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Does An Attorney’s Law School Matter?

When you have been practicing law for a long time, law school is so far in the rear view mirror that most attorneys never think about it at all.  They do not think about where they attended school, how well they did in school, or how good their law school was because after being out of school for over a decade, it really does not matter where they went to school or the opposing counsel went to school.

It’s essential to recognize that while attending a prestigious law school may provide certain advantages, it does not guarantee success as a lawyer as a car accident lawyer can explain. Factors such as work ethic, dedication, practical experience, and ongoing professional development play significant roles in an attorney’s career progression and success. Ultimately, clients and employers often prioritize an attorney’s capabilities, experience, and reputation over the specific law school they attended.  What does matter after you start practicing law is what you have done as an attorney.  While the school an attorney attended can have some influence on their legal career, it is simply not a determinant of their abilities or success as a lawyer. Here are some points to consider from our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer:

Reputation: Attending a prestigious law school can provide networking opportunities and access to top-tier legal education, which may open doors to certain job opportunities, clerkships, or law firms with prestigious reputations.  But, they simply do not translate into success as an attorney.  Ask about someone’s reputation as an attorney – what they have done in cases they have handled, the results of cases, the results of trials.  Their reputation of success in client satisfaction and their reputation amongst attorneys in their field matters more than their reputation in the academic legal community.

Resources: Top law schools often offer extensive resources, such as renowned faculty, comprehensive libraries, and specialized programs, which can enhance a student’s legal education and skill development.  But, law school actually does not teach you how to be a lawyer. So, while the “bones” of law may be better taught in some law schools over others, since 99% of being a lawyer is learned in the practice of law, the resources of a law school mean little to nothing about providing that.

Alumni Network: Alumni networks from prestigious law schools can be valuable for networking and career advancement. Connections with alumni may provide access to job opportunities, mentorship, and professional support.  In certain cases, this can provide a benefit to you as a client, but in the very vast majority of them it simply does not.  

Perception: There may be a perception among some clients, employers, and colleagues that attorneys from certain prestigious law schools are more capable or competent, although this perception may not always align with reality. Again, in certain cases, this can provide a benefit to you as a client, but in the very vast majority of them it simply does not.  

Experience and Skills: Ultimately, not to be repetitive here, what matters most is an attorney’s experience, skills, and dedication to their practice. Attorneys from all law schools have the opportunity to gain valuable experience through internships, clerkships, and practical legal training, which can significantly impact their abilities as legal professionals.  Some of the nation’s best personal injury lawyers have come from some of the nation’s worst law schools and some people in jail or disbarred are Harvard educated lawyers.  

If an attorney is stressing his or her educational background to you in a client meeting, you might want to take that as a red flag.  It may be akin to the guy who keeps talking about how he was the quarterback in high school 30 years later.  Make the attorney focus the discussion on their practice, and what they have accomplished since law school in their actual profession. If you are facing legal troubles, consult an attorney near you that has experience with cases like yours.