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Do Employers Really Look At The Rankings Like We Think They Do?

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My ex boyfriend was in the top of his class at a local T14 and really wanted to do government work, and got all kinds of *&^% from the regionally educated interviewing attorneys who didn't trust his motives.  I go to U San Diego and even I get *&^% from the Tier 4 grads doing the hiring at non-profits where I interview.  There's no easy, automatic answer or path in life, even in an industry as cookie-cutter as law.

It really comes down to the type of employer. Employers have a strong tendency to go what they are comfortable with.

Biglaw is comfortable with the T14. That's not because US News says so, it's because those happen to be schools they are comfortable hiring from. Most of the partners went to top schools and trust the education they provide (and mistrust the education of regional schools).

It's for this reason that biglaw won't really be more impressed with a school ranked #36 over one ranked #65. Neither is a school they usually hire from or are comfortable with.

Regional firms may be more comfortable hiring from the local law school. The partners probably came from the regional school, and again trust the education they provide (and often mistrust the education at top schools).

Rankings are relevant if you go to a small school and want to work somewhere outside the region.  I went to W&L, and several associates during callback interviews in Chicago said something to the effect of "I'd never heard of W&L, but I looked at the rankings and noticed it's a pretty good school." 

It can also be useful to attend a highly ranked school outside the geographic area where you want to work.  Besides providing diversity of life experience, you'll also stand out from the dozens of local law school applicants with whom you're competing from jobs.  If someone wants to work in Denver, and can go to a crap school in Colorado or a decent school on the east coast, they're much better off going to school on the east coast, particularly if the person has ties for Denver.  You'll get not just a better education, but a different education, from all of your colleagues, who will have studied law in the same environment with most of the same professors -- you'll have a different and valuable perspective.


--- Quote from: llsatt1 on January 10, 2010, 02:45:18 PM ---
--- Quote from: Miche on November 02, 2009, 03:08:54 PM ---
I've had a mediator, colleague, or potential employer ask, snidely, "We have a Good Local School right here, you know. *I* went to Good Local School. Not prestigious enough, huh?" Or, "I know someone who attended [Ivy]! S/he is MUCH dumber than I would've expected." Or, "With an Ivy degree, what are you doing here? Slumming until you decide to do X?"

--- End quote ---

LMAO. I highly doubt that any of this ever occurred and it is likely that these quotes were just your own mis-interpretations. 

--- End quote ---

Laugh at whatever you want to, but this actually happened, I'm sure it was at least twice, in the fall of 2007, at Skadden, Mayer, and/or Jenner.  What's your basis for doubting it besides a generalized skepticism (which is not a bad thing when reading message board material)?

I believe job placement is only one of many factors that go into the rankings.  I also believe that if those other factors improve a schools rankings over the years, eventually their job placement will improve as well.  If you're trying to decide between a school in the upper half of tier 1 and one that's way down on the rankings in tier 2, ranking would definitely be important in job placement.  If the two schools are just a few apart in the rankings, probably not.  It's really common sense.


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