Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools, Paralegals

Attention Non-Top-Tier Grads: Some Advice, and a Question

Johnnie Cochran Johnnie L Cochran Jr Loyola Law School Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, so you didn’t graduate (1) from a top-tier law school or (2) at the top of your class from a non-top-tier law school. Please don’t get discouraged, even in the face of depressing news articles.
Before you leave the law to become an electrician, consider this inspirational tale, from an ATL reader:

Finding a job after graduating from a lower tier law school might be harder, but it is certainly possible. A lot of it depends on what type of job you wish to pursue. Knowing I wanted to practice in a law firm who actually tried cases, throughout law school I worked for several small firms and solo practices and gained experience.

The summer studying for the bar I found a part time clerkship with an attorney who practices business litigation. After the bar exam he offered me a position full time. I don’t make anywhere near the big firms in terms of salary. But I make plenty for my first year out, and I get a percentage of our contingent fee cases (which will actually put me a little less than big firm salary if all goes well).

Also, I get great experience. My first week I attended two hearings on motions for summary judgment in court, and a month after I pass the bar (hopefully!) I already have an assignment to participate directly in a trial. The salary is not “equal”, but I feel I am gaining better experience and enjoying my quality of life much more than if I was in a mega firm.

Good stuff — and a reminder that Biglaw isn’t the be all and end all of legal practice.
Also, we have a question about working as a paralegal, from a different reader. Check it out, after the jump.


Here is the inquiry:

Since this is the 2nd Tier Law School Week, I have a question. Suppose I were to attend a 2nd tier law school and work as a paralegal for a Biglaw firm. Is it true that if I proved myself as a great paralegal and thinker that it would be easier for me to get a 1L job at my firm (or at a similar one)? Especially since I would have the Biglaw name on my resume?

Any opinions? We know that some firms (we have a vague memory of Skadden) look favorably upon their ex-paralegals who go to law school. So a paralegal stint at such a firm might help you land a 1L or 2L summer job at that same firm, especially if the attorneys you worked with were impressed by your work and liked you personally.
But whether a paralegal stint at Biglaw X would help you get a 1L job at Biglaw Y, in the absence of strong academic credentials in law school, is more doubtful. You might just be in the same boat as many second-tier law students trying to land Biglaw gigs.
Thoughts?

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