"Ties to the area"

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
User avatar
yeast master
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:23 pm

"Ties to the area"

Postby yeast master » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:35 am

I keep hearing that law firms are reluctant to hire law school grads who don't have ties to the area. From the firm's perspective that makes sense because they don't want to invest so much in training an associate only to have them bail just when they start becoming productive. But this practice would seem to limit law students' options quite a bit, and should be taken into account in choosing a law school.

So some questions:
Are a candidate's ties to the area more important for firms in small and medium-sized markets than in big ones?

What constitutes ties to the area? Obviously, having grown up in a place and having your parents and siblings there counts, but what else? Having extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles) in the area? Having attended grad school in the area?

How do firms discern whether you have ties to the area? Is it in the interview or do they screen out carpetbaggers earlier in the process?

Over what distance do ties count? If you have family in one Mountain West state, will firms in other Mountain West states consider you as having ties to their area?

Does all this suggest that attending a lower T1 regional school in an area where you don't have ties is a pretty bad idea?

*Edited: one typo

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Aeroplane » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:49 am

My two cents. YMMV.

yeast master wrote:So some questions:
Are a candidate's ties to the area more important for firms in small and medium-sized markets than in big ones? Yes.

What constitutes ties to the area? Obviously, having grown up in a place and having your parents and siblings there counts, but what else? Having extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles) in the area? Meh - not much unless your grandpa raised you or something. Couldn't hurt to throw it in though. Having attended grad school in the area? Possibly, if you can explain why you loved living there and how it makes you want to return. I'd say same for having worked in the area for some time.

Also - I think the biggest tie, more even than growing up in the area, is having a SO (esp spouse or fiancee) who is anchored in that area.

How do firms discern whether you have ties to the area? Is it in the interview or do they screen out carpetbaggers earlier in the process? They ask in the interview why you want to work for their firm, in their location. I don't know if they screen earlier in the interview, but career services told us to put a local address on our resume if we have one.

Over what distance do ties count? If you have family in one Mountain West state, will firms in other Mountain West states consider you as having ties to their area? I don't know. Probably varies a lot by region.

Does all this suggest that attending a lower T1 regional school in an area where you don't have ties is a pretty bad idea? My understanding that attending law school somewhere IS a tie in itself, especially if you work in the area during school (summers and during the year if you can). The real problem is attending a school in an area you don't want to work after graduation, then attempting to find work somewhere else where you don't have ties.

User avatar
najumobi
Posts: 1111
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:36 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby najumobi » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:18 pm

thanks, aeroplane.

User avatar
yeast master
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:23 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby yeast master » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:44 pm

Yes, thanks Aeroplane.

I'm wondering about your last answer because I recently was in contact with a Duke 3L who said he didn't get any interest from NC firms, and he attributed that to his lack of ties to the area (of course, he could be wrong). He did say that some other Duke students got jobs in NC but he didn't know if they had ties.

Maybe going to a regional school in a given area demonstrates more of a commitment to the area in firms' eyes than going to a T14 in the region. But could it be possible that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs? Doesn't sound likely, but I don't know.

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

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Renzo » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:51 pm

yeast master wrote:Yes, thanks Aeroplane.

I'm wondering about your last answer because I recently was in contact with a Duke 3L who said he didn't get any interest from NC firms, and he attributed that to his lack of ties to the area (of course, he could be wrong). He did say that some other Duke students got jobs in NC but he didn't know if they had ties.

Maybe going to a regional school in a given area demonstrates more of a commitment to the area in firms' eyes than going to a T14 in the region. But could it be possible that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs? Doesn't sound likely, but I don't know.

I don't buy that this was the actual reason the Duke 3L didn't get a job in NC, despite what he may think. Generally, firms want to feel comfortable that you aren't going to leave after year, so if you can convince them you want to stay in an area, "ties" shouldn't be a problem.

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Aeroplane » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:03 pm

yeast master wrote:Yes, thanks Aeroplane.

I'm wondering about your last answer because I recently was in contact with a Duke 3L who said he didn't get any interest from NC firms, and he attributed that to his lack of ties to the area (of course, he could be wrong). He did say that some other Duke students got jobs in NC but he didn't know if they had ties.

