COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers
Your Hosts
Joe Patrice

Joe Patrice is an Editor at Above the Law. For over a decade, he practiced as a litigator at...

Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is the Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline and the Editor-At-Large of Breaking Media. He’s appeared...

Episode Notes

We finally set aside some time to discuss the questions we’ve received from prospective law students asking “where should I go to school?” Choosing between T14 heavies? We can handle that. Weighing different scholarship packages? We’ve got that too. Tune in and hear our advice on how to properly manage the law school adventure.

Special thanks to our sponsor,


Above the Law – Thinking like a Lawyer
Law School Decision 2019 (Part I)


Intro: Welcome to Thinking Like a Lawyer with your hosts Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, talking about legal news and pop culture, all while thinking like a lawyer, here on Legal Talk Network.


Joe Patrice: Hey, welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer. I am Joe Patrice from Above the Law.

Elie Mystal?

Elie Mystal: I’m back, back in the New York groove

Joe Patrice: Welcome back, so you’re —

Elie Mystal: I’m back.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: I have been in California.

Joe Patrice: Yeah — no, which is where I was the week before.

Elie Mystal: I do not like California as much as the people.

Joe Patrice: Really?

Elie Mystal: Yeah, I mean — there is — I am a New Yorker, I’m born, bred in Queens, in Long Island and then went to school in Boston, well not, in Boston but near Boston. Point is — is that —

Joe Patrice: In Indiana, I mean, yeah.

Elie Mystal: I’m an East Coast guy and California is always just like strange and pretty to me. It makes me comfortable like it can’t possibly be nice once the other shoe going to drop, and of course, the other shoe is the earthquakes —

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: — which I was lucky did not experience when I was in San Diego this time. The last time I was in San Diego, I was 15 and I did experience an earthquake. But yeah, so that’s it, San Diego is a beautiful, beautiful place, it was good, I had brought the kids, it was great for the kids.

Joe Patrice: Right, then now you were there for a conference —

Elie Mystal: NALP

Joe Patrice: Yeah, which for the people who don’t know because basically why would you is —

Elie Mystal: But people listening to this podcast they don’t know what NALP is?

Joe Patrice: I would assume so because most people don’t give a shit about it about but you; but it’s a legal placement conference.

Elie Mystal: I think NALP is the most important conference on legal calendar.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, he thinks that because he doesn’t go to or understand most of the legal conferences on the calendar, but he does go to this one; and so, now tell folks what NALP does which those of you who are like deans and law professors or legal recruiters probably know, but other people probably know.

Elie Mystal: Yeah, let’s do this instead of grinding gears actually because —

Joe Patrice: Ooh!

Elie Mystal: — I have just been a week in California can’t exactly come back pissed off —

Joe Patrice: Sure.

Elie Mystal: — because there were no earthquakes. So NALP (National Association of Law Placement) Annual Conference brings together basically everybody in the Career Services Offices from all the law schools and many of the people in the legal recruiting or professional development offices from the top 100, 250, 500 law firms. So you have basically all of these people who are primarily concerned with getting students jobs, either from the perspective of a law school, trying to place their students to the perspective of a law firm trying to figure out which students are best for them and who’s got fit in best with their culture and what their needs are going to be, but here’s the thing, what their needs are going to be two, three years down the line, right, because —

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: — in our idiot industry we don’t hire people when we need them, we hire them two years before we think that we are going to need them.

So, one of the reasons why I really like this conference is that at the 30,000 foot level, at the macro level, you do get a sense of like where these people in the industry think the industry is going, where they think their needs are going to be, where they think the issues are going to be three years ahead. So a lot of times it’s a leading indicator as to what’s happening in the market. However —

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: — and this is my big takeaway from this year. Sometimes it is a lagging indicator because so much of what they do has already been baked into the system. So, if some news is breaking two months ago there is nothing NALP can do to the people who go to NALP, can do to adjust to that, it just freaking happened. And so this year the big takeaway was that this was like really the first year that you could see that Me Too had fully like metastasized, and fully like been integrated into their thinking about everything. Obviously from the law school perspective they are placing young vulnerable lawyers in these huge organizations with not a lot of institutional control, without a lot of people kind of looking out for their best interest especially in this contact of sexual harassment.

