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Author Topic: Question on Tiers...  (Read 2486 times)

littlelisalaw

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Question on Tiers...
« on: July 27, 2007, 07:03:11 PM »
In reading through these posts, there seems to be a HUGE emphasis on the tier ratings of the schools.  It's almost a snobbery that goes on and it confuses me.

I am going to be honest here.  I am admitted to a T4 school (was T3, but dropped this last year).  The school is Willamette University.  Willamette has a huge and powerful reputation in Oregon.  Several US Senators, Reps, Federal Court Judges, and 2 current Oregon Supreme Court Justices are alumni.  Willamette has wonderful intern/externship opportunities with county/state/and large private firms.  Their ADR program is ranked 6th in the nation.  Oh, and did I mention that they are the oldest university west of the Mississippi.  Their facaulty are graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and so on and most have actually practiced law.

Yet, I have had several people on boards look at the tier rating and urge me to look at other schools.  I am wondering why that is?

In addition, several posters have turned their noses up at Cooley and other schools in the T4 ranking.

I guess my point is that the law is a competitive occupation and it is very elite.  There are limited seats available, with only about what 190 law schools in the nation.  Many people never make it into law school because they cannot get accepted.  So why the snobbery?

I actually chose Willamette over a Tier 1 school.  Why many have asked?  Because I am a single mom and I need help with my daughter.  My family is here, not in Pennsylvania.  My daughter comes first. And frankly, I have no intentions of leaving the Pacific Northwest, so it makes sense to go to a regional school.

Anyway, can someone explain the snobbery to me?

HRoark81

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2007, 07:49:50 PM »
Let's take your points line by line.

Willamette has a huge and powerful reputation in Oregon. 
-Oregon is not a prestigious legal market.  Either (1) Oregon firms think Willamette is a great school, and love to hire from there, (2) few people who go to top-tier have any desire to work in Oregon, or (3) a combination of both.  I would suggest that it is (3), but that (2) is the majority of that balance.  Thus, Willamette's reputation may not speak to its quality as a quality law school.

Several US Senators, Reps, Federal Court Judges, and 2 current Oregon Supreme Court Justices are alumni. 
-Have you seen the bull that goes on in Congress?  Seriously, though, I'm sure that those Senators and Reps represent Oregon, so it is not surprising that they went to an Oregon school.  More to the point, a Senate seat does not a good lawyer make.

Willamette has wonderful intern/externship opportunities with county/state/and large private firms. 
-Based on what criteria?  I need some proof/analysis here.

Their ADR program is ranked 6th in the nation. 
-Do you think that top law firms are breaking down Willamette's collective door to get at those students who took ADR classes?

Oh, and did I mention that they are the oldest university west of the Mississippi. 
-Age does not a great institution make.

Their facaulty[sic] are graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and so on and most have actually practiced law.
-Everyone's professors are from top law schools.  How many professors-at your school and otherwise-went to Willamette, though.  That might be one indicator of the quality of scholars a school produces.

Yet, I have had several people on boards look at the tier rating and urge me to look at other schools.  I am wondering why that is?
-Willamette's median LSAT is 157, median GPA is 3.23.  Boalt's median LSAT is 166, median GPA is 3.79.  If I were an employer, I'm going to think (rightly) that Boalt's students are more intelligent.  More intelligent students means better and more intellectually challenging class discussion.  Exposure to this discussion makes better lawyers.  As an employer, I would want those better lawyers.

In addition, several posters have turned their noses up at Cooley and other schools in the T4 ranking.
-See the discussion above.

I guess my point is that the law is a competitive occupation and it is very elite.  There are limited seats available, with only about what 190 law schools in the nation.  Many people never make it into law school because they cannot get accepted.  So why the snobbery?
-Contrary to what you may think, the employment market is flooded with lawyers.  That means only the best of the best and those at top-10 schools will get anything that would approach a coveted legal jobs.  That may not apply to you.  But getting a decent (whatever that means) job may not be as easy as you think.  And most people are unsure about desired area or location of practice when they enter law school.  Going to a better law school will give you more options.  There are 7 Willamette alums in Chicago; 5 of those are solos or not practicing.  That says that Willamette is not a portable degree (whereas you find lawyers from Michigan all over the country).  You may want to stay in Oregon forever, but you may also not have a choice if you want to continue to practice law.

