t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

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BillsFan9907
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t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:27 pm

Let's say you graduate from USC. Your big law prospects aren't great, and I'm assuming that in a major metropolitan area youre looking at less than expected income. But let's you decide to move to Boise or Cheyenne. Can we reasonably assume the bulk of your competition graduated from nearby T4 and youre in a prime position ? Or will there pretty much be an HYS grad even in the most rural cities who more or less corners all the big cases etc.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:37 pm

What makes you think that the people in a small town would want to hire an unknown USC or even HYS person over the top 10% (or not even) at the local school who've had a chance to network in the small town for 3 years and may well have grown up there and know lots of people in the legal community even before starting school?

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:41 pm

That was something I considered as well. Just didn't want to pile the query with all the possible counters. When I said a local HYS attorney, I meant someone from the community who went there. Obviously, the advantage of any given local is valid as well.

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Teoeo
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby Teoeo » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:43 pm

I think it could work out well as long as you maintain connections in the local market (AKA, doing both summers there).

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:51 pm

Seoulless wrote:That was something I considered as well. Just didn't want to pile the query with all the possible counters. When I said a local HYS attorney, I meant someone from the community who went there. Obviously, the advantage of any given local is valid as well.

Oh, I get it. I think with fairly small towns the school you attend is much less important than your connection to the area. So, if you decide after graduation to up and move from LA to Boise/Cheyenne, going to USC (or HYS) is not in itself going to make it easier to get a job. If you target Boise/Cheyenne from the start of law school, get summer jobs in those regions and network during those summers, you might have a shot (though if you have no connection to the region getting those summer jobs will require having a really good reason why you want to go there). However, having gone to USC or to HYS is not what's going to help you (the only exception might be if there's some unusually strong alumni connection to the area, like a local firm filled with USC grads for some reason). The 2-3 biglaw firms might care about school name, but chances are good that even those firms (and local government) will be filled with local school grads who will favor their own schools, plus a smattering of locals who went away to fancy schools and came back.

I don't think it's impossible for someone with no connection to Boise/Cheyenne to position themselves to get a job there. But the first step would be to go to law school at U of Idaho/Wyoming (or possibly in a surrounding state like Utah or Washington). Using Boise/Cheyenne as a backup for getting a job if you don't get one elsewhere on the theory that the local schools aren't as good as the one you attended is not going to work (in part because the legal market/community in places like Boise/Cheyenne is really really REALLY small).

HYSenberg
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby HYSenberg » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:57 pm

I think it'd make more sense to target small towns in CA rather than random places out of state given how regional USC is. The problem is that small towns don't have large firms. Lawyers in small practices can certainly make lots of money, but that is usually because they hustle and network. To expect a six figure salary post graduation in a small town is unrealistic.

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby bp shinners » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:06 pm

Seoulless wrote:Let's say you graduate from USC. Your big law prospects aren't great, and I'm assuming that in a major metropolitan area youre looking at less than expected income. But let's you decide to move to Boise or Cheyenne. Can we reasonably assume the bulk of your competition graduated from nearby T4 and youre in a prime position ? Or will there pretty much be an HYS grad even in the most rural cities who more or less corners all the big cases etc.


If you're interested in making a BigLaw salary, Cheyenne and Boise most likely aren't going to pay it. The COL is lower, but salary is much lower.

Also, you're not going to get many big cases there - the reason BigLaw is centered where it is is because that's where the corporations that generate the big cases exist.

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RhymesLikeDimes
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby RhymesLikeDimes » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:24 pm

Connections are far more important than where you went to school to people in small towns. USC is nothing special. I'm sure a local kid from a respected family would do much better, even if they came from a TTT.

And I think people will realize that the only reason you moved from LA to Butte, Montana was because you couldn't make the cut in the big city.

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby midwest17 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:29 pm

Setting aside schools like USC, does this also apply to the national T14 schools? Obviously people with ties will have it easier. But as someone interested in PD work, does going to a national school at least potentially position me for smaller towns? Or does "national" really just mean "you can go to the Bay Area OR DC OR NY?"

