GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

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PartiallyLearnedHand

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby PartiallyLearnedHand » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:23 pm

QContinuum wrote:
PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:OP, I go to a non-T14, T1 law school that is near the DC area. This past recruiting season, I landed 7 DC call backs from V100 firms and 2 offers from those call backs. I am on LR, but did not finish in the top 10% (finished top 25%), am a K-JD, and I am not a URM. I also wanted DC big law before school, and I extensively researched the employment stats of the schools I was considering, as well as reading threads similar to this one on TLS, while making my decision on schools. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I decided on the school I am currently attending, but I still managed to make it work and, as a counter to some of the advice on this thread, it is eminently possible to do the same from GW or W&L.

However, it is not easy, and to riff off of what Staddle said, the only thing that allowed me to even have a chance was true determination and hard work. Everyone in law school goes to class, most people do the reading, and everyone studies hard for finals, but not everyone has an inner burning desire to accomplish their goals no matter. It sounds incredibly cheesy--almost laugh out loud so-- but I know for a fact that there are many other students at my school who worked extremely hard during 1L year but fell short because they did not have an inner passion pushing them to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish their goals. I was scared sh*tless that I wouldn't land a big law job, so I hustled ass off 1L year to get passable grades, secured a 1L internship in DC, and used that to network my ass off during the summer, which ultimately helped me get my foot in the door with a few extra callbacks. Look, maybe I got really lucky (I'm sure some other posters in here will say so), and I had LR and my internship going for me, but my point is that the rest of the advice in this thread is not necessarily gospel. It simply is not true that big law jobs are completely unattainable unless you go to a T-14 or are in the top 5%-10% of your class, and that should at least enter your calculus a little bit when making your decision.

With that being said, my point is in no ways intended to have you disregard the rest of the advice in this thread. If you play the numbers game, you can objectively see that most graduates of these schools do not end up in DC big law, or big law in general. Instead, I wanted to share my experiences to hopefully give you a more "realistic" story on what is necessary to secure a big law job in DC from a similar school. Don't disregard everyone else, but hopefully this can give you a different perspective than TLS's general prevailing sentiment of "retake for T-14 or bust." As for your original question, I would probably lean towards W&L because of the scholarship money, with a view to securing a 1L internship in DC/Nova if you do attend. Feel free to PM me if you would like to discuss anything further.

First, congrats on your success! You've clearly done very well, and should justifiably be proud of your accomplishments: Top quarter, Law Review, a solid 1L internship, and now, at least two 2L SA offers.

Second, I'd like to respectfully push back on your - and many other posters' - misperception of TLS' mantra being "T14 or bust." I don't think TLS has ever told people "T14 or bust" as a general rule. What happens in many cases is that we look at someone's GPA and LSAT, and realize that, with a bit of extra effort - a few extra points on the LSAT - that person could get into a T14. Someone could easily be locked out of the T14 and struggle to land $$$ in the T20 with a 166, but land acceptances and substantial scholarships in the T14 with a 170. In those cases, taking into account the person's stated goals and desires, we often advise that retaking and attending a T14 is the best thing to do. But again, that isn't the same as saying that no school outside the T14 is worth attending. I don't think that's ever been the prevailing view around here - I'd go so far as to say that "T14 or bust" is a pretty fringe view.

Third, I think we've always acknowledged that there are exceptions to the rule. It's possible to land BigLaw from a T2 - even a T3. I have a good friend who graduated from a T3 and recently made partner at a V100. It's just very unlikely. Our advice has always been that, where possible, applicants should try to position themselves to be the rule - instead of putting themselves in a situation where they'll have to fight for their lives to be the exception to the rule. For someone wanting BigLaw, it makes far more sense to put in some extra work on the LSAT to get into, say, Vandy, instead of going to Arizona State.

What's better than any anecdotal advice is, I think, raw numerical data, and that's what I always try to base my advice off of. GWU has a BigLaw placement rate of 32%. W&L has a BigLaw placement rate of 24%. So in that connection, it does look like it'd make sense to take W&L with $$$ over GWU at sticker. It's an 8% difference in placement. BUT the reason many posters ITT are reluctant to plump for either school - understandably - is because even GWU's 32% placement rate is not that great. Think about it. You'd be spending well into the six figures for a less than one in three chance at landing BigLaw anywhere (including non-D.C.). Would you invest that much money in a lotto ticket with those odds?

You say that hustling worked for you. You beat the odds. That's great! But hustling isn't going to work for everyone at a school that places so few of its students (percentage-wise) into BigLaw. What if OP hustles, but doesn't make the right connections over their 1L summer? What if they fail to write on to Law Review? What if, instead of outperforming 75% of their classmates on their final exams, they "only" outperform 60% of their classmates? Is your contention that all of your non-Law Review classmates failed to hustle? That 75% of your classmates didn't have a burning desire to secure a good job out of law school?


First, thank you for your kind words and measured response. From reading your posts over the past year or so, I have always found your advice to be sound, and much of the following commentary re TLS in general does not apply to yourself or some other posters in this thread.

