Is this a reference to criminal law? No, although you might wonder given Columbia's location...
However, if you're into sweat (shops), blood (they squeeze it out of you in tuition), and Gore, check out Columbia.
In case you're wondering, I know some Columbia alumni (including one who made Law Review) and have picked up a thing or two from them. I pass on to you the high(low)lights
New York Ivy
If you love the Big Apple and want an ivy-covered degree, check out Columbia. Yale is in Connecticut, Harvard is in Massachusetts, U. of Pennsylvania is in...take a wild guess. Cornell, of course, is in a different part of the state (Ithaca) and has a less urban but gorgeous campus.
Be prepared, though, to pay an Ivy-League sized tuition. In other words: house, law school, house, law school...take your pick! 3 x about 40 K (tuition plus living expenses) is $120,000. Forty K/year might be conservative given real estate prices in some parts of New York city.
Don't say: "NYU is my favorite school." too loudly around Columbia. The cross-town rivalry is not unlike the subway rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets. I've heard this from alumni of both, *ahem*, distinguished institutions.
Columbia is reputed to have one of the best international law programs in the country. I say this as one who did an international law concentration at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.
Perched near the Atlantic in NYC, it is particularly strong in European Union, United Nations and other public, international law. This applies to both humanitarian and international human rights law. Professors Henkin and Merone are but two examples.
Having over a 1000 at a law school is on the large side. Larger schools often have greater course selection. They also have bigger alumni bases.
On the other hand, bigger schools can be more impersonal. One can get lost in them. It can be harder to really feel like one is a part of it.
So consider the pros and cons of a larger law school like Columbia.
Want to work for a sweatshop extraordinaire, a.k.a. big New York law firm? These places have astonishingly high, billable hour minimums. If you want to go to one of these, just don't expect to have a life because it will become your life. You too can join this voluntary slave labor if you go to Columbia! In fact, you'll be on an inside track...
I was almost entirely disinterested in selling my soul to a big New York firm. I say almost because Clifford, Chance, Rogers & Wells, which is the largest law firm in the world (over 3,000 attorneys), extended me a call-back interview.
Did I accept the call-back to be in New York City during the Subway Series? No, even though that's about all one would hear about on the radio. I wanted to see if what I had heard and read about these big New York firms was true: mega-long hours, high stress, etc...
The funny thing is that I signed up for the on-campus interview at Northwestern about half an hour before the interviewer was going to leave! He didn't even have a spot left on the interview list. He said let's talk for five minutes...it was more like 25 minutes.
The not so funny thing was the expression on the face of the senior partner who first interviewed me. It looked like his face had been frozen in glumness for decades. He looked tired and stressed. He didn't look up and he didn't look me in the eye after first meeting me until I was leaving. It was obvious that he was trying to read my resume--for the first time--during the interview itself! I thought, "is this what these New York big firms do to people?".
If you do want to go to one of these prestigious places, buy a comfortable couch--you may be sleeping on it for oh, a few hours each night. The price some people pay for prestige/$/blue-chip clients is truly amazing.
Columbia is a strong stepping stone to one of these sweatshops--I mean big firms in the Big Apple. There are swarms that recruit at Columbia and for some people, it's a dream job. For others, it's a nightmare. If it's for you, Columbia and NYU would be great picks for law school--if you can get in. All these people jostling and pushing for their chance at workaholism...
New York, New York
People have a love/hate, hate/hate, or love/love relationship with the Big Apple. I've never met someone who was truly neutral about it. So geography may draw you to, or deter you from, Columbia.
On the one hand, it is perhaps the biggest commercial epicenter in the world. On the other hand, both pedestrians and drivers sometimes demonstrate trademark New York aggression. I saw a pedestrian abruptly dash across the street (without the benefit of a "Walk" signal), forcing cars to skid and squeal in order to avoid him.
On one hand, it is a "cultural mecca". Broadway, the artsy scene, the New York Philharmonic, etc. are found there. On the other hand, most students are drowning in debt--so there's not a lot of dough to throw at such cultural events.
At the same time, a law degree from Columbia can take you not only all over the country, but all over the world. So for some, Columbia's location is one to be endured. For others, it's one to be enjoyed.
It has shot up in recent years. Recently it has landed at the lofty perch of #4. NYU was ranked just below at #5. Perhaps it's partially the prestige of New York. Some observers are astonished that both these schools moved ahead of the University of Chicago.
Rankings are one factor that's been often over-emphasized. Don't just go to Columbia for its astronomical ranking. Go for strengths like its international law program. Go if you love New York. Go if banning sweatshops or working at one is your calling. And go if you want to spite NYU. :-)
Most importantly, figure out where Providence is leading you and walk accordingly. There's no better plan than the Master Plan...and if it included Columbia Law, your dad may have wanted to become President. ;-)
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