Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
sfdreaming09
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby sfdreaming09 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:16 pm

I keep hearing that your chances are better at OCI if you attend a smaller school (i.e. Yale) compared to a bigger school (i.e. Harvard). The reasoning that people provide is that during OCI you’ll be competing with fewer students.

My question is…what does everybody mean by this? Are you really competing with the people from just your school or are you competing with applicants from ALL schools from across the country? In other words, wouldn’t firms that come to Harvard OCI, for example, just take in more people from Harvard than they do at Yale or Stanford, or is there some sort of quota on the number of people they take from each school? Basically, since there are bound to be more qualified applicants from Harvard than, say, Stanford (not because one school has better students, but rather solely due to the size differential), wouldn’t top firms just take more Harvard students than Stanford ones?

Sorry if the question seems convoluted, but basically I’m wondering why people think that the more students at your school, the more difficulty you’ll have during OCI.

User avatar
Aeon
Posts: 583
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:46 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aeon » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:19 pm

Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.

sfdreaming09
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby sfdreaming09 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:21 pm

Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.

User avatar
Aeon
Posts: 583
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:46 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aeon » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:30 pm

sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.

It's a matter of supply and demand. Whereas the supply of Harvard grads is large, so is the demand for them. On the other hand, if you go to a lower-ranked school, the supply of grads might be the same as that for Harvard, but the demand is less. This isn't to say that a large class size at a lower-ranked LS is certain to be a problem, but getting a plum job involves a much greater uphill climb (as well as a higher class rank). The regional nature of most of the schools below the top 20 or so could also lead to a saturation of that school's regional market if the class sizes are large. Harvard is very much national in scope, so the potential market for Harvard grads is much larger.

User avatar
Aberzombie1892
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:56 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:31 pm

sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.


I guess there are more people that could to better than you to push down your rank while you are in law school.

i.e.
School A
Class size: 500
Median: student 250 and 251 (assume only two people are median at school A)

School B
Class size: 200
Median: student 100 and 101 ('')

At school A, you have to do better than 249 people to be median.

At school B, you have to do better than 99 people to be median.

Basically you would have to do better than fewer people to rank high.

However it probably has very little effect once you have your rank.

User avatar
twert
Posts: 414
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby twert » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:33 pm

i think the biggest issue would be the sense of community among the students. not hiring.

sfdreaming09
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby sfdreaming09 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:34 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:
sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.


I guess there are more people that could to better than you to push down your rank while you are in law school.

i.e.
School A
Class size: 500
Median: student 250 and 251 (assume only two people are median at school A)

School B
Class size: 200
Median: student 100 and 101 ('')

At school A, you have to do better than 249 people to be median.

At school B, you have to do better than 99 people to be median.

Basically you would have to do better than fewer people to rank high.

However it probably has very little effect once you have your rank.


Thanks for the response, but yeah, if you go to a larger school, you have to outperform a larger number of students, but by the same token, you can underperform relative to a larger number of students too. So, assuming two schools are equal in quality of students, it should be exactly equally as hard to be median at a school with 100 students as at a school with 10,000 students.
Last edited by sfdreaming09 on Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Renzo » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:36 pm

There is also the law of large and small numbers, in that you are more important statistically to a school with a small class. If three in 500 are unemployed, it rounds to 100% employment. If three in 150 are unemployed, that's noticeable.

sfdreaming09
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby sfdreaming09 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:37 pm

Aeon wrote:
sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.

It's a matter of supply and demand. Whereas the supply of Harvard grads is large, so is the demand for them. On the other hand, if you go to a lower-ranked school, the supply of grads might be the same as that for Harvard, but the demand is less. This isn't to say that a large class size at a lower-ranked LS is certain to be a problem, but getting a plum job involves a much greater uphill climb (as well as a higher class rank). The regional nature of most of the schools below the top 20 or so could also lead to a saturation of that school's regional market if the class sizes are large. Harvard is very much national in scope, so the potential market for Harvard grads is much larger.


Thanks for your response too, but your response assumes that firms place a quota on the number of students they take at each school, right?

User avatar
Aeon
Posts: 583
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:46 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aeon » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:47 pm

sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:
sfdreaming09 wrote:
Aeon wrote:Larger class sizes are probably not as detrimental to Harvard due to its reputation (but Yale's and Stanford's smaller classes certainly don't hurt their students at OCI). As you move down the rankings, though, large classes can become problematic.


But even if you move down the rankings, I still don't understand why larger class sizes would be detrimental.

