the JAG program?


I guess it was the competitiveness, challenge, service, career, benefits, early experience, and variety. JAG was the primary goal and prosecution is the b plan and post military plan. JAG wasn't necessarily a step to become a federal prosecutor. I just thought I needed to have some options thought through. Not sure this makes sense or that it matters much now anyway.

cavalier1138

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Re: Iowa v UCLA

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:03 pm

hulten wrote:I guess it was the competitiveness, challenge, service, career, benefits, early experience, and variety. JAG was the primary goal and prosecution is the b plan and post military plan. JAG wasn't necessarily a step to become a federal prosecutor. I just thought I needed to have some options thought through. Not sure this makes sense or that it matters much now anyway.


I mean, if you want to do JAG, do JAG. It just sounded like your long-term plan was to go to DOJ, and there are easier routes to DOJ than going through an equally (if not more) competitive government hiring program.



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