Behind the Curve

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Dave Rudabaugh
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Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:25 pm

I need to be set straight on something. I've heard conflicting views on the kind of law school one should attend.

View A: It's better to go to a law school where your numbers (LSAT, GPA) are near the top, thereby giving yourself a chance to compete successfully with the other students at your school (ending up with good grades, Law Review, etc).

View B: If you can get in, it's virtually always better to go to a top ranked law school (roughly T14) because the curve at these law schools is generally more forgiving. So if you can crank out good grades at a mid or low ranked school, you can probably do the same at a top ranked school.

OK, set me straight.

dissonance1848
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby dissonance1848 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:30 pm

Seems like people do well in law school by studying strategically and grasping what needs to be done on the final, not because they kicked ass in GPA and LSAT. So, go to highest school (in T-14), or to the strongest school where you want to be (outside T-14).

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bk1
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby bk1 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:30 pm

Both are wrong.

You go to a better school because they send a larger percentage of their class into prestigious/lucrative jobs, making it easier for one to land one of these jobs because the school's prestige makes employers more forgiving of your grades.

You go to a lower school (if given a scholarship) so that you can graduate with less debt and be okay if you miss out on a high paying position, aka biglaw, because it is no longer necessary to pay off your overwhelming debt (because you have none).

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:38 pm

dissonance1848, so if you can't get into a Top14 school, go to the school that's strongest in the region where you would like to practice? Rather than, say, taking scholly money far away? What I mean is, say I want to practice in DC, get into George Mason, but the University of Arkansas gives me a full ride? (I know there aren't definite answers to some of these, just looking for input, other perspectives).

bk1, have you seen the "go to" law school rankings? If so, do you think those are the rankings that are more relevant to ambitious prospective law students?

Thanks in advance y'all.

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bk1
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby bk1 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:46 pm

Yes if you can't get into a national school, go to one in the region you want to work. The T14 are national to a certain extent but this still comes with caveats as only HYS are truly national (i.e. going to Georgetown is not going to make it that easy to get a job in San Francisco when you don't have ties to CA). So if you want to work in Boston and don't get into the T14, it would be stupid to take Vandy/UCLA/UT/GW/WUSTL over BU or BC.

The NLJ's Go-To rankings are headed in the right direction, but they miss out on some things. They fail to include clerkships and self-selection thus have some problems, such as putting the top 3 schools HYS lower than they should be because a lot of those students clerk and/or opt out of biglaw based on choice (which is top 3). I would check around on this site for what percentage of each school's class gets biglaw through OCI, but yes schools should be ranked based on placement power in my book.

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:59 pm

bk1, OK thanks, makes sense. Not to whip a dead horse, but I'm having doubts as to whether I should even go to law school after reading so many negative things. For example, some say you should either get into the T14, get a full ride somewhere, or don't go. I take it that's too extreme, if in fact I should take an entry at sticker price to GMU rather than take a full ride at some place like The University of Arkansas? (given that, in this hypothetical, GMU is the best I could get into in the region, and my desire is to practice in DC rather than the Mid-South).

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:07 pm

Oh and I'm new, and while I have some of the jargon down, I'm still getting it. So, what's OCI mean?

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Kohinoor
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Kohinoor » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:12 pm

Dave Rudabaugh wrote:Oh and I'm new, and while I have some of the jargon down, I'm still getting it. So, what's OCI mean?

on campus interviews are a main vehicle for post-LS employment

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:23 pm

on campus interviews are a main vehicle for post-LS employment


Thx!

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bk1
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby bk1 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:30 pm

Dave Rudabaugh wrote:bk1, OK thanks, makes sense. Not to whip a dead horse, but I'm having doubts as to whether I should even go to law school after reading so many negative things. For example, some say you should either get into the T14, get a full ride somewhere, or don't go. I take it that's too extreme, if in fact I should take an entry at sticker price to GMU rather than take a full ride at some place like The University of Arkansas? (given that, in this hypothetical, GMU is the best I could get into in the region, and my desire is to practice in DC rather than the Mid-South).


It depends. Do you really want to be a lawyer? Many people adopt a hard line about not going to school with poor prospects, but if being a lawyer is your be all end all then I think you should go with the best option you can. The caveat is put yourself in the best possible position you can and knowing what you get yourself into. Have a realistic view of how much school is going to cost, how likely it is that you get a job after graduation, and what that job is going to pay. Also, do your best to get into the best possible school that you can. Devote yourself to the LSAT and take it 3 times if necessary. Every ounce of effort put in now is worth far more once you are attending a better school or on a better scholarship.

I would hazard at going to anything less than GW for DC, but if one's goal in life is to be a lawyer in DC I can't fault them for going to American if they have a realistic view of what to expect. Things are rough out there, if you are having second thoughts you need to know what you are getting yourself into before you make that final decision and spend 3 years of your life and a very likely 6 figures worth of debt.

reverendt
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby reverendt » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:47 pm

OP...the curve at your "reach" school and at your "safety" school probably won't be meaningfully different.
In my 3L class, the people who got the best grades are not necessarily those with the highest undergrad gpa and LSAT. There actually doesn't seem to be much correlation.
As someone pointed out, go to high ranked schools because they open doors. Go to a lower school because of cheap tuition. Don't try to anticipate the curve.

