Does It Matter Where You Go To Law School?

Source: Ybnormal2day13 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Notre_Dame_Law_Library.JPG

Source: Ybnormal2day13 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Notre_Dame_Law_Library.JPG

I recently saw a question that asks whether it matters where you attend law school. The answer is, unequivocally, yes.

Most notably, your law school will have an effect on the job you’ll be able to obtain after graduation. The most competitive, in-demand jobs disproportionality go to graduates from the highest ranked schools in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. The importance of your law school tends to fade the longer that you practice, but you can’t get around the fact that prestige matters within the legal field.

As just one example, it’s difficult to find an associate position at so-called “Big Law” firms. This is because Big Law firms are prestigious and pay the highest compensation to law school grads. Therefore, these positions often go to graduates from the “Top 14” schools on the U.S. News list or to the students with the absolute best grades at non-Top 14 schools. Students attending lower ranked schools will have a much more difficult time obtaining these jobs.

But beyond national prestige, there is also local prestige. Your law school may not be highly ranked in the U.S. News rankings but will still be well-known and respected in your community or state. This may give you a distinct advantage if you’re looking to practice in the same area where you went to law school.

So another important point emerges from this idea of national and local prestige. You’ll probably find it easier to find a job in the same city, state, or region as your law school. It can be tough to find a job in another state unless you have some prior connection there. Plus, by moving states, you’ll be leaving behind your network that you’ve started creating in law school. I guess the ultimate point is that, when debating between law schools, you should think about whether you’d want to practice in your school’s city or state. I understand that it’s far into the future, but it’s something that you need to consider.

But regardless of where you practice, you need to think long and hard about where you want to go to law school. It will definitely have an impact on your future career (and even your future earnings).