Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses => Topic started by: oculaw on April 26, 2012, 12:18:55 AM

Title: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: oculaw on April 26, 2012, 12:18:55 AM
Forget everything you have read or heard about going to a ranked school.  Just because you go to a less than "stellar" school according to a flawed ranking system does not mean that you will be less than when viewed by firms or that you will not have a job opportunity, for that matter.  You have heard that outside of top 15 you are just wasting money.  You have believed that no one will hire you because of your choice of school.  You have been subjected to slights and ridicule (from this discussion board no doubt) as to the fact that you are attending a t3 or t4.  What matters most is understanding what region your school is in.  What is important in this is that you will understand what type of law and practice is relevant there.  While most of the students want to practice generic corporate law, criminal law, etc. consider what is going on in the area.  For instance, in the southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado) the main industry that pays is oil and gas.  Each region may have their own unique niche.  My law school has oil and gas companies that recruit regularly from our graduates.  For the most part, these corporations mostly are alumni.  And by the way, these jobs pay six figures.  I am a 3L that is literally in the bottom half of my class at a t4 school and have a job lined up making 96k starting out.  I have nothing to gain by getting on this computer and making things up.  I just know how it was when I started law school.. People on this board told me that I was a fool for going to law school at a t4.  I have this to say to them...it does not MATTER!!!  When you get to your t3 or t4 school start networking.  Networking starts in the classroom.  There are people in your class room that are from that area that either know people or they are the person (you need to know!).  Find out what is unique in that area besides the run-of-the-mill estate planning, civil litigation, etc.  I think you get the point.  Just do not get discouraged and do not listen to 0L's who know not what they speak about.  I am open to questions if you have any.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 26, 2012, 10:58:45 AM
I agree with some of your statements and disagree with others.

I agree that regional distinctions are an important factor. Some T3-T4s are the only game in town and thus the local bar and bench are dominated by their grads. Within their region these schools have good reputations. U West Virginia, U Oregon, and U New Mexico are examples. A graduate of any of these schools who wants to stay in the region will probably be just fine.
In large urban markets with local T1 schools, however, this dynamic changes. The T2-3-4 grads in areas like NY, LA, or San Francisco face stiffer competition for jobs. 

In those areas most big firms are not interested in non-T1 grads unless they're ranked near the top of their class or have some other marketable skill (like a science background). At the same time, I've noticed that many T1 grads over estimate their chances at obtaining biglaw positions. In my area, Los Angeles, a high ranked grad from a local T3-T4 would have a better shot at the big firms than a mid-ranked grad from some random out of state T1.

I agree with you that networking and self-marketing are key factors in obtaining employment, no matter where you go to law school. Keep in mind, however, that you situation is pretty rare. The vast majority of T4 grads (especially those ranked in the bottom half of their class) will not score a $96k per year starting salary. Incidently, that's also pretty rare for most T1 grads ranked in the bottom half.

I will graduate from a non-elite, local law school this May. Like the OP, I have nice job lined up which is the result of networking and connections. The people in my graduating class who have jobs either did very well in law school, hustled like crazy, or both. It can certainly be done, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it doesn't matter where you go to law school.

Here's my advice to anyone contemplating law school:

1) Think long and hard about your goals after law school, not just which law school you want to attend.
2) Do a little research. What will it take to achieve that goal?
3) Be realistic. I think this is the most important point. If your goal is to work in biglaw or to score a competitive federal job, understand that you'll need to do very, very well in law school. Further understand that law school is nothing like college, and it will take enormous amounts of stamina and discipline to rank high.
4) Consider scholarships over rankings. I've worked at private firms and government offices, and in my experience many T1 degrees do not travel as well as their grads hope they will. Unless you're talking about a truly elite school, that random T1 in the midwest will not give you much of an advantage in LA or NY. You may well find yourself losing out to local grads from lower ranked schools who ad the opportunity to do internships, clerkships, and make connections.

If you are realistic about your post-law school options, you'll be fine.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: john4040 on April 26, 2012, 11:52:41 AM
I am open to questions if you have any.

