Sam Glover posted at Lawyerist this morning, ‘US News Best Law Schools is Out—How Did Your School Do?’
Like SuperLawyers, the annual US News “best law schools” list is a source of smug satisfaction for some, and outrage for others. If your law school is in the top [arbitrary number], you probably smile to yourself even as you decry the problems with the rankings to others. (Like coaches of losing NFL teams, I assume the deans of “rank not published” schools will be looking for work shortly.)
How do you feel about the annual US News law school beauty pageant?
I’m not smug nor am I outraged. I don’t care about the rankings of law schools.
For 99.99% of law grads and lawyers, where their law school is ranked doesn’t matter. Law school is an enabler, your law school does not endow you with anything. A law degree is worth what you make of it.
A law school with a particular ranking does not entitle you to a job at a law firm which allows to to do the type of work you want to do, for the type of clients you want to meet and interact with, and which allows you to grow as a lawyer and a person.
That job is obtained with a little strategic planning, with fire in your belly, and with persistence. Persistence the most important of the three.
I know there are law firms, judges, and in-house counsel who won’t hire you unless you come from a law school of a certain ranking. That’s their problem, not yours. It’s certainly nothing to lose a minute of sleep over nor incur more in student loans because you ‘had to go to a top ranked law school.’
I went to the University of Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento for two reasons. One, they would take me. And two, it was much warmer than Wisconsin where I grew up and it didn’t snow 3 feet a year as it did in South Bend, Indiana where I went to undergrad.
When I found out 90% plus of McGeorge grads passed the California Bar (Stanford, Boalt Hall, UCLA had much lower passing rates), that was a real plus as well.
I’ve been employed the entire 30 years since graduation. 6 law firms or companies, 3 of which I founded. The fact McGeorge was probably ranked 150 (I have no idea) when I went to law school is not something that held me back nor something I ever thought about.
Neither did it hold back my classmate, Scott Boras, probably the leading sports agent in the country. Nor did it hold back my friends from law school who are leading lawyers in their communities, judges, and business leaders.
Your law school degree is what you make of it. Don’t worry a second where your law school is ranked and don’t let rankings influence where you want to go to school.
I certainly pay no attention to the fact that McGeorge, now 101, has caught Villanova Law School in the rankings, from which LexBlog’s President, Kevin McKeown graduated. Nor do I ever remind McKeown that Notre Dame, where I went to undgrad, beat Pitt, where he went to undergrad, and Tony Dorsett my senior year on our way to a national championship.