Which law school for family?
October 26, 2008 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Law School Filter: OK, so my numbers put me as likely in at Chicago or Michigan (according to hourumd), which are my first choices. But which is best for my family?

I've got a wife and 7 month old who will be coming with me, and I want the best option for all of us. I love the U of C rigor, and their better clerkship placement, but I suspect the family would be more partial to Ann Arbor than to the south side of Chicago. I also am partial to the apparent collegiality of Michigan. Any thoughts on the family-friendliness of each?

For bonus points, we're thinking of eventually settling in Cleveland for work.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Ann Arbor's collegiality is supposed to be amazing. UofC is more old school, as I understand it.

Which will put you in less debt? Which city can you buy a home in? If your wife goes back to work, where does she have more opportunities?
posted by k8t at 11:10 AM on October 26, 2008

I've lived in the Ann Arbor area for almost 30 years. AA is a very family friendly - I can't speak to the law school in particular.
posted by leslies at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2008

First, congratulations. If your numbers are putting you in at those schools, you must be very pleased with the LSAT score you got back a couple days ago.

I visited Michigan for its admitted students weekend last fall. Even though I ended up somewhere else, I was blown away by how happy the students seemed, and by what a great community the school was a part of.

With that said: apply to both... and to many other schools too. Anecdotal evidence and common sense suggests that the economy tanking has led to an enormous increase in law school applications for this cycle (I've heard the increase is as much as 40%). This increased competition will make it tougher to get in everywhere and the hourumd/LSN numbers from previous cycles will almost certainly overestimate your odds of getting admitted at any given school.

On the flip side of that coin, don't sell yourself short either. If your numbers put you at Chicago, then you've probably got an outside shot at Yale, Harvard or Stanford. Half the class at those schools gets in with numbers below the median. Because you have a family, I'm guessing that you have more and better work experience than most applicants. That makes you a good candidate to be one of those below-median admits.

tl;dr: the cost of a few extra application fees is nothing compared to the $150,000 you'll be paying for three years of law school. It's definitely worth giving yourself as many options as possible.
posted by ewiar at 11:34 AM on October 26, 2008

Living in Hyde Park can be quite nice, especially if you'll have enough money to get out of the student-ghetto bracket (which I never did). There are lots of great brownstones and homes down that way. It's also very convenient to rest of Chicago if you have a car (10 minutes on lakeshore drive will put you on the mag mile). Hyde Park has some nice little cafes and restaurants, though I'm sure Ann Arbor has this too. The grocery store situation in Hyde Park got dire after I left, but I think there's a big grocery store in the neighborhood again (on 53rd).

So, basically, it comes down to two three things:

1. Does your wife work (or will she) so that you won't have to live like a college student?
2. Will you be bringing a car with you?
3. Do you need / want access to a real city (Ann Arbor is cute, and fun, but it's a straight up college town from what I know of it)? I mean, if you need opera in your life, or access to underground drum-n-bass nights, or world class museums, then Chicago is a must. If you can live without them for a few years, then Ann Arbor is probably a nicer bet.
posted by zpousman at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2008

I'm a 3L at Michigan and the co-chair of the older/married/non-trad students group. Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions about Michigan Law or Ann Arbor. I haven't got kids myself, but I can put you in touch with people who do.
posted by tew at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Spent 7 years in AA, including the law school. I didn't have kids, but I know plenty of classmates who did. The city if certainly family friendly, and the school certainly does have collegiality -- I had no idea that was unusual until I got to work and talked to people from other schools. Wow. (I know nothing about UC except for your mentioned perception of rigor. Law school can be as rigorous as you want it to be at Michigan, so you might embrace that flexibility).
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:08 PM on October 26, 2008

I live and work (coincidentally quite near the law school) in Hyde Park and I would say it is almost more family friendly than student friendly. There are a ton of parks, schools and churches, as well as the Hyde Park Art Center, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and a the 57th St Children's Book Fair. And the lake/Promontory Point/beaches are nearby. I see a ton of kids around every day when I walk home.

The grocery store situation is fine now -- there are two large grocery stores in the neighboorhood, as well as some two farmer's markets and two produce stores.

You could also live on the North Side if you really wanted, and commute (very roughly ~1 hour by public transportation depending on how far north, or ~30 minutes-1 hour by car depending on the time of day) to Hyde Park.
posted by puffin at 9:23 AM on October 27, 2008

Congratulations on the options. Those are both great schools.

I'm a 3L at UM and would be happy to talk about my experience here if you have questions. Send me a mefi message if you'd like. I'll try to remember to check the mefi inbox soon.

Good luck!
posted by soonertbone at 3:11 PM on November 4, 2008

Just closing out this thread. Starting at Michigan in May!
posted by leotrotsky at 12:53 PM on January 10, 2009

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