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I considered going to Maine because I love the area- and I also considered some higher ranked schools- but in the end I picked what I could afford- A third tier in my home state- because I didn't want to be burdened by the debt. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not- I had worked in the DA's office but I didn't feel like I got enough of a view of what it is really like to practice law- and after taking my last 1L exam today- I'm still not sure- But I am glad I found your site. It helped me procrastinate during exams- you were right when you said that- and I feel like there are real people- who want full lives- who enter the study and practice of law.

Ex Mea Sententia

I made the same decision. After struggling for months with the decision to attend either a higher-ranked law school far from home or a law school in my home state, I finally realized that I would ultimately want to live and practice near home. Suddenly, the choice seemed so clear and easy.


I have to agree with your post. I'm at Maine Law for the year, but am a student at a "pedigree" school - and I can't get a job in Maine despite being from here and living here for my entire life. My "pedigreed" professors aren't any better caliber then my Maine ones - and I don't have to make an appointment with the secretary here to talk to a professor. Some of the best professors I've had have been at Maine. The students at Maine are much nicer (and just as intelligent as far as I can tell) and it's generally been a much better experience. Besides - being one name on a seating chart with 100 other people is highly overrated. If I had to do it all over again, I would go to Maine Law.


:-) I think Yale will preserve you, as here:
Literally, once an attorney froze, turned away, reconsidered, turned back, and asked hopefully where I went to undergrad. When I gave him an answer within the tiny universe of acceptable schools, his relief was visible. He happily changed the conversation to that school.

I figured my reliance on the US News rankings to guide my applications made me the world's biggest snob and tool, but I felt better when I was trying to decide between the #14 and #15 schools and East Coast people behaved as though it was so obvious that I had to pick G'town over my state school. I ended up in a different Yankee prestige factory eventually, but I still can't look at the weather report for Austin without getting sniffly with sentimental regret.

Thanks for this post, I was not the one who requested it but I always appreciate your thoughts on this subject. I chose to attend a lower-tier school as well (currently 2L). I applied to 4 schools and my choice came down to this: a top tier school (paying tuition), or a choice of 3 lower-tier schools which offered merit scholarships. I admit the money was a big influence on my decision, but not the only factor. I assume that I am not all that special and that many people who attend top tier schools could have opted to attend a lower-ranked school for free. The combination of "other" factors which influenced my decision included the strength of particular public interest programs, conversations I had with faculty members, the location (because I did not want to move) and a general sense (following a visit) that I had found a "good match" in the school I chose, among other things.

My goals seem to be quite different from those of many "law school people" I encounter, so that probably also made my decision easier.

In any case, I feel confident that I made the right choice. The only drawback has been feeling like I have to justify my choice. Reading about Sherry's experience helps with this lingering bit of "prestige insecurity."


One of the dirty little secrets of the law is that the really big famous law schools are really only big and famous to law students. All law schools are actually regional, and they only matter regionally.

If a person is going to practice in a particular state, and this is most certainly true if the state is rural, they are frankly better off going to a school in that state. They'll have the edge up on the bar exam, hiring firms, and the local practice.

The big famous schools are actually only regional schools for the big cities. The students who go there usually want to practice in that setting, so they have the illusion that going to one of them is putting them ahead of everyone else. If a person applied here having gone to Harvard or Yale wouldn't mean anything, indeed, it might mean that they'd be regarded as smart, but behind the curve for the bar exam.

Also, quite frankly, the big schools often seem to advance theories associated with some developing legal theory in one area or another, which is exciting for the students, but doesn't mean anything to actual lawyers. Once a person starts practicing nobody care if you are schooled in some rarified Constitutional or econmic theory. Probably one in one thousand lawyers in the US have ever heard of the supposedly famous law school professors, but they do know the names of their district court judges.


If a person is going to practice in a particular state, and this is most certainly true if the state is rural, they are frankly better off going to a school in that state. They'll have the edge up on the bar exam, hiring firms, and the local practice.

Yeah, something I worry about whenever I think I'll get tired of the Northeastern round -- NY, DC, Philly, Boston -- and want to go home.

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