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Author Topic: Impact of Experience and Law School  (Read 4872 times)


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Impact of Experience and Law School
« on: 05-07-10 at 12:56 pm »

Hey there,

I looked around on the forums and didn't see anything definitive on what I was looking for and would greatly appreciate input from others. 

From what I see in the forums, the general consensus seems to be to go to the best law school I can find for better job prospects.  While I follow that sentiment.  I'm wondering how much impact there would be if I went to a lower ranked one given my educational and professional experience.  In other words, how would a law firm look at me if I went to a top 20 vs top 40?  Top 50 vs top 100?

BS EE, 3.46, Southern Polytechnic State University
MS EE, 4.0, North Carolina State University: concentration, ASIC design

4 years as an engineer.  It will be 5 years by the time I enter law school.
3 years of high speed (8+ Gbps) digital design
1 year of ASIC/FPGA design



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Re: Impact of Experience and Law School
« Reply #1 on: 05-07-10 at 01:32 pm »

I'm sure there are some threads that are relavent to your question.  Try searching for "which school" using the search tool.  If you still need/want some advice after looking at some of the results, please feel free to ask again.

Hope I'm not being rude by pushing you to use the search tool.  But questions very similar to yours seem to be asked on a weekly basis on this forum.  Ultimately, the answers returned are:

1)  It depends on a number of factors (apart from education);
2)  Going to a higher ranked school will provide the best/most job prospects;
3)  Going to a school that gives you the best bang for the buck is the way to go; or
4)  Don't go to law school.  Period. (often sucinctly phrased as "DON'T 'EFFING GO")

But like I said, I'm more willing to dive into your particular circumstances, should you feel it is necessary after searching the forums as bit more.

Good luck,


This post is not legal advice.  I am not your attorney.  You rely on anything I say at your own risk. If you want to reach me directly, send me a PM through the board.  I do not check the email associated with my profile often.


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Re: Impact of Experience and Law School
« Reply #2 on: 05-07-10 at 04:36 pm »

It is a risk reward analysis. If you can get into a top ten school and afford it, it will open doors to firms and corporations that believe that the brand of the school indicates the quality of a persons contribution. I don't know why, but that seems to be the mentality. A top ten school will likely lead to a higher initial salary at such a firm. Of course you will also have to have the grades and class standing to support this. Finally, you will also likely have a large debt that consumes a portion of that starting salary. The large firms are in major cities, so you can also expect to have a high cost of living, if you make into such a firms.

  If you look beyond the top schools, or beyond being in the top 10-15% of your class,  you have to take into account the fact that you will pay a lot for a law school education. A debt that is much harder to support than most people realize. Even if you become a patent attorney, until you have two years of experience or more, there is not much pay in the profession. When you start out, you will be competing for positions that can be more cheaply filled by an agent, a paralegal, or a tech specialist. So initially there is no premium to being a licensed patent attorney.

 My suggestion is to go to the most affordable school you can, assuming you can't get into or cannot afford the top ten. In fact I am not even sure I should say top ten, maybe top five is a safer bet.

Keep in mind that less than 50% of those who graduate from law school are practicing attorneys five years after graduation.

Like most you are probably thinking:  I can get into a great school, I can be the top of my class, I can get a high salary fresh out of school. 
 I hope you can as well. However, the statistics don't support this. So keep your costs low so that you have options later.


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Re: Impact of Experience and Law School
« Reply #3 on: 05-09-10 at 03:51 pm »

Try to find a study put out by NALP that came out in around 2007, breaking down how the Class of 2005 (of pretty much every law school in the country) did on finding jobs after graduation.  The economy has changed rather radically since then, of course, but it's still relevant.  You'll see a graphical representation of what "T14" really does for you in terms of placement.

I don't have the charts in front of me, but as I recall, any school below about the top 60 has very little placement (5% or less) into higher-paid positions.  There are a very few tiny exceptions even down into the T4's, where some firms in large metropolitan areas send their patent agents (or perhaps other employees) to evening classes at certain schools (John Marshall in Chicago, for example, placed about 5% of its grads into biglaw), but these placements aren't random individuals getting hired, these people are already employed at the firms and are just getting that "JD" credential behind their names.  If your father is a partner at Jenner Block, you might have a chance.  If you've been working for DLA-Piper as an agent for five years and they tell you to go there to get your JD so you can advance, you have a chance.

Even the lower T1 schools start getting risky for job placement.  Especially in this economy.

Scholarship offers and your personal finances will complicate any decision you might have to make, but there really isn't a substitute for the alumni network that a T14 offers.
"The life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one."  Judge Giles Rich, Application of Ruschig, 379 F.2d 990.

Disclaimer: not only am I not a lawyer, I'm not your lawyer.  Therefore, this does not constitute legal advice.


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