However, I have to disagree with you on the assertion that "retake for T-14 or bust" is a fringe rather than prevailing view on TLS. While it might not be explicitly given as a general advice, that is, in essence, what it has become. In almost every single "what are my chances" thread that I have read, the overwhelming majority of answers are for that poster to retake. It does not matter what the posters GPA is, what their LSAT is, or what their stated goals are -- TLS will always tell them to retake so that they can go from a T2 to a T1, or from a T30 to a T20, or from a T20 to a T14, or from a T14 to a T6, and so on and so forth. As you can see, it inevitably leads to the conclusion that the minimum result you should be satisfied with when considering whether to attend law school is a scholarship at a T14 school. And, before you state that posters may receive advice to attend a T20 so long as they have $$$, the overwhelming response to that is "Yeah, this isn't a bad option, but if you retook and got a few points higher, you could get that same $$$ at a higher ranked school." The "Choosing a Law School" forum has become an echo chamber for posters who either (1) went to a non-T14 school, did not do well, are now facing the consequences of that choice, and choose to give embittered advice to potential law students; or (2) T-14 students who believe that there is no good option other than the option they have chosen. Again, this is not directed at you specifically, and there are some other posters who provide sound advice on this forum, but my personal view from visiting this forum for over a year now is that the above rings true. If it seems like I am particularly bitter about this topic, thats honestly because I am. Even though I managed to do well for myself, I remember what it was like reading this forum as a 0L, and it was extremely demoralizing. This forum has not become a place where 0L's can come to see the reality of law school admissions/legal employment landscape and then receive advice tailored to their situation. Instead, it has become a one-stop-shop for receiving the same rote, often dismissive answer to almost any of their questions regarding which school to attend. I have no illusions that will change, but I wish it were different, and that is ultimately why I decided to structure my original post as I did.

Second, I'd like to also address your point on the raw numerical data surrounding big law placement statistics. I absolutely, 100%, agree with you on the numbers. OP, if you are still reading this, then those numbers must -- not should, but must -- be a huge part of your calculus in choosing which school to attend. It is imperative that you understand the difficulties of landing a big law job in the current legal employment landscape, and that at most schools the "rule" is that you will miss out on big law, let alone big law in DC. But my point was never to argue with those numbers or disregard their importance. My point is that those numbers are very important in informing OP's decision, but their decision also rests upon their own risk appetite and knowledge of themselves. It is up to OP to decide whether a 32% chance at big law in general is worth $150k of debt, not ours. All we can, and should do as posters, is point them in the right direction so that they are thinking about the right things, not compulsively and dismissively tell them that retaking is the only good option in their situation.

This same thinking also informs my response to your points on being the exception to the rule and the beating the odds by "hustling," which I think go hand-in-hand. I agree, TLS does acknowledge that there are exceptions to the rule, but it is almost never done in a balanced way. Most posters in this thread, instead of pointing to a schools employment statistics and then trying to give a realistic assessment on what it will take to become one of the 32% that get big law, phrase the possibility of being the exception to the rule as some daunting, herculean task that should never be worth the risk. I honestly do not believe that to be true, and that opinion is informed by my own experiences of being that exception to the rule. Was it stressful and hard to do? Absolutely. Was I the beneficiary of some luck along the way? Undoubtedly so. But looking back on my experience and the things that I had to do, I can absolutely say that the steps necessary to accomplish what I did are there to take for every single law school student, and it is up to them to take it. Yes, it is my contention that a significant enough majority of the other 75% of my classmates DID fail to hustle, and I believe that to be true at every law school in the T1. That reality is what opens up the door for those who genuinely do have a burning desire to accomplish their goals, and allows you to make your own luck and create your own opportunities that can help skew that 32% number to one that is more favorable for you.

Basically, my contention is that the 32% (or whatever similar T1 employment number you would like to point to) of graduates who land big law jobs come from a much smaller pool than the entirety of the class, and the employment statistics should be judged as such. If, out of a class of 150 people, there are only 80 people who actually have the requisite desire and capacity to get the grades necessary for big law, then if you are also in that group, you are competing against a much smaller pool and your odds suddenly become much better. I italicized those words above because, as I'm sure you will agree, there is no guarantee that OP will fall into that group. But my intention was that by hopefully sharing some of my own experiences as someone who succeeded under similar situations, OP and other 0Ls could get a better understanding of what it takes, and then judge their chances for themselves, while also balancing their debt appetite and other significant factors. My hope was that this would be a more constructive way of helping OP rather than telling him that retaking should be his only option.

cavalier1138

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:57 pm

PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:This forum has not become a place where 0L's can come to see the reality of law school admissions/legal employment landscape and then receive advice tailored to their situation. Instead, it has become a one-stop-shop for receiving the same rote, often dismissive answer to almost any of their questions regarding which school to attend.


Please find a single thread where someone articulates goals like working in local prosecution, a smaller firm, or a similar career path and is then told that their only option (or even a good option) is a T14 school. The reason you see such an "echo chamber" is that 0Ls come here with the impression that law school is a ticket to a six-figure salary. More than that, they believe that any law school will get you there as long as you "hustle." Evidently, you haven't given up on that belief, even though you admit that you're the exception to the rule.

If you genuinely believe that you succeeded because 75% of your classmates were lazy, then you're being remarkably dense and dismissive of your classmates. After three years of being around a group of students who are mostly as intelligent as you (if not much smarter), you should know better. I understand the desire to attribute as much of your success as possible to your own hard work and innate abilities, but I absolutely guarantee that people in your class who worked just as hard and were just as talented as you didn't get the same results.

Yes, some students don't want to put in the effort. Some of those students will be on the bottom of the curve. Some of them will do great, because they have a natural aptitude for exam-taking. Luck is luck; you don't make it. You just emerge victorious on the other side and become a motivational speaker who insists that "people get what they earn" while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that it just ain't so.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby PartiallyLearnedHand » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:52 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:This forum has not become a place where 0L's can come to see the reality of law school admissions/legal employment landscape and then receive advice tailored to their situation. Instead, it has become a one-stop-shop for receiving the same rote, often dismissive answer to almost any of their questions regarding which school to attend.


Please find a single thread where someone articulates goals like working in local prosecution, a smaller firm, or a similar career path and is then told that their only option (or even a good option) is a T14 school. The reason you see such an "echo chamber" is that 0Ls come here with the impression that law school is a ticket to a six-figure salary. More than that, they believe that any law school will get you there as long as you "hustle." Evidently, you haven't given up on that belief, even though you admit that you're the exception to the rule.

