Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

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NerdmoD
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Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 5:52 pm

Well, so here was something I was thinking about while looking at some of the polls that frequent TLS for people interested in BigLaw...

General wisdom seems to be that all things equal, you should go to a higher-ranked school if you want to do BigLaw, because the school will have better recruitment, higher placement percentages, etc. But looking at the employment stats from this year's NLJ 250 Go-to Law Schools, it seems like the percentage placement spread among the T-20, though significant, only runs from somewhere around 56% at NW, down to 30% or so at George Washington.

Speaking generally, that seems to mean that you would likely need to be above the median of NW to get a BigLaw job, while you would only need to be top 30% at George Washington to get the same/similar placement. Even assuming that you would need to be top 20%, wouldn't it be more likely for a "typical" NW admit to be in the top 20% of George Washington than the top 50% at NW?

Not to belittle the academic challenge of George Washington in any way, but the odds seem to indicate that it would be more beneficial for some LS admits to be a higher-caliber student at a slightly less prestigious school, than a mid- to low- end student at the best school they get in to, if their goal is BigLaw (esp. if they are below the median admit.)

Thoughts?

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 5:57 pm

what you wanna do is contact the schools about the performance of scholarship students at the schools. then you weight how similar you think NU students and GWU scholarship students are in terms of ability (a hard thing to do)

lawschoolstudent85
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby lawschoolstudent85 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:01 pm

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NerdmoD
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 6:05 pm

whuts4lunch wrote:what you wanna do is contact the schools about the performance of scholarship students at the schools. then you weight how similar you think NU students and GWU scholarship students are in terms of ability (a hard thing to do)


Even if you could do that, I'm not quite sure what that would prove...based on the NLJ placement numbers, I'm saying it wouldn't even matter if you did have a scholarship and went to a worse school (though, admittedly, you probably would have one if you turned down a T10.) I mean, GW placed 289 ppl (43%) in NLJ spots last year, and NU placed 239 (50%)...and we know from admissions stats that generally GW students have a less competitive academic background than those at NU...wouldn't it be therefore more likely that a NU admit would be in the top 43% at GW than the top 50% at NU?

(Admission stats include scholarship students in their calculations already.)

CanadianWolf
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon May 10, 2010 6:06 pm

Not every graduating law student at Northwestern wants "biglaw", therefore it is probably more accurate to write that academic standing in the top two thirds of the class has a reasonable opportunity to join a "biglaw" firm.
It is also important to note the students who accepted judicial clerkships rather than biglaw. In 2009, 56% of the law school graduates at Northwestern accepted a position at a NLJ top 250 largest law firm while a good percentage accepted a judicial clerkship position. Although I do not know the percentage that accepted a clerkship offer, if it was about 15%, then at least 71% had a strong opportunity to accept a biglaw offer. Additionally some graduates prefer other opportunities over biglaw and clerkships so it may be reasonable to assume that graduating above the bottom 25% of the class at Northwestern offers multiple employment options.
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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:07 pm

if you find out that the typical scholarship student at GWU has a 168-171 LSAT and the median for scholarship students is top 15%, then you figure that GWU is the safer bet for BigLaw than is NU

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:08 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Not every graduating law student at Northwestern wants "biglaw", therefore it is probably more accurate to write that academic standing in the top two thirds of the class has a reasonable opportunity to join a "biglaw" firm.


Wolf has it right; the thing to look for is what rank would make you competitive if you were to pursue biglaw, not the percentages that actually achieve biglaw.
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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:09 pm

wiggsb wrote:UGPA and LSAT aren't a fool proof predictor of how you will preform in law school.


So?

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby Mr. Pablo » Mon May 10, 2010 6:11 pm

The things that get you into a good school are your LSAT and GPA. These two factors predict about 20% of your performance in law school (I'm not sure if I wrote that right, so I hope you get the gist). This is pretty good as far as predictors are concerned, but I wouldn't bank on it. You really have no guarantee of how well you will do. Think about what your situation would be if you graduate at median, not what it's like to graduate in a position that 80% of the students don't have.

