Thanks for all the responses and for reading (or at least browsing) what I had to say. I’ll respond to the couple of questions that I noticed.
First, it was my undergrad GPA that shut me out of T6 to begin with, which is why I decided that I should devote myself to working so diligently in law school. As an undergrad I had a much different outlook than I do now… I was rush chair of my fraternity, worked at Abercrombie, and spent my spare time reaping the benefits associated with those activities. School was not at the top of my list. I started working, realized how difficult it is to run a successful business, and by accident developed a work ethic that has stuck with me.
Second, as to networking, this is an ongoing argument I have with one of my good friends from law school. He suggested that I was doing myself a huge disservice by not branching out more, while I argued that by befriending a small number of students (who happened to all end up at the top of the class) I was maximizing my limited networking time. I guess my thought is that (with all due respect to my classmates who didn’t do as well and who are probably awesome either because of or in spite of this) I focused my energy on networking with people who could be of most benefit to my legal network. Put into context, my buddies from college are all cool guys, and we have a great time together, but they’re not going to help get me in the door with a federal judge or a prestigious law firm, because that’s not the kind of thing they’re into.
For me, this made things easy going in. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful wife, so I wasn’t going to be chasing women. I’m lucky enough to have a group of friends from college and high school who are really fun, cool, interesting individuals, so I didn’t need to find a new group of besties. That left me with the goal of meeting a small number of people who were motivated to excel, and who could put up with my single-mindedness (it’s not surprising that the people who could tolerate my constant discussion of the law ended up near the top of the class.).
While I didn’t go out during the week very often, I hung out during the hours I’d scheduled for dinner, having a few drinks, hanging out- normal people stuff. The conversations often centered around the law (much to my wife’s displeasure), but in terms of creating a limited network I think it worked.
Lastly, I think that networking this summer (and my belief/hope during the school year that I’d score a summer associate position to begin with) has more than made up for whatever opportunities I lost by focusing on schoolwork during the semester. As it stands, I’m very friendly with three of the top students at my school, and have created a network of 10 more highly motivated/qualified young attorneys by virtue of my summer position. Adding into the mix the professors I’ve become close with and the attorneys I’m drawing into my web this summer (in spite of how I might come off after detailing my gunning ways, I have never been described as socially awkward), I think things look pretty good from a professional networking perspective.
HOWEVER… I think that the main criticism of my rigid schedule is not that I limited my professional network (even though some people may have framed it that way), but rather that it doesn’t leave room for anything but work. And in that, I absolutely agree. The flaw with my schedule, and even my networking utilization, is that it reads like something one of Ayn Rand’s protagonists would have developed. All sharp lines and utility, no room or time for any of the things that ‘normal’ people consider fun. It’s a very fair criticism, and one that I have no answer to. My year was extremely utilitarian, and while I actually enjoyed it quite a bit (for those of you who haven’t been in the workforce, savor this time. Even though I put in crazy hours, it was a relief from the working world.), I can’t say it’s for everyone. If I didn’t have the other pieces of my life in place (i.e. a wife and friends) I would probably feel worse about this, but the hand I was dealt entering law school already happened to be pretty decent.