If you genuinely believe that you succeeded because 75% of your classmates were lazy, then you're being remarkably dense and dismissive of your classmates. After three years of being around a group of students who are mostly as intelligent as you (if not much smarter), you should know better. I understand the desire to attribute as much of your success as possible to your own hard work and innate abilities, but I absolutely guarantee that people in your class who worked just as hard and were just as talented as you didn't get the same results.

Yes, some students don't want to put in the effort. Some of those students will be on the bottom of the curve. Some of them will do great, because they have a natural aptitude for exam-taking. Luck is luck; you don't make it. You just emerge victorious on the other side and become a motivational speaker who insists that "people get what they earn" while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that it just ain't so.


You are actually one of the posters who is most responsible for my above complaints relating to advice on TLS. First, if you actually read my second post, you would see that I don't believe 75% of my classmates are lazy. I believe that there is at any time only about 50% of a class of law school students that either put in the required amount of work OR have a natural aptitude to succeed in law school. There is a not insignificant amount, probably close to 25%-30%, of law students who are lazy in the sense that they put in the absolute bare minimum work. Sure, some of them will still do well, but they fall into the category of students who have a natural aptitude. That still leaves a large portion of the class that you can absolutely do better than simply by working harder, and lessens the pool of individuals competing for the limited number of big law jobs available.

Your assertion that you should basically go into law school, do an average amount of work, and then hope for the best during exams because the curve is "random" is genuinely laughable. I'm not sure if that is some kind of coping mechanism you came up with to try and deal with the stress of law school, and have now convinced yourself that it is the truth, but it just holds no weight. Especially at schools outside of the T14. You can always improve your odds in regard to the curve, and the people that I saw sitting for OCI interviews this past fall were the same ones that I constantly saw in the library during 1L year. Sure as hell doesn't seem random to me.

Anyway, you still missed my main point. I clearly stated that the odds for big law are stacked against OP at either of these schools, and impressed upon them the importance of considering employment statistics when choosing which school to attend. But, unlike the rest of TLS, I decided not to end the inquiry there, and proceeded to briefly recount my own experiences in order to give them some context on what it might take to get a big law job in DC from a similar school. TLS would be a better place if it lessened the dismissive tones used in your post when giving advice to 0Ls and instead and balanced it with some advice going the other way.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby nixy » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:58 pm

It’s a cliche, but there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Every year there are woebegone 1Ls who show up here after grades come out explaining how much work they did and how badly they did on exams regardless. I’m pretty sure cav isn’t saying that the curve is random, just that students suffer from information asymmetry because they can never actually know what their classmates are doing wrt studying and succeeding. Saying that you outworked other students (and advising others than they can) is inherently an after-the-fact analysis informed by hindsight. You can’t know ahead of time how you will do at a given school.

Now, it’s true that it’s up to the individual to decide what level of risk they’re willing to take. It doesn’t have to be the same level that most people here are willing to take. But comfort with risk is also hard to evaluate for, for instance, k-jds who haven’t really lived and worked on their own to have much context for any of this, either.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:13 pm

PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:You are actually one of the posters who is most responsible for my above complaints relating to advice on TLS.


Aw, I'm flattered.

Anyway, I asked you to produce a thread where someone with reasonable goals from a regional school at a decent price was told to abandon that choice for a top school. You didn't, so I assume that you concede you were talking out of your ass on that point.

As to the rest of it, brevity is the soul of wit. You can just say "I didn't say that 75% of my classmates are lazy. It's just that only 25% of us worked hard, and that's why we earned our way into OCI." Saves the reader a lot of time. But one of your many inane assertions is worth specific comment:

PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:Your assertion that you should basically go into law school, do an average amount of work, and then hope for the best during exams because the curve is "random" is genuinely laughable.


I never said the curve was random. Don't misquote me. I just don't think I'm smarter than all of my classmates or that our relative grades are an indication of our relative "hustle." I'm truly sorry for your peers if they have to deal with your attitude.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby PartiallyLearnedHand » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:37 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:You are actually one of the posters who is most responsible for my above complaints relating to advice on TLS.


Aw, I'm flattered.

Anyway, I asked you to produce a thread where someone with reasonable goals from a regional school at a decent price was told to abandon that choice for a top school. You didn't, so I assume that you concede you were talking out of your ass on that point.

As to the rest of it, brevity is the soul of wit. You can just say "I didn't say that 75% of my classmates are lazy. It's just that only 25% of us worked hard, and that's why we earned our way into OCI." Saves the reader a lot of time. But one of your many inane assertions is worth specific comment:

PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:Your assertion that you should basically go into law school, do an average amount of work, and then hope for the best during exams because the curve is "random" is genuinely laughable.


I never said the curve was random. Don't misquote me. I just don't think I'm smarter than all of my classmates or that our relative grades are an indication of our relative "hustle." I'm truly sorry for your peers if they have to deal with your attitude.


Here is your thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=298866

As you can see, this poster does NOT want big law and is only pursuing regional employment outcomes that are eminently attainable from the school in question. What is the first response? "Yeah this is not a bad option, but you should still try to do as good as you can on the LSAT so you can go to a T14." It is far from a dismissive response, but goes to my point about this forum being an echo chamber. I have seen numerous threads very similar to this one.

As for the rest of your post, thank you for distilling one of my points for me, although I am surprised you were able to do so without coming to an understanding of what it was trying to get across. I find it quite amusing that you are pointing to my attitude when the entire reason this argument is happening is because I am not folding over and agreeing with everything you are saying. Seems to point to a particular aspect of yours instead. Anyway, if there are any other substantive points that you would like to discuss I'm still more than happy to as I respect your commitment to your position.

nixy wrote:It’s a cliche, but there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Every year there are woebegone 1Ls who show up here after grades come out explaining how much work they did and how badly they did on exams regardless. I’m pretty sure cav isn’t saying that the curve is random, just that students suffer from information asymmetry because they can never actually know what their classmates are doing wrt studying and succeeding. Saying that you outworked other students (and advising others than they can) is inherently an after-the-fact analysis informed by hindsight. You can’t know ahead of time how you will do at a given school.


