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Elite Law School Alums Less Satisfied With Legal Life?

An interesting analysis that dovetails a bit with one of the conclusions Law School Mastery reached many years ago: part of satisfaction, and therefor peak performance in law school, includes managing expectations.

Read this entire blog entry at The Wall Street Journal

Study: The Better the School, the Less Happy the Associate

The economy of the last 16 months has forced law firms to rethink a lot of their old ways of doing things vis-a-vis their associates. Firms have reconsidered salary structures, embraced new training techniques and reshaped evaluation processes. They’ve also, of course, taken the axe to hundreds upon hundreds of the equity-less masses.

But one thing they haven’t changed: whom they hire. Firms have tinkered with the formula at the margins, but they still largely flock to the top national schools and top schools in their area, and look to snatch up the students on law review and with the best grades — categories which often share a lot of overlap. If anything, given a reduction in hiring needs, the firms have become even more discerning with their hiring over the months.

But is this strategy — going for the best and brightest at the most gilded institutions — a mistake? The authors of a recent study think so.

Ronit Dinovitzer, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, and Bryan Garth, the dean of the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, tracked the careers of a sample of 5,000 lawyers who began practice in 2000.

Their findings were two-fold. First, as described in the September issue of the American Lawyer, they found that “new lawyers working for firms of more than 250 lawyers are less satisfied with their jobs than their counterparts in smaller firms.” Um, okay. Frankly, were this all they found, we wouldn’t be writing about their study at all.

But they also found this: “that graduates of the most selective schools are the less satisfied with their jobs at large firms, while graduates of less selective schools are relatively more satisfied.”


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