vanwinkle wrote:Consider the following:
1) SMU places well into Dallas, but not other markets.
2) UT places into Dallas, Austin, Houston, and to some extent NYC, Atlanta, and other non-Texas markets.
3) SMU and UT place the same number of people in law firms in Dallas.
If you accept 1-3, then you should accept that law firms in Dallas go deeper into UT than SMU. Why? Because not all of the people at the top of the class at UT are going to Dallas, many of them are going to other markets. SMU's grads are not going anywhere else, they're all trying to stay in Dallas, so firms there can take from the best freely. However, to get the same number of people from UT that they take from SMU, they would have to go deeper at UT, because they can't take entirely just from the top, because many at the top self-select elsewhere.
Why does this matter? Because it means that while the same number of people from SMU and UT get into Dallas, the ones from UT aren't necessarily ranked as highly within their class. From the future lawyer's POV, it doesn't matter how many students they take from each school--it matters how deep into the class they go. Firms from Dallas will go deeper at UT out of necessity to get the same number of students than they will take from SMU. That makes UT a better school to go to even if you just want Dallas.
I'll start off by saying that I always agreed that UT was a better school to go to, even if you just want Dallas.
I also agree with your points 1-3 above.
Where I had disagreed is with the magnitude of the self selection effect on the equation.
I don't particularly like "everyone knows that" justifications, so I decided to try to find an answer using the published numbers. http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/regional_TX.pdf
74% of UT grads stay in Texas. There may be nationwide opportunities... but 3/4 of UT grads remain in Texas. 87% of SMU grads stay in Texas.
We have to make a couple assumptions. You can roughly break down the Texas "Biglaw" market into thirds: Dallas, Houston, and Austin/other. Let's assume that 80% of SMU grads who stay in Texas stay in Dallas. Let's also assume that UT grads split equally into the various Texas opportunities.... meaning 1/3 go to Dallas.
For UT: 400 class size x 74% staying in Texas = 296. 296 x 33% in Dallas = 98
For SMU: 250 class size (FT+PT) x 87% staying in Texas = 218 staying in Texas. 218 x 80% in Dallas = 174
So we have 174 SMU grads competing against 98 UT grads for biglaw in Dallas.
The numbers I posted before show equal numbers from SMU and UT in the big Dallas firms. That means that a significantly higher percentage of the UT grads who are seeking employment in Dallas are finding it compared to SMU grads.
The numbers are "fuzzy" and have lots of potential error... but I'm thinking they are better than just randomly spouting off opinions.
My previous contention was that if Dallas firms go deeper into the UT class than the SMU class, the difference is negligible. My little numbers exercise proves me wrong.