Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

10 years later - still embarrassed of my 4th tier Law School

Anyone else ever feel this way? I'm out almost 10 years. I notiers03/28/17
Same here, work at a Big 4, do very well, partnership track jdu1234432103/28/17
Oh please. Fake humility only to cover your gloating. If yo porochi03/29/17
Yeah OP is humble bragging strong here. At a mere 3 yrs out vohod03/29/17
Dude, you should not be upset. Your doing well. All that stu confused1l9303/28/17
I completely agree. It is unreasonable and petty. And I am p notiers03/28/17
So much this. Leave school snobbery to professors and other mrtor03/28/17
Don't worry about it. That feeling you get when you tell peo isthisit03/28/17
I wear a t-shirt and sweatshirt from my law school, but it i trollfeeder03/28/17
If it makes you feel any better, non lawyers don't care abou skepticmadenotborn03/28/17
I know the law is very prestige oriented, but almost as bad 6figuremistake03/28/17
I have no problem being candid where I attended law school. flyer1403/28/17
You need to move on. It's hanging around places like JDU and thirdtierlaw03/28/17
Where else would I get my daily dose of TRUMP if it weren't flyer1403/28/17
I know that is why I hang around... I have gone through thirdtierlaw03/28/17
And most Tiers 1s, except perhaps for those working 80 hour ejs201703/28/17
I guess I sort of understand feeling that way around lawyers pauperesq03/28/17
I hear you. I really only have the issue when associating w jd4hire03/28/17
Long time lurker, first time poster. That said, I concur ejs201703/28/17
Everyone that says that what matters is your paycheck is mos superttthero03/28/17
Great post. I have to admit that you're absolutely right abo ejs201703/28/17
If the greatest thing someone ever did with their time and t soupcansham03/28/17
As long as you care about what other people think of you and e36m303/28/17
Its sort of interesting. A lot of successful lawyers who wen confused1l9303/28/17
The correlation between attending a prefftigious law school flyer1403/28/17
I've always assumed that even low tier law schools have at l ruralattorney03/28/17
Honestly good firms only care where you went to law school w cocolawyer03/28/17
Seriously? I've been practicing law for a long time in priv mch9803/28/17
T14 grad here. FWIW OP, I'm always even more impressed by a texfed03/28/17
Me too. But I didn't pay to go. So when I tell people where frida203/28/17
Get over it. clocker103/28/17
You're insecure. You need to own it. This isn't third grade, trickydick03/29/17
I went to a T2 school out west that had a T1 school in the s dakotalaw03/29/17
I do understand how you feel. I didn't go to a 4th tier sch inho2solo03/30/17
Which leads to the question, in your humble opinion are any ejs201703/30/17
You are correct. We're all of us highly intelligent people inho2solo03/30/17
I'm sorry but it does matter. OP, I'm in a very similar situ maxwell03/31/17
Could be you are psyching yourself out so much that the anti vohod03/31/17
Op here. First thank you for all the comments. I know that a notiers03/31/17
In 10 years, I've never asked an adversary that question and anothernjlawyer03/31/17
I was in trial two weeks ago against an ADA who has an under cacrimdefense04/10/17

notiers (Mar 28, 2017 - 12:44 am)

Anyone else ever feel this way? I'm out almost 10 years. I do well (close to 200k). I work at a real mid law firm with attorneys from top 10 law schools. I'm on the partnership track. I have a good (and growing) book of business. Yet, when anyone, lawyer or lay person, asks me "where did you go to law school?" - I still hate the question. I quickly have to decide between just muttering where I went to school and changing the topic, or some self deprication to mask my embarrassment. It's foolish and frankly, I've done well. It shouldn't bother me. I should be fine with it. But no matter what - I still dread the damn question.

Does anyone else feel this way? Anyone ever manage to get over it?

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jdu12344321 (Mar 28, 2017 - 6:26 am)

Same here, work at a Big 4, do very well, partnership track and am still embarrassed when the question comes up...

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porochi (Mar 29, 2017 - 12:13 am)

Oh please. Fake humility only to cover your gloating. If you are truly making $200k then you wouldn't give a rats a** where you went to law school. And trust me, few really care about where you went to school 10 yrs out. If you can make rain like you must, if you are to believed, then you could have gone to Thomas Cooley Law School and no one would care. Results count, not your "pedigree," unless you aspire to be a useless law school professor.

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vohod (Mar 29, 2017 - 12:18 am)

Yeah OP is humble bragging strong here. At a mere 3 yrs out no one cares. If anyone asks its mindless smalltalk. Clients who ask would probably have the same disinterested "Oh I see" if I said any LS except either Harvard or some crazy online scam in Arabia.

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confused1l93 (Mar 28, 2017 - 2:02 am)

Dude, you should not be upset. Your doing well. All that stuff about tiers is pure nonsense. Cash is king.