Your point about working smart is a good one, and one that I absolutely overlooked. Thank you for pointing that out. Also, point taken about my experiences being an inherently after-the-fact analysis. That is absolutely true, but I still fail to see how past experiences can't help influence the future conduct of others. There are a number of "How to Do Well 1L Year" guides through out this forum that, while going into much more depth, rely on similar themes to what I stated. Regardless, your post is appreciated and raises important points that I hope OP will take note of.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:08 pm

PartiallyLearnedHand wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Aw, I'm flattered.

Anyway, I asked you to produce a thread where someone with reasonable goals from a regional school at a decent price was told to abandon that choice for a top school. You didn't, so I assume that you concede you were talking out of your ass on that point.

Here is your thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=298866

As you can see, this poster does NOT want big law and is only pursuing regional employment outcomes that are eminently attainable from the school in question. What is the first response? "Yeah this is not a bad option, but you should still try to do as good as you can on the LSAT so you can go to a T14." It is far from a dismissive response, but goes to my point about this forum being an echo chamber. I have seen numerous threads very similar to this one.

The (first and only) response in the thread you cite was from yours truly, and I stand by my advice. I think I gave a very thorough answer. I did this because the OP expressly requested:

HomeMeansNV25 wrote:Is a T2 law school worth considering in my case? ... Be as honest as possible. I don't want to make a decision I'll end up regretting down the road, so any feedback is welcome. Critique my thought process, goals, and anything else!


Charged thusly, I gave OP a comprehensive, balanced response. I said OP's stated goals were indeed achievable from UNLV - thus, it was, in fact, worth considering in their case. But that wasn't all OP was asking for. OP also requested feedback on their thought process and goals. So I described the risk of attending UNLV: 25% of the school's most recent grads struck out of practicing law. I described the potential advantages of attending a T13 - risk minimization and a better shot at NV's most competitive clerkships. You'll note I also analyzed UNLV's relative advantages vis-a-vis T1 schools.

And the OP in that thread appreciated my thorough response. They posted:
HomeMeansNV25 wrote:Thanks so much! I hadn't considered some of these points.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Npret » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:47 pm

I’m always going to suggest a person with a high GPA and a low LSAT retake the exam. It’s almost a no -brainer to me and I’m not sure that it hurts anyone to hear that advice.

Retaking one exam means a few months of studying and one day out of your life. You can only improve your position, your highest score is the only score schools will consider.

I only give this advice because law school admissions are so predictably numbers driven. If that were not the case, and if schools weren’t trying to hold medians, I would not advise a retake. Who wants to waste their time on a standardized test unless it can benefit their admission chances?

A second reason for this advice is I know that almost everyone thinks they will be the top of their class. The curve prevents that from happening so we know, before school even starts, that only a certain number will be A students. 0Ls don’t always grasp the curve or look at their likely employment stats from median.

The third reason is that I hate to see people throw away the 4 years of work they spent getting their GPA. Yes, undergrad may not be that hard comparatively and certain majors are easier, but a 3.8, 3.9 or 4.0 take effort and should be valued.

The fourth reason is that people frequently change their mind when they are in law school. Many public interest students decide they want something else and vice versa I suppose. The person taking massive debt depending on LRAP May no longer want that route.

My final reason is that 0Ls still rarely understand the job market. Some (or many) don’t know the prestige and grade orientation of hiring. Some don’t even know what practicing law entails other than what they’ve seen on TV.

Yes, it’s annoying to hear advice a poster doesn’t want to hear. It’s not fun to give that advice either. I would much rather tell 0Ls that there isn’t a huge oversupply of unemployed lawyers or that law school isn’t vastly overpriced and not worth mortgaging your future.

The reality is that law schools lying about employment stats for years created a false expectation about law that still persists. The best chance of success as a practicing lawyer is to go to the best school for you at the best price.

I am not helping an 0L by not encouraging them to retake when they have a high GPA. Maybe they can have other options or get scholarships they don’t think are within their grasp now.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Staddle » Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:17 pm

I have a three thoughts relating to the last several posts.

As a general rule, I find a fair amount of the discourse on this forum (and I am not necessarily talking about this thread) to be dismissive. There is no reason to tell 0Ls that their ideas are stupid or call them snowflakes or tell them that law schools that are not in the T14 "suck." When I see that sort of thing, I tend to assume that the poster has self esteem issues. There is just no reason why advice--whatever it is--cannot be conveyed in a kind, compassionate way.

I also find the advice on this forum, as a general rule, to be overly pessimistic. I am not suggesting that anything be sugar coated. If someone is about to embark on a quest that is unlikely to bear fruit, more experienced people should tell them so. It is indeed useful information to know that X % of grads from Y law school landed a certain kind of job. But this site would be more helpful to 0Ls if posters talked in terms of odds or likelihood (without the exaggerations) rather than in absolutes. Also, there are many reasons why it is inaccurate to say that a student who goes to a school where 25% of the grads land BigLaw jobs has a 25% chance of landing a BigLaw job after graduation. A major one is that many people in the class--including some who perform very well-- have no interest in working for Biglaw and never pursue it. And for good reason--BigLaw is not for everyone, as partially evidenced by the fact that so many people who do land a Biglaw job bail pretty quickly.

Finally, I agree that predicting law school success is very difficult. I have no confidence in anyone's ability to assess their aptitude for the study of law relative to their peers. But there are degrees of how driven someone is. And the really driven people know who they are. To use an analogy, I played a varsity sport in college. I was ok at it. But there was one guy on my team who was great at it. Part of the difference between he and me was genetics--he had been given a better body. But--and I think this was the more important factor--he had a singular drive and focus--and an absolute NEED to excel-- that I did not have. I wasn't "lazy"; I just wasn't as all in as he was. A minority of law students--my guess is around 10%--have that kind of drive. They will move the odds in their favor. It also helps, of course, if they are articulate, poised and interview well.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby objctnyrhnr » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:21 pm

In these threads, I always find myself wondering about the specific reasons why OP wouldn’t retake.

