In a survey of 371 legal professionals conducted by Business Insider, 49.4% of participants said they’d still attend law school even if they didn’t get into a top-tier program.
“A well-pedigreed degree does not directly translate into an effective, passionate, professional or ethical practice of law,” wrote one respondent. “Every institution, regardless of reputation or prominence or lack thereof, has its fair share of both angels and a**holes.”
Of the legal professionals surveyed, just 35.7% said they would not attend law school if they didn’t get into a top program, 14.9% said it depends, and 7.8% did not respond.
Most respondents felt a law school’s reputation was not its most valuable asset, with 43.3% ranking critical thinking above factors like a school’s network and brand value.
“The law school that I attended taught me practical skills and greatly prepared me to practice law in the real world,” wrote one respondent, who attended Thomas Cooley School of Law, an unranked law school.
“Private law school tuition is not worth it,” wrote another. “Go to the best public law school you can get into but you need to finish in top 10% to get a decent job.”
Despite these answers, the majority of respondents chose schools with top-tier programs such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia
when asked to select the top 10 law schools in terms of how well they prepare students to land their ideal job.
For one respondent, national reputation is everything. “Don’t go to law school unless you get into a top ten school and are going to be in the top ten of that school.”
For another, a school’s regional reputation matters the most. “A potential law student should decide where they want to practice and then go to the cheapest school they can get into that has a good reputation in that region. Everything else is window-dressing.”
In the end, however, many believe it all comes down to how hard a law student is willing to work.
“You can take a person with no academic aptitude and put them in a top tier school and all they get is a prestigious school name on their diploma,” said one participant.
“An individual’s own effort is the most important thing at wherever he or she goes to law school,” wrote another.
“Who cares where you went?” yet another wrote. “It’s what you do with your degree that matters.”
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