Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Undergrad school prestige doesn’t matter, right?

Let’s say you went to a really fancy elite school, Ivy Lea ambulancechaser201302/14/18
I'm inclined to agree with this as well. It might help some caj11102/14/18
I felt undergrad school sort of created a pecking order 1l y boredgirl102/19/18
Meant to write everyone knows. Another reason why I’m not ambulancechaser201302/14/18
Undergraduate matters immediately after undergraduate and in khazaddum02/14/18
OP, I can tell you from personal experience that it does not wolfman02/15/18
That describes me. I went to an Ivy undergrad (did a STEM m patenttrollnj02/15/18
Your comment is intriguing. I would have guessed patent law inho2solo02/16/18
You'd think, but no. Patent law is still law, so success in patenttrollnj02/17/18
Too bad, thanks for the further info. inho2solo02/17/18
For engineering, it only matters that the undergrad school i heythere02/20/18
I'm a data point here. Graduate of T14 undergraduate but n themapmaster02/15/18
Of course there's also the other side of the coin. I work wi loblawyer02/15/18
here's an anecdote that may be instructive: with my law care williamdrayton02/15/18
Fascinating critique aknas02/15/18
Disagree, your undergrad always matters Your vita shows up trijocker02/15/18
I attended a top college and a lousy law school. The U-grad notiers02/15/18
notiers has it nailed - the undergrad is always a nice conve williamdrayton02/15/18
I'm not talking about entry level jobs, but mid management a trijocker02/15/18
In my experience, true mid-management and above is all about heythere02/21/18
I attended a T1 in a medium-sized city below the Mason-Dixon cacrimdefense02/16/18
I think undergrad certainly does matter in the hiring proces hairypalms02/16/18
I think it certainly matters in "tiebreaker" situations. But malletofmalice02/16/18
Here's another piece of anecdata: I currently work a nonlega williamdrayton02/16/18
Are you in Silicon Valley? SJSU grads do decently well out t 2breedbares02/16/18
Outside of networking opportunities, it won't matter. Even f pisces21302/19/18
I agree it may matter in tie breaker situations. It also ma therover02/21/18

ambulancechaser2013 (Feb 14, 2018 - 9:14 pm)

Let’s say you went to a really fancy elite school, Ivy League for college. Then you went to a T2 with no honors/law review or Coif. Does the undergrad matter at all in job search?

I feel it helped me at the margins in some job searches, and everything knows the prestige of my school, though I don’t think it actually amounts to a hill of beans. Thoughts.

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caj111 (Feb 14, 2018 - 9:31 pm)

I'm inclined to agree with this as well. It might help somewhat as far as networking goes for some potential employers, but generally speaking, the large firms and in-house counsel offices that only hire lawyers from top law schools and couldn't give a damn about your undergrad. The places that do care and consider a fancy elite undergrad school to be a major factor in hiring you despite your T2 law school degree are going to be few and far between. Yeah, I'd say it amounts to a hill of beans at best, at least in the legal world.

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boredgirl1 (Feb 19, 2018 - 11:32 pm)

I felt undergrad school sort of created a pecking order 1l year. Of course, it depends on the law school. I transferred law schools. My first one was miserable. Second law school was relaxed and happier. Still a lot of snooty students, but nowhere near as bad as my first school.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Feb 14, 2018 - 9:15 pm)

Meant to write everyone knows. Another reason why I’m not at Skadden.

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khazaddum (Feb 14, 2018 - 9:29 pm)

Undergraduate matters immediately after undergraduate and in some cases later. If you go to a great undergraduate and a very bad post-grad, yeah you messed up. A bad law school is what made you the lawyer you are, not your pre-law studies.

But some of the big southern schools have really darn good job websites for grads. Even a bad lawyer could use them to get a non-law job. Props if you played on a meaningful sports team.

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wolfman (Feb 15, 2018 - 12:13 am)

OP, I can tell you from personal experience that it does not help your legal career in any significant way (and I went to a supposedly T1 law school - which really doesn't matter unless it's a T6 or you're in the top 10% of your class).

Incidentally, this is why it is almost always a mistake for someone from an elite undergrad to attend a law school lower down the chain. If you went to, let's say, Princeton undergrad, you really need to go to HYSCCN for LS. Can't get in to one of those? Don't go to law school.

