twentypercentmore wrote:Your grades do not matter. Your school ranking on USNWR does not matter. This is the hardest part for people to overcome -- all that work you did on the LSAT, all that debt you took out to go to a T14 school, and all those sleepless nights you put in during 1L to get decent grades are now wasted. The good news is, if you're a 0L, your grades/law school ranking/etc. don't really matter! Obviously you can't get Cs at a TTTT and expect to go work for the SEC, but there is very, very little difference between a A- average student at Cornell and a B student at Mercer in terms of PI hiring.
The biggest thing you have to do to get into PI law is hustle.
I agree with most of this post. However, I think you'd do better to draw very clear distinctions between "prestigious PI"/most prestigious federal government jobs and the rest of the PI and government hiring world. I realize that you hint at a caveat at the end of the post, but there's no hint of it in your primary description of what matters in PI hiring. Then I think it's also very important to distinguish between the requirements for recent law school graduates versus those for attorneys who have accumulated a long record of success and influence in a given PI area.
If you want a job at the ACLU in NYC, DC, or SF and you don't have much work experience, you are virtually certain to not get a job with a degree from Mercer, regardless of your "hustle." Entry-level hires are overwhelmingly filled by graduates of top law schools. There are more than enough graduates from top law schools who have shown sustained commitment to a cause to fill these positions. Many divisions/projects of the national and top state ACLU offices, for example, essentially have a de facto requirement that recent graduates have completed a federal clerkship. That obviously skews the pool dramatically toward graduates of the top schools. If you get a federal clerkship out of Brooklyn Law, then yes, you certainly have a non-zero shot. But you don't have a good shot.
Requirements are very different for mid-career hires. If you have distinguished yourself in your field, it doesn't matter whether your degree is from Yale or Hofstra. But this doesn't have any relevance for people on this site, because no one is at such a stage in their legal career.
The above goes for positions like federal PD in NYC, positions in the most coveted government agencies, or other ultra-prestigious organizations like HRW. You want to start your career in the DoJ? You want to be a young gun in the OLC? Your chances are infinitesimal at best if you don't go to a top school.
Now, you want to be a federal PD in Cincinnati? Or a legal aid lawyer in Tucson? Or a trial attorney for ICE (curse your soul)? Or an attorney in state government? Yeah, you certainly don't need a JD from a top school to make that happen. These are the jobs for which the advice in the original post is much more apt.