From the law firm perspective, obviously they don’t want this issue falling, they don’t want to have issues like this they are sensitive to the topics, and so, this is really the first year that people were thinking about what to do about it, but what to do about it was not the obvious thing which is fire the lecherous old farts who are playing grab-ass with their summer associates.

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: Like that’s off the table and everybody there kind of understood some – at a deeper level then others that like firing the bad actors was just not what’s going to happen, and so, so many of the panels either directly or indirectly were basically talking about workarounds, right?

Joe Patrice: Right.


Elie Mystal: Like, all right, well, you are going to go this firm and you are going to see some red flags, now here’s how you spot the red flags about people who were about to sexually harass you and then from the professional development site, it’s like, well, yes, at my firm we decided to stop serving alcohol at half of our some — like as if that’s the – well, if they are just not drunk, clearly nobody is going to grope a boob, like it was frustrating, I am not slagging off the people at NALP, the people at NALP care about this but they are also not the people who are in like the corner office making the decision to hire and fire even associates must less partners, right?

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: So they can’t attack the problem directly, so it’s just kind of a whole week of thinking about how to get around their problem without actually being able to hold anybody accountable, and it was frustrating as hell, but fascinating kind of to listen to people work through it.

Joe Patrice: Well, and that’s why I think that it is interesting, it is a fine conference, but it is not the one that I view this most important because a lot of decision-making doesn’t get to happen there. Like you are saying that the law firm equivalent of c-suite folks are not there.

Elie Mystal: Right.

Joe Patrice: The people, the deans of law schools are not there at the earlier conference in the year you went to, which was a meeting of law school people. You also talked about how Me Too kind of dominated those discussions but there, those are folks who can actually take action whereas here, it is kind of interesting in it shows where almost cynically how the people who work in these firms don’t see an opportunity for things to get better.

This actually plays into while you were gone, we recorded, Katherine and I recorded an episode where we talked a lot about some of the issues that are going on in kind of a not so much sexual harassment but in gender discrimination route and the sad takeaway of that was a lot of realization that the idea of just fixing it isn’t really where people are and taking knee-jerk reactions to keep the thing going, are much more unfortunately the call of the day.

Elie Mystal: As frustrating as how fixing it is not on the table.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: It’s almost like people have missed the memo or missed the call on what the real problem is.

Joe Patrice: See now that’s not fair like when you – I mean I appreciate the assist, but a good point, so you’re right, people have missed a call and if you’re missing calls or spread too thin, interruptions can kill your productivity but clients demand a quick response, the US-based professional receptionist at help law firms screen new clients and schedule appointments by phone and website chat. Plus integrates with your software including Clio and LawPay. Plan start at just $60 per month, get a free trial at

And now, again I do appreciate the assist, but it makes — it cheapens what I was pulling off recently. Oh, I’m very glad that you’re back. Katherine had no idea how any of this operated and it was a real disaster to try and get a segue there. I was very upset and so I’m very happy to have you back.

One thing that’s been problematic over the last few weeks is those of you who haven’t heard of recent episode in a while, there is a reason. Katherine and I recorded last week because he was in California, I was in California week before that, the week before that he had the flu of some form —

Elie Mystal: Yes, some kind of stomach bug.

Joe Patrice: — I think it was Ebola. The point is, whatever horrible degenerating his body disease he had at the time, he is now better but it meant that we didn’t record for quite some time which means that all those decisions that you all have been emailing about how to make a decision on which law school to attend, we haven’t been able to deal with.

And we were planning on doing that this week, we learned that the regular day we’re going to record, I have to go to a conference, so we weren’t going to do it again but we decided we can’t possibly let another week go by. So we’re recording on a different day to make sure that we get at least some of these answers out there for you, so you know what’s up so.

