Law Students

Graduating from Elite Law Schools May Give You an Edge for Jobs
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Summary: While having a J.D. from a top 10 law school may give you better chances at finding a job after the loss of a job, other factors are important too.

No matter when you graduated from an elite law school, you have better prospects for a job, a recent study in Organization Science found. So if you find yourself in a situation where your law firm goes bankrupt or partners are forced to find new jobs, you will have a better chance of finding a new job in a similar firm or better.


The study “Organizational Failure and Intraprofessional Status Loss” authored by Chris Rider and Giacomo Negro surveyed 220 partners that were part of a law firm that shut down in 2003 to find where they ended up finding jobs. The study found that 80 percent ended up at “lower status” firms and a fifth found similar-status or upgraded jobs.

Rider is an assistant professor of strategy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Negro works at Emory University. Their survey found that the 20 percent that found better jobs had J.D. degrees from higher-ranked law schools. While they acknowledge that they only looked at partners from one law firm, they believe their hypothesis would hold up in a similar situation.

Now the argument into what is considered “prestigious” starts. The law firm studied was Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, which suddenly went bankrupt in 2003 despite being a highly ranked law firm with $476 million in revenue. They used the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Schools ranking to guide their top 10 list but fully understand that there are numerous other schools that provide quality educations. They had to narrow down their list in order to test their hypothesis.

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Dean of Colorado Law, Phil Weiser, warns students that relying on an elite school for a job is not wise. The legal market has changed and law firms have changed how they hire. He says there are other skills that are more valuable than just being a graduate of a top law school.




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