bk1 wrote:I get it, you and OneMoreLawHopeful cling to the idea that the world is a very meritocratic place (essentially the bootstraps fallacy). It's a comforting thought and the idea that the world isn't like that isn't a very pleasant idea to entertain. But the reality is that the world is far less meritocratic than either of you want to believe.
Look, I'm really uncomfortable with this. My first post in this thread explicitly included an example of a group of people who clearly were screwed over by forces beyond their control (people who accepted SA positions at Dewey).
I will readily acknowledge that people get screwed all of the time, I've never subscribed to the "bootstraps" story, but I think that you guys are also claiming the world is a far LESS meritocratic place and that's not fair.
For a good example of why I think this, let's look at something you wrote and compare it with hard numbers:
KidStuddi wrote:I don't think the percentage of students who are truly on the periphery is near as large as people are making it out to be. Maybe the lottery systems at top schools give people a lot of false hope, but for the most part, there aren't that many surprises as to who ends up getting a BigLaw job and who doesn't.
This just isn't true. There are people every year who strike out from the top of the class at T14s and people at the bottom of the class who nab biglaw. People around median often end up with a significant number getting biglaw and a significant number striking out...
There is an implicit assumption here that someone at the "top of the class" at a T14 doesn't have something else wrong with them (interviews like a crazy, makes unreasonable demands about which office they will work at, fails a background check, etc.). I just want to be clear about how many people we're talking about, using numbers from LST.
Look at Stanford, the total number of people from the class of 2012 who ended up working for a firm with 10 or fewer lawyers, unemployed and seeking, or in school funded jobs is 8 (1 + 3 + 4). So, 8 out of 181 students ended up in a situation that looks like they probably totally struck out. That's less than 5% of the total class. All I'm saying is that it seems likely the majority of these people had other problems. Is it really so hard to believe that 5 of these people had either (1) straight Ps, (2) no ability to interview, (3) some additional variable still within the student's control (e.g. a criminal record), or some combination of the three? Why is it so hard to believe that Stanford accepted 5 people, out of 181, who come off like serial killers in in-person interviews, especially since no part of the law school application process involves an in-person interview?
I'm not even saying all 8 are terrible interviewers (though <5% of the class having interview problems still seems low), I'm just saying that it's entire feasible that a majority of the 8 did have real problems. I'm not saying that 1 out of every 5 students at Stanford has interview problems; I'm saying that it's entirely likely that 5 out of 181 do.
You may say it's not fair to choose Stanford for a variety of reasons (and you may be correct, I'll do another school below), but I chose Stanford because I have personal knowledge of the class of 2012 which I can share (though I was not a student there, to be clear). I know for a fact that one of the students who was no-offered after his SA did not surprise anyone when this happened. This was a guy who went K-JD, and didn't really "get" that in the real world there are hard deadlines. As a 2L, he worked in a clinic, and literally missed filing dates because he just didn't think they mattered. No one was surprised when he was no offered, because he had the work ethic of an academic, even though he had great grades, and must have had a terrific LSAT score and undergrad GPA. He might have been "at the top of the class" (it's hard to know at Stanford with their grading system), but since Stanford professors usually let students turn in papers whenever (there are exceptions, but they are rare), his fatal flaw didn't shake out in the usual way. A law firm couldn't use someone like him, and the decision to no-offer him was literally on him.
But, let's say Stanford is a "bad example" for whatever reason. Let's look at Northwestern's numbers as well (it's bigger, has a high underemployment score, etc.):
Start by adding up the number with jobs at firms with 10 or fewer lawyers, those who are in school-funded positions, and those who are unemployed and seeking. 12 + 11 + 12 = 35.
Now unlike Stanford, Northwestern has real grades and firms can calculate a real curve. But I also want to give you the benefit of the doubt, so let's say that only 1/3rd of the 35 can be attributed to being "way below median," and we'll even round down to 11. So we're talking about 24 students out of 295, or 8% of the class.
I would just ask the exact same question as above: is it really so hard to believe that the majority of those students (13 of the 24) have some additional problem (terrible interviews, criminal record, etc.)? Is it really so hard to believe that a number of students, fewer than 1 out of 20 in the whole school
, has a problem like that?
I keep harping on this for two reasons:
(1) It's been repeated to me by at least bk1 and Pokemon that I'm subject to something like the "narrative fallacy," though fundamental attribution error
is more accurate; yet it's never suggested to the poster who says "I'm at the top of my class at H and I struck out after 3,000 screener interviews" of the one who says "I got no offered for a random and stupid reason," that their own account of events (be it their interview skills of the "stupid little thing" that led to being no-offered) is inaccurate because of self serving bias
, even though it is every bit as well documented as the "narrative fallacy."
(2) I can't give too much away on this without outing myself, but I actually have first-hand knowledge of a guy who got post-callback dinged at a v20 this cycle for reasons that aren't being discussed here. This guy had literally *the perfect* resume. Clearly on his way to latin honors at a school in the MVP range, had previously gotten a masters at an LSE-caliber institution, spoke multiple foreign languages, etc. He was tall, good looking, and confident, but he couldn't interview worth a damn.
As an example - he was asked if he had a cuisine preference for lunch; instead of saying "seafood" or something, he decided to tell a rambling un-humorous anecdote about how much people smoke in New York City and how that ruins restaurants for him, but it still wasn't as bad as the semester he spent in Paris. He never named any cuisine. Every attempt at conversation with him was the same. "So, did you see any good movies this summer?" turned into a story about how he had to quit being a film major because he didn't think other people in the field where being academically honest about the difference between "the visceral and its detached platonic ideal." He never ended up mentioning a movie. "What did you like about [LSE-calibur institution]?" was the only question that got a short answer, and the whole answer was "I thought it would be good for my career."
Whether or not he was getting an offer had literally come down to the lunch. The firm liked his credentials, but all of his interviewers felt like he was impossible to converse with, and hoped maybe he would open up at lunch. After the most awkward lunch the associates involved had ever been to, he was dinged.
And despite the obvious problems with this guy - if he strikes out, there seems to be an implicit assumption that it's just sheer luck, and not his inability to make normal human being type conversation for even just 45 minutes.
I'm not saying EVERYONE who strikes out is at fault. I've ALWAYS said there is a luck element and some people get screwed. I DO NOT think that people with jobs should go around bragging. But I do think an attitude which says "Someone who struck out and is at the top of their class at HYS isn't at fault," is every bit as much a fantasy as the attitude that says "Everyone who struck out has something wrong with them."