Last week I took the Yellow Brick Road (via Delta Airlines) back to Kansas to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Lawrence. The trip reminded me of my decision three years ago to choose to attend BU rather than a similarly ranked law school in St. Louis.
Some of you prospective law students reading this blog are probably also considering whether to attend a Midwest law school, perhaps closer to home, or to BU. There are pros and cons to both options, but I am confident that I made the right choice with BU (full disclosure: this column will be a shameless albeit honest plug for BU law).
The Big Con. I wish I could see my family more than three times or so per year. My sister, who just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (the school I was considering for law school), only lives four hours away from Lawrence by car. Had I gone to school there, I certainly would have seen her and the rest of my family more often.
The Pros of BU for me were substantial. After spending three years in NYC as a teacher, I was looking for a slightly quieter setting for law school but still wanted to be connected to NYC for future job/living potential. I recognized that BU has a prominent national presence outside of the Midwest and a strong pipeline to Boston and NYC legal jobs.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Big City elitist who can’t imagine living anywhere without skyscrapers, millions of residents, and 24-hour pizza and Chinese joints (though I do appreciate the latter). I grew up in the Midwest, love the Midwest, and haven’t ruled out living and working there in the future.
But, like many people of our generation law—students or otherwise—I want to do a million different things in my life. As a law student and teacher, I have also carried part-time jobs (outdoor guide, SAT tutor, actor in trial advocacy classes), hobbies (hiking, reading, writing blogs), and membership in alumni organizations. And while you can do many of these things anywhere in the country, I love that Boston and particularly NYC seem to have all of them at your fingertips.
I have also been very fortunate and grateful to get a job at the NYC law firm where I worked last summer. My experiences working in NYC were no doubt key in getting the job, but going to BU has also helped.
When I showed up for my initial screening interview for a summer associate position two Augusts ago, the woman who interviewed me was a BU Law alum who had been a member of my journal. The previous summer, another BU Law student was one of four summer associates at the firm and made a good name for himself and our school. When I worked at the firm last summer, I met half a dozen attorneys, including some partners, who are BU Law alums and felt favorably (or at least enjoyed exchanging stories) about their alma mater.
This may sound a little “old boys/girls club,” but whether you call it “networking” or “alumni connections,” the truth is that who you know matters in the law, at least for getting a job. And where you go to law school is one factor in who you know or want to know.
Of course, there are many other factors in choosing the law school that allows you to “BE YOU” (including corny puns). As I finish my second-to-last semester, I know I made the right choice for me.