How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

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Morrius
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How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Morrius » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:33 pm

Let's say I go to a third-tier law school since they offered me a full ride. Upon graduating I find a job through a networking contact and spend 2-5 years working for the contact's local law firm, making biglaw comparable money. At that point, if I wish to move to a new firm, will my third-tier law school still be a liability to my job search? Especially if I go searching in another geographic area?

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Nebby
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Nebby » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:45 pm

I do think it will make lateraling to a biglaw firm more difficult, particularly if you're targeting the firm's NY/DC/SF/Chi/LA offices. Outside of the hubs, though, I don't think it will make as much of a difference, so long as you're within the same geographic area as the school.

I think you'll have a difficult time trying to lateral to a biglaw firm to an area outside of the school's geographic reach, unless you have ties to the area you're targeting. Mainly because they'll ask "why does this St. John's grad want to work in Miami?"

Morrius
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Morrius » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:47 pm

Well, how about for a smaller city, like Boston?

cavalier1138
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:48 pm

To answer your topic question, it matters quite a bit.

But your scenario is ludicrous. The chances of making a "biglaw-comparable" salary are slim to none. Biglaw is the only place you get a biglaw salary right out of school. It's not like there are hordes of small firms in Santa Clara with secret stashes of gold, eager to spend it all on the next big thing to graduate from Golden Gate U.

Here's why school still matters:
-Your school (and your grades at it) will directly affect the type of job you get after graduation.
-Your job after graduation will affect the job you get after that job.
-That job will affect the next job.
-I hope you get the idea.

You can probably get some regional flexibility (within reason) once you've got enough experience, but your options are already limited if you don't get a first job that gives you flexibility down the line. And shit schools don't get you those jobs.

Morrius
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Morrius » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:59 pm

Okay, let me try putting some more specifics in there. Let's say I go to UNH, since I know an established attorney in Concord and they give me a good sized amount of financial aid. My grades are solid, I graduate with relatively little debt and a job waiting for me. After three years there, I decide I'd rather move to Boston. How much would having UNH on my resume hinder me in the Boston market?

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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:03 pm

Morrius wrote:Okay, let me try putting some more specifics in there. Let's say I go to UNH, since I know an established attorney in Concord and they give me a good sized amount of financial aid. My grades are solid, I graduate with relatively little debt and a job waiting for me. After three years there, I decide I'd rather move to Boston. How much would having UNH on my resume hinder me in the Boston market?


About as much as any other school and a job at a local firm in NH would hinder you when breaking in to a major secondary market.

Think of this from a hiring perspective. Why would you want to hire yourself in this situation? You went to a bad school (and let's assume your grades were nothing special). You worked at a local firm that no one in Boston has ever had to deal with. You've got some experience, but nothing better than the kids from BU/BC have if they didn't nab biglaw out of the gates, and unlike you, they're in Boston.

Instead of trying to figure out how you can game the system, just go to a school that will let you achieve your goals. The reason you don't hear about a lot of people from UNH ending up as partners at big Boston firms is because it just ain't happening.

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UVA2B
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:03 pm

Morrius wrote:Okay, let me try putting some more specifics in there. Let's say I go to UNH, since I know an established attorney in Concord and they give me a good sized amount of financial aid. My grades are solid, I graduate with relatively little debt and a job waiting for me. After three years there, I decide I'd rather move to Boston. How much would having UNH on my resume hinder me in the Boston market?


At that point it depends on the nature and quality of your three years of experience and if it’ll bring value to a similar practice in Boston. If you’re doing a bunch of NH state court work that has zero applicability in Boston, you’ll be in rough shape. But if you’re doing decently complex commercial lit and have done a lot of early lit experience (depos, trial prep, argued motions in court), then the fact that you went to UNH won’t really matter.

And do you have that job offer in writing or somehow guaranteed?

Morrius
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Morrius » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:11 pm

Patent prosecution, and yes.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:15 pm

Keep in mind basically no one in Concord actually makes biglaw-comparable money.

