How to interpret the rankings

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
bobbyh1919
Posts: 560
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:40 pm

How to interpret the rankings

Postby bobbyh1919 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:02 pm

Of course the T-14 rankings are rather significant, and I think most people would agree that the schools in the 15-25 range (Vandy, UCLA, BU, Notre Dame, etc.) are there for a reason. My question is, outside of that, how much do the rankings matter? At what point do you just pick a school because of $$ and because it places well in the market you want to go to?

Basically, I'm hoping people could provide their estimations on a "range" for the rankings where the ranking means less than the location and scholarship opportunities. For example, is 32 that much better than 48 if you don't plan to practice in 32's market? What about 48 and 62? Etc., discuss.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby TooOld4This » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:21 pm

Schools become regional outside about the top 10. Texas does not have the same national reach as UPenn. UCLA isn't going to do as well in DC as Georgetown (and Georgetown won't do as well in LA as UCLA). People will argue self-selection, which is some of it, but not all. Reputation and alumni networks matter. It is easier to get a job from a firm that recruits at your school. Now these are all good enough schools that the make sense to weigh financial aid heavily when making a decision. (If you could go to UCLA for free but have to pay close to sticker at Georgetown, I'd recommend going to UCLA even if you want to practice in DC.)

Once you get out of the top 20ish, it is absolutely regional. Don't go to a regional school outside the market you don't want to practice in. In regional markets attorneys are generally tied to their communities. They know the local schools and they know the big national schools. Beyond that, they couldn't tell you if U of Iowa is ranked higher than U of Washington and they don't really care. If you are going to a non-national school, you need to be making connections in the legal market you want to practice in from day one. You should start informational interviews first semester, go to local bar events when you can, etc. This is pretty hard to do if you aren't attending school locally.

User avatar
Lincoln
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby Lincoln » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:23 pm

TooOld4This wrote:Schools become regional outside about the top 10. Texas does not have the same national reach as UPenn. UCLA isn't going to do as well in DC as Georgetown (and Georgetown won't do as well in LA as UCLA). People will argue self-selection, which is some of it, but not all. Reputation and alumni networks matter. It is easier to get a job from a firm that recruits at your school. Now these are all good enough schools that the make sense to weigh financial aid heavily when making a decision. (If you could go to UCLA for free but have to pay close to sticker at Georgetown, I'd recommend going to UCLA even if you want to practice in DC.)

Once you get out of the top 20ish, it is absolutely regional. Don't go to a regional school outside the market you don't want to practice in. In regional markets attorneys are generally tied to their communities. They know the local schools and they know the big national schools. Beyond that, they couldn't tell you if U of Iowa is ranked higher than U of Washington and they don't really care. If you are going to a non-national school, you need to be making connections in the legal market you want to practice in from day one. You should start informational interviews first semester, go to local bar events when you can, etc. This is pretty hard to do if you aren't attending school locally.


This. Personal and school connections are everything.

bobbyh1919
Posts: 560
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:40 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby bobbyh1919 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:26 pm

Thanks for that quick response, very insightful. Is this the general consensus, that even T-25 schools like Texas, UCLA, and Notre Dame tend to be regional? I thought it started just a little farther down in the rankings, although of course there's going to be some gray areas.

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby bdubs » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:52 pm

Most schools inside the T14 have national reach. Everyone recognizes Georgetown as a good school, even though most of their grads stay on the East Coast. Law is funny in that everyone wants you to be committed to a certain location, so even people from Harvard and Yale have to explain why they want to work in city X.

If you go to schools outside of the T14 the recruiting becomes much more regionally focused. If you look at the NALP directory for firms that go to UT or UCLA you will notice that the recruiters are predominantly local.

User avatar
Bildungsroman
Posts: 5548
Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby Bildungsroman » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:56 pm

The rankings are meaningless. They just serve as a proxy for evaluating the aggregate of a number of factors, many of which shouldn't influence your decision. Go to the law school transparency website and look at schools' employment figures.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby TooOld4This » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:04 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:The rankings are meaningless. They just serve as a proxy for evaluating the aggregate of a number of factors, many of which shouldn't influence your decision. Go to the law school transparency website and look at schools' employment figures.


They aren't meaningless -- they just shouldn't be used the way most law students use them. If you want to practice in Florida, it makes sense to see where the Florida schools rank in relationship to each other. It doesn't make sense to look at how a Florida school ranks in comparison to a New York school. Once you get the general lay of the land, then talk to people in the area you want to practice to get a more refined understanding of the market.

Once you get a general sense of how local law schools are ranked in relation to one another, you should absolutely look into employment statistics to figure out at what price it is no longer worth going to the schools.

User avatar
DoubleChecks
Posts: 2333
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby DoubleChecks » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:06 pm

bdubs wrote:Most schools inside the T14 have national reach. Everyone recognizes Georgetown as a good school, even though most of their grads stay on the East Coast. Law is funny in that everyone wants you to be committed to a certain location, so even people from Harvard and Yale have to explain why they want to work in city X.

If you go to schools outside of the T14 the recruiting becomes much more regionally focused. If you look at the NALP directory for firms that go to UT or UCLA you will notice that the recruiters are predominantly local.


While I would not disagree completely with the above, I think the below is a more accurate picture (or rather the one I agree with more).

TooOld4This wrote:Schools become regional outside about the top 10. Texas does not have the same national reach as UPenn. UCLA isn't going to do as well in DC as Georgetown (and Georgetown won't do as well in LA as UCLA). People will argue self-selection, which is some of it, but not all. Reputation and alumni networks matter. It is easier to get a job from a firm that recruits at your school. Now these are all good enough schools that the make sense to weigh financial aid heavily when making a decision. (If you could go to UCLA for free but have to pay close to sticker at Georgetown, I'd recommend going to UCLA even if you want to practice in DC.)

Once you get out of the top 20ish, it is absolutely regional. Don't go to a regional school outside the market you don't want to practice in. In regional markets attorneys are generally tied to their communities. They know the local schools and they know the big national schools. Beyond that, they couldn't tell you if U of Iowa is ranked higher than U of Washington and they don't really care. If you are going to a non-national school, you need to be making connections in the legal market you want to practice in from day one. You should start informational interviews first semester, go to local bar events when you can, etc. This is pretty hard to do if you aren't attending school locally.


+1 to TooOld4This, except for the bolded part...but that is just an opinion that would vary from person to person. imo, if a person want to practice in DC for sure, I'd probably still recommend Georgetown near sticker over UCLA free ride (unless they are really risk averse). Once again, just an opinion lol.

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: How to interpret the rankings

Postby bdubs » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:25 pm

Agreed that there is a lot of nuance to this. However, it is highly unlikely that someone would receive a full-ride or near full-ride at UCLA or UT and not receive much if any financial aid at a school like Cornell (I know GULC is pretty stingy with finaid and has high medians for its relative rank). However, these schools are across the country from each other so comparisons are difficult unless someone is geographically open (i.e. willing to work in NYC).

The situation that happens much more frequently is that an applicant gets a large scholarship at a school like WUSTL (Illinois, or Indiana), would like to practice in Chicago, and gets in to Northwestern with either no scholarship or a small one. In this instance it is generally TCR to go to Northwestern.

Same goes for an applicant choosing between GW and Georgetown. Although the gap here is narrower and the scholarship differences could be large, in the majority of cases they won't be. Georgetown is a better bet if you are set on DC and it is probably worth an extra $50k when the downside is having no job at all (not that GULC grads are guaranteed a job in DC or even a job at all).




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], sethnoorzad and 6 guests