It's a matter of supply and demand. Whereas the supply of Harvard grads is large, so is the demand for them. On the other hand, if you go to a lower-ranked school, the supply of grads might be the same as that for Harvard, but the demand is less. This isn't to say that a large class size at a lower-ranked LS is certain to be a problem, but getting a plum job involves a much greater uphill climb (as well as a higher class rank). The regional nature of most of the schools below the top 20 or so could also lead to a saturation of that school's regional market if the class sizes are large. Harvard is very much national in scope, so the potential market for Harvard grads is much larger.


Thanks for your response too, but your response assumes that firms place a quota on the number of students they take at each school, right?

Not necessarily. While some firms might indeed have quotas, most simply prefer to hire graduates from more prestigious schools first. I guess it might be thought of in terms of waves - firms try to fill up their incoming associate class with individuals from the top schools, and if any spots remain, then they look at candidates from lower-ranked schools. This is, of course, a considerable generalization, and one that applies more to BigLaw and large MidLaw firms (these are the ones that by and large attend OCI to begin with).

There are numerous other factors involved in hiring decisions, of course, including connections to the area, connections to individuals at the firm, specific firm hiring preferences, one's class rank, law review participation, judicial internship/clerkship experience, etc. The rank of one's school is not a be-all-end-all by any means, but it can help give you a boost in the initial job search.

User avatar
Rand M.
Posts: 1033
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:24 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Rand M. » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:49 pm

This question has always been one that I thought deserved more thought than it gets around here. People repeat this, but I am not sure exactly how true it is. The answers ITT thus far have been ridiculous. I think that the best answer is a combination of what aeon said and the fact that larger schools have reputations as diploma mills and thus take a hit in prestige that has appreciable effects later on. Plus, I think that if a firm were to have an eye toward the 'diversity' of schools in their incoming class, these 'quotas' would not be adjusted on nearly a per capita basis. What I mean is that if a firm wants to have grads from the entire T14 for instance, they would not necessarily feel the need to have (roughly) twice as many NYU students as Penn students. On an aggregate basis this can cause harm to students at a school as large as Georgetown for instance.

lawyering
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:27 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby lawyering » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:54 pm

just to play devil's advocate, i'd like to point out an advantage of big schools:

bigger graduating class = larger (and potentially farther-reaching) alumni network. this could prove crucial to your hiring success.

User avatar
Rand M.
Posts: 1033
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:24 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Rand M. » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:59 pm

lawyering wrote:just to play devil's advocate, i'd like to point out an advantage of big schools:

bigger graduating class = larger (and potentially farther-reaching) alumni network. this could prove crucial to your hiring success.


This is true, and is one of the major reasons that Harvard completely dominates in so many respects.

User avatar
Aberzombie1892
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:56 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:06 pm

lawyering wrote:just to play devil's advocate, i'd like to point out an advantage of big schools:

bigger graduating class = larger (and potentially farther-reaching) alumni network. this could prove crucial to your hiring success.


True.

But only if the school is good, like
Rand M. wrote:Harvard


But that is the exception, not the rule.

Ultimately, it would make little difference.

Either the graduates from a school are in demand, or they're not.

It seems that will every passing year, more and more graduates aren't in demand.

bahama
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:23 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby bahama » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:10 pm

Another advantage of a larger school is more firms at OCI.

Firms aren't going to waste the $ to attend OCI if they don't expect to hire.

User avatar
Aberzombie1892
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:56 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:11 pm

bahama wrote:Another advantage of a larger school is more firms at OCI.

Firms aren't going to waste the $ to attend OCI if they don't expect to hire.


No.

(I'll allow another poster to tell you why).

ughOSU
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby ughOSU » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:55 pm

If you want a slightly different take, a Berkeley student I spoke to about this had the following argument about smaller schools:

Firms have a vested interest in maintaining relationships with elite schools. [From what I hear, that may be the only reason any firms hired much last year.] They don't want prospective associates or the schools themselves shutting them out because they have a bad reputation for stability when they need more associates (i.e. post-ITE). When the economy slows down they hire less people. The number of people they hire from larger schools declines at a proportionally greater rate than the number of people they hire from smaller schools, because they want to maintain a working relationship with all elite schools, big and small. Thus it is entirely possible that one would disadvantage onesself by picking a larger school over a smaller one, all else being equal.

*Note: All else being equal is quite an assumption.