NerdmoD
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 6:11 pm

wiggsb wrote:UGPA and LSAT aren't a fool proof predictor of how you will preform in law school.


I totally agree. But since we use them as major predictors in comparing the competitiveness of schools anyways, it seems like they are built into the decisions on where to go already(IE "it's a reach school because I am below 25% UGPA/LSAT" or "That dude must be smart because he's going to Columbia" or "Dude you're retarded to go to UCLA with those numbers" etc.) Plus, we don't really have much else to compare are relative likelihood for success...

Grad09
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby Grad09 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:12 pm

Across TLS, I am constantly seeing both sides of the argument that the LSAT and UGPA are indicative of academic performance in law school.

Personally, I think they are not correlated with law school success. UGPA medians fluctuate from school to school. To my knowledge, undergrad classes are not curved as rigorously as law school. Your LSAT score could be a reflection of months of hard work memorizing LG charts or an unlucky headache in the morning.

That being said, when UGPA and LSAT are the prime factors in accepting a student, I don't think you can judge the quality of a whole student body as better than another school in the same 10-20 point ranking area. Of course, Harvard's students will take Cooley's, but to say Northwestern's students would dominate GWs is a little more unconvincing to me.

The point:
A typical Harvard student is likely to place in the top 20% of the class at Cooley.
A "typical" NW student is more likely to place at the median at Northwestern than at the top 20% at GW.


Want Biglaw? Unfortunately, ranking does matter. Statistically speaking, NW is the choice over GW.

Sorry to use Cooley as an an example, but that's the Tier 4 that gets the most publicity here.

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Doritos
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby Doritos » Mon May 10, 2010 6:14 pm

Why not stretch this even further...go to a T2 on a full ride + stipend and get top 5%?

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:15 pm

Mr. Pablo wrote:The things that get you into a good school are your LSAT and GPA. These two factors predict about 20% of your performance in law school (I'm not sure if I wrote that right, so I hope you get the gist). This is pretty good as far as predictors are concerned, but I wouldn't bank on it. You really have no guarantee of how well you will do. Think about what your situation would be if you graduate at median, not what it's like to graduate in a position that 80% of the students don't have.


In large numbers, the differences in admissions criteria of the students are meaningful. The OP isn't predicting his own performance, but the performance of the hundreds of classmates as a whole, and how a hypothetical person would perform at each school.

If the exact median student at school A would be top 10% at school B, and the opportunities at top 10% at school B are superior to the opportunities at median of school A, then the median school A student would be better off at school B.

NerdmoD
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 6:16 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Not every graduating law student at Northwestern wants "biglaw", therefore it is probably more accurate to write that academic standing in the top two thirds of the class has a reasonable opportunity to join a "biglaw" firm.


Well, the same would probably be true at most schools (though the percentage looking into PP might be less in top schools)

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:20 pm

Grad09 wrote:UGPA medians fluctuate from school to school.


I believe that UGPA is almost worthless, but I think the LSAT, when talking about groups of hundreds of students, is quite significant. A random selection of 300 students from a large pool of students with 170 LSATs will be, on the whole, more talented at law school than a random selection of 300 students from a large pool of students with 160 LSATs. The question is whether that difference in ability is greater or smaller than how deep into the class BigLaw firms are willing to hire.

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby whuts4lunch » Mon May 10, 2010 6:22 pm

Grad09 wrote:UGPA medians fluctuate from school to school.


and even if they didn't, the median Harvard UG student is much more academically talented than the median Florida Atlantic University student

lawschoolstudent85
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby lawschoolstudent85 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:29 pm

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CanadianWolf
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon May 10, 2010 6:29 pm

There are two important class rankings in law school: one's class rank at the end of the first year of law school & one's graduating class rank. My best guess is that those law students with high GPAs & LSAT scores usually graduate with a high class rank, but do not necessarily end their first year of law school with a high class rank. Many students who achieved a 4.0 in undergraduate school have difficulty in their first year of law school simply because memorization & regurgitation that may have ensured success in an undergraduate program will not equal success in the first year of law school.

