Tarheel10 wrote:Thanks for the lengthy, well thought out advice. It's interesting that yuo think going to other schools over Vandy do not expand my mobility. I definitely could see how going to Penn over Vandy wouldn't help me get a job in, say, Denver, but UColorado's scholarship was decidely underwhelming. How about this: does attending Penn or Georgetown over Vandy increase my ability to get a job within the regions you mentioned enough to warrant considering attending over Vanderbilt?
I'm not 100% sure what regions you are talking about (because I mentioned so many). I am assuming you meant "Denver, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Columbus, etc." Correct me if I am wrong.
For those cities, I really don't think either Penn or Georgetown helps you at all, probably. Like I said, I really don't even think Harvard helps. In those markets, it doesn't seem like the firms care so much about hiring students from the highest-ranked schools as they do about other things. I'm going to try to explain, as best as I can surmise.
For one thing, in general, law school grades matter a lot more than where you went to school. This statement is not true in every situation (e.g., the top graduate from Michigan State isn't likely to get hired into academia before your average Yalie), but it is more true than you might think in most situations.
Another thing is that firms tend to want to know that you want
to practice (1) in that market and (2) at that firm. If you don't want to (or you would rather be somewhere else), they can hire an equally capable person who does
want to, and it seems that most would really prefer to do that. For some reason (that I don't completely understand), firms are generally unbelievably reluctant (bordering on "totally unwilling") to hire somebody who has not at least lived in the city before (or is married to someone who has).
Finally, a lot of the country is not obsessed with prestige like the East Coast and TLS maybe are. Some of these firms just want good people--smart, good fit with the firm, want to be there, etc. They are satisfied that you are smart if you are at/near the top of your law school class, not because you went to a law school with slightly more prestige. (This is getting back to the grades point--sorry.)
For those reasons, I think a student who graduates in the top 5% at U of Denver and is a Colorado native is really in an almost unbeatable position going into OCI. Maybe another Colorado native in the top 5% at Penn would be in a better position, but the bottom line is that both of those students are poised for a great offers at Denver firms. If a Nashville native is top 10% at Penn, you probably have no chance in the Denver market against the top 5% guy at Denver.
It's the same here in Nashville. The firms here love top Vandy people. If you are at the top of the class at a higher-ranked school and
have good ties to Nashville, then yeah, you could get a job here (even though you probably wouldn't be able to get it through OCI at most schools). But don't count on being median at Penn and getting a job in Nashville. Similarly, you would have zero
chance of getting a job in Nashville if you were not from here (and you didn't have a spouse from here) but you were top 10% at Penn.
[Edited to add: There is always that anecdotal exception. I'm sure somebody on TLS knows somebody at Penn or HLS or somewhere who got a job in a secondary market with no ties--like my buddy did in Charlotte. But my point is that it would be a mistake to think that going to a higher-ranked school will make up for not having ties in a market that pays less than $140k.]