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Legal Jobs >> Legal Articles >> Feature >> Graduated From a Tier 3 Law School: There’s much you can do with your degree
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Graduated From a Tier 3 Law School: There’s much you can do with your degree


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What you do with your tier 3 law school degree depends on you

J.D. from a 3rd Tier Law SchoolGraduating from a

tier 3 law school

does not automatically qualify you as a sure shot disaster, though that is the myth a section of the legal industry would like to establish – because, otherwise, there would be few takers for high-cost law schools. While no one would claim that a

tier 1 law school

and a tier 3 law school are on the same footing – the difference is based and stressed on average expectations and average results. Neither the founding fathers of the nation, nor the people who were the best lawyers of yesteryear's needed

law degrees

and employer brands to make them who they were. The lack of a law degree also did not make anyone incompetent to draft the U.S. Constitution, the bedrock of all statutes, law schools and law degrees. What you make of your tier 3 law school degree, or of yourself, depends largely upon you, and the going may be difficult in the beginning, but a tier 3 law school degree is not going to prevent you from having a great life.

The real problem with a tier 3 law school degree

The only real problem with a tier 3 law school degree is if you happened to encounter poor learning, and failed to develop yourself. No one can help you if you did not learn the law, regardless of whether you graduated from a tier 1 or a tier 3 law school. But, if you did manage to learn the law, then your only real problem is that at preliminary screenings, hi-fi law firms would not treat you kindly. That does not mean the end of the world.

The origin of most lawyers

From where do all those traffic lawyers, divorce lawyers, personal injury lawyers and real estate lawyers come? Are all the small county prosecutors and public defenders from tier 1 law schools?

Well, you can be sure that they mostly don't come from tier 1 law schools. Students from tier 1 law schools are destined usually to end up in the academia, or in a life in big law firms. But for you, with a degree from a tier 3 law school, the entire world except a small coterie of law firms is wide open. If you choose to go into a non-lawyer profession, or apply for working in-house, no one is going to raise an eyebrow. Your degree from a tier 3 law school is a genuine reason to non-law firm employers for you to seek a life outside law firms. A graduate from tier 1 law schools does not have any advantage over you outside big law. They would receive the call for interviews alright, but few non-law firm employers or small law firms would employ a tier 1 law graduate, because they know he has little reason to stay on with them and he is actually looking for a stopgap arrangement.

Why you have better prospects unless you refuse to recognize prospects beyond big law

Actually, the opportunities are far greater, and the

career options

more flexible for graduates from tier 3 law schools who do not need to substantiate their reasons for seeking alternative options to that of a life in a law firm. So, here are your options – small law firm, local employers, local state government, local court jobs, going solo, in-house jobs, real-estate, insurance, and any employment that is local or regional in nature. The employers have a greater chance to opt for you than for a tier 1 law school graduate.

Understand that even as a lawyer striking out solo, somebody out there has to work for the great numbers of low-income people, somebody has to do DUI defenses, personal injury claims, estate planning and work for ordinary citizens – which few graduates from top law schools can afford to do with the genie of non-dischargeable student loan debts riding on their shoulders. Believe it or not, there are plenty of

solo practitioners

in small courts who earn more than the average big firm attorney, and do it with lesser stress.

You can have a life, create it, and enjoy it

Only thing is, you have to keep in mind that success does not come in a day. Unless you are stressed out with a heavy

student loan debt

of course, keep patience and keep working. And if, in spite of studying in a tier 3 law school, you happened to incur a heavy debt – start looking for a job as fast as you can, and that does not need to be a job for a lawyer. Then manage your debts and bring your life back on keel.

You might be surprised to learn that millions of U.S. citizens have great lives outside

law firms

and without working billable hours. In fact, for every lawyer out there, there are about 250 ordinary U.S. citizens, and out of the thousands of lawyers in the nation, only a handful is engaged in big law firms. It's those poor souls slogging in the law firms who have a hard time of it, actually. If you graduated from a tier 3 law school it might be safe to assume that you have not incurred the high-student loan debts that cannot be discharged and which turn new graduates witless if they don't get entry into big law. You have a life, those in big law don't. Now make it work.
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