“I maxed out on how well I could do on the Lsat”—unless you got like a 174 with a few questions wrong in reading Comp, no you didn’t. This is an exceptionally learnable exam. Learn it. Take every Lsat 3 times and learn why each wrong answer is wrong and why each right answer is right. It’ll take forever, but you’ll recognize every pattern and the games/arguments will start to come together in your head in an instant.

“Then it’s another year of my life before bla bla” using the penny saved is a penny earned mantra, this could be the most lucrative year of your life (when factoring interest, especially). Add that to increase in potential outcomes from better schools. How can anybody be so shortsighted to think that an improvement on this test isn’t worth another year?

“I just hate it and I’m over it.” If you dislike the test, you haven’t done enough of them. You need to get it to the point where you like it, IMO. Also this is just stupid.

“I’ve already put the work in and I don’t wanna again.” So you lack the work ethic to conquer this, but you expect a good outcome at your ttt from your amazing work ethic?

“I’m not a good test taker” good luck doing decently in LS

“My parents/friends say bla bla” not worthy of response

Anyway I could go on, but my issue with posters with the “I won’t retake” attitudes is that there’s never a sufficiently compelling reason not to just improve at this thing.

Serious question—has anybody heard one?

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Npret » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:30 pm

Staddle wrote:I have a three thoughts relating to the last several posts.

As a general rule, I find a fair amount of the discourse on this forum (and I am not necessarily talking about this thread) to be dismissive. There is no reason to tell 0Ls that their ideas are stupid or call them snowflakes or tell them that law schools that are not in the T14 "suck." When I see that sort of thing, I tend to assume that the poster has self esteem issues. There is just no reason why advice--whatever it is--cannot be conveyed in a kind, compassionate way.

I also find the advice on this forum, as a general rule, to be overly pessimistic. I am not suggesting that anything be sugar coated. If someone is about to embark on a quest that is unlikely to bear fruit, more experienced people should tell them so. It is indeed useful information to know that X % of grads from Y law school landed a certain kind of job. But this site would be more helpful to 0Ls if posters talked in terms of odds or likelihood (without the exaggerations) rather than in absolutes. Also, there are many reasons why it is inaccurate to say that a student who goes to a school where 25% of the grads land BigLaw jobs has a 25% chance of landing a BigLaw job after graduation. A major one is that many people in the class--including some who perform very well-- have no interest in working for Biglaw and never pursue it. And for good reason--BigLaw is not for everyone, as partially evidenced by the fact that so many people who do land a Biglaw job bail pretty quickly.

Finally, I agree that predicting law school success is very difficult. I have no confidence in anyone's ability to assess their aptitude for the study of law relative to their peers. But there are degrees of how driven someone is. And the really driven people know who they are. To use an analogy, I played a varsity sport in college. I was ok at it. But there was one guy on my team who was great at it. Part of the difference between he and me was genetics--he had been given a better body. But--and I think this was the more important factor--he had a singular drive and focus--and an absolute NEED to excel-- that I did not have. I wasn't "lazy"; I just wasn't as all in as he was. A minority of law students--my guess is around 10%--have that kind of drive. They will move the odds in their favor. It also helps, of course, if they are articulate, poised and interview well.


In this thread the OP said the friend want DC biglaw from schools that don’t generally perform well in that placement.

How is it helpful to anyone to tell them they have a good shot at that goal from those schools?

Is it not better to tell them the truth - they will be increasing their chance at their dream job or any big law job, if they attend a different school.

Trying to break down the number of people who wanted DC big law but didn’t get it isn’t possible from the numbers. We do however have numbers of biglaw placement and we do have access to firm websites to see who is getting those jobs. Given what we know of the competitive nature of DC biglaw hiring, we know not everyone who wants it gets it. Even without that, we know how many biglaw jobs there are in DC and we know there aren’t enough.

Trying to rationalize that 25% biglaw placement (not DC only) is because few people from GW (and it’s massive transfer class) want a prestigious DC biglaw job paying market is nonsensical.

You can go ahead with your boomer advice that all they need is drive and believe in themselves. The curve says otherwise.

If you wonder why I call people a snowflake, it’s because they are behaving just like the special snowflake you describe. The difference is that these snowflakes are putting themselves in a bad position from day one.

My intention is to get their attention and to explain that they don’t actually know how much harder they are making their life by not studying and retaking. All I can do is try to get them to think carefully and do more research as to their career.

I don’t actually care what you think of my advice as I think yours is actively harmful. You can add me as “foe” on your contacts so you’ll never have to read my thoughts again.
Last edited by Npret on Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Npret » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:37 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:In these threads, I always find myself wondering about the specific reasons why OP wouldn’t retake.

“I maxed out on how well I could do on the Lsat”—unless you got like a 174 with a few questions wrong in reading Comp, no you didn’t. This is an exceptionally learnable exam. Learn it. Take every Lsat 3 times and learn why each wrong answer is wrong and why each right answer is right. It’ll take forever, but you’ll recognize every pattern and the games/arguments will start to come together in your head in an instant.

“Then it’s another year of my life before bla bla” using the penny saved is a penny earned mantra, this could be the most lucrative year of your life (when factoring interest, especially). Add that to increase in potential outcomes from better schools. How can anybody be so shortsighted to think that an improvement on this test isn’t worth another year?

“I just hate it and I’m over it.” If you dislike the test, you haven’t done enough of them. You need to get it to the point where you like it, IMO. Also this is just stupid.