School?
Company you'll be working for?
Prior work experience?
Will most of your classmates be working in positions that require bar admission after graduation?
What is your school's median salary? (and how many % reporting?)
Are you results typical or atypical of other graduates from your school?
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: cerealkiller on April 26, 2012, 12:44:32 PM
Forget everything you have read or heard about going to a ranked school.  Just because you go to a less than "stellar" school according to a flawed ranking system does not mean that you will be less than when viewed by firms or that you will not have a job opportunity, for that matter.  You have heard that outside of top 15 you are just wasting money.  You have believed that no one will hire you because of your choice of school.  You have been subjected to slights and ridicule (from this discussion board no doubt) as to the fact that you are attending a t3 or t4.  What matters most is understanding what region your school is in.  What is important in this is that you will understand what type of law and practice is relevant there.  While most of the students want to practice generic corporate law, criminal law, etc. consider what is going on in the area.  For instance, in the southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado) the main industry that pays is oil and gas.  Each region may have their own unique niche.  My law school has oil and gas companies that recruit regularly from our graduates.  For the most part, these corporations mostly are alumni.  And by the way, these jobs pay six figures.  I am a 3L that is literally in the bottom half of my class at a t4 school and have a job lined up making 96k starting out.  I have nothing to gain by getting on this computer and making things up.  I just know how it was when I started law school.. People on this board told me that I was a fool for going to law school at a t4.  I have this to say to them...it does not MATTER!!!  When you get to your t3 or t4 school start networking.  Networking starts in the classroom.  There are people in your class room that are from that area that either know people or they are the person (you need to know!).  Find out what is unique in that area besides the run-of-the-mill estate planning, civil litigation, etc.  I think you get the point.  Just do not get discouraged and do not listen to 0L's who know not what they speak about.  I am open to questions if you have any.

That's wonderful! You should be very proud of your accomplishment. However, your accomplishment is the exception that proves the rule. If this sort of entry-level success was routine for graduates of T4 schools, my guess is you wouldn't have taken the time to post about it.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: legend on April 26, 2012, 01:13:44 PM
Your school matters, but not as much as people say. The reality is don't listen to what people say on internet boards about law school most people that spend time ragging on T4's aren't the most credible sources. As you have proven law school is what you make of it more than anything. At my Tier 2 there were people I  thought would be fine and others I thought would make terrible attorneys

My intuition was right the majority of the time. I imagine at your school the same is true and there are many people without jobs who will probably never pass the bar yet alone get hired as an attorney. Others at your school may not have jobs yet, but you know they will be fine and some like yourself that have everything lined up. When you get a J.D. from an ABA school then pass the bar you are a lawyer. You might be a god awful unemployed lawyer or a great one, but how that plays out is more about you opposed to your school. However, you can't deny the road to success would be easier from Harvard opposed to Cooley.

As a sidenote it is good to hear some positive news from graduates. The constant whining in the media of recent grads is bad for the profession, and in my experience people that go complaining about how unfair everything is usually aren't worth listening to. Granted I graduated in 07 and maybe things were easier then, but I didn't have anything lined up at graduation despite being fairly high ranked, journal, mock trial, etc. I focused a lot more on school than networking, which probably had a lot to do with it. As a result I worked some less than pleasant jobs as a newly licensed attorney   doc review, contract work etc, but in time everything worked out, and I have been at my firm for 3 years now.  I can say I am  pretty happy with how everything worked out despite not attending a T14 either.

Good luck on the bar and in your new job!
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: sollicitus on April 26, 2012, 04:50:39 PM
It's good that you are doing well. Kudos.

That being said a lot of what you said is apples to oranges.  The oil industry compared to law? Yeah both industries, the same way apples and oranges are both fruit.........

You doing well dosn't mean that all your colleagues will. Even if everyone you meet in your classroom is expected to do well, that is just one classroom, not exactly a double blind study. It confirms it is not impossible, but not that it is in anyway probable.

All that being said, life is what you make out of it. I am glad to see that you are making a decent life for yourself. Not exactly the $160k day one that I have seen people post as the old "average" for T1 grads, but still better than the $45k average that some T4's show on their sites as their average.

It is also all contingent on you passing the bar and finishing graduating. Most will agree that as a 3L it would be nearly impossible to fail out, and most pass the bar. But just realize those still also play in.

