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10 Factors More Important to Law Firms than Your Alma Mater
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Although your choice of law school is important, there are other factors that firms focus on when deciding whether to hire an attorney.

Summary: If you did not get accepted to a top law school, do not fear—here are ten other factors that law firms value more than where you went to school when they are making hiring decisions.

Although where you earn your law degree is an important factor in your legal career, it will not make or break your success as an attorney. In a new article, “10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School: Why the Law School You Went to Ultimately Does Not Matter as Much as You Think It Does to Major Law FirmsHarrison Barnes explains ten factors that are much more important to law firms and recruiters than which school is listed on your degree.


First, your previous (on the job) training will be weighed more heavily than the school you attended. Certain firms and positions are known for training their employees very well, and, should you be lucky enough to be hired in one of these firms or positions, where you went to law school will not matter as much.

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Your law school rank is also important. If you were near the top of your law school class, this will demonstrate that you are hard working and intelligent, no matter where you went to school.

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The areas of law you have experience in are also a significant factor. Once you have practiced a certain type of law for several years, it will be difficult to switch to a new type of law—even if you hate the type of law you’re practicing now. It is important to remain mindful of this fact as you practice–make sure you do not “get stuck” practicing in an area of law that you despise.

Next, how long you stay with a law firm is more important than where you went to law school. This demonstrates commitment and stability to those in charge of hiring. If you have worked for several firms for periods of six months or less, firms are going to be wary of hiring you. However, if you have worked for a a couple of firms for a few years a piece, you will appear much more committed to your work.

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After you have practiced for a few years, the amount of business you have will be more important to a firm than where you graduated. After all, the business is what brings money into the firm.

Next, your reputation as an attorney is very important. Law firms want to hire names that will boost their perception in the legal community. If you have impressive verdicts or major clients associated with your name, prospective firms will not care as much that you did not attend Yale.

Additionally, your involvement in the community, as well as your interest in your practice area, are also factors that law firms examine. Volunteering at legal clinics, speaking engagements, and teaching courses are all included in experience that law firms value tremendously. These activities will help you become well-known in the legal community, making you more valuable to law firms.

How you present yourself is also very important to law firms. As an attorney, you represent the firm wherever you go in your community. Attorneys who dress well, speak eloquently, and overall present themselves in a neat manner will draw the attention of law firms, no matter where they attended law school.

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Unfortunately, discrimination is present in the legal world. A law firm, whether it is made largely of a single race, religion, or ethnic background, is probably going to lean toward candidates that fit in with that firm. Although this practice is largely unintentional, these patterns still occur.

Finally, your commitment to a law firm will be valued much more than where you went to law school. Taking a break from the practice of law may be a red flag to some firms.

For more detail about these factors, check out the article at “10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School: Why the Law School You Went to Ultimately Does Not Matter as Much as You Think It Does to Major Law Firms.”

Source: BCG Attorney Search

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