Elie Mystal: This will probably be the first in a series. We will probably end up doing a couple of episodes on decisions because we’ve gotten a lot of emails, a lot of questions, and a lot of them are interesting, so we want to make sure that we answer kind of as many as possible.

Joe Patrice: All right so —

Elie Mystal: Let’s jump into it.

Joe Patrice: Let’s jump in. So, let’s see, I’ll do this one. So we’re dealing with somebody who lives in California, feels ultimately they wish to be in California, alright?

Elie Mystal: So, they’re not worried about the earthquakes.

Joe Patrice: Very much not so. Ultimately, wants to be in California, here’s where they sit. The packages that they have just got up, so since I first got this email, but the packages they’ve got are George Washington, they’re getting 89 grand for that. The alternative is UC Irvine getting 75 grand, but also what’s left is in-state tuition obviously.

What are you thinking there?

Elie Mystal: How is that not obvious?


Joe Patrice: Well, I mean, I’m not sure. Why do you think it’s obvious?

Elie Mystal: You said from the jump that the person figures out that they want to be in California, they are from California, they want to stay in California, they have an offer from a school in California, and one on the other end of the goddamn continent. So in what universe do you leave your home, fly all the way across country, spend three years in Maryland to — because it’s George Washington — it’s not Washington, it’s St. Louis. It’s the —

Joe Patrice: George Washington, it’s like in DC, yeah.

Elie Mystal: Right. So you’re going to spend three years across the freaking continent for what, and then you want to work in California, so now you got to go fly back across country every time you want to do a job interview, you want to do a networking event, you want to meet somebody, you want to start the process of figuring out the difference in cultures of the firms out there. You got to always make a plane trip back. That’s just stupid.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, I also am leaning towards California. I think that Irvine is of course a new school, but it is a school on the upswing. I mean, it’s only been around for a few years now.

Elie Mystal: Okay, sure. I mean, calling Irvine is a new school is a little bit like calling Uber a new service, like technically sure.

Joe Patrice: True, but in the annals of law schools — in the geologic time of law school, it’s new, but yeah, I think that’s probably the better deal. The argument would be that a national focus — like a national-focused school has advantages, a school that is in DC that would afford you opportunities during school to have externships and work that in a different field than where you ultimately want to end up is valuable. Being able to live somewhere else than you want to ultimately settle has value intellectually, but I agree with you ultimately.

Elie Mystal: I mean, get on an Amtrak if you want to see the country, and also DC is not the country, like DC is the most bubbled like weird-ass city in the entire country. There’s so little about DC that is transferable to anywhere outside of the Beltway.

Joe Patrice: Yeah — no I agree. Well, let’s do another one involving some bigger name schools. So we have a student who has been — who is on the wait list for Georgetown, Columbia, and NYU, those decisions are coming soon. Apparently, they said they’d get back at the end of this month, but for now let’s operate on that. George Washington again, a $90,000 scholarship there. Cornell with a $60,000, hoping to ultimately work in federal government not so much big law, but that said understands big law is part of that deal potentially, so where are we going, Cornell or George Washington?

Elie Mystal: Yeah, I think, again from the career focus perspective, I think this is where you think about George Washington. You also are getting more money from George Washington, so that’s helpful. I do have the elitism Ivy preference, like I —

Joe Patrice: I mean it is literally a T14 school, so —

Elie Mystal: That’s nothing, right.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: But it’s not — put like this, George Washington for $90,000 and Columbia for $60,000, you’re going to Columbia.

Joe Patrice: Okay.

Elie Mystal: Cornell for $60,000, is it really giving you enough of a bump to justify not only the roughly $30,000 in debt that you are going to have to take out. But also to take you out of the city of your choice understanding that working for the federal government is a little bit different than working in big law, where the federal government is going to pull from everywhere, in a way that Cravath is not. Sorry, people who live in Nebraska. But even understanding that just on the money, I think, aspect alone, I think GW is probably right.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I kind of agree again. I think that especially if the interest is ultimately in working for the government, then GW is a better option. I will say though that here’s the more difficult one. I’d rather than say and I’ll pass it to you. So $90,000 George Washington, what if they get into Georgetown, Columbia, NYU, the ones that are wait-listed on with no money at all?

