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Author Topic: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?  (Read 30816 times)

SouthSide

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2006, 03:06:56 AM »
Southside: I am a sports fan, but I had to see "1919 (say it ain't so, Joe): none
1920-2004 (the loooong wait): none
2005 (Ozzieball): NYU, Harvard, Columbia ($$$), Yale" 

a few times before I got, even though in hindsight it was fairly obvious.  October 2005 seems so long ago now somehow.  A redsox fan could do something similiar.

That's because the White Sox get no love outside of the South Side. We're ok with that.

Columbia 2L.

Alamo

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2006, 10:37:06 AM »
Yeah, I've lived in Wrigleyville for a couple of years after 23 years in VA, and cubs fans for the most part annoy me - much more about beer than baseball, and gratuitous condescension towards their southside brethren.  I've lived in Hyde Park too, and while I like the north side better than the south side in most respects, there's no question of where the better baseball team resides.

The funny thing is that in a small town in Costa Rica where I was just on vacation, they were selling Chi-Sox 2005 world series tees - shirts that I could never find in my own neighborhood.
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

Happy_Weasel

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2006, 02:22:50 AM »
Are the any real career glass ceilings for what school you went to? I mean, it appears that you have to go a T14 to get into the appellate court and the district court judge never hires from the local school around here. Is this a government-only thing where you have to come from a rich school or do firms have a list that is like:


YSHCNC- Can be equity partner
Non-YSHCNC T15- Can only be partner
 runner-ups to the top (16-50)- Can only be associate
Non-elite ranked- Have to be on the LR to be hired
non-ranked- Can't hire

I mean, if you got a 155 or 160 on the LSAT, does that mean you can never be hired into a real business?

Happy_Weasel

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2006, 12:30:45 PM »
So, some major employeers will discriminate, but some will just expect you to be more determined, then.

Jackie Chiles, ESQ.

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2006, 01:40:19 AM »
of course it matters... you need to go to the best place you can, even if it is P/T for the first year.. you want to be successful, you have to go to the best places

Happy_Weasel

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2006, 08:17:07 PM »
Well, you can always transfer or go for the LLM if your top choice keeps defeating you.

SouthSide

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2006, 06:22:40 AM »
No one has dealt with my original question very substantively. Of course you will get better jobs more easily coming out of a top-tier law school as opposed to a lower tier one. This is also very true of college.

The study I linked to in my original post, however, showed that over time, this initial advantage doesn't mean anything. In the end, the evidence is against the idea that where you went to college matters very much for your prospects in life. The study ingeniously corrects for selection bias by comparing students who got into the same schools but went to different ones.

So the question is: does the same logic apply to law school? It seems fairly clear that initial prospects are better at some schools than others, but how true does this hold over time?

If someone were to do the same study with law schools, and look at people who got into top schools but didn't go, compared with those who did go to the top schools, what would it reveal and why?

If it matters which school you went to even long after you graduate, there can only be three explanations, as I see it. One, it could be that the law is just a more prestige-oriented profession than any other and therefore people will always judge you first by where you went to school, even if you have the same career accomplishments as someone else.

Two, it could be that the quality of the education you get and the connections you make in the three years of law school is so important that it fundamentally changes your capacity to succeed in the legal profession.

Three, it could be that your initial post-law school job is vitally important to your future career prospects. In other words, the legal career is like a race in which it a small head start at the beginning makes a huge difference.

None of these reasons sounds super compelling for me, which is why I question how much it matters which school you go to in the first place.
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Alamo

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2006, 11:32:57 AM »
No one has dealt with my original question very substantively. Of course you will get better jobs more easily coming out of a top-tier law school as opposed to a lower tier one. This is also very true of college.

The study I linked to in my original post, however, showed that over time, this initial advantage doesn't mean anything. In the end, the evidence is against the idea that where you went to college matters very much for your prospects in life. The study ingeniously corrects for selection bias by comparing students who got into the same schools but went to different ones.

So the question is: does the same logic apply to law school? It seems fairly clear that initial prospects are better at some schools than others, but how true does this hold over time?