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:49 pm

PD hiring is different from biglaw, and I'm not an expert in any way, but my sense is that it depends on the PD's office - there are some that hire fairly nationally (Bronx, DC, Colorado, I think), but others that don't (I recently saw a posting for a PD job in Deming, NM and I'd be willing to bet they hire a UNM grad, or maybe one from Texas Tech). It may also depend on how the office hires - for instance, Colorado has a central PD's office that hires everyone, then places them in an initial placement (so you get hired without knowing if you're going to be placed in Denver or Greeley or Canon City or what), so you're not targeting specific postings in specific small towns. States without that kind of setup are more likely to advertise for a specific opening in (say) Peoria (I don't know how Illinois works, that's just a hypo). I also think there are some counties that don't have actual PD offices, they simply appoint local attorneys to so serve.

Keep in mind that a lot of the T14 are actually semi-regional as well, in that they place better in specific markets (apart from the sort of universal national markets of NY/DC/LA). Everyone will say, go to Chicago/NU over Duke/UVA if you want to be in Chicago/the upper midwest, go to Duke/UVA over Chicago/NU if you want to be in the south. That's probably also true for PD work.

But mostly, PD hiring is about getting relevant experience over the summers/during the school year, ideally (though not exclusively) working for an office that hires for post-graduation. If you're at NU but you can spend your summers in Deming, NM working for the PD, you have as good a shot as anyone at getting the PD job in Deming. If you don't spend any time in Deming but you have good solid trial experience from other summer/school year PD work, you can take a shot at the Deming job, you'd just have to be able to make a convincing case that you want to be in Deming just as much as the various locals/natives who will also be applying. Chances are good that a lot of local PD offices in smaller towns are staffed by grads from the state law school.

(Deming is probably an extreme example - it just popped into my head. I think this holds true for the Boise/Cheyenne kinds of places, though, again, depending on how the state staffs PDs.)

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby midwest17 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:57 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:PD hiring is different from biglaw, and I'm not an expert in any way, but my sense is that it depends on the PD's office - there are some that hire fairly nationally (Bronx, DC, Colorado, I think), but others that don't (I recently saw a posting for a PD job in Deming, NM and I'd be willing to bet they hire a UNM grad, or maybe one from Texas Tech). It may also depend on how the office hires - for instance, Colorado has a central PD's office that hires everyone, then places them in an initial placement (so you get hired without knowing if you're going to be placed in Denver or Greeley or Canon City or what), so you're not targeting specific postings in specific small towns. States without that kind of setup are more likely to advertise for a specific opening in (say) Peoria (I don't know how Illinois works, that's just a hypo). I also think there are some counties that don't have actual PD offices, they simply appoint local attorneys to so serve.

Keep in mind that a lot of the T14 are actually semi-regional as well, in that they place better in specific markets (apart from the sort of universal national markets of NY/DC/LA). Everyone will say, go to Chicago/NU over Duke/UVA if you want to be in Chicago/the upper midwest, go to Duke/UVA over Chicago/NU if you want to be in the south. That's probably also true for PD work.

But mostly, PD hiring is about getting relevant experience over the summers/during the school year, ideally (though not exclusively) working for an office that hires for post-graduation. If you're at NU but you can spend your summers in Deming, NM working for the PD, you have as good a shot as anyone at getting the PD job in Deming. If you don't spend any time in Deming but you have good solid trial experience from other summer/school year PD work, you can take a shot at the Deming job, you'd just have to be able to make a convincing case that you want to be in Deming just as much as the various locals/natives who will also be applying. Chances are good that a lot of local PD offices in smaller towns are staffed by grads from the state law school.

(Deming is probably an extreme example - it just popped into my head. I think this holds true for the Boise/Cheyenne kinds of places, though, again, depending on how the state staffs PDs.)


Thanks!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:04 pm

Any time (I'm completely cribbing from the PD/DA thread in Legal Employment). Also, I think Miami hires nationally.

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midwest17
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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby midwest17 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:07 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Any time (I'm completely cribbing from the PD/DA thread in Legal Employment). Also, I think Miami hires nationally.