Elite undergrad *may* help a little with getting OCI interviews of you're a borderline candidate but it won't help you get hired. It also *may* help you get looked at for non-law or JD-preferred jobs later on, where there is a fellow alum doing the hiring or they are just looking for smart, if messed up, people - but it won't help you very much, and by that point you're in damage control mode anyway, having pretty royally f-ed yourself.

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patenttrollnj (Feb 15, 2018 - 12:41 am)

That describes me. I went to an Ivy undergrad (did a STEM major), and then went to another Ivy for a masters degree. Following a low LSAT score, I ended up at a T2 law school. Nobody gives a damn about my two Ivy schools.

Anecdotally, I also had two law school classmates that graduated Princeton. Both ended-up at mills after graduating law school.

So No, I don't think undergrad matters that much. Likewise, don't think the undergrad major matters that much either.

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inho2solo (Feb 16, 2018 - 9:29 am)

Your comment is intriguing. I would have guessed patent law to have been one of the few areas where UG prestige WOULD carry some weight.

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patenttrollnj (Feb 17, 2018 - 6:40 am)

You'd think, but no. Patent law is still law, so success in law school is what is paramount.

Also, don't get the impression that patent law is anything glamorous. If you're at a small firm practicing patent law (like I am), it can be quite the "toilet law" experience.

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inho2solo (Feb 17, 2018 - 11:25 am)

Too bad, thanks for the further info.

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heythere (Feb 20, 2018 - 8:06 pm)

For engineering, it only matters that the undergrad school is ABET accredited. No such thing as prestige, unless it's MIT or CalTech. The courses and books across ABET accredited schools is amazingly similar.

When I got my first job, others at work who graduated in the last 2-3 years had the exact same books that I had.

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themapmaster (Feb 15, 2018 - 12:43 am)

I'm a data point here. Graduate of T14 undergraduate but not HYPS. Then was slightly above median at T25 law school. Struck out badly at OCI (I wasn't even unlucky) and my career has been on the track of a T.T.T grad ever since, the ones I detested so much for being stupid enough to attend a T.T.T. I never felt that my undergrad moved any needles, but I feel that if my undergrad had been HYPS, it might have. Harvard pops off a first year law student's resume that is otherwise marginal.

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loblawyer (Feb 15, 2018 - 9:28 am)

Of course there's also the other side of the coin. I work with someone (counterpart in client company) with a boss who was just promoted to an even higher position a full 2 or 3 grades ahead of him. Guy is younger than both of us (we are all millennials), went to a third tier law school, whatever undergrad and first job before the company was in small law. However, he apparently gambled and won on a top 3 tax llm.

Some people are just able to make the jump and then make things happen. This guy is at least 10 years ahead of where he should be despite mostly lackluster credentials. He's also a former athlete with good looks and likely the typical bro personality; sure that does not hurt either.

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williamdrayton (Feb 15, 2018 - 9:54 am)

here's an anecdote that may be instructive: with my law career floundering 10 years after graduating college, I made an appointment at my elite undergrad career services to see about non-legal jobs. I asked specifically about those entry level "management consulting" gigs that go to graduating seniors.

I was very politely told to pound sand - those gigs are only for recent college grads - in other words, the initial benefit of my elite BA had an expiration date.

moreover, I've also learned that the minute you graduate law school, you have the scarlet letter JD, and will always be pigeonholed, regardless of undergrad

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aknas (Feb 15, 2018 - 9:59 am)

Fascinating critique

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trijocker (Feb 15, 2018 - 10:45 am)

Disagree, your undergrad always matters
Your vita shows up on your resume and Linkedin
I always advise students to attend the best school they can afford.
Jobs are competitive and you are assessed as a total package, so if one candidate attended a university and the other has an undergrad with the title state college, the university person wins.

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notiers (Feb 15, 2018 - 10:47 am)

I attended a top college and a lousy law school. The U-grad degree helped ever so slightly in that the school was a conversation point etc and it gave me some good connections. Other than that - pretty negligible.

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williamdrayton (Feb 15, 2018 - 12:30 pm)

notiers has it nailed - the undergrad is always a nice conversation point:

"I see that you attended University of X - what was that like?"

"Oh, that's very nice, but you still don't have 3-5 years experience in the niche we're looking for. Good day to you sir. Go directly out of our office, do not pass go, do not collect $200."