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notiers (Mar 28, 2017 - 7:10 am)

I completely agree. It is unreasonable and petty. And I am proud of where I've gotten to in my career. But for some reason - when the question comes up - I freeze up for a few seconds, answer the question and feel like a moron. Almost 10 years later and I still feel completely embarrassed and dread answering the question. I shouldn't care one bit - but I still do.

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mrtor (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:31 am)

So much this. Leave school snobbery to professors and other academics -- we're working in the real world where results matter. Some of the nation's richest people didn't even complete college, let alone a graduate degree.

Your education is merely an admission ticket into the profession. Your future success largely depends upon your work ethic. Those who emphasize their education over their professional success tend to lack the latter. You need not justify yourself to them.

If you're truly concerned about it, embrace some self-deprecating humor. Who would have thought you would ever make it this far, huh? You beat the odds. That's something to be proud of.

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isthisit (Mar 28, 2017 - 7:05 am)

Don't worry about it. That feeling you get when you tell people you have a toilet JD is in your mind.

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trollfeeder (Mar 28, 2017 - 7:29 am)

I wear a t-shirt and sweatshirt from my law school, but it is more of a case of their bookstore merchandise being comfy. Yeah, I'm pretty embarrassed.

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skepticmadenotborn (Mar 28, 2017 - 7:46 am)

If it makes you feel any better, non lawyers don't care about this stuff nearly as much as lawyers do. If you went to Harvard or Yale, or a respected local scholl such as the state flagship, yes, you would get a little extra respect from clients, although much less than you would from lawyers. But on questions of UVa vs Drexel vs Cooley vs Ave Maria, the vast majority of people just don't care.

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6figuremistake (Mar 28, 2017 - 8:40 am)

I know the law is very prestige oriented, but almost as bad is having a JD but not working in the law. Given most of the horror stories, I'm glad I got out and I'm moderately successful (low six figs salary and most of the debt paid off), but if anyone asks me about my education, I just say I went to graduate school and try to leave it at that. You can almost hear people mentally scoff when I say I have a law degree but they know I don't practice law.

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flyer14 (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:04 am)

I have no problem being candid where I attended law school. I also have no problem being candid about how I only spent a year in law practice before getting out...

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:10 am)

You need to move on. It's hanging around places like JDU and TLS that it starts to plant these seeds of doubt. You're out performing many if not most T2 grads.

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flyer14 (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:59 am)

Where else would I get my daily dose of TRUMP if it weren't for /pol though?

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 28, 2017 - 10:30 am)

I know that is why I hang around...

I have gone through the similar thought processes as OP and it didn't begin until after I became more engrossed with "the law school scam." I'm nowhere near as successful as Notiers is today but I'm also not ashamed of what I've done for myself. So it definitely a learning process.

Maybe OP should ease into it. Start slow, wear a pair of socks with his law school logo. Then move up to sweatpants, finally culminating in walking into work one day decked out a hat, shirt, pants, socks, and even shoelaces with the school's colors. Exposure therapy seems to work with phobias, why not embracing your past?

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ejs2017 (Mar 28, 2017 - 10:32 am)

And most Tiers 1s, except perhaps for those working 80 hour weeks as mid-level Biglaw senior associates.

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pauperesq (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:37 am)

I guess I sort of understand feeling that way around lawyers and judges but honestly, you're doing well so who cares?

There's no reason to feel this way around laypeople. Most have no idea where any particular school is ranked, nor do they care.

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jd4hire (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:40 am)

I hear you. I really only have the issue when associating with family members or close friends getting into the law. I really don't care much around my actual work colleagues. I'm 5 years out and not into 6 figures though, so I just wish I could figure out how to get where you currently are...

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ejs2017 (Mar 28, 2017 - 10:28 am)

Long time lurker, first time poster.

That said, I concur with sister/brother counsel when they point out that the real world measure of success in law or in any profession is your paycheck and where you are on the ladder. You're advancing, you appear to have established a book of business and you're making $200,000.00. You seem to have the proverbial "brass ring" well in hand.

I also agree that the obsession with tiers should be left to the academics and to those who feel the need to obsess about such things. The most frustrating aspect of the legal profession is in its inherent narcissism. I was law review at a respected regional Tier 2 and I know firms will not sneeze in my direction because of my academic pedigree or the lack thereof.

Parenthetically, I am well past your career stage and you've left me in the dust. Be proud. You're an example of why legal narcissism is ridiculous in the final analysis. You sound like a great lawyer. That's the yardstick, not the tier of your law school.

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superttthero (Mar 28, 2017 - 10:40 am)

Everyone that says that what matters is your paycheck is mostly right....but reality is that we humans are petty and banal.

You will not get "over this" but that's ok. Life has regrets and things we wish we could change. This is a small one.