Good luck though. I am sure you will do just fine. Here is hoping your classmates do just as well.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 26, 2012, 05:11:26 PM
$160,000 average for T1 grads? Laughable. Even among T1 grads the percentage who will go into biglaw (the only place a newly minted JD is gonna make $160K) is relatively small. People are so uninformed its amazing.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: sollicitus on April 26, 2012, 05:14:12 PM
$160,000 average for T1 grads? Laughable. Even among T1 grads the percentage who will go into biglaw (the only place a newly minted JD is gonna make $160K) is relatively small. People are so uninformed its amazing.

tell that to the T1 student who were crying about it. That is what they were saying the large firms starting pay was at. T1 grads feel they should get into "biglaw" and anything short of that is a waste of their time reserved for everyone else.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: sollicitus on April 26, 2012, 05:19:09 PM
This link (among many, many others with a quick google search) may help.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/02/15/big-law-associates-facing-2008-salary-cap/

Other firms, including WilmerHale and Milbank, also told the Law Blog that, for now, first-year salaries will stay at $160,000.

Note it was 2008 when made.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on April 26, 2012, 05:32:57 PM
Some T1 grads will make $160k starting. I just find it hilarious that there are people who would consider $160k a tier-wide average. 
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: sollicitus on April 26, 2012, 05:43:06 PM
Some T1 grads will make $160k starting. I just find it hilarious that there are people who would consider $160k a tier-wide average.

Because they consider themselves better than you (and most others). They had better undergrad GPA's, better LSAT, better Family Connections (on average) and generally expect to be treated as such.(and since birth have bee) That is why.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: oculaw on April 27, 2012, 01:23:27 AM
Thanks for the input.  I will address the positions that were taken in order as presented.

I agree that regional distinctions are an important factor. Some T3-T4s are the only game in town and thus the local bar and bench are dominated by their grads. Within their region these schools have good reputations. U West Virginia, U Oregon, and U New Mexico are examples. A graduate of any of these schools who wants to stay in the region will probably be just fine. In large urban markets with local T1 schools, however, this dynamic changes. The T2-3-4 grads in areas like NY, LA, or San Francisco face stiffer competition for jobs. 

I totally agree with your points and advice.  I think, however, that you drive my point home.  If students would proactively search for uniqueness in their region they may be suprised at what opportunities are there.  Of course, as you mentioned, large cities such as NY, LA, San Francisco will have their usually dynamics going on.  This may also be true for other cities but I think you will agree that it would be well worth any student to do that extra investigation.  You may have a hidden gem in your area.

I am open to questions if you have any.

School?
Company you'll be working for?
Prior work experience?
Will most of your classmates be working in positions that require bar admission after graduation?
What is your school's median salary? (and how many % reporting?)
Are you results typical or atypical of other graduates from your school?


I go to Oklahoma City University.  The name of the company is not important.  What is important is the fact that I found employment utilizing more than the "let's see what happens when I graduate" approach. My prior work experience is the military, but that was not a factor.  That subject never came up. I cannot speak to whether or not my classmates will be working in positions that require bar admission after graduation.  However, those that I have spoken to that have employment upon graduation will need to have passed the bar.  My school's median salary is around 45K.  My results are atypical because most students do not know how to truly actively search for work.  A part of utilizing ones law degree, or "thinking like a lawyer" for that matter, is to look outside of the comfort zones or what your idea of what lawyers do.

That's wonderful! You should be very proud of your accomplishment. However, your accomplishment is the exception that proves the rule. If this sort of entry-level success was routine for graduates of T4 schools, my guess is you wouldn't have taken the time to post about.


You're right.  It is the exception that proves the rule.  However, I am posting to try and change the rule.  Any law student has the ability to proactively play a part in shaping their future and potential employment.  I submit that if more students were proactive instead of reactive then I would not be the exception.  I did not invent the concept of networking.  I just exploited it to my advantage.

