Wanted to bring an informed counter to Bruce's argument. His conclusions aren't entirely unreasonable, but his level of vehemence is given the relative lack of good data. There is data on who is hired, but not so much on who is offered. Plus, most data is fairly dated. As such, I can mostly bring my experiences and observations to bear. I am a lower-T14 alum, currently a mid-level associate in NYC biglaw, but did a lot of secondary market interviewing. My dad was a biglaw hiring partner in a secondary market for the better part of a decade (including when I was in law school). My extended family is also full of lawyers, so I've known plenty of people who chose the local T2 over the T14 and vise versa.
From my experience:
There is a world of difference in level of regional preference between "national" cities like Chicago, LA, Houston, DC and truly regional markets like Montgomery Alabama, or even places like Denver. In the former market type, hiring partners know quite well what the top schools are and value them highly. My dad's firm used a chart with schools listed by U.S. News rank. The chart included grade cutoff by school. Generally, the local TTT was top 5 students, Local T2 was top 10%, Regional T20s were top 25%, T14 were top 40%, T6 were top 50%, and HYS had no real cutoff. He mentioned that there was actually more leeway in practice for the T14 than the chart suggested because T14 have non pre-select OCI, so even the last person in the class at the T14 at least has a chance to impress. Additionally, T14 schools don't give exact ranks, so it's hard to tell if someone is slightly below the median.
I interviewed in the secondary market before deciding on NYC. I had plenty of callbacks with grades just inside the top 1/3 and never ran into a single person who wasn't familiar with my school. I also had access the career services office GPA data on firms. It wasn't unusual at all for a sub-median person to get a biglaw offer in a secondary market, and a few people with very low grades got offers in very regional markets (places like Arizona). By contrast, an extended family member of mine went to the local T2, ended up in the top 20%, but couldn't even get a screener interview at any of the biglaw firms. The family member is employed, but not where they had hoped to be when they went to law school.
None of the above is to suggest that people should blithely go into a quarter-million dollars in debt to go the to T14. Rather, it requires a careful evaluation of what you want and what your level of risk tolerance is. Are you OK with working NYC for a few years, or are you dead-set on remaining in your desired secondary market? Is it biglaw or bust, or do you really just want to be a public defender? How will big debt affect your intended lifestyle?
Last edited by Anonymous User
on Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.