“I’ve already put the work in and I don’t wanna again.” So you lack the work ethic to conquer this, but you expect a good outcome at your ttt from your amazing work ethic?

“I’m not a good test taker” good luck doing decently in LS

“My parents/friends say bla bla” not worthy of response

Anyway I could go on, but my issue with posters with the “I won’t retake” attitudes is that there’s never a sufficiently compelling reason not to just improve at this thing.

Serious question—has anybody heard one?


Reasons not to retake-
1. Independently wealthy, parents paying for everything, no real need of a career.

2. Score gets you into the local school at a good price, you can’t leave the area because of compelling family reasons family and you intend to practice there.

3. Possibly -You have to be in school to maintain your visa or you have to return to your country. Even this is iffy because you can’t get govt loans which means your spending family money or borrowing private loans they may not have to spare.

4. Possibly - your Yellow Ribbon/GI benefits will expire, not sure that happens.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:49 pm

Staddle wrote:I have a three thoughts relating to the last several posts.

As a general rule, I find a fair amount of the discourse on this forum (and I am not necessarily talking about this thread) to be dismissive. There is no reason to tell 0Ls that their ideas are stupid or call them snowflakes or tell them that law schools that are not in the T14 "suck." When I see that sort of thing, I tend to assume that the poster has self esteem issues. There is just no reason why advice--whatever it is--cannot be conveyed in a kind, compassionate way.

I don't think I've ever seen a clueless 0L wander into TLS, ask a question, and immediately get attacked on a personal level. I have seen clueless 0Ls come here ostensibly seeking advice (what should I do? what do you think my chances are?), but start acting stubborn when the advice given isn't what they want to hear (what do you mean I shouldn't attend a T2?! I'm gonna hustle and I'm going to bet on myself and I'm going to land appellate litigation out of my T2!). That's when some of the veteran posters become frustrated.

I'm not condoning personal attacks, but I wanted to point out that there is almost always, from my observations, some instigating factor behind the personal attacks that get made.

Staddle wrote:I also find the advice on this forum, as a general rule, to be overly pessimistic. I am not suggesting that anything be sugar coated. If someone is about to embark on a quest that is unlikely to bear fruit, more experienced people should tell them so. It is indeed useful information to know that X % of grads from Y law school landed a certain kind of job. But this site would be more helpful to 0Ls if posters talked in terms of odds or likelihood (without the exaggerations) rather than in absolutes.

I agree that sometimes posters are overly negative. But, I think, on balance that isn't a bad thing, because so many clueless 0Ls come in and are overly optimistic to a ludicrous degree. I think, in fact, it's that crazy amount of unwarranted optimism that drives a lot of the negativity. The 0Ls that come in with more grounded, realistic perspectives tend to be treated much more warmly, because there's no bubble to burst. In fact, there are 0Ls who get told they're underestimating themselves or their chances of admission.

Staddle wrote:Also, there are many reasons why it is inaccurate to say that a student who goes to a school where 25% of the grads land BigLaw jobs has a 25% chance of landing a BigLaw job after graduation. A major one is that many people in the class--including some who perform very well-- have no interest in working for Biglaw and never pursue it.

But there's no reason to assume that non-T13 students are disproportionately uninterested in BigLaw. At the T13, 70-80+% of students commonly join BigLaw after graduation. There's no reason to assume that at a random T2, only half as many - say, 40% - of students would accept a BigLaw offer if that was on the table.

Staddle wrote:Finally, I agree that predicting law school success is very difficult. I have no confidence in anyone's ability to assess their aptitude for the study of law relative to their peers. But there are degrees of how driven someone is. And the really driven people know who they are. To use an analogy, I played a varsity sport in college. I was ok at it. But there was one guy on my team who was great at it. Part of the difference between he and me was genetics--he had been given a better body. But--and I think this was the more important factor--he had a singular drive and focus--and an absolute NEED to excel-- that I did not have. I wasn't "lazy"; I just wasn't as all in as he was. A minority of law students--my guess is around 10%--have that kind of drive. They will move the odds in their favor. It also helps, of course, if they are articulate, poised and interview well.

The problem with the above is that students who refuse to study properly for the LSAT clearly don't feel that absolute NEED to excel. If they felt that need, they wouldn't be satisfied with a subpar LSAT score.

Npret wrote:Reasons not to retake-
1. Independently wealthy, parents paying for everything, no real need of a career.

2. Score gets you into the local school at a good price, you can’t leave the area because of compelling family reasons family and you intend to practice there.

3. Possibly -You have to be in school to maintain your visa or you have to return to your country. Even this is iffy because you can’t get govt loans which means your spending family money or borrowing private loans they may not have to spare.

4. Possibly - your Yellow Ribbon/GI benefits will expire, not sure that happens.

Generally agree, with two caveats.

A), w.r.t. point 1, I'd narrow it to provide that the rich student also has no desire to practice law at a high level. I know plenty of rich students who could very well spend their lives not working, but would be miserable if they didn't have a realistic shot at landing federal clerkships or impact lit or whatnot.

B), w.r.t. point 2, I'd widen it slightly to include cases where someone is willing to leave the area but is 100% dead-set on practicing in their rural home state. If, for example, someone's dead set on practicing law in rural ND or WY, and can get into the local school at a good price, I don't think they'd get too much of an advantage attending, say, UVA, even if they were young and single and could easily spend 3 years out of state.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Eggs » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:04 pm

While I don't think you can argue this website has a heavy slant towards T14 and BigLaw, the numbers show that's mostly the reality of the situation. I do feel like I should have Cavalier's back on this one (although he seems to be doing fine). When I explained my goals and reasoning, I got advice to attend a regional T1. So, I guess the story doesn't always end in T14 or bust on this site

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby nixy » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:12 pm

QContinuum wrote:But there's no reason to assume that non-T13 students are disproportionately uninterested in BigLaw. At the T13, 70-80+% of students commonly join BigLaw after graduation. There's no reason to assume that at a random T2, only half as many - say, 40% - of students would accept a BigLaw offer if that was on the table.

