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Every year, U.S. News releases the year’s top law school rankings. They consider a number of factors, from quality assessment, faculty ratio, reputation, Bar passage rate, and more to determine which colleges offer the overall best for legal education. 

It goes without saying that the schools that rank the highest are deemed the best in the country. And to no one’s surprise, every year, aspiring law students compete fiercely to secure admission in one of these coveted universities. 

However, there is more to the legal industry than what meets the eye. The question being, does graduating from a top law school guarantee a successful career?

What makes a Successful Lawyer?

According to the widely accepted norm, the recipe to success is a high LSAT score, law review, and getting into a top tier law school. Although, that might not be the popular opinion among law firms. 

Today, the recruiting officers and managing partners tend to look beyond the grades and more into what defines the individual. For them, experiences, passion, work ethic, and even extracurricular activities play a significant role in deciding whether a candidate is a fit for the firm. 

Recruiters confirm that if they limit their hiring to only the top law schools, then they might miss out on some exceptional lawyers from one of the 160 other ABA-accredited law schools of the country. 

Even if you manage to get hired, that does not ensure a successful career. Your experiences, along with the theoretical background, will determine what kind of lawyer you become. 

Firms are looking for candidates who can commit to hard work, learn continuously,  and express a genuine interest in the practice and business of law.  Going to Yale or Haward might land you a job, but it is up to you whether you become successful or not. 

Besides the Top 20

The top-ranked schools may certainly deserve their ranking. And graduates from these colleges would be valuable additions to a legal term. However, students also choose their schools based on different reasons. Location, tuition costs, or a family situation might stop them from enrolling in a top tier school, even if they are eligible to get admission. 

Today, recruiters are willing to go beyond the top colleges to ensure that they find the ideal candidate. As for them, no matter the ranking, every law school is competitive. It is worth getting to know the candidate before writing them off, only because they studied at a low-ranking university. Looking beyond the top 20 schools gives the recruiters access to a much wider talent pool. 

Besides, not every legal firm in the country can afford to consider only candidates from the top schools. In four states in the U.S.-California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, aspiring lawyers can take bar exams without going to law school. In effect, you can always find firms that value experience more than the GPA. 

Academic achievement certainly reflects one’s initiative, commitments, and passion for law. That being said, the legal industry is broadening their horizons, and headhunters are welcoming strong candidates regardless of their college.