I actually chose Willamette over a Tier 1 school.  Why many have asked?  Because I am a single mom and I need help with my daughter.  My family is here, not in Pennsylvania.  My daughter comes first. And frankly, I have no intentions of leaving the Pacific Northwest, so it makes sense to go to a regional school.
-See above, and hope that, in order to care for your daughter, you never have to leave Oregon.

Anyway, can someone explain the snobbery to me?
-Does that make the conundrum more transparent?

CU1989

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2007, 07:53:52 PM »
You mentioned that you were admitted to a tier 1 school, but preferred Oregon to Pennsylvania.  The only tier 1 law school in Pennyslvania is UPENN, and I am guessing you were not admitted there (or else you would be going, or atleast be going to the less expensive University of Oregon..

HRoark81

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2007, 08:28:00 PM »
I'm guessing she meant Villanova or Temple and was confused on terminology.

littlelisalaw

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2007, 12:57:41 AM »
Wow.  I asked an honest question here. 

Since you like numbers........

(1)  I did mean UPENN, thank you.  As I stated, when you are a single mom, you don't move a little girl who is happy in her school across the country from her family.  I kicked and screamed and really agonized about my decision, but alas, I am staying in Oregon.

(2)  It might surprise you that here in Oregon, we are pretty civilized and quite abit of legal matters happen here.  Last I looked, I don't think Michigan was the legal mecca of the world either.

(3) High gpa and high LSAT scores do not equal intelligence.  In fact, some of the stupidest people I have met have 4.0 gpa's.  Great gpa's mean a couple of things:  You know how to navigate the undergrad game, and you know how to barf back prof's answers on a test. I suppose that takes a certain amount of intelligence in itself, but it does not mean that a high gpa and LSAT means that person is more intelligent. 

(4) Look, I didn't mean to pick a fight.  It's just interesting the amount of snobbery that goes on regarding this subject.  So it seems if I boil it down, PALuff is saying it comes down to portability and working for a megafirm (or the ability too).  Got it.  Thanks fpr breaking it down for this simpleton.

SergioCQH

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2007, 01:09:47 AM »
You chose between Willamette and Penn?! The 6th-ranked school in the nation and a T4? That's an odd choice to have.

littlelisalaw

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2007, 01:19:53 AM »
Do any of you have children?

I know not one person in all of Pennsylvania.  I applied actually, not expecting to get in.  This is something I have wanted since I was like nine years old.  I started my undergrad journey many years behind traditional students.  I actually applied to several schools, and funny enough, received one rejection letter from the University of Oregon.  Bizarre, but that is the way it goes.  It killed me to do it, but I did what I had to do.

Anyway, I have a child who is eight.  She is extremely involved in her school.  She has been in dance for five years and just made company.  My whole family is here.  When it came down to it, I could not rip her away from Nana and Papa, her aunt and cousin to move 2600 miles away where she would know no one.  Where, by the way, I would not have a babysitter for if she was ill, or if I need to pull an all-nighter at the library.  So, why is that so unreasonable to consider?

gldtiamat

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2007, 04:12:48 AM »
Wow.  I asked an honest question here. 

Since you like numbers........

(1)  I did mean UPENN, thank you.  As I stated, when you are a single mom, you don't move a little girl who is happy in her school across the country from her family.  I kicked and screamed and really agonized about my decision, but alas, I am staying in Oregon.

(2)  It might surprise you that here in Oregon, we are pretty civilized and quite abit of legal matters happen here.  Last I looked, I don't think Michigan was the legal mecca of the world either.

(3) High gpa and high LSAT scores do not equal intelligence.  In fact, some of the stupidest people I have met have 4.0 gpa's.  Great gpa's mean a couple of things:  You know how to navigate the undergrad game, and you know how to barf back prof's answers on a test. I suppose that takes a certain amount of intelligence in itself, but it does not mean that a high gpa and LSAT means that person is more intelligent. 

(4) Look, I didn't mean to pick a fight.  It's just interesting the amount of snobbery that goes on regarding this subject.  So it seems if I boil it down, PALuff is saying it comes down to portability and working for a megafirm (or the ability too).  Got it.  Thanks fpr breaking it down for this simpleton.

You asked an honest question, you got an honest answer.  The only point that you misinterpreted was your attack on Michigan's area.  He just mentioned that the U Mich degree travels, not that people wanted to stay or practice in the area.