Your school matters, but not as much as people say. The reality is don't listen to what people say on internet boards about law school most people that spend time ragging on T4's aren't the most credible sources. As you have proven law school is what you make of it more than anything. At my Tier 2 there were people I  thought would be fine and others I thought would make terrible attorneys

My intuition was right the majority of the time. I imagine at your school the same is true and there are many people without jobs who will probably never pass the bar yet alone get hired as an attorney. Others at your school may not have jobs yet, but you know they will be fine and some like yourself that have everything lined up. When you get a J.D. from an ABA school then pass the bar you are a lawyer. You might be a god awful unemployed lawyer or a great one, but how that plays out is more about you opposed to your school. However, you can't deny the road to success would be easier from Harvard opposed to Cooley.

As a sidenote it is good to hear some positive news from graduates. The constant whining in the media of recent grads is bad for the profession, and in my experience people that go complaining about how unfair everything is usually aren't worth listening to. Granted I graduated in 07 and maybe things were easier then, but I didn't have anything lined up at graduation despite being fairly high ranked, journal, mock trial, etc. I focused a lot more on school than networking, which probably had a lot to do with it. As a result I worked some less than pleasant jobs as a newly licensed attorney   doc review, contract work etc, but in time everything worked out, and I have been at my firm for 3 years now.  I can say I am  pretty happy with how everything worked out despite not attending a T14 either.

Good luck on the bar and in your new job!   

I had to include your entire post because you're right. T-4 students, you might want to take note of what he wrote.  You may be correct that the road is easier going to Havard.  However, this post are those who knew from the day they graduate high school Harvard was a myth for them.  But all is not lost my lower-teired friend.

It's good that you are doing well. Kudos. That being said a lot of what you said is apples to oranges.  The oil industry compared to law? Yeah both industries, the same way apples and oranges are both fruit.........

I think that if you reconsider my poin you will see that in fact it is not comparing apples to oranges.  The way that you interpreted "oil industry" is exactly my point that you miss. I respectfully disagree with you and state my argument as such.  There are a large number of law firms and lawyers who make a damn good living writing title opinions (in the oil industry) for oil companies. By the way, one would need to have passed the bar to do this. There are a number of attorneys and firms that are in-house litigators (in the oil industry) for oil and gas companies. By the way, one would need to have passed the bar to do this. Again, my point is simple. In my region the major industry (oil industry) where a lawyer can make a good living despite coming from a top school is primarily in the oil and gas industry. The use of the word industry implies the obvious but includes providing legal services. A part of separating one's self from the rest of the class that is abysmally clueless is to recognize what are the major industries in one's area.  Primarily, what is it that is unique in that region as opposed to the rest of the country.  Once one figures that out then they are already two steps ahead of their classmates. For one, no one else is thinking of going in that industry. Take advantage of that and start meeting people who are in that field irregardless of them not being attorneys.  These people can direct you to the unique firms that handle specialized matters.


I think the point I suggest is that the mass majority of the law graduates absolutely know nothing about networking or other measures of finding employment. My advice is simply for the lower ranking school body to approach their job search in a different mindset. My experience is atypical only in the sense that I did not wait to see what my law degree would do for me, but I sought to see what I could do with my law degree.
Title: Re: T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....
Post by: jack24 on April 27, 2012, 10:34:53 AM
There is so much distortion from both sides, but there are several things that you always have to consider:

1: Most big and medium firms along with government entities believe the higher ranked schools have smarter graduates.  They base this belief on prior experience along with the LSAT and GPA of the entrants to these schools.

2: The cost of legal education is wildly inflated due to federal loans.  It is not tied to actual value or to the actual cost of educating students. 

3: You learn the same exact crap at a T4 school as a T1.  Sometimes your facilities are even as good at a T4.  Sometimes your teachers at a T4 even have more practical experience.  Oh, and nobody cares.

4: 50% of students graduate in the bottom half of their class.   Revolutionary, I know.

5: If you graduate in the bottom half of a T4, you are completely screwed everywhere but the city your school is in, and you are mostly screwed in that city.

6: Prospective law students are terribly at predicting how well they will do in school.

7:  Outside of biglaw, midlaw, and government, Networking is key, and school choice doesn't have as big of an impact.

8:  Location of your school is hugely important.

9:  The median wage for graduates of most T2 schools (50-100) is under 70k.