Accept that you went to a terlet, that you know you could have done better, but at least you're making money and not in the poorhouse. Yes, a Harvard grad will have that one on you and he may take pride in that and you are jealous of it, but in the end, the main factors on whether he would trade his professional life for yours is experience and income.

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ejs2017 (Mar 28, 2017 - 10:59 am)

Great post. I have to admit that you're absolutely right about the pettiness and banality inherent to humanity. This is particularly true of the legal profession. I think that's what is prompting the OP to be embarrassed about her/his Tier 4 school despite her/his obvious professional success. Law is one of the only professions where you can have practiced twenty years and still be devalued because of where you went to school and/or what your GPA was.

I know how much I wish that I would have understood how deeply ingrained the law school caste system is in the profession before I made my decision about where I chose to go to law school while in my early 20s. I sincerely believed those who said "school is school," particularly my law school classmates and the members of the law school administration. I have learned the sad truth many times over since that time.

But again, after the smoke and b.s clears, I stand behind my point that the real world measure of success is where the OP is in the profession.

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soupcansham (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:12 am)

If the greatest thing someone ever did with their time and talent was go to a prestigious school, then they didn't accomplish much. Don't worry about it.

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e36m3 (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:13 am)

As long as you care about what other people think of you and your educational background, you'll allow yourself to be bothered by what you perceive their judgments to be. Stop caring about things you can't control and enjoy every success you earn along the way in the face of challenging odds. Life is too short to be haunted by the name of a faceless institution that has already served its purpose in your life.

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confused1l93 (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:21 am)

Its sort of interesting. A lot of successful lawyers who went to mediocre schools are proud of it.

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flyer14 (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:23 am)

The correlation between attending a prefftigious law school and a successful career is weaker than some people care to admit

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ruralattorney (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:24 am)

I've always assumed that even low tier law schools have at least a couple of very intelligent people in each class. If you do good work and seem to be intelligent and capable, and you told me where you went to law school, I would assume that you were one of those people.

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cocolawyer (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:36 am)

Honestly good firms only care where you went to law school when hiring right out of law school. When transitioning to the firm later in your career they have your reputation, work product, and book of business to look at. If you have all three the firm doesn't really care if you went to Yale or some T4 trash pile.

I use Littler & Mendelson as a great example. In SF office they will not even review your resume out of law school if you are not from a T1 school (unless you have an "in" at the firm). If you are transitioning to the firm 3 years out they will hire you even if you went to Cooley.

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mch98 (Mar 28, 2017 - 8:29 pm)

Seriously? I've been practicing law for a long time in private and in government. I can't remember the last time an attorney talked about what law school s/he attended. The two best lawyers I've encountered during the past 30 years were both from the same "4th Tier" law school.

In fairness, when I first started out in clerkships and a large firm, I felt a little uncomfortable with all the Harvard and Michigan grads, but they were not better lawyers.

It has been a non-issue for a very long time.

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texfed (Mar 28, 2017 - 9:01 pm)

T14 grad here. FWIW OP, I'm always even more impressed by a T4 grad in your position, because I know you really, really earned it. Be proud of your career. Nobody whose opinion deserves respect cares where you went to school at this point in your life.

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frida2 (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:13 pm)

Me too. But I didn't pay to go. So when I tell people where I went I say "for free with an LSAT scholarship that I kept due to good grades." Works for me. If I had actually paid I would probably end with I make moor money than you. But in my case I don't make big bucks but didn't pay to begin with.

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clocker1 (Mar 28, 2017 - 11:19 pm)

Get over it.

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trickydick (Mar 29, 2017 - 12:10 am)

You're insecure. You need to own it. This isn't third grade, no one is going to laugh at you to your face and insult you for going to a garbage school. And if they do, they'll look like idiots.

I went to a bottom of the barrel law school and whenever anyone asks me where I went to school I tell them and follow it up by saying it's one of the crappiest law schools in North America. No one cares. There are people from way better schools doing the same job I am.

You are the problem, not your school.

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dakotalaw (Mar 29, 2017 - 5:53 am)

I went to a T2 school out west that had a T1 school in the same state. Most of the people at my school were very insecure about it, but it seemed like most of the people who attended the T1 school hadn't given the situation a second thought.

Point is it's in your head.

And trickydick, if you cant help yourself but to add in that you went to the crappiest law school in the country, you might sound like you are masking insecurity. I figure just tell them where you went and act like it's no big deal.

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inho2solo (Mar 30, 2017 - 5:33 pm)

I do understand how you feel. I didn't go to a 4th tier school, but went to a 50-ish ranked state school that was the cheapest one in my area. Of the ~ 30 lawyers I work with, off the top of my head I think more than half were T6 and the rest T14 (at least at the time, ha-ha to the 2 GULC alums), and all but one of them are biglaw alums.

