Law Schools, Reader Polls

The Decision: Harvard v. Yale — An ATL Debate

ELIE MYSTAL

Not only is it annoying to constantly have to explain why you didn’t go to Yale, but nobody will believe you. I got into Yale and turned it down. Nobody believes me, because damn near everybody at HLS has some stupid freaking story about how they turned down Yale, and statistically speaking, most of them are lying. And the ones who don’t have some kind of falsification of their Yale credentials are the worst — because Harvard also attracts state-school gunners who hulked up on weaker competition in college and are now determined to come to Cambridge and “prove” that they’re very smart. Going to school with people who are trying to prove they’re just as smart as you is like trying to enjoy an afternoon in the park when some stranger comes and sits right next to you even though there are scores of other empty benches the person could sit down at.

Sorry, let me take a step back: 180 Problems should go to Yale. Obviously. The difference between Yale Law and Harvard Law isn’t that U.S. News ranks Yale higher than Harvard, it’s that way too many students who matriculate to HLS act like they’re second (or third) best. Going to school with a bunch of kids who have chips on their shoulders is no fun.

And that’s before you get to class. You know class: the experience you’ll share with seemingly 7,500 of your closest friends as you painstakingly wait for somebody to stammer out the details of International Shoe while thumbing through their case brief that is actually just as long as the case itself. Big classes can only move at the speed of the dumbest participant. Actually, the best part about going to HLS is that most classes are so huge you can skip them with impunity and just keep up with the reading on your own time (true story: I took the Giants in Madden from 2002 all the way to 2032 my 2L year). So yeah, come to Harvard, where you can get lost in the shuffle.

Yale is small enough to feel like a school as opposed a legal education factory. Yale has no grades (other than Honors and Pass). Sure, Harvard also has no grades now, but people are still ultra-competitive to get whatever distinction they can to stand out from the mass of humanity undulating up and down Mass Ave. At Yale, you won’t just have a famous professor, you’ll likely get to talk to them.

And you’ll never have to explain to another legal professional why you went to Yale. Sure, if you hang out with a bunch of non-elite non-lawyers, you say Harvard Law and the panties drop. But if you are dealing with somebody who knows what’s going on and you say “HLS,” you’ll see a little squint in their eyes. And then you’ll go into your patter about how you got into Yale, but you turned them down.

What do you think 180 will say? “Well, I got into Yale, but I asked a legal blog and they said it was okay to turn Yale down and go to Harvard instead. Also Harvard was just more exciting because bigger is better.” Yeah, sure you did. Everybody will believe that.

Tell us what you think, should this LSAT hero go to Harvard or go to Yale?

UPDATE (5/8/2012): Find out what 180 Problems ultimately decided to do — and why — over here.

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Earlier: The Choice: 0Ls Try To Figure Out Which Law School Is Right For Them
One Person’s Law School ‘Decision’

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