Choosing law schools: prestige and the bursting of the BigLaw bubble

Excellent article from Prof. William Henderson of the Indiana University School of Law, analyzing the potential impact of the financial crisis (and its attendant effects on the large law firms) on the relative marketability of different law schools’ grads.

Most large law firms are very sensitive to pedigree, though you’d be hard pressed to find any hard empirical evidence why the kid who went to Harvard is a better bet than someone who went to, say, Boston College,  Illinois, or the University of Houston.  Although the performance benefits of elite pedigree are little more than a hunch, the entire market for corporate legal services has bought into the notion that better résumés equal a better firm.  As the demand for corporate legal services continued to grow over the last several years, this herd-like branding strategy produced the $160,000+ associate pay structure and the now famous “bi-modal” distribution.

Yet, as the economy has slipped into recession, the pedigree bubble has finally burst.  It is now painfully obvious to everyone that it does not matter where you went to school, or who you clerked for—a lawyer in his or her first or second year of practice is just not worth $275 per hour.

Read the entire article, along with its history of law firm and law school elitism.  It’s very enlightening and insightful.