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ejs2017 (Mar 30, 2017 - 6:55 pm)

Which leads to the question, in your humble opinion are any of them inherently better lawyers or intrinsically smarter than you are? I would venture to say most likely not.

There are accounts all over the place of people who were superstars in highly-ranked undergrads, go to great law schools and do well there, and then find themselves escorted out of 'Biglaw' firms because they didn't make the cut for whatever reason. Then you have lawyers like the OP who graduated from a Tier 4 but by all measures appears to be highly successful.

While the rank of your school may close some doors at the end of the day it still comes down to the quality of the person. And CoCo is right about products of lower-tiered schools lateraling into larger firms.

As the graduate of a small regional university and a Tier 2 I have to admit that I also have struggled with this many times in my career.

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inho2solo (Mar 30, 2017 - 9:34 pm)

You are correct. We're all of us highly intelligent people and very good lawyers. It's a phenomenal legal dept, frankly. And I've seen several; enough to know that the overall average talent level here is uncommon.

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maxwell (Mar 31, 2017 - 12:01 am)

I'm sorry but it does matter. OP, I'm in a very similar situation, about the same salary and same crappy LS. It sucks when I have to bring it up, especially to a bunch of Ivy leaguers. I understand what others have said above- that it's probably my own insecurity, and as long as I'm getting paid, it shouldn't matter. But it does.

When I don't get the cases I want on my docket, or when I'm not asked to meet some preferred clients, I always think it's because of this issue. It might or it might not be the actual reason, but it just straight up bugs me. So much so, that it has put a chip on my shoulder. I'm always playing at a high level and trying to prove I'm better than them: trying to bill the most, have the best quality of work, and in general have the most knowledge. When they take turns coming to my office for advice, that's when I pop their cherry about how little their top-ranked LS degree actually matters. If your gonna come at me with disdain over going to a better LS, then you better know your stuff, because I'm out to prove otherwise.

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vohod (Mar 31, 2017 - 12:09 am)

Could be you are psyching yourself out so much that the antisocial repercussion is that you are viewed as too cold, distant, or competitive.

If your firm is truly doing mean things based on your dusty alma mater, start interviewing elsewhere. They suck, big.

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notiers (Mar 31, 2017 - 6:50 am)

Op here. First thank you for all the comments. I know that a lot of this is in my head. And now I'm wondering if the fact that I went to such a low ranked school has made me want to work harder to "prove" my worth (as some have suggested). I've generally excelled in my career and it's odd, but even as a very junior lawyer other more senior lawyers have always sent other lawyers in the firm to me because I "know what I'm doing."

I also wonder if part of It is that I went to a very good college. I feel like I blew that by messing up the LSAT and being relegated to a 4th Tier (back when I applied they averaged your LSAT - schools didn't just take the higher score). The memory of getting 10 rejection letters from schools in the first, second and third tier still stings - hell - I got rejected from New York Law School and Hofstra lol. Funny part is today they would take me even with just my lower LSAT score.

A year or two back I was an OCI interviewer for my firm at a school that rejected me. That school obviously wanted to place a grad or two at my firm - we pay pretty well to start and it's a nice size firm. I got an odd kick out of speaking to the Career Services hack at the reception/meet and greet.

CS: We're so happy to have your firm here today; are you an alum?

Me: Me? Know. I went to one of the worst law schools in the country - this school rejected me 10 years ago....

One of the very few times I can remember enjoying telling someone where I went to law school.

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anothernjlawyer (Mar 31, 2017 - 10:04 am)

In 10 years, I've never asked an adversary that question and I can't recall one asking me. I've had clients ask, here and there.

If someone asks, it means they didn't google you before going up against you, which means that they're unprepared. Fie on them.

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cacrimdefense (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:54 pm)

I was in trial two weeks ago against an ADA who has an undergraduate degree from UCLA. He's in his early to mid 30's, and is quite pleased w/ himself as an attorney. He made a point of telling me he's had over 60 trials, and if one visits his FB page, there are links to articles in smallish SoCal newspapers about trials he's won. He does big hitter stuff ("big hitter" in the Crim Law area of practice). 3 strikes, sex crimes against minors, and homicides.

The law school he attended, however, is one of those that is considered among the dregs of the ABA accredited. I believe I saw it on a list posted, a few years ago, on the ATL website naming the 10 worst law schools in the country.

During lunch one afternoon, I overheard him chatting w/ one of his fellow prosecutors. He was joking about how, when people inquire as to his education, he advises them that he attended one of the top law schools in the country, if one turns the list upside down.

It was somewhat amusing the way he stated it (and certainly better than the closing arguments he gave at the end of our trial). Having googled this guy beforehand, I knew his academic background and just assumed he had attended the law school he did b/c he was offered a full or partial scholarship at that campus.

OP, don't be surprised if other attorneys are making a similar assumption about you.

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