MumofCad wrote:As for whether everyone should go to the best law school (by which I assume you mean according to the USNWR) they possibly can, I do not think that is always sage advice. People who have a strong, focused sense of how they want to use their law degree may not find that to be the case (or may if they are determined to make it in a V10). If my goal was BigLaw or to stay in DC or even to work in the field I have been working, I would certainly be applying eagerly to Georgetown. Its an undeniably great school, with fabulous professors (a few of who have confirmed my concerns and know me well), and great job prospects for some. I appreciate your perspective on this, I just don't agree. I was also told as an undergrad I was insane with my numbers and background to not go Ivy. I chose American because I knew what I wanted from my undergrad experience and I set out making that happen for me.
There's an enormous difference between UG and LS in the way your school affects your opportunities. Honestly, you can get nearly the same legal education at almost any law school; there's not a huge difference in what you'll learn in the classroom between a top-ten school and a top-fifty. However, the differences are in the prestige of your degree and the opportunities you get while you're at a particular school, and particularly
in the legal field, those differences are enormous.
It's not that you can't succeed from everywhere, it's that you get a similar education at about the same price anywhere, and it's far, far easier to succeed in law
from one of the very top schools. Legal employers care a lot about where you got your degree. Lawyers can be very loyal to their school network and go out of their way to help current or graduating students. This isn't just true in BigLaw but everywhere. When you consider the dramatic differences in where alumni are (for example, there are a large number of HYS alumni in the DOJ, State Dep't, and other federal legal departments), those things really immensely matter. This is especially true since you say you want to do policy-related work; those are often influential, competitive jobs that are already filled by people from top schools, and you'll have much better odds of getting one of those jobs if you put yourself in a top alumni network.
When it comes to finding a job, it really doesn't matter what you want from your "law school experience". A JD is a professional degree and it's best to think about it in terms of what job opportunities it'll get you when you graduate, and with your numbers and background you can practically pick where you're going to go. Imagine running a marathon where you got to pick how many miles from the finish line you started. If your goal was to win, wouldn't you choose at the start to run a shorter distance than everyone else?