The one thing I'll say about this is that I do think if you're biglaw or bust, you're more likely to gun for the T14, and that one of the reasons so many students at those schools go biglaw is school culture - you know (or think) you should be able to get the job, everyone's going for those jobs, and it's the path of least resistance. If you're at a T1 school (I'll leave aside the T20-ish schools like WashU and Vandy that have strong biglaw placement) you just don't have the same expectation of biglaw (at least, if you're sensible). So I actually do think many more people are aiming for regional firms, local/state government, ADA/PD, etc., rather than everyone competing fiercely for the fewer biglaw jobs available; people make relatively sensible assessments of what's realistic and where they should put their time. Also there are a lot more people at regional schools who are going there b/c that's where they're from and they don't want to leave and they just want an ordinary law job, who aren't really interested in or even that familiar with biglaw, especially if the school is in a market with relatively little biglaw (which many regional schools are).

That said, I don't think that justifies believing determination is going to get you there over anyone else, or that because the pool of biglaw competitors is slightly smaller, you're more likely to get it, nor do I think this is going to help you get DC from GW or W&L. I just do think the pool of people gunning for biglaw from regional schools actually is smaller than the pool in the T14.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:40 pm

nixy wrote:The one thing I'll say about this is that I do think if you're biglaw or bust, you're more likely to gun for the T14, and that one of the reasons so many students at those schools go biglaw is school culture - you know (or think) you should be able to get the job, everyone's going for those jobs, and it's the path of least resistance. If you're at a T1 school (I'll leave aside the T20-ish schools like WashU and Vandy that have strong biglaw placement) you just don't have the same expectation of biglaw (at least, if you're sensible). So I actually do think many more people are aiming for regional firms, local/state government, ADA/PD, etc., rather than everyone competing fiercely for the fewer biglaw jobs available; people make relatively sensible assessments of what's realistic and where they should put their time. Also there are a lot more people at regional schools who are going there b/c that's where they're from and they don't want to leave and they just want an ordinary law job, who aren't really interested in or even that familiar with biglaw, especially if the school is in a market with relatively little biglaw (which many regional schools are).

That said, I don't think that justifies believing determination is going to get you there over anyone else, or that because the pool of biglaw competitors is slightly smaller, you're more likely to get it, nor do I think this is going to help you get DC from GW or W&L. I just do think the pool of people gunning for biglaw from regional schools actually is smaller than the pool in the T14.

But I don't think most students come into the T14 gunning for BigLaw. When I started law school, I didn't know of a single person in my entering class who was BigLaw or bust. There were a number of PI devotees, and a few clerkship nuts. Most everyone else had pretty unformed desires. Most people were drawn to law by the prospect of sexy civil rights/impact litigation work. No one was inspired by the thought of doing due diligence on a corporate M&A deal. But as 1L went on, and the 1L summer internship hunt prodded people to start thinking about jobs, people started researching, and realized the only way to make the kind of money they wanted to make was BigLaw. I'm willing to bet things are much the same at non-T14 schools, except that there isn't that convenient BigLaw OCI pipeline to fall into.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby nixy » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:49 pm

That’s interesting given the number of people here who seem interested only in biglaw from day one. Still, I don’t think the culture is quite the same at the regional school - I think there are more modest goals overall (obviously not every student, but collectively).

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:56 pm

nixy wrote:That’s interesting given the number of people here who seem interested only in biglaw from day one. Still, I don’t think the culture is quite the same at the regional school - I think there are more modest goals overall (obviously not every student, but collectively).

I think it's a pretty self-selecting bunch of 0Ls who find their way to TLS. The vast majority - me included, in fact - never knew of TLS' existence as 0Ls.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Npret » Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:21 am

QContinuum wrote:
nixy wrote:That’s interesting given the number of people here who seem interested only in biglaw from day one. Still, I don’t think the culture is quite the same at the regional school - I think there are more modest goals overall (obviously not every student, but collectively).

I think it's a pretty self-selecting bunch of 0Ls who find their way to TLS. The vast majority - me included, in fact - never knew of TLS' existence as 0Ls.

I agree it’s self-selecting. I also agree that 0Ls are largely clueless about law and employment.

By the time OCI bidlists are due, every one of the 500 plus rising 2Ls and the roughly 100 full tuition paying transfers, will be aware of biglaw and biglaw salaries. I don’t believe that only 25%-30% of that group are interested in obtaining the highest possible salary at graduation.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby Dcc617 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:12 am

DC market is super competitive. I go to Harvard and when I went through EIP, a lot of my friends with good grades were sweating DC, with some only getting a single offer. I'd seriously reconsider going all in on DC, especially with tbose schools at those costs.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:59 am

I agree with all the points made about 0Ls being given an overly rosy view of law school and legal hiring. But I want to highlight that this isn't just a problem with their families or wider stereotypes of the glamorous, high-paid life enjoyed by all lawyers. This is an issue caused by law schools.

Law schools pumped up 0L expectations of great jobs. Law schools increased their enrollment to accommodate the booming legal market. Law schools were created solely to handle the extra people who were eager to enter the profession. And then when the bubble burst, no one adjusted. Schools didn't reduce their class sizes. Campbell didn't voluntarily close its doors. 0Ls are consistently told that [school with a 50% bar-passage-required job rate] will set them on the path to the legal career they've always wanted. And people then reinforce that the students' "drive" or "hustle" or "moxie" will be enough to get them wherever they need to go.