Elie Mystal: Yeah, so I’m generally going to say Columbia, NYU for no money is still going to be right.

Joe Patrice: I agree.

Elie Mystal: Columbia, NYU for no money — I mean, there are now a lot of schools that are worth not having any scholarship when you have a scholarship offer somewhere else, but if there are schools, it’s those six, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Chicago, like if there are those six and that’s kind of — those are both in those six, Georgetown for no money versus GW for $90,000, that’s actually tough.

Joe Patrice: That’s a tough question.

Elie Mystal: That’s actually tough, and I would probably still go with GW. I would probably go — I mean Georgetown is great and especially, I mean, it has such a rep for exactly these kinds of 14:56.


One of the benefits of going to a law school that has a reputation for doing one thing or another thing well is that a lot of your classmates are also interested in doing that one thing or the other thing well, and so you end up meeting people who might end up being colleagues or networking friends or networking opportunities kind of further down the line in a really important way.

That said you’re already in DC, George Washington is attracting the same kind of student as Georgetown is just with this slightly worse LSAT score and they’re giving you $90,000, and if you really want to work for the government, like that not having to pay back $90,000 is going to be important to you at some point.

Joe Patrice: That’s a huge point, I am glad you hit on that one, yeah.

Elie Mystal: Thing that strikes me from that is not just how it’s a really interesting call between GW and Georgetown at those prices, but just thinking about this question and maybe we’ll get to a different one or just as more directly. It’s hard for me to think about why a person would go Cornell, like it’s hard to —

Joe Patrice: You just don’t like the cold, that’s all that you’re saying.

Elie Mystal: It’s freezing, it’s in the nowhere. It doesn’t have great — it’s not like, oh, go to Cornell and you’re like in the New York market, I mean, you are, but like in this way that any kind of T14 puts you in the New York market. It’s not particularly more New York-centric than Michigan.

Joe Patrice: Right, I agree.

Elie Mystal: Did I mention it’s freezing? And so like if — and if you have the — and again it’s not the Cornell is a bad school, but if you have the caliber to get in Cornell, you have the caliber to get into — and especially if you have the caliber to get in Cornell with money, if you have the caliber to get in Cornell with money, you have the caliber to get into a better school for no money and a worse school for lots of money. It’ll be interesting — I’m sure there are scenarios but like when we get them it’s very rare that I say, no, Cornell is the right choice.

Joe Patrice: So a lot of — every time we do these decision things, one of the things that I try to point out is that many of these questions and for many of you who sent in questions that we aren’t getting to right now, there are themes that keep coming up and we’ve just had the theme that is there’s a school where I want to work but another one on the other side of the country what should I do. That theme comes up. This theme comes up where I have these offers, but like there are these better schools that I’m wait-listed on, what should I do when that comes? Let’s do another one that comes up a lot, which is the where am I in the cycle question.

So this person admittedly came into the cycle late. Therefore, they’ve gotten into three schools, Marquette, Loyola Chicago and DePaul. So with all the scholarships and everything, it works out that Marquette would basically be a free ride, but not only a free ride, it’d be covered by a local firm so they would have a place where they would work in the summers.

Elie Mystal: Ooh.

Joe Patrice: Loyola Chicago, they would be on the hook for 20 grand and DePaul they’d be on the hook for 8 grand basically. On the other hand, they feel that they just got in really late on mid places like Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin that they were also really interested in. Is it time to wait? Do this cycle again next year? Find something to do in the meantime, go to one of these schools, go to one of these schools and try to transfer. Where do you think we should be?

Elie Mystal: All right, so as a theme I do not like the transfer stories. As a theme, I think that going into a school with the intention of transferring to a better school once things work out, oh so swimmingly your first year at the school you went into, that’s placing wishes on top horses. So I’m not a big fan of that as a starting position.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: I guess you would have to kind of tell me and we would have to know a little bit more about why the person kind of got into the cycle late. Law schools work on a schedule, those schedules are pretty goddamn obvious. One of the key parts of being a lawyer is to be able to follow instructions and timelines, and so if you got in late because you just kind of didn’t understand it, it’s almost unacceptable.