Yeah. I'll worry about this in more detail in a few years, obviously. For now, given that I don't have a specific market in mind, it seems like TCR is to go to a national school with good LRAP or a good scholarship, and hustle to get the relevant experiences on my resume as early as possible.

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby thedive » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:54 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Seoulless wrote:That was something I considered as well. Just didn't want to pile the query with all the possible counters. When I said a local HYS attorney, I meant someone from the community who went there. Obviously, the advantage of any given local is valid as well.

Oh, I get it. I think with fairly small towns the school you attend is much less important than your connection to the area. So, if you decide after graduation to up and move from LA to Boise/Cheyenne, going to USC (or HYS) is not in itself going to make it easier to get a job. If you target Boise/Cheyenne from the start of law school, get summer jobs in those regions and network during those summers, you might have a shot (though if you have no connection to the region getting those summer jobs will require having a really good reason why you want to go there). However, having gone to USC or to HYS is not what's going to help you (the only exception might be if there's some unusually strong alumni connection to the area, like a local firm filled with USC grads for some reason). The 2-3 biglaw firms might care about school name, but chances are good that even those firms (and local government) will be filled with local school grads who will favor their own schools, plus a smattering of locals who went away to fancy schools and came back.

I don't think it's impossible for someone with no connection to Boise/Cheyenne to position themselves to get a job there. But the first step would be to go to law school at U of Idaho/Wyoming (or possibly in a surrounding state like Utah or Washington). Using Boise/Cheyenne as a backup for getting a job if you don't get one elsewhere on the theory that the local schools aren't as good as the one you attended is not going to work (in part because the legal market/community in places like Boise/Cheyenne is really really REALLY small).


Very true for states like Idaho and Wyoming. The larger firms [for this area - think 25 attorneys] actively recruit the top students from the local schools with connections to the area. They also get former state supreme court and federal clerks that went to the local school, did well, and have family or other ties. If you don't have a significant connection to the area, they really don't care if you went to a school ranked in the top 30 or 20. In this regard, the US News system is utterly disregarded. It is truly the very top schools and the local schools that they care about. I have heard this on numerous occasions. Obviously, if you're top 20% at Columbia or whatever, that might change the situation somewhat. Then, however, the question is why the hell you are applying to these areas in the first place if you are without ties.

The fact of the matter is that these markets are very, very insular. As noted, the market is much smaller and that is why these local schools have class sizes of like 80. Damn near every judge and every partner of every firm went to the local school. In practice, you see the same judges and your colleagues regularly. Reputations are important and word spreads fast. For both clerkships and firms, it is difficult to get here without ties. I don't really know about gov't positions but would not be surprised if the situation is similiar.

Still, you never know until you try. I just think it is a lot harder than many people from the coasts and urban areas realize.

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Re: t20 - can you clean up in a small town?

Postby SPerez » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:38 pm

Seoulless wrote: Can we reasonably assume the bulk of your competition graduated from nearby T4 and you're in a prime position ? Or will there pretty much be an HYS grad even in the most rural cities who more or less corners all the big cases etc.


Don't assume that going to a big name law school makes you a better lawyer than the "small-town", local T3/4 people. Many smaller markets have a chip on their shoulder about being looked down upon by whatever urban area is nearby. That makes them naturally suspicious of anyone that doesn't have a VERY good answer to "Why Boise?". (Making the advice to start targeting that market early if that's your plan.)

And local clients won't just give you work because you went to a T50 school. Even the local equivalent of BigLaw doesn't get the local corporate business for that reason; they usually get it because 100 years ago they were the "local" firm and have maintained that reputation by having attorneys that are both talented and dedicated to the community.

What others described is mostly accurate. In the Boise example, most of the BigLaw-ish firms were branches of Denver or Seattle firms so they hired the same way. They usually hired T25 school grads, the proverbial small-town Idaho/PacNW kids who went to Harvard/Stanford and want to come back. The Idaho Law grads they had were usually either laterals or hired after Idaho Supreme Ct. or Federal clerkships (which always ticked me off b/c our top grads were just as ready to practice right out of school, if not more, and just as smart as the big school hires).

Dean Perez




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