Portability and Regionality

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Portability and Regionality

Postby MHustle620 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:35 pm

I've been reading a lot on here about how degrees from many schools are considered "regional" because one cannot market them nationally as they could a Top 14 institution. As I consider the institutions I've been accepted to, I don't know if I have as strong convictions about one location over another as many other TLSers do.

This may make some people scoff (and rightly so, I realize that a sizable amount of people on this site probably put more hours into law school preparation than I did), but I am not 100% sure what kind of law I want to pursue. Therefore I'm focusing on what campus I feel I'd have the greatest quality of life during my three years of study.

Unless I'm surprised by a school that has yet to send me my rejection, all of these schools fall within the 50-80 range. My question is - how screwed am I if I go to school in say - Pittsburgh - and end up wanting to practice in Los Angeles?

This may be a "duh" question, but right now I'm trying to consider every factor as seat deposit deadlines loom. Thanks in advance for your input.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby Flanker1067 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:46 pm

There is something to be said for quality of life in schools for sure. However, the problem is that you will be marketing yourself to people who have never really thought about or come in contact with graduates of your school. It seems that the general experience of people who have done this is that local employers would prefer to hire from local schools. So for instance, if you wanted to go to L.A., you would be competing against Loyola (locally known, regional school) grads who will have the upper hand.

So to answer your question, you aren't necessarily "screwed", but you cannot count on being able to do it, either.

Oh, also, once you get a few years work experience, you can make a lateral move much easier then if you look right out of school. (disclaimer: this is reiterating what I have heard and believe to be true, no promises)

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby bees » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:53 pm

Consider how many UCLA and USC grads are unsuccessfully trying to find legal work in LA (this doesn't even include the lower ranked schools like Loyola and USD, which are ranked similarly compared schools you are considering).

Quite screwed.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby im_blue » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:44 pm

bees wrote:Consider how many UCLA and USC grads are unsuccessfully trying to find legal work in LA (this doesn't even include the lower ranked schools like Loyola and USD, which are ranked similarly compared schools you are considering).

Quite screwed.

+1. ITE, law firms have no incentive to consider unknown law grads when there are tons of T20-30 resumes in the stack. The downside to going to a law school outside the T14-20 or so is that you pretty much have to pick a region and plan to work there for a substantial portion of your career.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby MHustle620 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:52 pm

Thanks. I'll keep all of this in mind when making my decision.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby erniesto » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:08 pm

I don't think you're going to get any real advice on this forum about post-grad career moves. This forum is more about law schools than the actual legal profession.

I think you'll have a hard time finding entry level employment outside your graduating region. However, from speaking with practicing and experienced lawyers, it all becomes equal in your legal field after a number of years and in a good economy a cross country lateral move is definitely possible.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby Geesh106 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:24 pm

OP, something that may be a shot is to find alumni from the law school you want to attend in the city you might want to live in. Martindale.com, superlawyers.com come to mind. I don't know if the attorneys would be helpful, but maybe they can give you some insight on what you're asking.

I can relate to your example, as I live in L.A. now, want to go to school on the east coast, but then hope I may have options back on the west coast.

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Re: Portability and Regionality

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:12 am

It depends on what you mean by quality of life. Some cities are less pleasant in the eyes of many people regarding weather, but might allow you a nice, big, quiet apartment for half the price of a shoebox in another. Others are the opposite. I like quiet, and semi-rural, suburban, or smaller urban. I don't mind much weather, because anything will be warmer than where I am. However, you may love the biggest of cities and prefer a bustling environment, and may not be worried about Cost of Living.

However, California schools in your range (Santa Clara, Loyola, Pepperdine) are going to keep you in California, likely for a long time.

Pitt is quite regional - about 70% stay in-state and the vast majority of those are in Pittsburgh. That's probably self-selection from an in-state crowd, but it means the alumni network is limited. They do reach into the bordering South Atlantic (WV some, DC included in that region) quite well though.

I personally think Case Western is easily the most portable degree in the 50-80 range (hence, it's one of two schools in that general range that I am still considering), but that portability is to the rest of the Midwest, NY, DC, and a bit of the South. Only 36% of grads stay in-state, and less than half in the Midwest, so it's more than a mild portability. 24% get into the South Atlantic, 11% into NY/PA, 6% Pacific, 4% NE, 30 states in total for the 2007 class. For 2008, it was a 14% NY/PA, 15% South Atlantic, 6% Pacific. NALP says the top 5 markets for graduates are Cleveland, then NY, DC, Chicago, and LA. So, they do have real reach to all the major markets.

There are some schools that have weirdly high apparent levels of portability to the West. For example, Michigan State gets 6-9% of its class to the WEst Coast despite being a T3 (maybe 90s by the new UsNews?). I've seen some explanation that firms believe it's a better school based on name recognition (likely via sports) the further from Michigan one goes.

The only reasonably portable degrees of the 50-80 group are: Case Western, Penn State (likely because they have no home market, but still...), Kansas (surprisingly, only 42% employed in-state, good reach to the Mountain West, a bit even to DC), Cincinnati (2/3 in-state, but some to Mid-Atlantic, DC/South Atlantic, and Kentucky - which it borders), Villanova (very regional geographically, but has proximity to NY and DC that gives it more major markets),

There are also a few two-region schools like Pitt (gets into WV, DC, VA, MD quite well), or Oregon (only 53% in-state, 10% out to the Mountain West, but still heavily Pacific Coast). Even those schools are a stretch for any kind of portability, though.

Baylor and Pepperdine place heavily in-state but have small, even placement to the rest of the nation. I'd guess that might largely be because of ties to conservative law firms or groups, as those two schools are almost certainly the most conservative schools in the Top 100.

However, if you go just above the Top 50, Tulane is probably the most national school outside the T30. I don't know if you applied there or got in, but if you were in at 50-80 schools, you'd probably not be reaching much. However, New Orleans may be very low quality-of-life for some, and high for others. It's very, very humid, the city as a whole has very high crime, but COL outside of air conditioning is cheap and it still has a vibrant culture and lots of places to drink.

Even if you pick an entire half of the country to lean towards, that would probably make your choice easier.

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