Prestige within the profession

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bdubs
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Prestige within the profession

Postby bdubs » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:32 pm

So it's frequently cited on TLS that lay prestige isn't worth anything when considering a school and placement is all that matters. So USNWR does *try* to rank this using a survey to both other schools and to lawyers and judges. I know these are somewhat flawed, but its still one of the best objective measures of prestige that is widely available.

Here is a ranking of T14 + UTVSW

Lawyers and Judges:
1 Yale
1 Harvard
1 Stanford
4 Columbia
4 Chicago
6 UVA
7 Penn
8 NYU
8 Berkeley
8 Michigan
11 Duke
11 Northwestern
11 Cornell
11 GULC
15 UT
16 Vandy
17 UCLA
17 WUSTL
19 USC

Other law schools:
1 Yale
1 Harvard
3 Stanford
3 Columbia
3 Chicago
6 Michigan
7 NYU
7 Berkeley
9 UVA
9 Penn
11 Duke
11 Cornell
11 GULC
14 Northwestern
14 UT
16 UCLA
17 Vandy
18 WUSTL
18 USC

Combined reputation scores:
1 Yale
1 Harvard
3 Stanford
4 Columbia
4 Chicago
6 Michigan
6 UVA
8 NYU
8 Berkeley
8 Penn
11 Duke
11 Cornell
11 GULC
14 Northwestern
15 UT
16 Vandy
17 UCLA
18 WUSTL
19 USC

Some of the schools fare noticeably better than others. Michigan and UVA being the most obvious. Thoughts on how bad of an indicator of industry prestige this actually is?
Last edited by bdubs on Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:43 pm

I think it's worth noting that overall this isn't radically different than the total USNWR rankings. UVA does have a bit more prestige within the profession, but it's not enough to make a huge difference overall. Keep in mind that all of these schools are widely known as the top schools in the country, and most lawyers anywhere will recognize them all as respectable places to have graduated. Beyond that, the way you get separated from your peers is by other factors (grades, work history, etc).

One of the reasons I think UVA has such high peer ratings is because it's been placing people all over the country for a long time now and is very proud of that. Penn is pretty much a peer school overall but its grads have tended to focus a lot more on the northeast and especially NYC BigLaw. If you're looking at a national poll, that could be the difference between where Penn and UVA are ranked relative to each other. But they still belong pretty much next to each other in the rankings, no matter which order they go in.

Also, NYU is probably a little lower because it's extremely NYC-focused and that means you have fewer people outside NYC voting them so highly.

The one thing that I think is most substantially disconnected from "prestige" is an understanding of alumni connections and how they work. It's kind of an exponential thing in my experience; the alumni network for a school like UVA or Penn is much stronger than that of a small regional T2 school, both because they have many alumni in multiple markets and because those alumni end up in higher positions more often. Likewise, the connections from HYS can dwarf those of even the lower T14, because again, they're spread out nationally even more, and more often holding top positions with hiring authority in those markets they're in.

The differences in alumni network potential is I think the most significant difference between schools, and while the strength of those networks does kind of mirror the rankings in the order schools go (or at least the order of school groupings), it's not a linear thing at all.

rundoxierun
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby rundoxierun » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:45 pm

Within the profession the only distinction among the top schools is HYS.

bdubs
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby bdubs » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:46 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I think it's worth noting that overall this isn't radically different than the total USNWR rankings. UVA does have a bit more prestige within the profession, but it's not enough to make a huge difference overall. Keep in mind that all of these schools are widely known as the top schools in the country, and most lawyers anywhere will recognize them all as respectable places to have graduated. Beyond that, the way you get separated from your peers is by other factors (grades, work history, etc).

One of the reasons I think UVA has such high peer ratings is because it's been placing people all over the country for a long time now and is very proud of that. Penn is pretty much a peer school overall but its grads have tended to focus a lot more on the northeast and especially NYC BigLaw. If you're looking at a national poll, that could be the difference between where Penn and UVA are ranked relative to each other. But they still belong pretty much next to each other in the rankings, no matter which order they go in.

Also, NYU is probably a little lower because it's extremely NYC-focused and that means you have fewer people outside NYC voting them so highly.

The one thing that I think is most substantially disconnected from "prestige" is an understanding of alumni connections and how they work. It's kind of an exponential thing in my experience; the alumni network for a school like UVA or Penn is much stronger than that of a small regional T2 school, both because they have many alumni in multiple markets and because those alumni end up in higher positions more often. Likewise, the connections from HYS can dwarf those of even the lower T14, because again, they're spread out nationally even more, and more often holding top positions with hiring authority in those markets they're in.