"negligible" is a very apt descriptor

trijocker's formulation may apply for entry-level jobs only with undergrad being a tie-breaker among otherwise similar candidates - but for experienced people saying "your undergrad always matters" is hyperbole

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trijocker (Feb 15, 2018 - 12:48 pm)

I'm not talking about entry level jobs, but mid management and above
A hundred or more resumes submitted

Anything you can do and are able to do to sell yourself and stand out from the rest can be a deal breaker. So let's say your undergrad was San Jose State, GO SPARTIES, I guarantee you they will pick the UC Berkeley undergrad over the Spartie.


They can tell you the below for any job btw. You can never be what you they are looking for if they want a certain personality fit, skill or look for their team. I was at a major internet firm that shall remain nameless, and the women hiring managers interviewing for roles in their department black balled any female applicants with cheap handbags, kid you not.

"Oh, that's very nice, but you still don't have 3-5 years experience in the niche we're looking for. Good day to you sir. Go directly out of our office, do not pass go, do not collect $200."

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heythere (Feb 21, 2018 - 10:26 am)

In my experience, true mid-management and above is all about connections. Good schools help in that. It's social signaling.

I think you are striving for lower half of mid-management. In Fortune 500 companies, likely, there are more outsourced jobs than in employed jobs. You are almost better off just starting an outsourcing company and scratching your way up - cost and quality typically matter.

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cacrimdefense (Feb 16, 2018 - 1:35 am)

I attended a T1 in a medium-sized city below the Mason-Dixon Line. The student who wound up as the top-ranked student in my class at the end of the 1L year, and the gentleman who was #1 after all three years were completed, were very different characters. Obviously, both were on Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif, but they were just different types, and I wondered how things would work out for them professionally.

The former had graduated from a Cal State campus (not even one of the large ones) and didn't speak terribly well or smoothly. Further, he didn't seem socially polished, and even looked uncomfortable/out of character on the occasions he put on a suit for Trial Ad exercises. He was about 29 or 30 when we started our first year, making him a few years older than we K through JD types who made up most of the LS. I didn't know the guy, but a roommate of mine who did said he just outworked everybody. When he made LR, he made it clear to the folks there that he wanted as little responsibility and as few journal duties as possible, b/c he valued his study time.

The guy who graduated as #1 when all 3 years were completed, was more of what you'd expect. He had an undergraduate liberal arts degree from Georgetown, and his father was a well-respected attorney in the state where the law school was located. This dude's brother had also graduated from our law school, about 5 years earlier.

While I was dicking around w/ my LinkedIn profile last month, I looked them both up. Both started out by working for the best firm in the city, then opened up their own civil litigation (high end stuff) shops, each with a couple other partners. It appears that both gentlemen have done quite well for themselves, and both are working as adjunct professors at my alma mater.

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hairypalms (Feb 16, 2018 - 8:10 am)

I think undergrad certainly does matter in the hiring process, particularly if you went to an Ivy.

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malletofmalice (Feb 16, 2018 - 9:28 am)

I think it certainly matters in "tiebreaker" situations. But your base law school profile has to be good enough to get you considered in the first place.

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williamdrayton (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:13 am)

Here's another piece of anecdata: I currently work a nonlegal job for a Fortune 500 type. For most positions they care about relevant experience, not collegiate prestige. (That may differ for campus recruiting). The guy who went to San Jose State and has five years relevant experience Most assuredly has a leg up on the Berkeley liberal artiste. I'm guessing that law is somewhat unusual in it's prestige whoring. As onehell has repeatedly said, law is the ONLY licensed occupation that does not require practical experience. Even a freaking barber or hair stylist has field requirements. At the entry level in law, prestige is a proxy for experience

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2breedbares (Feb 16, 2018 - 12:29 pm)

Are you in Silicon Valley? SJSU grads do decently well out there.

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pisces213 (Feb 19, 2018 - 10:43 pm)

Outside of networking opportunities, it won't matter. Even for networking, you'd have to be in a state or city with alumni in the right places. Oftentimes an undergrad with less prestige but with better proximity will be more helpful due to the sheer number of alumni in the area.

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therover (Feb 21, 2018 - 7:27 am)

I agree it may matter in tie breaker situations. It also may be more of a proxy of what you’re like than what your law school would tell them. It says something (particularly on the East Coast) about where you’re from, what you’re like. For instance, I’ve seen people roll their eyes at resumes from very good, but ultra-liberal elite schools while expressing deeper interest in grads from good ol’ boy type schools. I’ve also seen grads from pretty crappy undergrads (like a second rate state school in a state where anyone with half a brain goes to the flagship campus).

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