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RVP11
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby RVP11 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:01 pm

Yes, it's harder to get top grades at a better school. But the increase in job prospects is generally much larger than the increase in competition. Compare GW (LSAT median: 167) to Virginia or Penn (LSAT median: 170). Not an incredible jump up in level of competition, but a huge jump in job prospects with maybe twice as many folks getting something from OCI.

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AreJay711
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:29 pm

I agree that it depends. I really think law firms are more rational than people give them credit for. They want to bring in the best associates that will do the best work and will attract the most clients. It just happens to be that the best students go to higher ranked schools so that is where they hire more people from. At lower ranked schools they focus on a smaller and smaller percent of students.

I think it might be a risky policy to go to a lower ranked school in hopes of getting a higher class rank. Everyone who goes to to those schools will be more determined to be in the top part of their class and you don't know if you will do particularly well against them just because you got 5 more correct out of 101 questions on the lsat. Going for scholarship money is different because then if you end up outside of biglaw range at least you aren't in as much debt.

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:21 pm

AreJay711, (or anyone who wants to chime in),

You mentioned that firms want associates that will do the best work. What jumped out at me is the part about attracting the most clients.

Does this mean that it's typical for associates to be expected to go out and get clients? Or just that firms that have the best associates generally do the best work and therefore attract the most clients? I ask because I'm not sure how salespersony I want to be. But I don't mind being a workhorse... at least not the thought of it.

reverendt
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby reverendt » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:42 am

Dave Rudabaugh wrote:AreJay711, (or anyone who wants to chime in),

You mentioned that firms want associates that will do the best work. What jumped out at me is the part about attracting the most clients.

Does this mean that it's typical for associates to be expected to go out and get clients? Or just that firms that have the best associates generally do the best work and therefore attract the most clients? I ask because I'm not sure how salespersony I want to be. But I don't mind being a workhorse... at least not the thought of it.

I think most attorneys at most firms are expected to drum up business. That's how you get ahead and make partner.
However, I don't think that's expected of first year associates. But if you're at a firm, sooner or later you'll be expected to create business.

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RVP11
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby RVP11 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:46 am

reverendt wrote:
Dave Rudabaugh wrote:AreJay711, (or anyone who wants to chime in),

You mentioned that firms want associates that will do the best work. What jumped out at me is the part about attracting the most clients.

Does this mean that it's typical for associates to be expected to go out and get clients? Or just that firms that have the best associates generally do the best work and therefore attract the most clients? I ask because I'm not sure how salespersony I want to be. But I don't mind being a workhorse... at least not the thought of it.

I think most attorneys at most firms are expected to drum up business. That's how you get ahead and make partner.
However, I don't think that's expected of first year associates. But if you're at a firm, sooner or later you'll be expected to create business.


There aren't many (any?) big firms where associates are expected to be bringing in new business. What firms are generally looking for in promotion to partnership is someone who will have the potential to bring in business as a partner.

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AreJay711
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby AreJay711 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:18 pm

Dave Rudabaugh wrote:AreJay711, (or anyone who wants to chime in),

You mentioned that firms want associates that will do the best work. What jumped out at me is the part about attracting the most clients.

Does this mean that it's typical for associates to be expected to go out and get clients? Or just that firms that have the best associates generally do the best work and therefore attract the most clients? I ask because I'm not sure how salespersony I want to be. But I don't mind being a workhorse... at least not the thought of it.


I agree with above but what I was really saying is that firms really don't hire just the school name, they hire the kind of students that go to a particular school. So Fordham, despite what people say here, places very well irrespective of Fordham's ranking because people that go there want biglaw and are willing to fight hard for a job in biglaw and will do a good job in biglaw. Ditto with other schools: firms want to hire the best associates out there. Of course, that comprises of 100% of Yale, 90% of Harvard, and only 10-20% of regional schools. People on TLS seem to think that all firms see is the school name -- I think they are more interested in getting the best associates and certain schools outside of the T14 can give that to you either in biglaw or medium sized firms

Dave Rudabaugh
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Re: Behind the Curve

Postby Dave Rudabaugh » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:00 pm

Ok thanks for the responses. And, I realize that this is a law school forum, not a forum about the profession of practicing law, but since I have y'all on the line, lemme ask a couple more things:

*So what does it take to drum up business? Is it that you have to go out and wine and dine people? Reason I ask is that while I consider myself to be very personable, formal dinner type arrangements tend to make me very tired (it feels like quite a chore). I would just as soon keep my face glued to a computer or buried in a book for hours on end than please people socially and try to get them to do what I want. I wonder how you even go out and make the contacts necessary to get business if you're spending so much time slaving away as an associate.

*Most people don't make partner, yes? If so, that means people spend several years as an associate and are either forced out or see the writing on the wall and move on. So, what happens to those people? Is it all downhill from there? Government, in-house, is this waiting for associates on the other side if they don't make partner?




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