Also, you were asking why people looked down on Tier 3/4's.  He gave you the typical answer, external factors nonewithstanding.  Whatever the case, you made a decision based upon nontraditional factors.  Does that make you wrong for picking Williamette over UPenn?  Some would argue yes, but others would argue differently (yourself and possibly other parents). 

The only thing that I can say is that as long as YOU'RE happy with the decision, as long as YOU know what you're doing...then why second guess yourself now?  Also...law school is very much a numbers-based game, and you're also on a forum that doesn't necessarily represent the majority opinion of lawyers.  Most people on these types of sites have their crosshairs set on BigLaw, and Tier 3's and Tier 4's generally have a tough time breaking into that market.  If that's not your goal, and you'd be PERFECTLY happy practicing in Oregon and the employment stats and reputation of the school are as good as you say for Oregon, than you'll probably be fine.  The point that other posters are trying to make is that if, at any given time, you decide that you want to leave Oregon and try to practice elsewhere...well...then your employment options might be a lot more difficult.  Whatever the case, good luck at Williamette.
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ajstyles

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2007, 04:35:48 AM »
Jesus Christ...I've never read such piss-poor responses to an honest question.

Why do people place such an emphasis on tiers?

Law and law school admission is one in the same; it is all about prestige and numbers. In the law you are simply a statistic. It is quite true that most people on this board are attempting to break into Biglaw. And to do that, you need to generally be at a top school.

Most law professors actually did attend some of the best schools.

There's millions of law school grads out there, and there has to be some way to differentiate between them all...one of the "best" ways seems to be by looking at the school they graduated from in comparison to other schools.

I hate the system but that's just the way it is.

From what you've told me about your school, it seems like a well respected regional school. What happens with these types of schools is that they have a great reputation in and around the geographic area in which they are located. Why? Well, because most of the alumni end up staying in and around that same area, which helps build a networks of gradudates from school XXX. But when it comes to the national market, your school is probably going to be viewed as a joke. Not to sound harsh or anything. I go to a T3 and I can say the same thing about my school. It's a regional school in NY and if I were to, say, apply for jobs out in California, I wouldn't have a chance in hell.

As far as your decision, I think you made the right choice. Most people on this board went to or are going to law school straight out of undergrad. OR, they took only a short time off. You, on the other hand, have a child. And that changes your situation dramatically. UPENN is a phenomenal school. However, if you were not planning on working in Big Law (which would mean working 90 hours weeks, which you probably wouldn't be able to do either with a daughter) then you should not question your decision.

The tier system is here to stay. Most schools in the T14 have always been in the T14, and historically not a lot of shifting takes place until you get to the last third of T2 and onwards.

jacy85

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Re: Question on Tiers...
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2007, 09:21:38 AM »
In reading through these posts, there seems to be a HUGE emphasis on the tier ratings of the schools.  It's almost a snobbery that goes on and it confuses me.

I am going to be honest here.  I am admitted to a T4 school (was T3, but dropped this last year).  The school is Willamette University.  Willamette has a huge and powerful reputation in Oregon.  Several US Senators, Reps, Federal Court Judges, and 2 current Oregon Supreme Court Justices are alumni.  Willamette has wonderful intern/externship opportunities with county/state/and large private firms.  Their ADR program is ranked 6th in the nation.  Oh, and did I mention that they are the oldest university west of the Mississippi.  Their facaulty are graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and so on and most have actually practiced law.

Yet, I have had several people on boards look at the tier rating and urge me to look at other schools.  I am wondering why that is?

In addition, several posters have turned their noses up at Cooley and other schools in the T4 ranking.

I guess my point is that the law is a competitive occupation and it is very elite.  There are limited seats available, with only about what 190 law schools in the nation.  Many people never make it into law school because they cannot get accepted.  So why the snobbery?

I actually chose Willamette over a Tier 1 school.  Why many have asked?  Because I am a single mom and I need help with my daughter.  My family is here, not in Pennsylvania.  My daughter comes first. And frankly, I have no intentions of leaving the Pacific Northwest, so it makes sense to go to a regional school.

Anyway, can someone explain the snobbery to me?

If you are so damn confident in your choice of Willamette over UPenn, then why are you getting so defensive and asking such a loaded question (and I'm pretty sure you already knew the answers you would receive).