I wholeheartedly reject the idea that only 10% of law students are "driven" enough to succeed in the profession. That's absurdly reductive. Only 10% of students are allowed to appear "driven," because that's the nature of the curve and the culture of legal academia and hiring. Students have plenty of positive reinforcement in their real lives, from a whole range of sources. No one here has any responsibility to promote softer views of reality in order to preserve the feelings of shitty institutions and the graduates who managed to beat the odds.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby nixy » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:42 am

Npret wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
nixy wrote:That’s interesting given the number of people here who seem interested only in biglaw from day one. Still, I don’t think the culture is quite the same at the regional school - I think there are more modest goals overall (obviously not every student, but collectively).

I think it's a pretty self-selecting bunch of 0Ls who find their way to TLS. The vast majority - me included, in fact - never knew of TLS' existence as 0Ls.

I agree it’s self-selecting. I also agree that 0Ls are largely clueless about law and employment.

By the time OCI bidlists are due, every one of the 500 plus rising 2Ls and the roughly 100 full tuition paying transfers, will be aware of biglaw and biglaw salaries. I don’t believe that only 25%-30% of that group are interested in obtaining the highest possible salary at graduation.

I’m not saying that those who get biglaw are the only ones interested in getting biglaw. But I still think the expectation/culture is different about this at different schools. There isn’t quite the same default assumption that you’ll do OCI/go biglaw when only 25-30% of the class gets those jobs. OCI is smaller and much less all encompassing. It doesn’t have the same impact on students. (OCI will be non-lottery and very different from bidding at a T14.)

Again, this isn’t remotely to say that therefore someone who wants DC biglaw should go to either GW or W&L because fewer people there will be interested and therefore they have a decent shot. I agree that that’s not how it works. Just saying that as someone who went to a regional school, OCI doesn’t seem to play the same kind of role that everything on this site suggests it does at a T14 - and that no, expectation for getting biglaw isn’t distributed evenly across schools.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby PartiallyLearnedHand » Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:26 am

cavalier1138 wrote:I agree with all the points made about 0Ls being given an overly rosy view of law school and legal hiring. But I want to highlight that this isn't just a problem with their families or wider stereotypes of the glamorous, high-paid life enjoyed by all lawyers. This is an issue caused by law schools.

Law schools pumped up 0L expectations of great jobs. Law schools increased their enrollment to accommodate the booming legal market. Law schools were created solely to handle the extra people who were eager to enter the profession. And then when the bubble burst, no one adjusted. Schools didn't reduce their class sizes. Campbell didn't voluntarily close its doors. 0Ls are consistently told that [school with a 50% bar-passage-required job rate] will set them on the path to the legal career they've always wanted. And people then reinforce that the students' "drive" or "hustle" or "moxie" will be enough to get them wherever they need to go.

I wholeheartedly reject the idea that only 10% of law students are "driven" enough to succeed in the profession. That's absurdly reductive. Only 10% of students are allowed to appear "driven," because that's the nature of the curve and the culture of legal academia and hiring. Students have plenty of positive reinforcement in their real lives, from a whole range of sources. No one here has any responsibility to promote softer views of reality in order to preserve the feelings of shitty institutions and the graduates who managed to beat the odds.


Do you go to a T14? Because your view of how the curve works at T1 schools is so incredibly naive. Probably 85% of all T1 law students are driven, intelligent individuals who absolutely have the capacity to succeed as attorneys in the profession. Some of those students, as Nixy has stated, have no desire to go into big law and therefore just do not enter the equation. It is absolutely a fact that those individuals exist at T1 schools. However, there is a smaller, self-selecting percentage of individuals out of that group who, either through their natural intelligence or a harder work ethic, are able to do what is necessary during their 1L year to put themselves in a position to get a big law job. If you have a 200 person class, that "10%" that you talk about usually only selects itself out of a pool of around 60 people, and you are not actually competing against 170 students. I don't really know how else to say it other than that is the fact of the situation at a large amount of schools.

I don't think your advice or what you are saying is wrong, dishonest, or completely unhelpful. The substance of your answers to 0L questions are almost always relevant, its just that you don't have to give it in such a dismissive way which, as evidenced of your post history, is overwhelming the case. Probably would not hurt to be open to other POV on the process as well.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby nixy » Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:48 am

1) I don’t really agree that you can say out of 200 you’ll only be competing against, say, 60. Even if that is only the truly competitive pool (don’t completely agree with this),

2) before you get to law school you don’t know whether you’re going to be in that hypothetical pool of 60 or lumped in with the rest. I really don’t think people are able to self-assess in this way. And

3) even if the pool of realistic competition is hypothetically smaller, at a lot of T1 schools, given the number that get biglaw, the odds for biglaw are still worse than going to a T14. If you’re competing against, say, 80% of your T14 class, and 75-80% get biglaw, that’s still different from competing against, say, 40-50% of your T1 class where 20% get biglaw.

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Re: GW ($0) vs W&L ($$$)

Postby PartiallyLearnedHand » Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:08 pm

nixy wrote:1) I don’t really agree that you can say out of 200 you’ll only be competing against, say, 60. Even if that is only the truly competitive pool (don’t completely agree with this),

2) before you get to law school you don’t know whether you’re going to be in that hypothetical pool of 60 or lumped in with the rest. I really don’t think people are able to self-assess in this way. And

3) even if the pool of realistic competition is hypothetically smaller, at a lot of T1 schools, given the number that get biglaw, the odds for biglaw are still worse than going to a T14. If you’re competing against, say, 80% of your T14 class, and 75-80% get biglaw, that’s still different from competing against, say, 40-50% of your T1 class where 20% get biglaw.


All fair, and good points, but are you bringing these up because you actually disagree with my assertions or because you want to back-up another long-time TLS poster? Because they seem awfully contradictory to your above posts insinuating that the pool of competition at regional schools is smaller bc of a lack of interest in big law. It’s not that big of a jump to say that once you take out those who are not even interested in competing, there’s again another, smaller pool of truly competitive individuals within that. Don’t mean this in accusatory manor, and apologies if that’s how it comes across, just genuinely curious as to your thought process because it doesn’t seem to square.



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