User avatar
englawyer
Posts: 1270
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:57 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby englawyer » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:03 pm

a top firm might want variation in the class, for a number of reasons:

--keep up relations with the school. firm & OCS usually have a working relationship.
--image. no firm wants to be known as the "X law school" firm with an associate class consisting of many from school X
--variation in "type" of thinker/law student. they might appreciate different points of view in the working environment

by these things, smaller schools will do better

bahama
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:23 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby bahama » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:12 pm

I get the theoretical arguement for this (although I am a bit skeptical of whether it has a meaningful influence) but does anyone have any empirical data? If going to a smaller school is better for OCI we'd expect to see:

SLS > HLS
Chicago > Columbia
Duke > UVA
Vanderbilt > Texas

Can anyone substantiate this? Even if the above is true, could it have more to do with the choice of markets students are interviewing (for example hypothetically more Duke students going after NYC which was easier to get this year while more UVA students went after DC) rather than anything due to the size of the school?

User avatar
IHaveDietMoxie
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:54 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:20 pm

I feel like this whole issue is way overblown and tend to roll my eyes whenever I see someone bring it up. Am also eagerly awaiting substantiating stats. . .

awesomepossum
Posts: 928
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby awesomepossum » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:28 pm

I think it CAN be disadvantageous especially right now.

It's not that there's a quota, it's that a firm will send a set number of people to a school's OCI for screening interviews. For a smaller firm that number might be one or two. Now some firms will send a large contingent to a school's OCI, but some might not. If the school is extremely large, firms still might not send oversized contingents to OCI.

This means that there are more people interviewing for a set number of interview slots.


EDIT: The reason why I say especially now, is that it has apparently been difficult to get firms to send more people to interview in this environment even when initial demand for that firm has been large after people fill out their interview bids.

User avatar
im_blue
Posts: 3276
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:53 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby im_blue » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:40 pm

I think going to a big school is especially disadvantageous ITE, because biglaw hiring has plummeted across the board, yet each firm still wants to hire students from each T14. So let's say a firm that used to hire 2 Duke, 2 Northwestern, 2 Cornell, and 4 GULC students, might be looking for 1 from each now.

User avatar
IHaveDietMoxie
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:54 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:43 pm

im_blue wrote:I think going to a big school is especially disadvantageous ITE, because biglaw hiring has plummeted across the board, yet each firm still wants to hire students from each T14. So let's say a firm that used to hire 2 Duke, 2 Northwestern, 2 Cornell, and 4 GULC students, might be looking for 1 from each now.

Is this really how firms handle hiring? What about non firm gigs?

awesomepossum
Posts: 928
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby awesomepossum » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:45 pm

IHaveDietMoxie wrote:
im_blue wrote:I think going to a big school is especially disadvantageous ITE, because biglaw hiring has plummeted across the board, yet each firm still wants to hire students from each T14. So let's say a firm that used to hire 2 Duke, 2 Northwestern, 2 Cornell, and 4 GULC students, might be looking for 1 from each now.

Is this really how firms handle hiring? What about non firm gigs?



a lot of non-firm jobs are handled at job fairs.....for example PI fairs so in that case class size would probably make no difference whatsoever.

sfdreaming09
Posts: 273
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Why is going to a big school disadvantageous?

Postby sfdreaming09 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:02 pm

ntzsch wrote:larger school = larger alumni network = advantageous ?


Yeah, that's a good point. I just stumbled over this interview with Harvard's JR and here's what he had to say about the issue:

"Question: Given the current legal hiring market, there is a lot of concern – especially among applicants to law schools outside the Top 20 – that summer associate jobs just won’t be there when they begin interviewing as 2Ls. While your graduates are always in high demand, HLS cannot be immune to the downturn in the economy. In fact, one reason cited for pulling the plug on the Public Service Initiative was because so many of your students were already turning to public interest as a way to seek refuge from the dismal BigLaw hiring prospects, and they figured that taking advantage of the PSI program was an easy way to save themselves 3L tuition. What are your thoughts about the prospects of legal hiring and whether in these uncertain times law school remains a good investment?

JR: I think it’s a great question. I’ve always urged students to think long and hard about law school before making a commitment of 3 years and thousands of dollars of debt. That being said, I think what we’re seeing is that attending a high-quality law school can still be a great investment in yourself and your career.

While the legal job market is certainly more challenging to navigate this year, our students are doing extremely well, aided by our incredibly hard-working Career Services team. Additionally, the size of HLS, and especially our large alumni network, is proving to be a boon in a time when personal connections are more important than ever. In fact, while it’s still early, we anticipate that our graduate employment statistics will look extremely similar to those in recent years."

--LinkRemoved--




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests