Deciding Where to Go > Reviews, Visits, and Rankings

T4 Prospects...I have 1 thing to say....

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oculaw:
Forget everything you have read or heard about going to a ranked school.  Just because you go to a less than "stellar" school according to a flawed ranking system does not mean that you will be less than when viewed by firms or that you will not have a job opportunity, for that matter.  You have heard that outside of top 15 you are just wasting money.  You have believed that no one will hire you because of your choice of school.  You have been subjected to slights and ridicule (from this discussion board no doubt) as to the fact that you are attending a t3 or t4.  What matters most is understanding what region your school is in.  What is important in this is that you will understand what type of law and practice is relevant there.  While most of the students want to practice generic corporate law, criminal law, etc. consider what is going on in the area.  For instance, in the southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado) the main industry that pays is oil and gas.  Each region may have their own unique niche.  My law school has oil and gas companies that recruit regularly from our graduates.  For the most part, these corporations mostly are alumni.  And by the way, these jobs pay six figures.  I am a 3L that is literally in the bottom half of my class at a t4 school and have a job lined up making 96k starting out.  I have nothing to gain by getting on this computer and making things up.  I just know how it was when I started law school.. People on this board told me that I was a fool for going to law school at a t4.  I have this to say to them...it does not MATTER!!!  When you get to your t3 or t4 school start networking.  Networking starts in the classroom.  There are people in your class room that are from that area that either know people or they are the person (you need to know!).  Find out what is unique in that area besides the run-of-the-mill estate planning, civil litigation, etc.  I think you get the point.  Just do not get discouraged and do not listen to 0L's who know not what they speak about.  I am open to questions if you have any.

Maintain FL 350:
I agree with some of your statements and disagree with others.

I agree that regional distinctions are an important factor. Some T3-T4s are the only game in town and thus the local bar and bench are dominated by their grads. Within their region these schools have good reputations. U West Virginia, U Oregon, and U New Mexico are examples. A graduate of any of these schools who wants to stay in the region will probably be just fine.
In large urban markets with local T1 schools, however, this dynamic changes. The T2-3-4 grads in areas like NY, LA, or San Francisco face stiffer competition for jobs. 

In those areas most big firms are not interested in non-T1 grads unless they're ranked near the top of their class or have some other marketable skill (like a science background). At the same time, I've noticed that many T1 grads over estimate their chances at obtaining biglaw positions. In my area, Los Angeles, a high ranked grad from a local T3-T4 would have a better shot at the big firms than a mid-ranked grad from some random out of state T1.

I agree with you that networking and self-marketing are key factors in obtaining employment, no matter where you go to law school. Keep in mind, however, that you situation is pretty rare. The vast majority of T4 grads (especially those ranked in the bottom half of their class) will not score a $96k per year starting salary. Incidently, that's also pretty rare for most T1 grads ranked in the bottom half.

I will graduate from a non-elite, local law school this May. Like the OP, I have nice job lined up which is the result of networking and connections. The people in my graduating class who have jobs either did very well in law school, hustled like crazy, or both. It can certainly be done, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it doesn't matter where you go to law school.

Here's my advice to anyone contemplating law school:

1) Think long and hard about your goals after law school, not just which law school you want to attend.
2) Do a little research. What will it take to achieve that goal?
3) Be realistic. I think this is the most important point. If your goal is to work in biglaw or to score a competitive federal job, understand that you'll need to do very, very well in law school. Further understand that law school is nothing like college, and it will take enormous amounts of stamina and discipline to rank high.
4) Consider scholarships over rankings. I've worked at private firms and government offices, and in my experience many T1 degrees do not travel as well as their grads hope they will. Unless you're talking about a truly elite school, that random T1 in the midwest will not give you much of an advantage in LA or NY. You may well find yourself losing out to local grads from lower ranked schools who ad the opportunity to do internships, clerkships, and make connections.

If you are realistic about your post-law school options, you'll be fine.

john4040:

--- Quote from: oculaw on April 26, 2012, 02:18:55 AM ---I am open to questions if you have any.

--- End quote ---

School?
Company you'll be working for?
Prior work experience?
Will most of your classmates be working in positions that require bar admission after graduation?
What is your school's median salary? (and how many % reporting?)
Are you results typical or atypical of other graduates from your school?

cerealkiller:

--- Quote from: oculaw on April 26, 2012, 02:18:55 AM ---Forget everything you have read or heard about going to a ranked school.  Just because you go to a less than "stellar" school according to a flawed ranking system does not mean that you will be less than when viewed by firms or that you will not have a job opportunity, for that matter.  You have heard that outside of top 15 you are just wasting money.  You have believed that no one will hire you because of your choice of school.  You have been subjected to slights and ridicule (from this discussion board no doubt) as to the fact that you are attending a t3 or t4.  What matters most is understanding what region your school is in.  What is important in this is that you will understand what type of law and practice is relevant there.  While most of the students want to practice generic corporate law, criminal law, etc. consider what is going on in the area.  For instance, in the southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado) the main industry that pays is oil and gas.  Each region may have their own unique niche.  My law school has oil and gas companies that recruit regularly from our graduates.  For the most part, these corporations mostly are alumni.  And by the way, these jobs pay six figures.  I am a 3L that is literally in the bottom half of my class at a t4 school and have a job lined up making 96k starting out.  I have nothing to gain by getting on this computer and making things up.  I just know how it was when I started law school.. People on this board told me that I was a fool for going to law school at a t4.  I have this to say to them...it does not MATTER!!!  When you get to your t3 or t4 school start networking.  Networking starts in the classroom.  There are people in your class room that are from that area that either know people or they are the person (you need to know!).  Find out what is unique in that area besides the run-of-the-mill estate planning, civil litigation, etc.  I think you get the point.  Just do not get discouraged and do not listen to 0L's who know not what they speak about.  I am open to questions if you have any.

--- End quote ---

That's wonderful! You should be very proud of your accomplishment. However, your accomplishment is the exception that proves the rule. If this sort of entry-level success was routine for graduates of T4 schools, my guess is you wouldn't have taken the time to post about it.

legend:
Your school matters, but not as much as people say. The reality is don't listen to what people say on internet boards about law school most people that spend time ragging on T4's aren't the most credible sources. As you have proven law school is what you make of it more than anything. At my Tier 2 there were people I  thought would be fine and others I thought would make terrible attorneys

My intuition was right the majority of the time. I imagine at your school the same is true and there are many people without jobs who will probably never pass the bar yet alone get hired as an attorney. Others at your school may not have jobs yet, but you know they will be fine and some like yourself that have everything lined up. When you get a J.D. from an ABA school then pass the bar you are a lawyer. You might be a god awful unemployed lawyer or a great one, but how that plays out is more about you opposed to your school. However, you can't deny the road to success would be easier from Harvard opposed to Cooley.

As a sidenote it is good to hear some positive news from graduates. The constant whining in the media of recent grads is bad for the profession, and in my experience people that go complaining about how unfair everything is usually aren't worth listening to. Granted I graduated in 07 and maybe things were easier then, but I didn't have anything lined up at graduation despite being fairly high ranked, journal, mock trial, etc. I focused a lot more on school than networking, which probably had a lot to do with it. As a result I worked some less than pleasant jobs as a newly licensed attorney   doc review, contract work etc, but in time everything worked out, and I have been at my firm for 3 years now.  I can say I am  pretty happy with how everything worked out despite not attending a T14 either.

Good luck on the bar and in your new job!

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