law school rankingsSam 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.

  • Raaj Gill

    Too bad Scott Boras is over baby…Robinson and Canu went with Jay Z

    • Ehehedi

      Robinson Cano…obviously you are a troll

  • This is an old article and I hope the author has repudiated it. McGeorge is a horrible law school and your chances of getting a law firm job (as a lawyer that is) with this degree are very weak. 30 years ago things were a lot different. Plenty of lawyers and judges went to what are now mediocre schools: Western, Southwestern, Pepperdine, Loyola, McGeorge, etc. Any Schmuck could get a good job back then.

    • Not everyone graduated from Berkely, Jeffrey, not even Matt Mullenweg, Mark Zuckerberg or Billl Gates. Your life, career and what you do to make the world a little better are not dependent on where you went to school. I’m the author and I stand by the piece more today than when I wrote. By and large, I see law students who are not willing to get out there and hussle. I see most grads expecting that they came respond to job postings and interview postings on campus. As a result those with ambition can excel — no matter where they went to school.

      • Sorry Kevin but you are not being realistic. Maybe when we went to law school you could just hustle and do well but a lot has changed. Just having ambition is not enough. That’s like saying just have some talent and be ambitious and you will make it in the NBA or NFL.

        I don’t know why you cite Mullenweg, Zuckerberg or Gates. Those are inventors/entrepreneurs, not lawyers.

        McGeorge’s California bar passage rate for first time takers in 2014 was 63% and the 9 month employment rate for jobs requiring a JD (i.e., lawyers) was 49%. That just sucks. To spend $50,000 + per year for those odds is unwise to say the least. McGeorge and several other schools should shut their doors for good. Market forces will accomplish that over time.

        It’s nice to dream but reality is where someone needs to be before investing $150,000+ in getting a job.

        • There is certainly the opportunity to go to different law schools today, perhaps ones you’d not have gotten into before. But the vast majority of people hired in this country, including lawyers are not hired because of where they went to school or their grades. My daughter went to Gonzaga for her ungrad business degree, not Stanford. Yet, at age 26, she is apt to earn as much as a Harvard law grad on Wall St would earn. If we looked at stats on Gonzaga grads with non-professional degrees three years out, it would say that’s not possible. Stats are a crutch people fall back on to say life is hard. The guys I cited did not have degrees, yet they changed the world. What do stats say about people without degrees?
          McGeorge grads can do what they set their minds to do. You and others like you will not hire them. Who cares?

          • Okay Kevin you are nothing but a font of anecdotes. Sure, someone wins the lottery but that does not make it a smart investment. Who cares if someone spends $160,000 and can’t find a job because they went to a mediocre law school? The sucker who went and the taxpayers who may get stuck with the tab.

            Your examples are silly. Zuckerberg was very smart as a child and went to exclusive private schools and got into Harvard. Gates’ family was wealthy and he also went to expensive prep schools and then Harvard. Mullenweg was a software genius as a teenager and also went to college. All 3 dropped out but they already had great talent.

            To show you how dumb your analogy is Kobe Bryant and Lebron James did not go to college at all nor did Moses Malone, Dwight Howard and a few other NBA stars. Therefore, kids don’t go to college, just “set your mind to it.”

          • Take average kids with low grades who went to low ranking law schools achieving great things. Met with one last weekend who was afraid of failing out but got job in largest law firm based in his state when others from better law schools and with higher grades could not get a job with the firm. He’s now taking an in-house counsel job with a rock star assistant general counsel at one of the largest companies in the world. All of this within 18 months of graduating from a school with lower placement rates. Following your logic, he should have quit a long time ago and saved his money. How’d he do it. Blogging and Twitter, things not even 1% of law students avail themselves of. Sure, another anecdote, but I will take them any day of the week over your type of thinking.