Choosing the Right Law School

Rick Sander, doing research on the issue of affirmative action, found an interesting and generalizable trend:

The implication of my findings is that going to the best law school one gets into – a strategy almost everyone seems to follow – may not be a very good strategy at all. It is important for students to realistically assess how well they will do at the schools that will have them, and to pick a school where they are likely to be at least in the middle of their class. Middle- and low-tier law schools, under this view, deserve a lot more respect than the very hierarchical world of legal education tends to accord them.

While I haven’t done (and don’t plan to do) the number crunching to support this, my strong suspicion is that this is true of graduate schools–and even undergraduate education–as well. Students should go to the best school that they can excel in.

For graduate study in the humanities and social sciences, I’d also add the caveat that one should go to the best school one can go to on a full assistantship. There’s simply no justification at all for going into debt for a degree that will net you a low paying job — if you’re lucky enough to land one.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Education, Law and the Courts,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim says:

    Well James,

    I am on my last class in finishing my masters. This has been the first class I have had to pay for anything beyond books. All the other classes were paid for by the Army. Of course, I was limited by the proximity to the command I was assigned to rather then school ratings but those are the breaks.