I'm not a Harvard or Yale graduate, so I will never get to clerk for a Supreme Court justice. It sucks, but in the end, I just wasn't good enough. I'm not going to discredit the work those Yale and Harvard grads put in to get there to make myself feel better about myself.
In a way, that's where I'm coming from on this. Honestly, if I were to say that the top grads of my school are equal to the top grads at Harvard, that's just silly. Yes, the profs all came from the same schools. Yes, we use the same materials. But frankly, the classes at Harvard are a lot smarter than the classes where I go. I'm not trying to disparage my school in any way.
It is what it is, and it produces competent attorneys. I would wager that once in a while, when the hiring market is good, maybe the top grad out of my school or any other 4T gets a shot at biggish law. Meaning, the biglaw firms, but outside the biglaw cities. That's about it, though.
So, hey, I give the T14 guys their due. They did what I couldn't or didn't do. Life isn't about what you coulda done or shoulda done. It's about what you did. Most people have the potential to run a marathon. However, only a small number put in the miles and hours and months required to ever do it.
I'm not going to say that a person who COULD have run a marathon, but who ran a 5K, is the same thing.
Nor am I going to say that your typical 4 hour finisher is in any way the same thing as an elite who finishes in a little over 2 hours.
Run/walking a 5K, running a marathon and WINNING a marathon? In a sense, they're all made of the same stuff. However, there's a chasm of difference.
So, just as I think it'd be ridiculous to think that my school produces the same caliber of graduates as Harvard, seriously, the possibility of a school that doesn't even meet the ABA's minimal standards producing an attorney the caliber of a typical ABA school graduate?
How many indications do we need before we can put this thing to rest? I mean, the bar passage rate alone should end the discussion once and for all.
So, could a DL or unaccredited school produce a great attorney? Sure! Why not? What makes a great attorney is largely individual.
However, being resentful that for the most part, unaccredited law school students are regarded as a cut below or that their education is regarded as being lesser, or bemoaning that there are fewer employment opportunities? Seriously, come on.
I'm far from the world's most successful person. However, I've never been resentful of those who achieved more than I did. I always chalked it up to them doing things that I couldn't or that I wouldn't.
The stuff I couldn't do? Doesn't bother me a bit.
The stuff I could have done? But just chose not to? Bothers me a lot.
Maybe that's where this all comes down. Most of these DL students probably COULD have gone to an accredited law school, but just didn't make the sacrifices necessary. Seriously, there's a law school somewhere that will accept nearly anybody. I swear to god, some of the guys in undergrad who went on to law school (and graduated AND passed the bar), I would have thought were borderline mentally retarded back in the day.
Hey, that's fine if you chose not to do what it takes. There's a path for them to become attorneys.
But it's not the same. And insisting that it is really doesn't make sense.