Maybe going to a regional school in a given area demonstrates more of a commitment to the area in firms' eyes than going to a T14 in the region. But could it be possible that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs? Doesn't sound likely, but I don't know.

Bolded is somewhat correct. When I said going to a school in the region is a tie in itself, I meant a regional school which mostly places in that region. If you are at a "national" school (a hazy category in itself), you will be asked about ties when applying to a smaller market (usually phrased as "what brings you to ____"), even if your school is located there, because they will be skeptical of why/whether you really want to practice there. I guess "ties" in this context really means "a persuasive explanation for why you want to be here," i.e. what "ties" you to the area, which does not need to be confined to pre-existing connections. It can't be "I just need a job, any job". Another thing is, at least where I am, firms here seem to just hire their own summers (and not even all of them), and I don't think they do much hiring of random 3L's.

I wouldn't, however, make a blanket statement that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs. I'm not familiar with that specific market, but analogizing my own market, hiring will go something like this:

"Top" school student with ties to area/convincing reason to be in area, largely regardless of grades (unless maybe they are below 3.0)
Local student w/very good to awesome grades, law review
"Top" school student with weak/no ties to area, largely regardless of grades (unless <3.0)
Local student in bottom 60% of class (rarely happens unless some special circumstance, personal connection)

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Aeroplane » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:07 pm

Renzo wrote:
yeast master wrote:Yes, thanks Aeroplane.

I'm wondering about your last answer because I recently was in contact with a Duke 3L who said he didn't get any interest from NC firms, and he attributed that to his lack of ties to the area (of course, he could be wrong). He did say that some other Duke students got jobs in NC but he didn't know if they had ties.

Maybe going to a regional school in a given area demonstrates more of a commitment to the area in firms' eyes than going to a T14 in the region. But could it be possible that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs? Doesn't sound likely, but I don't know.

I don't buy that this was the actual reason the Duke 3L didn't get a job in NC, despite what he may think. Generally, firms want to feel comfortable that you aren't going to leave after year, so if you can convince them you want to stay in an area, "ties" shouldn't be a problem.
I mostly agree, as I tried to clarify above. The only thing is that it's much harder to make a firm "comfortable that you aren't going to leave after a year" unless you've had prior ties to a secondary/tertiary market. Large firms mostly do the same kinds of things, and firms in smaller markets know they are considered less "prestigious" and the work they handle is generally not as "sexy". Of course there's "work-life balance" "small-town life" etc, then they still don't really understand why THIS small market and not another one. I'm sure it's doable in certain cases, but still harder.

User avatar
yeast master
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:23 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby yeast master » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:25 pm

So it sounds like expressing convincingly in an interview why you want to be in a certain area can overcome a lack of demonstrable connections to the area.

Also, lack of ties to a given area shouldn't, by itself, dissuade you from choosing a school that's strong in that area.

Correct?

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Aeroplane » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:35 pm

yeast master wrote:So it sounds like expressing convincingly in an interview why you want to be in a certain area can overcome a lack of demonstrable connections to the area. In theory, yes. But as a practical matter, I think it would be very hard to be convincing w/o a demonstrable connection. Maybe if you're interested in a particular practice area or industry that is strong in that area, like "I majored in geology in UG and I've always wanted to defend BIGCOAL, therefore I want to be in WV" (a bit absurd but I'm sure there are more plausible ones). I'm not that creative so maybe other people can think of ways you can be specific and convincing about wanting to be in Charlotte/Cleveland/Phoenix/St. Louis without pre-existing ties. I don't think things like "well I like the weather and I'm a big [sports team] fan" will work but I could be wrong.

Also, lack of ties to a given area shouldn't, by itself, dissuade you from choosing a school that's strong in that area. Yes, that is what I think. If the school places many/most of its grads into a particular metro region then I don't think firms will wonder about why you want to be in that region, since you'll have pretty much locked yourself down already.

Correct?

