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For those who ask whether only top-tier graduates can find jobs in Biglaw

dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
edited July 2007 in Law School
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Replies to: For those who ask whether only top-tier graduates can find jobs in Biglaw

  • AmericanskiAmericanski Registered User Posts: 683 Member
    Articles like this are really irresponsible. Nobody should go to a third-tier school with the expectation that they'll get a biglaw job. Period. It's not that it doesn't happen, but that the odds are so bad. It's terrible to instill an overly-optimistic view of their employment prospects.
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    The article is anything but irresponsible. It simply points out possibilities.

    Nobody should go to ANY law school with the expectation thar they'll get, or even have a good chance of getting, a biglaw job. These jobs are highly competitive.

    However, there are posters on this board, usually people who are not yet lawyers, who have strong beliefs that anything but a top-tier law school will forever ruin one's destiny as a lawyer.
  • AmericanskiAmericanski Registered User Posts: 683 Member
    No one has ever said that. All they've said is what I did, that the chances are really bad and that it's foolish to pretend they aren't. It's like writing an article about Earl Boykins or Muggsy Bogues and trying to suggest that you don't need to be tall to play in the NBA.
  • iubyontiubyont Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    that earl boykins comment was priceless
  • brassmonkeybrassmonkey Registered User Posts: 1,491 Senior Member
    I feel like the "Who Needs Harvard" headline has been tagged onto like 90 articles this year anyway. Usually these articles are written toward a group less informed than the people on this site, as if to get them to slap their knee and say something to the effect of "Gee-Whiz! There are other good schools out there"

    We all know that, so these articles seem pointless. The Mugsy Bogues comment is good, but to someone who knew very little about the game of basketball (the way most of the readers of this article know very little about corporate law), they may not think that height (or school choice) is as big of a factor as it is.
  • Student615Student615 Registered User Posts: 1,885 Senior Member
    But the OP's point, put into other terms, is that you DON'T have to be tall to join the NBA. If you did, then we wouldn't even be able to draw a metaphor like Boykins/Bogues. Is it helpful to be tall? Does it give players and recruits an immense, dramatic advantage? Will someone smaller have to work harder to be noticed and to prove his worth? YES to all of these. No one here (or in the article) is arguing that point. But if you get dealt the "short" card and can still play as well as anyone else out there, then is it absolutely, without a doubt certain that there's no place for you in professional basketball? No, it isn't, and we have these hopeful counterexamples to illustrate the fact.

    Going to Harvard doesn't guarantee you a job in biglaw, nor does being 7' tall guarantee you a spot in the NBA, although both will be pretty helpful. Not everyone can go to a T14 law school. Period. Not even all the 4.0/180 applicants, and not because they can't get in. And yet I agree with the OP, who claims that the message frequently given is that if you can't make it to one of these schools, you're SOL. I understand the gravity of the situation and I wouldn't go around sharing any article that said "Why spend 50K when a 4th tier school will get you to all the same places?!", but the original article was not, in my eyes, doing anything of the sort, and I certainly didn't find it irresponsible (anyone who reads it and bases his law school decision upon it and it alone probably has no place at a top school or in biglaw anyway).

    How many times have we all heard that Einstein was dyslexic, Bill Gates was a college drop-out, Steven Spielberg didn't get into USC film, and Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team? No one (respectable) is peddling this stuff as gospel or as normality, but it's NICE to hear that sometimes people can break through to the "top" even without having had every single door opened to them along the way. Relax.
  • coolguyusa123coolguyusa123 Registered User Posts: 551 Member
    Here's a good blog drawing from this year's statistical data regarding law firm placement: http://lawfirmaddict.blogspot.com/ The first 5 posts are percentages of a class going to that specific ranking of Biglaw firm; Vault 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100. The placement is expressed in terms of percentage of a class, then by raw numbers. So yes, the data show that it is possible to break into biglaw from a 3rd or 4th tier school, but the numbers are highly unfavorable. As a point of interest: Columbia placed 80% of its graduating class into V100 firms which equates to ~300 students. Southwestern, conversely, places .9% in V100 or 3 students.

    Yes, it's not impossible, but highly improbable. One thing that is not taken into account, however, in these data is the possibility to lateral. And I'm sure that many third or fourth tier graduates who end up at respectable firms in a market could lateral to better firms if their work is exceptional.

    I'd thought that this thread was in need of statistics.

    EDIT: The data is from 2006 placement.
  • ab_medab_med Registered User Posts: 465 Member
    Thanks for the link, it was very helpful.

