How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

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coocookuhchoo
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How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby coocookuhchoo » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:48 pm

0L here. Barring a huge change of plans, I'll be at W&M next year. I understand that W&M is considered a regional school, which is fine for me given that I want to work in the region. My question is - does geographic location of your school only matter so much for your first job out of LS, or does it remain a significant factor throughout your career? I am fine to be in the region for, say, 10 years after graduation, but the thought of not being able to ever work anywhere else is frightening. Thoughts?

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TLS_noobie
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby TLS_noobie » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:54 pm

coocookuhchoo wrote:0L here. Barring a huge change of plans, I'll be at W&M next year. I understand that W&M is considered a regional school, which is fine for me given that I want to work in the region. My question is - does geographic location of your school only matter so much for your first job out of LS, or does it remain a significant factor throughout your career? I am fine to be in the region for, say, 10 years after graduation, but the thought of not being able to ever work anywhere else is frightening. Thoughts?


Agreed, this does seem frightening. However, the network you build over that 10 years is really what your career is going to be all about and chances are, your network will primarily reside in that region. I have no experience with this at all since I am a 0L as well, so I would like to hear what others have to say.

Geist13
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby Geist13 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:01 pm

Usually it won't continue to direct the course of your career that far down the road. Prestigious positions might still care (e.g. DOJ), but generally the big thing will be your reputation, skill/successes, and experiences up to that point. However, it is worth noting that because your school can certainly direct what your first job ends up being, it continues to affect your eligibility for positions down the road. Not nearly in such a straightforward manner, but if you can't get good jobs out of the gate, you're less likely to get the types of experiences that will get you good jobs in the future.

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bk1
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby bk1 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:02 pm

I've only heard things secondhand from practicing attorneys. What you specialize in will be a limiting factor. Specializing in something that is state law specific isn't necessarily applicable to working in a different state. Specializing in some biglaw field isn't necessarily easy to transition between markets when markets don't have the same character (e.g. it might be hard to go from DC regulatory work to let's say CA since there isn't as much regulatory work done there so you'll be competing for something where there aren't a ton of spots open).

dooood
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby dooood » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:03 pm

The thing is it's kind of a vicious cycle: when you're ten years out your attractiveness to other firms lies mostly in your client base. If you've been working in the W&M region for 10 years, your clients will mostly be in southeastern Virginia, so firms in SF or NY won't be too interested in hiring you. Changing cities that far into your career can be easier if you're moving between two big cities, though (especially within the same firm).
Just as an aside, why would you want to move 10 years out? That seems to be exactly the time when people want to stop moving and settle down...

coocookuhchoo
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby coocookuhchoo » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:06 pm

dooood wrote:Just as an aside, why would you want to move 10 years out? That seems to be exactly the time when people want to stop moving and settle down...


I just threw 10 years there out there, I could have said 3 or 5. Would 3 or 5 years out have much different prospects than 10? All this being said, I'm hoping to do well enough at W&M to end up in DC, which is likely where I want to be, so hopefully it isn't much of an issue.

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spleenworship
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Re: How restrictive is graduating from a "regional" school?

Postby spleenworship » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:14 pm

From the attorneys I have talked to: It remains a significant factor throughout your career, but it is not a sentence of permanent imprisonment. Some of your classmates will go back to home markets, a few will go out and get biglaw, a few will do government work and move around a little. In ten years you might know someone who is willing to work a little to help a friend break into the market they now live in. I was told it will be hard, but not impossible.

A friend of mine graduated from a regional in the South, and now he has people he went to LS with in TX, CT, MD, ID, and he works in the Southwest. He was able to get a job for a friend in the state he now practices in as well. So... regionals are limiting, but not impossibly so if moving is something you desperately want to do. Keep in mind that everyone who moved seemed to have to move down a few rungs on the ladder to do so, however, before building back up to where they were.

Frankly, my guess is that after about a decade or so even T14 people are somewhat limited in geographic reach for the reasons mentioned above- they find a region, build a client base, and find it hard to move.




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