The differences in alumni network potential is I think the most significant difference between schools, and while the strength of those networks does kind of mirror the rankings in the order schools go (or at least the order of school groupings), it's not a linear thing at all.


Would you estimate that the networks at larger schools (UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, CLS, NYU, etc...) are superior to those of smaller schools (Penn, Chicago, etc..)

Similarly, does the H network stand out from the YS networks as superior because of its numbers?

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The Stig
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby The Stig » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:53 pm

bdubs wrote:
Would you estimate that the networks at larger schools (UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, CLS, NYU, etc...) are superior to those of smaller schools (Penn, Chicago, etc..)

Similarly, does the H network stand out from the YS networks as superior because of its numbers?


great question...I'm interested in the answer!

fwiw, I have heard that a trade-off between large and small size is that large size has more people in more positions (obviously), but the small size is more dedicated or willing to help because they feel a closer connection to the other alumni, students, etc....(pure hearsay, I of course have no data to support this)

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby paulinaporizkova » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:55 pm

The Stig wrote:
bdubs wrote:
Would you estimate that the networks at larger schools (UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, CLS, NYU, etc...) are superior to those of smaller schools (Penn, Chicago, etc..)

Similarly, does the H network stand out from the YS networks as superior because of its numbers?


great question...I'm interested in the answer!

fwiw, I have heard that a trade-off between large and small size is that large size has more people in more positions (obviously), but the small size is more dedicated or willing to help because they feel a closer connection to the other alumni, students, etc....(pure hearsay, I of course have no data to support this)


THIS. i'm interested, too.

bdubs
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby bdubs » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:55 pm

The Stig wrote:
bdubs wrote:
Would you estimate that the networks at larger schools (UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, CLS, NYU, etc...) are superior to those of smaller schools (Penn, Chicago, etc..)

Similarly, does the H network stand out from the YS networks as superior because of its numbers?


great question...I'm interested in the answer!

fwiw, I have heard that a trade-off between large and small size is that large size has more people in more positions (obviously), but the small size is more dedicated or willing to help because they feel a closer connection to the other alumni, students, etc....(pure hearsay, I of course have no data to support this)


Yeah, I am particularly interested to hear from Vanwinkle because he knows about both both UVA and Harvard. Anyone else who has opinions they would also be appreciated.

Casey2889
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby Casey2889 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:56 pm

tkgrrett wrote:Within the profession the only distinction among the top schools is HYS.


elaborate on this?

rundoxierun
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby rundoxierun » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:04 pm

Casey2889 wrote:
tkgrrett wrote:Within the profession the only distinction among the top schools is HYS.


elaborate on this?


Not much to elaborate. Thats how it is within the profession. No one recognizes these mini-tiers that are on tls (CCN, MVP, T-10, lower T-14, etc.) In the profession its just HYS as universal best then the rest are known as extremely good schools but the degree varies by region/person you talk to/firm

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vanwinkle
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:05 pm

bdubs wrote:Would you estimate that the networks at larger schools (UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, CLS, NYU, etc...) are superior to those of smaller schools (Penn, Chicago, etc..)

No, not really. My impression is that most of the legal industry regards UVA and Penn as peer schools. Out in the workplace, they're generally regarded as comparable in terms of the quality of lawyers they produce from what I could tell. Even within the schools, I've spoken to staff at each (and I mean former grads currently employed in career services, admissions, etc) and both bluntly referred to them as peer schools to each other.

Something I should make clear: While people argue incessantly on TLS about these kind of things, they matter much less in the real world. I realize that Duke is "below" the MVP tier, but over the summer I worked in a rather prestigious PI org alongside someone who made LR at Duke and I did not know an attorney there who was not fully impressed by his credentials. It matters that they recognize the school as a top school, or as one from which you received a quality education, but in most cases it stops mattering at that point and starts mattering more what you did while you were there.

This is why, as much as people will keep shitting on Georgetown, there will still be folks on LR at Georgetown who outperform even some HYS kids in the job hunt.

