I go to the top school in my market and only half of last years class had a job at graduation.
Do you think this has something to do with the economy, though? I mean, new grads of all stripes (both law and non-law) are having trouble finding jobs. I wonder if perhaps the situation you describe has more to do with the economy than your school.
Totally agree with your post, though.
My anectdotal evidence may be grossly out of date, too. In the 90s, I knew two women who ended up as biglaw associates at a big firm. One of them was a gunner from day 1. I knew her when she was in law school.
The following is based on my limited universe of the cleveland market, but I think it could apply elsewhere.
She'd say things like, "You can only work biglaw if you go to case and do really well. Otherwise, maybe they'll look at you if you go to Akron, but only if you're #1 in your class."
So, even then, she was acknowledging that there was a path to biglaw from 4T schools. (Akron was 4T at the time.)
Once she worked for a while, though, she really changed her tune. She indicated that her firm also picked up people from Cleveland State (which was either 3T or 4T. I really don't remember.) I think they still picked up the bulk of their new associates from Case, but there were enough people from "lesser" schools that she thought it was noteworthy. At one point, I think she even said it wouldn't have mattered if she'd gone to CSU.
The overall impression I got was that yeah, you could get a job there from CSU, but that you'd better place really high in your class.
Again, somewhat validated by what you said, generally speaking the students at CWRU are better than the students at CSU. If you take the same guy and put him at CWRU, maybe he is top 20%, but put him at CSU and he's maybe top 10%. If you're the #1 student at CSU, there's a fair to middlin' chance that you might have been #1 at CWRU, too. At a minimum, you probably would have been near the top.
I think firms that are hiring take this into account. They aren't going to treat all schools equally, but they do look at people from most sorts of schools. You just have to do a little better if your school is not as highly regarded.
These days, things are pretty bad all over, but I know that when I went to my school's preview day, they had some recent grads who had pretty good jobs. I presume these people were the very top of the class. Class sizes are small (maybe 100 students, maybe a few more), so to be in the top 10%, you pretty much have to be one of the 10 best students.
However, there are jobs for those very top folks. It's where folks are, say, down lower in rank that I think they're really, really struggling to find work. Supply and demand. Lots of grads, very few jobs. So, the people with jobs can be very, very picky.
I also maybe am looking at this differently. If the top 10% are getting good jobs (and by that, I mean six figure jobs), then that's pretty darned good. If you took a typical guy who got a bachelor's degree, it's pretty unlikely they'll get a six figure job 3 years after graduation. Chances are they'll be schlubbing around at something less than $50,000. So, at a disparity that great, law school makes sense.
For those who graduate at the bottom of their class? Yeah, I admit, I believe it when folks say that they're totally ****ed. However, most degree programs are that way. Some aren't, but most are. If you graduate in the bottom of your class, your career isn't over, but you're going to have trouble finding a job and it probably won't pay well.
That's not law school's fault. That's just the way things are.
Though, as an attorney, you can put up a web-site (I mean, how much does that cost, really?), open up a family law practice and who knows. Maybe after a few years, you'll be pulling down six figures, too. Not hard to do if you're billing $150 an hour and $150 an hour isn't that high of a billing rate.
You might have to work long hours, but frankly, folks who make six figures usually do.
I also think there's 4T and there's 4T. Looking at Ohio schools, honestly, I mean no disrespect to anybody, but I don't think anybody thinks there's a whit of difference between CSU, U of Toledo and U of Akron Law. I think they're all regarded as competent, not particularly remarkable, and just solid, state-supported law schools with rather forgiving admissions policies.
I don't think anybody thinks of them as “great”, but I don't think anybody thinks of them as “bad” either. They're “good”, solid, they teach you the law and get you ready to practice if you're willing to put in the work and you have some potential. The top of the classes probably do very well. The bottom of the classes probably not so much.
They all move around a lot between 3T and 4T. Once in a while, one of them will crack the lower part of 2T. (Toledo has been there a couple of times this century). There seems to be a lot of movement and jockeying in the 3 and 4T.
That tells me the rankings are highly imprecise when drawing distinctions between these schools. You just can't take them too seriously if it's possible to be #98 one year, and in the hoard below #143 three years later. Contrast to the T14, where the schools are the same every year.
Now, some schools are in the 4T, always have been, and never will get out. It's almost like they need a special 5T category, but really, what purpose would that serve? Only a very naïve person would go to those schools thinking it was a great school, anyway.