Mattalones wrote:After looking at data like the that on this thread (which is very useful ... Thanks OP!!!), I find my self left to do the same thing as most other people on this forum by speculating "my chances." At the same time, it remains true that generalized statistics don't instantiate (e.g. You can't rightfully say, "Only 40% of people from school X get NLJ250 jobs, so my chances of getting an NLJ250 job are only 40%."). This is clear to me, but consider an example to clarify (if you already agree, just skip the example and go to the part marked with "***").
Example - Think about two very different people at the same school:
1) The super-person who came in to school X with a 4.0+ and a 180 with a full ride, and then busts a 4.0 in 1L would have performed just as well if the school had different placement stats into NLJ250 firms.
2) The super slacker who slide through UG and the LSAT primarily on smarts, who gets about a 2.0 in 1L: This guy (or girl) just performs this way, and his (or her) school's NLJ250 placement percent clearly didn't make her perform this way.
I know these are extreme examples, but it is just to make the point clearer by contrasting. So, to super-person will be the person to get a good NLJ250 job, and the slacker clearly won't be the top candidate.
***I admit that there is a minimum threshold of NLJ250 placement potential for going to law school to make sense (assuming the person has NLJ250 as a goal). What I am curious about is, "What is this threshold for a decently-hard-working and intelligent law student?" In other words, if someone very competent and capable of becoming decently successful at an NLJ250 firm is choosing a law school based on its placement, what MINIMUM percentage of NLJ250 placement should that person look for in a law school to feel decently secure in choosing that law school?
What I know cannot be the answer:
*"Just go to Yale, dude!"
*"Stay away from TTT and TTTT schools, man."
*"There is no exact number, so don't waist your time thinking about this."
There has to be some rational, approximate balance, and I have not seen much discussion of it on TLS.
Christ. What a good question, what a naive question, what an impossible question to answer. Where to begin?
First, toss out everything you thought you knew about the LSAT/GPA predicting law school performance or hard work predicting law school performance. I know hard working people above both of my LS's medians who got ravaged by grades. I know people who looked like morons in class, skipped tons of reading, made it into the school by the skin of their teeth, kicked ass and took names. I also know people who comport with expectations and everyone inbetween. It's (probably) not random, but you can NOT count on obtaining any particular class rank just because you want it / try hard. It takes something more than earnest effort, and hell if I've figured out precisely what that something more is.
Second, once grades come down, it's very hard to draw lines about who will and will not get 6-figure / NLJ / Biglaw type jobs. A lot comes down to the market you pick, your ties to the market, your efforts at selecting the proper firms with which to interview, how well you interview, and your other accomplishments. That is to say, a median UVA student gunning for DC biglaw with no connections or work experience will get dope-slapped by OCI. A sub-median Michigan student wanting to work in the local bigfirm type office in her home market with 0 competition from other top schools might slide into the position. Sterling grades cure all, but once you get to the squishy middle you control your destiny to a large extent.
So those were two non-answers. To be more particular, I'd say that at sticker you'd be a fool to pay for less than a 40-50% chance at 'making it'. A lot of the people who don't get big firm jobs or clerkships when they graduate will still have rewarding legal careers - but be advised that almost none will break into the ranks of traditional 'biglaw', for better or for worse.
My own estimate from being on the inside is that ITE, the Top 14 are still good values at sticker. They were AMAZING values at sticker a few years ago, but I don't think their worth has dropped through the floor even ITE.