Survey says no.
A fascinating article was just released that should help 0L’s as they think through their law school choices. In short, the paper argues that it’s rarely a good idea to attend a law school to which you just barely got in. The reason is that grades are of relatively more importance than prestige in predicting future career outcomes.
This makes sense intuitively as long as the spread between schools isn’t too wide; no one would recommend choosing a third-tier over Harvard. But a student who just barely got into the #10 school might be well-advised to consider that financial aid offer from the #20 school. Top students from nearly all law schools will have interesting options for their first job; much better to be top 10% at Boston College than bottom 10% at Georgetown, according to this research.
In order to accept this advice, potential law students will have to let go of one misconception I see all the time–that they are virtually guaranteed to be in the top 10% of their class. As you think through your school decision, just remember that at the best school you were admitted to, most of the students will have higher GPA’s and LSAT scores, and most will be just as hardworking.
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