I had a post mediation status conference at Los Angeles Stanley Mosk courthouse. The judge was calling all parties into his chambers so what would have normally taken several minutes turned into 90 minutes. I see this younger attorney sitting close to me so we start chatting. Fifteen minutes into the conversation I asked him what case he was on and where he went to school and he responded with University of Chicago. I was like what the fuck!! He was there doing an appearance for some firm (contract attorney). He said he was from the class of 2009 and that several of his class mates were struggling to find work. For those that don't know University of Chicago is in the glorious 14 law schools, ranking number 5 in the country. What a shame, 2 years out of one of the best law schools in the country, just to be doing appearance work.
The other day I learned that my firm once hired a top 20 law grad a few years ago. He lasted a few months before getting fired, and was the ONLY attorney ever to be fired from my firm. In my line of work (plaintiff's personal injury) it is necessary to have thick skin, be able to think on your toes and be able to accept a good amount of abuse from clients from time to time when the case goes to shit. So even though Mr. top 20 didn't last 3 months, Mr. Subprime tier 4 is doing a great job. So for those that are in the game do not be intimidated by better ranked adversaries. I have beaten down defense counsel from tier 1 schools on a regular basis. While the LSAT and law school grades serve as an indicator as to whether biglaw will be in the cards, these statistics fail to test for personality, character, balls, and general people skills. Despite being a lowly tier 4 grad working in small law, I have managed to intimidate seasoned attorneys just by giving them a stare of confidence. The other day my boss obliterated a tier 1 grad in trial as this top tier lawyer lacked people skills and just bored the jury out of their minds. There are some things that rank cannot buy.
Again, to reiterate my general message, going to law school is a extremely risky bet. Obviously the higher the school is ranked the better the odds of getting employment. However, as my anecdote shows, even grads from the best schools are having trouble getting full time law jobs. The situation at the TTT level is a complete disaster. If you do decide on going to law school, make sure you are well aware of the risks as the law schools are lying about employment data for their graduates. For those that have graduated from low ranked schools like myself and plan on working in the legal field, stay confident and plug away at those facts and rules. You will be surprised how little opposing counsel cares about rank when there is money on the line and you have a theory of liability that is solid.
And sometimes, once a month or so, a case concludes nearly perfect where you end up with a great settlement and an ecstatic client. Those days are the best.