Flappy Scribbleneck wrote:I am from Texas. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect if I go to SMU or U of Houston. For example, if one attends SMU, the "plan" is to work in Dallas or Ft. Worth. Someone from SMU generally does not try to work in Houston - it is not part of the typically achievable "plan" (maybe not impossible, just not generally attempted).
I know nothing about the plan at Iowa, so to speak. What is the typical plan for an Iowa Law student after school, is it to aim for Chicago and fall back on Des Moines? Is the average student aiming for Big Law? or is it more of a try for Big Law but happy with Mid Law (not for lack of opportunities, but just from a more laid back, less gunner-ish point of view)? It seems to me that an Iowa grad has more options in terms of markets than an SMU or UofH grad. Maybe another way to say this is that Iowa's region is a little larger in terms of square mileage and includes some interesting smaller markets. But maybe it also overlaps with some bigger schools in the region. Help me understand the landscape and the plan at Iowa.
I'm speaking from experience and observation here, and only partially from data, but I'll give my best effort. I'm not sure there is a "typical plan." If your plan going to Iowa is to get Chicago biglaw, that's not a very good plan, at least if you're not prepared to shift to Plan B by a month into your second year. Maybe one in 12 Iowa Law students (7-8% or so) get Chicago biglaw. I think the NLJ250 placement at Iowa is about 12% overall (this is actual data, not a guess), so if your plan at Iowa is to get biglaw anywhere
, you do have a fighting chance to do it, but again, you really
need a Plan B. Note that Plan B might be Des Moines midlaw for a lot of people, but those jobs are fairly limited too. You might have 10 people in your class get jobs there, because a lot of those firms pull from Drake instead.
Frankly, I'd say about two-thirds of people will have no legal job lined up by graduation, so the plan frankly needs to be FIND A JOB. Any job. I'm not sure people can be any pickier than that. Maybe if you're first in your class, but for 85%+ of people, you just need to take whatever you can get.
I mean, it's not at all hopeless if you know what you're getting into. Iowa has a solid national reputation. Even though that doesn't translate into a lot of firms at OCI and a lot of jobs being thrown around here, it presents an opportunity for you to get out and hustle. You can
work in D.C. You can
work in San Francisco. Those jobs aren't going to come to you, and they won't be at our OCI. But if you're a student in good standing (preferably top half of the class) at Iowa Law, and you are willing to hustle and network and learn to be (or naturally are) a good interviewer, you can make things happen. But it's not like you're at a T-14 and a third of your class will have an NLJ250 SA lined up through OCI and half of your class is going to have an NLJ250 job within nine months of graduating, with another big group doing federal clerkships, etc. It's going to be a lot scarier than that, and I think your ability to network, your personality, your flexibility in terms of where to practice and what to practice, those are all going to be a bigger factor here than a top school, or even a similarly-ranked school with a big home market.
In other words, the plan can't be "I'm going to do pretty well, there will be a lot of firms at OCI, and then I'm going to get a job in (whatever city)." It's more like, "I probably won't get anything at OCI, but I'm going to a school that employers respect. They may not come looking for me, but they won't laugh at me if I show up at the front door." Then you go bust your ass to find something.
Edit to add: A lot of people I know actually have never wanted biglaw. I would say maybe even half of the people I know didn't bid on any MN or Chi firms at OCI, including me. While some may not have bid on them due to grades, there were a lot of people who I talked to right away as a 1L who expressed that they didn't want biglaw. I just don't want it to seem like that's the holy grail, but it does provide some numbers for people to consider.
Edit to add: To answer your question more directly, a wish list of markets for an Iowa grad might go something like this, based on a combination of pay + likelihood of finding something: Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City, anywhere else in Iowa (including Cedar Rapids and Davenport), Wichita/Topeka/other mid-sized Midwestern cities, any where else in the country.