If someone were to do the same study with law schools, and look at people who got into top schools but didn't go, compared with those who did go to the top schools, what would it reveal and why?

If it matters which school you went to even long after you graduate, there can only be three explanations, as I see it. One, it could be that the law is just a more prestige-oriented profession than any other and therefore people will always judge you first by where you went to school, even if you have the same career accomplishments as someone else.

Two, it could be that the quality of the education you get and the connections you make in the three years of law school is so important that it fundamentally changes your capacity to succeed in the legal profession.

Three, it could be that your initial post-law school job is vitally important to your future career prospects. In other words, the legal career is like a race in which it a small head start at the beginning makes a huge difference.

None of these reasons sounds super compelling for me, which is why I question how much it matters which school you go to in the first place.


I think that your three factors are spot on - however, I would disagree with your conclusion.  Taken one by one, I don't think any of these factors could be solely responsible for differenting among schools.  I believe it's possible to overcome perceptions of prestige, it's possible to learn on the job to make up for a less than stellar legal education, and that it's possible to really excel in a crappy first post-LS job and parlay that into greater opportunities.

On the whole, however, stacking up these three hurdles produces an almost insurmountable barrier.  Say you were to go to NYLS instead of Columbia - even if you're at the top of your class, you won't have the same educational environment or the same networking opportunities, so even at graduation you'll be at least a step or two behind Columbia grads.  For your first job, you'll be taking something less desirable than Columbia students take, which places you two or three steps farther behind.  Getting out of that less than desirable first job, you won't have the prestige of your law school backing you up, placing you five or six steps behind. 

I have faith in heroic efforts and brilliant initiative coming from people with any education level (look no further than Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, a high-school dropout).  In Law, however, such initiative and efforts coming out of Columbia might land you on the supreme court.  From NYLS, I don't see this happening.  Perhaps it's possible, and I absolutely think the brilliant NYLS grad could start his/her own firm down the road and achieve unlimited success - it's just tougher, so I'd imagine fewer people would be able to achieve it.

I also think that most employers assume that a law student went into the best-tiered school he or she was admitted to.  I don't think it looks good on a resume to put "Was admitted to Columbia, but chose not to go there."  If anything, it makes you look less ambitious. 

I think one more important factor makes law different from the college studies.  Keen business sense is often found in those who aren't "book smart," and in terms of financial success, a shrewd but ill-educated businessman will blow many of the more bookwormish types away.  In law, I think you really need a super-sharp "booksmart" intellect to succeed. 

I'll admit that I'm basing this upon my perceptions, and throwing it out there as a theory, not one with substantiated proof.  But you have to start somewhere.
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

Happy_Weasel

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2006, 12:51:49 PM »
I will agree with you. More traditional legal environemnts take more traditional law students. However, if you can somehow play your medocre local school into some type of populist platform, you could make it. I guess that's what I'm going to do. I am going to play the disadvantaged populist card.  I do plan on being academically succesful and am only planning on living in the front range area. This why I think I should be able to play it off for a Wyoming top quarter may have a hail mary verses a top-third Denver or Colorado grad instead of being doomed to failure the same way that even a #1 NYLS grad does verses even a mediocre Columbia or NYU student.

JaimeNina

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Re: Does it Matter Where you go to Law School?
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2006, 01:11:34 PM »
I think that a main difference between higher-ranked law schools and lower-ranked law schools is not just the quality of education, but the type of education. At higher ranked schools, where most everyone passes the bar, you take classes on you personal interests in a much "higher-level" abstract academic way. At lower-ranked schools, you take "bar-review" classes covering literally the content of what is going to be on the bar. Even if you are the super-smart kid at USF who is totally going to pass the bar no matter what, you still don't have the options to take the classes on appellate litigation that the kids at stanford are taking, because you have to take what your school teaches, like tax law and other "bar prep" topics.  I don't know if this will in any way affect your ability as a lawyer, but I would prefer to take the more creative and theoretical classes taught at a higher-ranked school and just cram for the bar.  That's just my preference.