I'm a 3L at a Top 100 law school. I'm happy with my choice of law school, (and think the review here is fairly misguided) though I definitely think that I went into it under-informed about much of the process. Much of the advice here is stark and bare-bones assessments, and prospective law students should heed the advice contained throughout, particularly regarding research and preparation.
Here are my critiques and insights regarding out-of-state employment opportunities after nearly three years of this horrific ordeal called Law School:
1) Rankings don't matter, for most of us. Unless you are in a top 25 Law School, it gets almost boring reading about how "job prospects for students seeking out of state employment are low."
2) Geography is destiny, except when it isn't. Keep in mind that:
A) most students who go to law school do so within their own states, particularly at state schools. So of course they work in the state of the school they attended. That number, like most "metrics" is relatively meaningless.
B) Each state and region is different. Oregon gets an abnormally high number of California students who couldn't make it into a California Law School, for example. They inevitably practice in California more-so than Oregon. Does that mean that Oregon has better job placement for students who want to work out-of-state, or does that mean that simply more students attend Oregon from out-of-state, and return once they graduate? Florida, my home state, has two (serious) public schools and a plethora of other tier 3-4 schools. If you score, for example, a 154-157 in Florida, you're probably not getting into either of the two good state schools. Consequentially, you're better off going out of state because your only other options are overpaying for a lackluster private legal education, or spending three years of your life at a school with mediocre bar passage rates in state.
The point is, when considering where you will end up, certainly it is easier to find employment where ever you attend law school. It is where you will make the majority of your connections and gain your useful practical experiences, after all. You will probably learn more of the state laws in the state you are attending than in the state where you hope to practice. Your professors will have, quite literally, written the book on the areas of the law they teach for the states practitioners.
However, the descriptions contained throughout this website egregiously overstate the reality of the situation based on pure statistical readings without much in the way of analysis. I'd bet that 70-80% of the students at my school are from the state where I attend law school, and the immediate vicinity, whereas I am not. Should it be terribly surprising that 70-80% of our graduates practice in state? Is it fair to infer from that data that "chances are limited" for the 20% who do find employment, when only 20% are actually looking?
Like all things, personal connections matter more than educational experience once you get out of the top rung of the ladder. Worry more about what school resources are available in terms of career placement. Talk to the career services dean about what the chances are of you working summers out of state. Ask about how many Alumni are in the state in which you hope to find work after graduation.
All of the school descriptions beyond the top rung here make it sound like you are doomed, however. Keep in mind that these are merely statistics; they don't tell the whole story. Look at what the school has to offer, decide on what school suits you best. You are going to spend too much money and too much time wherever you end up to be bound by assessments that are based solely on statistics that only capture a part of the story.
Keep in mind that only 10% can be in the top 10%. It will save your sanity come exam time.
(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
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