If you got in late because you honestly didn’t know if you want to go to law school and you kind of took your time, but now you really feel like you’re committed. Well then, taking a year off and like shoring that up might well be the best answer, making sure you’re putting your best foot forward. This is the decision that will mark a large portion of your legal career, and if you feel like you did not put your best foot forward because it just took you too long to decide whether you want to do it at all, but now you are all in, taking that year to make sure that people see you in the best possible light is probably worth it. It’s unlikely that your scores are going to get worse and whatever Marquette was offering you or Loyola Chicago was offering you, now, they’re not going to offer you again or something substantially similar next year. So it’s not like those opportunities go away, but I mean – you didn’t take a gap year between college and law school.

Joe Patrice: Oh God, no.

Elie Mystal: So I don’t — the question then becomes like what do you do for a year?


Joe Patrice: Yeah — no that’s true. So I agree. I think that anybody who is on the, hey, maybe I’ll transfer train, I actually think that’s all well and good to feel that way, but it’s one of those situations where do not begin a school that you are not comfortable getting a degree from, because things could happen both in a bad way, you aren’t actually as great a student as you thought you were and you do have to graduate from there, or in a good way, you end up randomly getting married at the end of 1L year and now you can’t leave.

Well, whatever it is, there’s reasons that can come up that are going to prevent you from potentially leaving, so at least be comfortable. Hope to transfer, but don’t take on anything where it’d be an embarrassment for you to end up there. So —

Elie Mystal: If I had a dollar for all those random marriages the people fall into.

Joe Patrice: I mean, it certainly, certainly happened, like at least in my experience around the class people got together and —

Elie Mystal: It make it sound like people are on ocean and it’s like, oh my god, it’s cracking. Like it doesn’t just show up out of nowhere.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, it does. Oh dear Lord, it did, and it was annoying. But —

Elie Mystal: Look, your point is really well-taken. I would amplify it this way. Like nobody and I mean nobody wants to hear your freaking story about how like you got a degree from here, but really could have gone in there.

Joe Patrice: Exactly.

Elie Mystal: Like nobody has time for that shit, right?

Joe Patrice: Exactly.

Elie Mystal: So if you cannot get a degree that you are comfortable, kind of plastering on your forehead for the rest of your life, then, and you really think you could have gotten somewhere better, go and do what you think you need to do to get in somewhere better.

Joe Patrice: So I think the takeaway is if you think you can get into the other schools, go take your shot, take a year off, go take your shot. If you are in a position where these are the schools that you’re choosing from, I feel like if you’re comfortable being in the Milwaukee market then free school with some summer work and the connections to be built with a firm is probably not a bad idea.

Elie Mystal: Especially because of you really thinking that, you’re going to have the kind of grades coming on to Marquette after 1L year that’s going to allow you to transfer to Michigan.

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: Then guess what, you’re going to have the kind of grades coming out on Marquette after 1L year, it’s going to let you get into the Chicago market if that’s where you want it to go into the Milwaukee.

Joe Patrice: Yep, I agree. All right. Let’s see, we got at least one more maybe two. Let’s try, this is an interesting one. So we’re entering the non-traditional student group.

Elie Mystal: Dann… dann… dann…

Joe Patrice: 34-year-old has been in journalism.

Elie Mystal: Then he was a clown. Then he was a —

Joe Patrice: No, no, just journalism, so yes, client, as we say as ostensibly journalists ourselves. So — and I stress ostensibly. So 34-year-old journalist looking at Rutgers which has offered a full tuition. So living expenses but has family connections in New Jersey area, so probably not going to be an issue.

Also then University of Baltimore 30,000 scholarship with only about that leaves 1900 a year he has to cover, so not bad. You pay $1900 a year for law school you are in pretty good shape. So there it really is from this person’s mind, a question of coming at it late in life not really intending to go take over Cravath. Where do you want to practice is a lot of the decision here, New Jersey, they’re kind of Greater New York market or is it Baltimore?