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beesknees
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby beesknees » Mon May 10, 2010 6:46 pm

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Mr. Pablo
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby Mr. Pablo » Mon May 10, 2010 6:49 pm

whuts4lunch wrote:In large numbers, the differences in admissions criteria of the students are meaningful. The OP isn't predicting his own performance, but the performance of the hundreds of classmates as a whole, and how a hypothetical person would perform at each school.

If the exact median student at school A would be top 10% at school B, and the opportunities at top 10% at school B are superior to the opportunities at median of school A, then the median school A student would be better off at school B.


I don't know if it is possible to wholesale predict where a median student at school A is likely to land at school B. Sure, you can generalize about the quality of the student body, but to think that your application numbers will determine how well you will do isn't a good idea. Don't think of 1L grade medians across schools, especially where the gap in GPA/LSAT medians isn't really all that big in the scheme of things.

270910
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby 270910 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:55 pm

wouldn't it be more likely for a "typical" NW admit to be in the top 20% of George Washington than the top 50% at NW?


No. This is stupid and completely wrong. Your pre-law school stats bear only the most passing relationship to your performance in law school.

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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby 270910 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:58 pm

Just to hammer it home: Law school grades are important, they matter a lot, and they rank you viciously.

BUT THEY ARE NOT INTELLIGENCE CONTESTS.

You don't finish 1L, whip out the class roster, and figure out who was smartest one to 300 LOLOLOL!

It's a measure of how well you do in law school. The competition is so ridiculously fierce that wrote intellect has shockingly little to do with it. You'll understand once you get to law school *grump old man glare*

NerdmoD
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 7:07 pm

disco_barred wrote:Just to hammer it home: Law school grades are important, they matter a lot, and they rank you viciously.

BUT THEY ARE NOT INTELLIGENCE CONTESTS.

You don't finish 1L, whip out the class roster, and figure out who was smartest, one to 300 LOLOLOL!

It's a measure of how well you do in law school. The competition is so ridiculously fierce that wrote intellect has shockingly little to do with it. You'll understand once you get to law school *grump old man glare*


For the sake of argument, one might say that indicators such as your UGPA and LSAT are also NOT based on your intelligence. Rather, they are meant to gauge your potential success in law school. In fact, the mission statement from LSAC states that the LSAT is specifically designed to test your preparedness for law school, not your intelligence (now whether whether it achieves that or not is another question.)

Edit: oh and since you called my question "stupid", I will point out that it is "rote", not "wrote", and your usage doesn't work in that sentence. *snotty kid smile*

:wink:

NerdmoD
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby NerdmoD » Mon May 10, 2010 7:14 pm

disco_barred wrote:
wouldn't it be more likely for a "typical" NW admit to be in the top 20% of George Washington than the top 50% at NW?


No. This is stupid and completely wrong. Your pre-law school stats bear only the most passing relationship to your performance in law school.



So your argument is that the student body at NW is not significantly more competitive on average than the student body of a school like George Washington? I'm not sold...

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Big Fish in a Small Pond? (For Big Law)

Postby EijiMiyake » Mon May 10, 2010 7:21 pm

NerdmoD wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
wouldn't it be more likely for a "typical" NW admit to be in the top 20% of George Washington than the top 50% at NW?


No. This is stupid and completely wrong. Your pre-law school stats bear only the most passing relationship to your performance in law school.



So your argument is that the student body at NW is not significantly more competitive on average than the student body of a school like George Washington? I'm not sold...



I'm sure it is, but the differences are too small to draw any conclusions about individual performance.




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