The Right Coast

November 11, 2004
Law School Rankings and Job Prospects
By Mike Rappaport

Over at the Conspiracy, guest blogger Rick Sanders is publishing a series of quite interesting posts on affirmative action. Today's post has more general implications. Here is the bottom line:

Analyses of the data show, quite strikingly, that employers care — and care a lot — about how job-seekers did in law school. Law school prestige is important, but for law graduates as a whole, good grades are a much more powerful predictor of getting a higher-paying job than the eliteness of one's school.

My findings about the job market tradeoff between school eliteness and grades have implications for all law students, not just blacks. The implication of my findings is that going to the best law school one gets into - a strategy almost everyone seems to follow - may not be a very good strategy at all. It is important for students to realistically assess how well they will do at the schools that will have them, and to pick a school where they are likely to be at least in the middle of their class. Middle- and low-tier law schools, under this view, deserve a lot more respect than the very hierarchical world of legal education tends to accord them.