Greater New York market obviously is more expensive and has more penetration, Baltimore, more things to do, but Baltimore like so where you are thinking.

Elie Mystal: The DC Market, yeah.

Joe Patrice: A little bit DC market, but — yeah.

Elie Mystal: Yeah. Here is my argument for why ‘The Wire’ is the superior show or ‘The Sopranos’ and it’s really close, right? The acting I would actually say is probably better. But the writing on the —

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Oh, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about Baltimore and Jersey in a different way.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: It’s hard for me to say not say, to tell you about to take the money. $19,000 for law schools isn’t bad. Freeze even better. We’re coming at it late in life. You have got other commitments, other bills to pay, freeze free, I would place that highly.

The second thing you said is that he already has family in Jersey which then I think makes the kind of interesting question, are you coming into in late in life because you want to spend more time with your family? Are you coming into in late in life you want to get the fun away from your family?

Joe Patrice: My assumption from a coming at it from a journalism thing is this is now a point where my guess is some level of the journalism that they have done has brought them in contact with the legal system in a way that it struck them that this may be a job to get into, which is actually a good place to be. A lot of us enter law with vague romantic beliefs over what law is, coming from a journalism be you actually see the most boring awful parts of law and if that still appeals to you, then you actually are in a position where law might be the right answer.

So I think it’s just going to something a little bit better than hopping around.


Elie Mystal: Okay. So I still think I am going with free and partially because of what you just said, right, like if you are talking about thinking about how the law might augment what you already know from journalism, thinking about what you already know from journalism how that might augment the law. Obviously I and you somewhat value people with the dual skill set of being able to report and to understand the law, that’s actually in high demand. That’s in high demand especially in New York City and DC.

The way this guy or woman has thought through their options I think is really smart and really rational. I think they are fundamentally in a position where they kind of have no — they have two good options; one is free, one is $19,000.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, $1,900.

Elie Mystal: 1,900?

Joe Patrice: No, no, no, no, yes, less than $2,000 a year.

Elie Mystal: 1,900, that’s like a — that’s a Camry that they have got to sell.

Joe Patrice: Right, yes.

Elie Mystal: Okay, then money is not even important.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: I thought it was $19,000.

Joe Patrice: Oh yeah, no, I gathered that you did, which is why I interrupted to point that out. Yeah, no, it’s very — it’s basically — they are basically both free in a real sense.

Elie Mystal: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Yeah.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Wow. Only good option, guns ahead, Rutgers.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt too. And I feel like — there is a large part of me that’s very New York centric, having spent my career here, that I have connections with the Rutgers campus and I have good — I feel good things about it and I don’t necessarily have that with Baltimore and that’s not Baltimore’s fault, it’s just that I am up here.

Elie Mystal: I think it’s just also like, again, this really close decision where you don’t have any bad options, it’s just a bigger market, right? Like Rutgers gets you access to a bigger market, it gives you access to all of Jersey. It’s pretty easy to like go carpetbag New York if you can pass the New York Bar. You are kind of in that Tristate area thing, and you also, if you want to, you kind of have access to Philadelphia, if you want to go crash the Pennsylvania Bar, right?

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Whereas Baltimore, your thought is that you are going to be in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, which all told is a smaller market than the Jersey, Manhattan, Philadelphia area.

Joe Patrice: Well, let me add to this, because now you hit on a fact that I have been kind of sandbagging, which is very interested in being in a city and not in a suburb, they are very committed to that, and on that level I think Baltimore obviously is in the city, Rutgers is — well, it’s hard to —

Elie Mystal: Not.

Joe Patrice: Well, look, it is impossible to say Newark is a suburb. It is not that. It may not be the actual city that it — it’s a satellite city potentially, but it is not a suburb. But that said, I think the theory is that the goal would be to be in New York with that Rutgers degree. Though, as you point out, Philadelphia is entirely an option with that kind of degree too.

Elie Mystal: Yeah. I mean it’s a — again, look, if these are your choices and you are 34 years old and you are just coming to this late in life, you have gotten yourself some pretty good options.

