WinslowTHall, of SeriousEats.com, is facing one of the most important decisions of his life: which law school should he attend. He has two choices: University of Oregon and Syracuse University. Mr. Hall, per his profile, is from Durham, North Carolina and is concerned with the foodie atmosphere of the two towns.
Wait ... the foodie atmosphere?
Look, I'm a fat man. I get it. Food is tasty. After three years in Lexington, Virginia, which has such fine dining establishments as Waffle House (covered and chunked - what up?) and Applebees, I can understand the need for decent grub. Still, you're deciding factor between two schools is the quality of the cuisine? If you are really having trouble deciding, here are the factors you should consider.
Let's start with Oregon. According to Law School Transparency, they had a 29.8 percent unemployment rate for the class of 2012. Out of those who were employed, 8.1 percent were employed by the school. Only 41.6 percent of grads had a full-time, long-term legal job. The class of 2011 didn't fare any better, with 30.5 percent unemployed and a remarkably consistent 41.4 percent of grads with long-term, full-time legal employment.
Compare that with Syracuse's 2012 graduates, who only had 22.2 percent unemployment and 0.5 percent mooching off the school. Meanwhile, 45.9 percent were employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs. For 2011, only 19.2 percent were unemployed, none were employed by the school, and 50.3 had long-term, full-time legal gigs.
If you're looking for a single number, LST has an "Employment Score." Syracuse scored 49.7 percent. Oregon? 38.5 percent.
No matter which school you choose, you'll have a ton of student loan debt, unless your situation is atypical. (Lucky you.) That means the amount of debt should be considered at least as much as the employment stats (and more so than foodie-ness).
LST estimates that University of Oregon Law's total cost of attendance is $187,505. It hurt even more to type that number than it did to read. However, it beats the crap out of Syracuse, which costs $243,706.
Law firms like to hire attorneys who have ties to the area.Our Serious Eats 0L is a North Carolina native. If there's really no place like home, he's better off going to school in his home state. (Yes, even leaving for law school can potentially sever those local ties in the eyes of law firms.) If he wants to practice in Oregon or near Syracuse, then he should hop the next plane.
Location doesn't matter as much for BigLaw firms in major metropolitan areas.Those firms want to see stellar grades at a top law school more than local ties.
This is a tough call, isn't it? On the one hand, Syracuse's employment statistics are significantly better. On the other hand, it'll cost you an extra $50,000 in loans.
Here's the answer:
Don't go to law school. Pick the one with better food.