Law schools, properly understood, ought to be viewed as regional vocational schools. You will have to pass the bar exam for the state in which you want to practice, and a law school in that state, in theory at least, is more likely to prepare you for the specific content on the state bar. Typically, the majority of alumni don’t stray too far, so the strongest network will be local, for local jobs. It’s to your advantage to go to school where you want to practice, sometimes even more so than going to a higher-ranked school.

With this in mind, last week we looked at our ATL Insider Survey results pertaining to New York City-area law schools. We examined how current law students rate their schools in terms of academics, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life.

Today we turn to Boston. The results of our survey might surprise you….

Keep in mind that these survey results are purely a function of what our respondents tell us about their experiences at their schools, nothing else. Conventional wisdom claims that Harvard is “better,” way better, than Northeastern. But still, the people at Northeastern really like the place, and congratulations to them. Check out the ratings (we did not have sufficient data for New England College of Law):

Quality of Faculty and Academic Instruction (ratings are on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 4):

1. Northeastern (3.67)
2. Boston University Law (3.64)
3. Harvard (3.60)
4. Boston College Law (3.56)
5. Suffolk University Law (3.18)

Practical and Clinical Training:

1. Northeastern (3.92)
2. Suffolk University Law (3.24)
3. Harvard (3.20)
4. Boston University Law (3.12)
5. Boston College Law (2.93)

Financial Aid Advising:

1. Boston University Law (3.12)
2. Harvard (2.99)
3. Northeastern (2.91)
4. Boston College Law (2.75)
5. Suffolk University Law (2.40)

Career Counseling and Job Search Help:

1. Harvard (3.34)
2. Northeastern (3.17)
3. Boston University Law (2.92)
4. Boston College Law (2.48)
5. Suffolk University Law (2.47)

Social Life:

1. Boston College Law (3.62)
2. Northeastern (3.58)
3. Harvard (3.22)
4. Suffolk University Law (3.13)
5. Boston University Law (3.04)

Overall Rating:

1. Northeastern (3.45)
2. Harvard (3.27)
3. Boston University Law (3.17)
4. Boston College Law (3.07)
5. Suffolk University Law (2.88)

So what is up with Northeastern students’ satisfaction with their school? Here are three current students, in their own words:

  • “The lack of traditional grades and complete absence of class ranking creates an atmosphere where not only is everyone driven to succeed, but everyone is driven to make sure everyone else succeeds too. Passionate faculty and fantastic potential for real-world experience prior to graduation.”
  • “I chose to go to NUSL because I wanted the experience of working in the legal field. I understand schools all over the country have externship and clinic programs, but the idea of paying to work really rubbed me the wrong way. To me, three years was just too long to be out of the labor market and this school lets me work intermittently while I’m at school. It also gives me lots of opportunities to see what I’m interested in doing rather then listen to panels of alumni talk about their various jobs. It’s a particularly fantastic school if you’re interested in joining the public interest sphere because the networking is all there …. Mostly, though, I’d say this school is fantastic because you more or less cut out the bullsh*t third year and splice in a year of work instead. That experience alone is fantastic.”
  • “Extremely dedicated faculty with high proportion of critical legal theorists. Lots of emphasis on job training with 4 required co-ops. First-year Legal Skills in Social Context program is imperfect and sometimes frustrating but very, very beneficial (in terms of ability to work well in groups, structure a project with little direction, and accept critical feedback). I love NUSL.”

Northeastern is clearly doing things its own way, and from what we hear, it’s working.

(By the way, if you haven’t taken the ATL Insider Survey yet, please take a few minutes and do so here.)

Earlier: Who Are the Happiest Law Students in New York City?


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