Joe Patrice: All right. We are now — we are just at 30 minutes. We have —

Elie Mystal: One more.

Joe Patrice: One more, all right. Let’s do this.

Elie Mystal: Bonus.

Joe Patrice: This one I think is a quick one. So all right, interested in technology law, in particular the kind of burgeoning blockchain work that’s going on; one of the world’s experts in blockchain law and those developments is at Cardozo. Cardozo with a $45,000 a year scholarship or the University of Florida, with a full scholarship, plus a $6,000 stipend?

Elie Mystal: Damn.

Joe Patrice: Interesting. I didn’t think this one was that difficult.

Elie Mystal: Well, give me your answer.

Joe Patrice: Florida, it’s a better school and cheaper. I think the argument is that, one, I am interested in this one subject area, and I get that. That said, this is not the end of your professional development. So many people that I met like oh, I am really interested in environmental law, so I am going to — I am not even going to bother applying to Columbia, and I am going to go to Lewis & Clark.

Like no, just because it’s in these little rankings as a niche thing, that’s not really the end of your development. You will have opportunities if you become a lawyer that gets employed places to go to Bar events and seminars and meet and connect with people. You will have those opportunities. It’s better to go get the degree that will make you a more recognizable lawyer A; B, one that’s cheaper. And while both of these options are decent schools and reasonably affordable, I feel like if you can go to Florida for free — the opposite, more than free, you are making money on it, I think that’s a better option.


Elie Mystal: You are right, you are right on paper.

Joe Patrice: Like look, if it was Columbia or University of Florida, fine, but Cardozo versus Florida, I am like, eh.

Elie Mystal: You are right on paper but here is — I realize now here is why I hesitate. I struggle to imagine the person who is equally as comfortable at Cardozo as they are at Florida, those are two very distinct cultures, right?

Joe Patrice: Sure.

Elie Mystal: And there are not a lot of people that I know from Florida that would do well at Cardozo. There are not a lot of people I know at Cardozo who would like to go to UF. Like from a cultural perspective, those are very different schools, and so I am struggling to kind of imagine the person, I could do either/or. So it kind of feels like one of those schools is going to like speak to you and one of them is not and you should maybe just go to the one that speaks to you, because despite what it looks like on paper, you have got to live with these people for three years, right?

Joe Patrice: Right.

Elie Mystal: Like if you put — I am trying to think of a good example for me, if you put me in Chicago, in the University of Chicago, all of them Republican motherfuckers, I couldn’t have even dealt.

Joe Patrice: Not so much the law school as badly as the undergrad.

Elie Mystal: And it’s not that Harvard is something like bastion of liberalism despite what some idiots think. Harvard is not Yale when it comes to liberal bona fides, but Chicago is Chicago when it comes to that. And so like culturally, I would like go to one and go to the other and be pretty obvious which place I was going to be happier at for three years, and at that point the money wouldn’t have mattered as much, you know what I am saying?

So I just wonder if this person has visited Cardozo and visited Florida and gotten a vibe from both and really feels like oh, they could take it either way. If so, your paper argument is absolutely right.

Joe Patrice: My recollection from this one, and I only have my notes, my recollection from this one is that they are originally from Florida, so that’s a known quantity to them. Cardozo, I mean they don’t have working elevators there, right?

Elie Mystal: But they make fun of it.

Joe Patrice: No, they do. It strikes me as though it’s a perfectly fine school, but I also think that if the argument being made, and I feel like this is the argument being made, the argument being made is Florida, I get all these things, but wouldn’t a degree that gets me into the New York market be better, and it kind of gets you into the New York market, but that’s a market that’s being dominated by NYU and Columbia, as well as the Harvards and all coming in.

Elie Mystal: As well as the top of the class from Florida, if they want it.

Joe Patrice: Exactly, and that’s why I am like if that’s the motivation that being in a national market instead of Gainesville is good for you, it’s not that Cardozo is really giving you that huge up.