    But, one question: Why isnt HYS at the top of each of the categories in terms of placement? Is it because a larger percentage of their students decide to go into clerkships as opposed to law firms?
  • AmericanskiAmericanski Registered User Posts: 683 Member
    but to someone who knew very little about the game of basketball (the way most of the readers of this article know very little about corporate law), they may not think that height (or school choice) is as big of a factor as it is.

    Right, that's exactly the point. It's just misleading to pretend that you "don't need" to go to a top school to get a biglaw job when, for the most part, you do.
    I wouldn't go around sharing any article that said "Why spend 50K when a 4th tier school will get you to all the same places?!", but the original article was not, in my eyes, doing anything of the sort

    Really? It pretty unambiguously implies that you can get these great, high-paying jobs with a degree from a third-tier school. It quotes a Southwestern grad who explicitly says that it was "not hard" for her to get work with large California firms, even though this practically never happens. Nobody has ever said that it's literally impossible, so there's really no need to have an entire article to disprove that claim. All it does is encourage people to make a decision that often makes little economic sense and which many of them later regret.
    One thing that is not taken into account, however, in these data is the possibility to lateral.

    Well, it's not really a "lateral" move when you're moving from an unranked, obscure firm to a Vault firm. It's not impossible, but I don't get the impression that it happens very often at all. The reverse is much easier.
    But, one question: Why isnt HYS at the top of each of the categories in terms of placement? Is it because a larger percentage of their students decide to go into clerkships as opposed to law firms?

    No, because these numbers are for summer associate placement. Those schools are at the top. They're in the top five or six for every category. The only reason they aren't the top three for each is that they send more people to public interest jobs, or firms outside of NYC (which is where most V100 firms are).
  • mamenyumamenyu Registered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    Could it have to do with geography? The "top 5" are NY firms; a long way to go from California, for example.
  • lonestardadlonestardad Registered User Posts: 600 Member
    I know the exception doesn't make the rule, but University of Houston Law School in the Vault 100 study noted in an earlier post placed 11.9 percent of its graduates in top 100 law firms firms, better than Washington University - St. Louis, Emory University, and a host of other more highly ranked law schools. So , yes, it is possible to have a decent chance at BIGLAW especially in the 50-75 range USNWR law schools.
  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 7,159 Senior Member
    Ever hear of contract attorneys? These are attorneys who are hired on a separate track. They make less money than regular associates. They have NO and I do mean NO chance of making partner. In many cases, all they do is document review.

    Now I know absolutely NOTHING about U of Houston Law. Maybe they really are unusually successful in placing grads in Vault 100 law schools. But I can tell you that at least some third and fourth tier schools include contract attorneys in their "stats" to make themselves look better.

    Americanski is right.
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    I can think of 2 ways in which the NBA is different from BIG(F?)LAW. First, it's possible to make a good living in the United States as an attorney without working at BIG(F?)LAW. As far as I know, the NBA is the main employer of professional basketball players in the United States.

    The point is that if you are intent on being an attorney, it may be worth it to go to a lower ranked law school. Because you can still practice law and earn a living even if you don't get a job at BIG(F?)LAW.

    The second difference is that you can take your shot at basketball without spending 3 years and $100k. If some 5'8" dude wants to try out for his high school team, or even a college team, that's fine. He can even dream about an NBA career without jeopardizing his studies.

    The bottom line is that if it's BIG(F?)LAW or bust, don't go to a lower ranked law school. And yeah, it's a little irresponsible to emphasize that graduates of lower tier law schools sometimes get BIG(F?)LAW jobs.

    JMHO
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,648 Senior Member
    "Nobody should go to ANY law school with the expectation that they'll get, or even have a good chance of getting, a biglaw job."

    Yes, they should. If you're going to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford (and we can debate about additional schools), you have to go FAR out of your way to kill your odds at biglaw. Even if you're in the bottom 10% of the class, if you can make it through an interview without picking your nose or propositioning the partner, you can get a V100 summer gig. At Wachtell? No. At firm #100, whatever it is? Probably. That's why it's a very safe bet to borrow $120k to pay for Yale, and a very risky bet to borrow the same amount to pay for Suffolk.

    I'm speaking as someone who was a peer counselor in the career services office at HLS. It was our job to find jobs for students and alumni who slipped through the cracks. They were few and far between to begin with, and we found jobs at good firms for virtually all of them.
  • mathtastic_nerdmathtastic_nerd Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    Besides Biglaw, how are HYS and other law schools in filtering into politics (of course to some extent HYS are good, Clintons and Obama being examples) and getting to know people that could get you a job in politics? If you wanted to go into politics after law school how would you go about that (instead of going the professional lawyer route)?
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