Does Law School Rank Determine Success?

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"Yes and no. The higher the rank of your law school, the easier it is to be recruited by the larger firms. However, once you have a job in any firm, your success depends on how good a lawyer and person you are," said Larry B. Sitton of Smith Moore LLP, who graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in the 60s. As the reputation of Wake Forest has improved over the years, he said it has benefited him. Mr. Sitton was named one of The Best Lawyers in America, 10 Consecutive Years, Antitrust Law, Business Litigation, among other achievements.

David J. Correira, a partner in the firm of Holland and Knight, agrees. Mr. Correira is a nationally recognized trusts and estates lawyer with nearly two decades of experience litigating estate, trust, conservatorship, and guardianship cases.

"A prestigious school and high class rank may land you a great career start in a large firm with a high salary, but it can also be the beginning of a disappointing path with little career fulfillment and inflexibility to grow and prosper as a lawyer because of organizational constraints," said Mr. Correira.

Mr. Correira is a graduate of New England School of Law in Boston, ranked as a fourth-tier law school according to 2005 rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Mr. Correira attributes his successful career to having specialized in an area of practice in demand, working hard for more than 15 years, and building a solid reputation through speaking and writing engagements, as well as serving in bar leadership capacities. He was recently named Top Lawyer in Rhode Island Monthly.

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