Elie Mystal: Yeah, you are right, the argument being made is not a good one as between the schools; the argument being made inevitably tilts towards Florida.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I think so. I mean I think it is a better school, and we noted recently when the U.S. News rankings came out, Florida is a school very much on the rise. I believe it was the number one place getter.

Elie Mystal: The argument for Cardozo in this scenario has to be like, I just want to go to Cardozo. I visited Cardozo, I like Cardozo, I like the professors, I like the people, I like the city, like that has to be your only argument at that point.

Joe Patrice: Right, but I don’t think it should be, I know right now, I want to be a tech lawyer and this is a great tech person, because people will come at this from different directions.

Elie Mystal: It’s not like they don’t know what a mother board is in Florida.

Joe Patrice: Right, okay, yeah, exactly, there will be people that —

Elie Mystal: I don’t know what a switchboard is or a mother board is, but at Florida they know, you will find somebody.

Joe Patrice: Fair enough. So I am leaning towards Florida is what I am saying. It seems as though Elie is saying probably unless you feel there is a distinct cultural difference that pushes you towards being more comfortable at Cardozo and ultimately comfort is a huge deal and probably the most important one, provided you consider the level of debt you hope to live with as part of your comfortability.

Elie Mystal: Yeah. Now, free is the most important one, then comfort.

Joe Patrice: Right, right. Well, I mean even — well, no, not necessarily. You were already saying earlier today that you would turn down large chunks of scholarship to go to one of the big six for free potential — I mean for full cost potentially. So that is part of the comfortability scale too.

Elie Mystal: I mean you are right. I also wouldn’t take a job in Trump Administration. Just because I have standards doesn’t mean that I am an idiot when it comes to money.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, all right.

Elie Mystal: Sorry, I also am an idiot when it comes to money, but not because of this.

Joe Patrice: Right, okay. So with that said, thanks for this. We will have a few more of these in our next episode, because we have plenty to go through.

I am going to again thank for sponsoring the show. I am going to say that you should read Above the Law, follow this podcast, subscribe to this podcast, give reviews to this podcast, write down things, not just stars, because it helps us get seen by more people.

You can also follow us on Twitter, I am @JosephPatrice, he is @ElieNYC. We are —


Elie Mystal: Submit some more stuff, some more decisions as we are going to do some more.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. Well, no, we still have enough to go for a year to come. However, if you are going to submit more, please just make the subject line ‘The Decision’ so it’s a lot easier for me to filter them. Several people didn’t, which is why it’s been kind of a challenge.

Elie Mystal: Yeah, again, law school is really going to value you following instructions.

Joe Patrice: That’s true.

Elie Mystal: So use this as an opportunity. Also, if you are a law student listening to this podcast, don’t forget that we have a deadline coming up for your Law Revue Videos.

Joe Patrice: Oh yeah, which is not as boring as it sounds. It is not just you site checking things. He means law revue spelled vue.

Elie Mystal: It’s your funny videos. Don’t forget to send us.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. So you should listen to other LTN podcasts, listen to The Jabot and Book of Business here. You should be just — I think that’s everything, now that I think about it.

All right, cool, bye.

Elie Mystal: All good.

Outro: If you would like more information about what you heard today, please visit You can also find us at,, iTunes, RSS, Twitter and Facebook.

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


Brought to You by

Notify me when there’s a new episode!

Episode Details
Published: April 23, 2019
Podcast: Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Category: Law School
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law

Above the Law's Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice examine everyday topics through the prism of a legal framework.

Listen & Subscribe
Recent Episodes
Begun The Bonus War Has

Firms are signaling their strength in a COVID impacted economy.

An Election So Nice, You Should Vote TWICE! (No, You Shouldn’t)

Despite Trump's urgings, you'd be risking possible felonies.

The Screwball Antics Of The Department Of Justice

Why doesn't the Attorney General know how many times we can vote?

Who Really Cares About The Hatch Act?

Taking stock of the law after a week of consistent violations.

Becoming A Bar Exam Whiz… Literally

Online exams have a bathroom break problem.

Ain’t No Party Like A COVID Party

Although this COVID party did stop.