In fact, I get the impression that being on LR from even T20 or T25 (if you also have the grades to support having graded on) is impressive enough that it's not always worth leaving behind even for HYS. It's certainly not worth leaving behind for schools below that IMO. The legal profession loves multiple kinds of prestige, and one of them is major accomplishments and awards; making LR and having the grades to back it up is a big thing, and stays with you for a long time. It's something you can keep putting on your resume and can help you get an impressive first job, and the combined prestige of LR and a great first employer can be enough to tell any future employers you're the one that they want. Giving up LR at GW or W&L, for example, to transfer to GULC would be an epic mistake.

bdubs wrote:Similarly, does the H network stand out from the YS networks as superior because of its numbers?

I think the only way that H stands out is in lay prestige, and the fact that it has stronger alumni networks in professions outside the law. However, the number of grads who end up in other fields, and the fact that H ha such a strong name for people wanting to go into business or other non-legal professions, has become a kind of relief valve I think. Each grad from H who's left the legal profession is one fewer person still in the H legal professional network, which means it's not quite so ridiculously large compared to the Y or S networks.

Short version: I think H stands out a lot relative to Y and S outside the legal profession, but not inside it.

bdubs
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Re: Prestige within the profession

Postby bdubs » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:43 pm

Thanks Vanwinkle. Comments from anyone else?

I would have expected law of large numbers to play a bigger role here. More grads = more hiring partners, right? Or do H grads respect Y and S grads equally or more than their own?

Same for lower ranked schools but obviously the number of people in high ranking positions will diminish as you move down the food chain, although I would imagine the larger numbers would still matter.

Charles5
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The Prestige Question

Postby Charles5 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:50 am

FWIW, and speaking with a broad brush, I am of the view that regardless where you are (geographically), whether in the private sector (e.g., a major law firm), or public sector (e.g., government or other PI), that if you graduated from one of HYS, you will receive plenty of respect within the profession. The three are typically seen as equals, as the US News poll of lawyers and judges reflects. This "respect" is simply for earning a HYS degree (and the recognized "weeding out" process that went along with being accepted to at least one of those three). Having said that, I will also note that other top schools, particularly schools like Columbia--if you practice on Wall Street--and to a lesser extent, Chicago, can produce a similar respect, especially in the right environment. This is just based on observation, and I think it also corroborates the view of Lawyers and Judges in the US News survey.

But I have three other points relating to the subjects raised in this thread. One is that once you're in the door (and, obviously, one of the great benefits of a top law degree, which would include certainly more than just HYS degrees, is the opening of doors), this "halo effect" will slowly dissipate should you not do good work--no matter whether you work in the private or public sector. This should really go without saying, but ultimately, people value a top-quality lawyer. HYS (and a few others) can help you tremendously, and can also help a great deal in lateral moves, but if ultimately you're not a good lawyer, or good at whatever you choose to pursue, no one is going to justify a poor work product by noting that you're a HYS grad. Again, this should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it, but is sometimes forgotten by certain HYS grads who feel they've "got it made" simply by making it past admissions and earning the degree. (And, the bar examiners couldn't care less where you went to law school; if you fail the bar exam in CA or DC or NY or ILL, you'll re-take it, regardless whether you're a HYS grad.)

Second, again, painting with a broad brush, I do feel there is something to the (I think pretty widely held) view that although HLS has a very large alumni base, there appears to be a "closeness" to the YLS and SLS alums that is probably a product of being much smaller schools. There will be exceptions to this, and I can't prove it (no one can), but if you think about group dynamics, a smaller, more intimate group of people (even across classes) often tend to feel more of a "bond" to each other than (and thus more willing to help a fellow grad), than a larger, more impersonal group. I also think some of this--if true--can be tied to the fact that YLS and SLS grads, years later, express more satisfaction and happiness with their law school experiences--on average--than HLS grads do. Again, I think this is at least partly related to class size and closer interaction with professors and fellow students. Also, my sense is that the "cultures" of these three are notably different, with SLS and YLS having a closer environment than that of HLS. But much of this is just perception, and hard to quantify.

As a result, the best advice I ever heard--and I think stands up well to those considering different schools--is, if possible, go visit the school. And talk to the students. If you can, talk to some of the grads. Don't take the carefully-crafted "presentation" at ASW at face value. Go into the library, the dorms, the classrooms (even ones they may not have on their "tour") and talk to students and professors. You'll get a true "feel" for the school, the culture, the students, and whether they're enjoying their experiences (all things considered). Walk outside. Look around. Are people generally happy? Do professors seem to genuinely like students approaching them with questions? Each of HYS, for example, is not the same. They may provide equal "prestige" and "respect" within the profession, but your experience at each may differ. There is no requirement that you have to look back on law school as some of the worst three years of your life. And then, based on how happy, satisfied, and productively challenged you think you would be, would you be more likely to want to help your fellow students/grads/fellow-alums once you leave the school?

