Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:There also seems to be the idea that top 10% can essentially write their own ticket in DC, something which I could never imagine to be true for Duke grads.
Huh? You need to look at the T-14 (Duke and GULC amongst others) placement numbers and really revisit your thinking.
I mean, I'm not basing that off placement statistics of any kind (although to my knowledge there are no publicly available statistics that would measure something like that), I'm basing that notion purely off conversations I've had with people who work in DC. So for a word of caution, I cannot guarantee that it's true.
The conversations were with a mix of associates and (mostly older) partners, so I don't think there's a strong age/information bias either way, although I suppose it's possible that the partners are too far removed to be aware of how the hiring works, while the associates are simultaneously too far in the dark to be able to speak with certitude about the process, and it should be noted that nobody I spoke with was directly involved in hiring. And though the sample size isn't sufficient for me to say it's definitely the case (anecdotes aren't data, and typical cautions of random variation apply), it is also well more than the outlier opinion of one person. A non-negligible percentage of them also work at well-regarded firms, so it isn't like anyone is saying that from a back-office trash heap where they jump at any T14 grad with decent grades, although I guess none of them came right out and said "Oh yeah, but it's not like we're going a total weirdo just because he has good grades" or any such statement accounting for interviewing, fit, and all that jazz.
If the notion expressed seems ridiculous/illogical on its face, then I suggest taking it with a grain of salt, or better yet as merely one voice in a sea of other expressed stories/data on the fate of both GULC and Duke grads. I just wanted to relay the point that struck me throughout all those conversations: GULC is discussed in surprisingly positive terms by people who work in DC Biglaw. When I asked what schools they look upon most favorably, Harvard and Yale always come first, but then you would be surprised how quickly GULC is mentioned. It's not as though it's a beaming positive review for every school (although the basic notion in DC seems to be "T14" and "else"), because some other T14 schools are discussed much less favorably--GULC is discussed in something of a uniquely positive way. I'm sure the GULC grads of that group are not going to shit on their school, but the non-GULC grads don't appear to praise it any less.
I came away concluding this: GULC has not suffered anything approximating a reputational hit in DC. It just merely appears to be a difficult time right now for anyone looking to work in DC, as a large percentage of GULC students are. No, the school's placement isn't going to look good if it doesn't reduce class size while the DC market is growing so slowly, but I would recommend the appropriate level of caution when placing all that stock in one year's data when we don't know if 2012 is a representative year of what the DC market might look like in five years. It's possible (maybe even probable) that none of these people/firms give a fuck about a below-median GULC grad, as they'd all only hire from the Top [X] percentage anyway. But the notion seemed to be that X Percent would do just fine.