I am more sanguine about the possibility of moving around than lots of people here, and I do think quality/nature of experience often becomes more important than pedigree. But I don't think it's something where you can jump from Concord to Boston biglaw. Work your way up within the local community and try to work for bigger firms that have a broader presence that could reach into Boston - get into a firm that has NH and Boston offices, and work toward transferring to the Boston office. That kind of thing. (Also keep in mind you'll have to be barred in both states. Edit: though if you're doing patent prosecution that's federal? and I'm not really sure if your state bar will matter.)

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UVA2B
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:16 pm

Morrius wrote:Patent prosecution, and yes.


Ok, that’s actually a bit more fungible than other practice areas, and depending on your background and the number of applications you prosecute/get issued, you may be able to get something in Boston down the line easier than a lot of other practice areas. Not necessarily Biglaw, but even that isn’t impossible. There is a slow shift away from big firms doing any prosecution work, so it might be at another IP boutique, but if you have a valuable background and you’ve prosecuted some decent patent applications, you would be competitive at those boutiques even with a UNH degree.

Morrius
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Morrius » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:28 pm

Okay, how about instead of an IP botique, I decide to go in-house in a Boston-area company? Would that change things at all?

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UVA2B
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:34 pm

If it’s in the same area as your prosecution work, then the same thing applies. You’ll be competitive based on the strength of your prosecution work more than your UNH degree.

Law school ranking doesn’t really matter at a certain point. All of the reasons someone here would normally say to avoid UNH you have covered. You have a job guaranteed in the area of law you want to practice. You have a full ride. If the job will expose you to sophisticated prosecution work in your technical field, you’ll be competitive in Boston and elsewhere for similar jobs that require that background. UNH could be a differentiator at some jobs if you have a similarly qualified person with similar amounts of experience from a “better” school, but if you look long enough to make that move, I’d say it’s pretty safe to say you’d eventually be able to find something in Boston.

cavalier1138
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:37 pm

I agree that patent prosecution makes a difference here, but I'm not sold on this firm in Concord doing the type of sophisticated work that the OP would need to do.

Also, based on the initial statement (OP "knows a guy"), I'm also not confident that this is truly a guaranteed job. OP, when you say it's "guaranteed," do you mean that you have a literal, written contract saying that you'll get to work there after school? Or do you mean that this attorney has told you that he'll put in a good word for you when you graduate?

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UVA2B
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:45 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:I agree that patent prosecution makes a difference here, but I'm not sold on this firm in Concord doing the type of sophisticated work that the OP would need to do.

Also, based on the initial statement (OP "knows a guy"), I'm also not confident that this is truly a guaranteed job. OP, when you say it's "guaranteed," do you mean that you have a literal, written contract saying that you'll get to work there after school? Or do you mean that this attorney has told you that he'll put in a good word for you when you graduate?


TBF, we probably just have to take that part at face value. Small shops all over the country actually do plenty of interesting and sophisticated prosecution work. We have no way of knowing (and the OP is not at all required to give us evidence of how sophisticated the firm’s book of business is, if they even have an idea to begin with).

I’m with you on the guarantee too, but again, small shops are way less likely to have nepotism clauses in partnership agreements to make this more believable. The small firm thing flies in the face of the “biglaw-comparable” part, but they might just mean six figuress or near whatever Concord biglaw market looks like. It’s rare, but IP firms tend to pay premiums for that rare, elusive tech background.

Prudence
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby Prudence » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:15 pm

As someone who worked in Boston big law before law school I don’t think I saw one attorney hired from unh at my firm (i was in HR) if you really wanted Boston big law (BU with great grades,BC with great grades, or even suffolk university has some placement in Boston big law depending on the practice area-less so than the prior two so check the job placement stats) UNH is not the way to get big law in Boston however.

You can try looking at firm profiles for the biglaw firms in Boston to see if any attorneys at the firm went to unh and what year they graduated

Edit: i want to add that attending T-14 is really the only good option for getting boston biglaw but im averse to risks so that’s just me

Also I cannot remember if our standards for career associates were as high but again career associates don’t make big law salaries sooo...
Last edited by Prudence on Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

goldenbear2020
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Re: How much does law school matter after a few years of experience?

Postby goldenbear2020 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:54 pm

If you have a strong tech background, I'd suggest looking for technical specialist / patent agent positions at biglaw or large boutiques, many of which sponsor part-time law students. You can either start in Boston or any other major market and try to lateral back to Boston afterward.




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