« on: July 05, 2016, 09:15:30 AM »
I think we need to break this out into what the real issues are. And, no, anecdotal evidence (I once heard some attorneys from low ranked schools arguing) doesn't cut it. I once knew an attorney with a JD from Harvard who was dumb as a box of rocks, but that doesn't mean that most attorneys from Harvard are.
Law schools are sorting mechanisms. The first of many, but a very important one. The T14 gets better "raw ingredients" than the T4. Put another way, the very last bubble applicant accepted at Yale would be a full ride scholarship, top recruit at any T4 school. To analogize it to football- you can have great players at a D3 school, but every player at Alabama is going to be pretty, pretty good, because they get the best high school students.
But what does that mean? That means that early in your career, when you have no client, no real work product, and credentials matter, the credentials of your law school matter a great deal. And the simple fact that you were good enough to get into a T14 school means that you are in the running for a BigLaw job, or a clerkship, or whatever it is you want. Whereas if you go to a different school, you need to prove more- law review, moot court, good grades, and so on. And the farther down the food chain you do, the more you need to do in school to show that your personal credentials > school's.
Now, once you've been in practice for a while, this fades. Because you have other things to be judged on - your book of business, your work product. But some things will continue to live on- the network of successful alums, or for some schools, the local, state, or regional influence. Some things may even be surprising- for example, if you want to go into state politics, you are likely better off attending State Law U. than Harvard. And cost is a factor, and, as I've stated before, while the difference between T14 and T4 may be noticeable, the difference between say, #30 and #70 not so much.