User avatar
Chairman
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:00 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Chairman » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:29 pm

Aeroplane wrote:
"Top" school student with ties to area/convincing reason to be in area, largely regardless of grades (unless maybe they are below 3.0)
Local student w/very good to awesome grades, law review
"Top" school student with weak/no ties to area, largely regardless of grades (unless <3.0)
Local student in bottom 60% of class (rarely happens unless some special circumstance, personal connection)


I think this is a reasonable assessment. I'm from Kansas City--the top of the class from KU and the local TTT (UMKC) get hired right along with the grads from the top schools. As Aeroplane noted, however, only the top of the class at the local schools have shots at the best jobs, whereas a median (or worse) student from a big name school has an equal or better shot. That said, KC is a very "take care of your own" place and a lot of the people doing the hiring are alumni of local schools (KU, MU, UMKC, St Louis schools). I suspect the same can be said of a lot of other smaller markets.

The point about ties to the area is valid as well--no one is going to hire you if they think you're going to bolt after a couple of years for a "glamorous" east or west coast city. I've been in Big 4 public accounting for a few years and have firsthand evidence of the importance of convincing the interviewer (or hiring manager or whatever) of your desire to be in that particular city (both from an interviewee standpoint and an interviewer standpoint); I'd say it's a fair assumption that the same holds true for the legal market as well.

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

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby ughOSU » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:08 pm

Aeroplane wrote:Also - I think the biggest tie, more even than growing up in the area, is having a SO (esp spouse or fiancee) who is anchored in that area.

This is fucking brilliant... you should lie about having a girlfriend in the area during interviews.

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Doritos » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:48 pm

ughOSU wrote:
Aeroplane wrote:Also - I think the biggest tie, more even than growing up in the area, is having a SO (esp spouse or fiancee) who is anchored in that area.

This is fucking brilliant... you should lie about having a girlfriend in the area during interviews.


I thought the same thing. Just say you got some local sweetie pie waitin' for ya just down the street from the firm.

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby Aeroplane » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:11 am

Doritos wrote:
ughOSU wrote:
Aeroplane wrote:Also - I think the biggest tie, more even than growing up in the area, is having a SO (esp spouse or fiancee) who is anchored in that area.
This is fucking brilliant... you should lie about having a girlfriend in the area during interviews.
I thought the same thing. Just say you got some local sweetie pie waitin' for ya just down the street from the firm.
And if you want to REALLY show commitment, then go all the way with a sham local marriage. JK - of course I don't advocate any kind of relationship fraud. I mentioned the SO thing because that's my personal situation. I've actually seen posts on TLS advocating describing a BF/GF as a "fiancee" (to make it sound more serious or grownup or commited I guess) but I didn't do that. I just said "BF of 2 years" and it seemed to work just as well.

User avatar
superflush
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:45 am

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby superflush » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:23 am

Aeroplane wrote:My two cents. YMMV.

yeast master wrote:How do firms discern whether you have ties to the area? Is it in the interview or do they screen out carpetbaggers earlier in the process? They ask in the interview why you want to work for their firm, in their location. I don't know if they screen earlier in the interview, but career services told us to put a local address on our resume if we have one.


Hm, I guess it might be best to just use friends' addresses wherever you can.

User avatar
superflush
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:45 am

Re: "Ties to the area"

Postby superflush » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:27 am

Aeroplane wrote:
yeast master wrote:Yes, thanks Aeroplane.

I'm wondering about your last answer because I recently was in contact with a Duke 3L who said he didn't get any interest from NC firms, and he attributed that to his lack of ties to the area (of course, he could be wrong). He did say that some other Duke students got jobs in NC but he didn't know if they had ties.

Maybe going to a regional school in a given area demonstrates more of a commitment to the area in firms' eyes than going to a T14 in the region. But could it be possible that Wake Forest > Duke for NC jobs? Doesn't sound likely, but I don't know.

Bolded is somewhat correct. When I said going to a school in the region is a tie in itself, I meant a regional school which mostly places in that region. If you are at a "national" school (a hazy category in itself), you will be asked about ties when applying to a smaller market (usually phrased as "what brings you to ____"), even if your school is located there, because they will be skeptical of why/whether you really want to practice there....


This makes sense.
I think that in this scenario, if someone comes to Duke from the northeast, and applies to NC firms, those firms want to know if he really wants to be in NC, or if he is going to wake up and go back to NY, etc.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 1 guest