Third, and lastly, I do think the "lay prestige" discussion, which arises from time-to-time--and was raised again in this thread--frequently veers off base, at least from a practical perspective. I think the "HLS has greater lay prestige, so it would afford you greater non-legal opportunities" is simply overblown, and perhaps even unfounded. Just my opinion. HLS does have, by far, the largest law school class. It's 3X the size of each of SLS and YLS. You can decide for yourself if you think that's a positive or a negative.

But we need not, in this instance, go into anecdotes about what our uncle's new girlfriend thought about the relative prestige of H,S,Y (as institutions) when passing the cranberry last Thanksgiving. As has been posted on this board previously, the Gallup Organization, probably the most widely-respected entity in national polling and statistical analysis, has provided the answer--and I'll link it below. But before I do, let's note that it overrides all conversations someone had on an airplane with a random passenger once during drink service. By definition, a scientific, national, statistically-significant poll conducted by Gallup is the "best evidence" we have on this subject.

And while each of you can read it, I'll make a few points. As we would all expect, with the general population--which obviously includes people who never went to college (in fact, it would obviously include people who didn't graduate from high school)--Harvard finishes first, with Stanford and Yale tied for second. Harvard has a comfortable lead in that poll, as I think we'd all expect. And, people can see the regional differences (again, as you'd expect, given the group being polled). But, as Gallup notes, Harvard, Stanford and Yale are the three (as institutions, including the law schools) that stand out across all regions of the country--they are the top three for truly national lay prestige.

But then the question becomes, what does this lay prestige--at this level--really mean for you? And I mean this for any of HYS. The issue was raised that perhaps HLS might provide better "non-legal" opportunities due to its greater lay prestige. This may prove to be true if you were to run for public office, given that every citizen (over 18) has the right to vote. But in the current political environment, I'm not even convinced that having a degree from HYS would be all that helpful, depending upon where you were seeking office, and the anger of the electorate. For what it's worth, Harvard and Stanford grads (in that order) are the most represented in Congress.

But while Harvard and Stanford and Yale all have the highest lay prestige, nationally, according to Gallup, I think the better question regarding these "non-legal" opportunities people have referenced, is how do the people who would potentially be the gatekeepers to these opportunities view the top schools? If you were attempting to bring in clients to your law firm, aren't they more likely to be college graduates? If you wanted to move from private legal practice to a start-up business opportunity, wouldn't you most likely be approaching a college graduate? If you wanted to raise money from venture capitalists for a business idea, wouldn't most VCs be at least college graduates? If you wanted to raise money for a political campaign, wouldn't most of the people you would be approaching be college graduates? If you wanted to work for a large non-profit organization, wouldn't a college graduate most likely be doing the interviewing and hiring? Wouldn't the vast majority of future opportunities you chose to pursue outside of the law likely involve college graduates?

In other words, if you choose to value "lay prestige," outside of possibly the ballot box (and I think studies show that the educated tend to vote more--and are more likely to make political donations--than the less educated, so arguably the college educated are disproportionately important here, as well), isn't it more important to know what college graduates consider to be the most prestigious/best universities? Isn't this really the more relevant, the more important variant of "lay prestige"?

I think so. And, apparently Gallup thought it very important as well, because in their study, they also conducted a separate (second) randomized, national poll consisting solely of college graduates (with at least some graduate school, but not necessarily a graduate degree), to determine the schools with the highest "lay prestige" within this more educated group. In this second study, Harvard and Stanford finished in a statistical dead heat (within the margin of error) at #1, with Yale a distant 3rd, and MIT and Princeton (and a few others) well behind. (The two studies from 2003 are contained in one article linked at the bottom of this post.)

In sum, at this level, I don't think "lay prestige" is very important when evaluating law schools. But some posters here seem to think it is, and by doing so, they inevitably make the argument that that's why they think people should attend HLS. I think that's a silly reason. And, as the second Gallup study shows, it isn't even accurate when it comes to college graduates--those with whom most law grads will be dealing with both professionally and socially throughout much of their lives.

If you are sufficiently fortunate to be accepted to any of HYS, go visit the schools--if you possibly can--and look to see where you think you'll be the happiest, the most satisfied and where you'll most enjoy three important years of your life. You can't go wrong with any of them.

Here is the Gallup Study link:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/9109/harvard ... ublic.aspx




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