Ranking Isn’t Everything

By Joe Pollak, Consultant at the Spivey Consulting Group

I just finished watching the live stream of an election law case filed in the Michigan Court of Claims. The plaintiff sued the Michigan Secretary of State, seeking to stop the counting of ballots in the state. I was watching because of the significance to current events, but more so than the outcome (which was that the case was dismissed), I was struck by the participants.

I think that many law school aspirants dream of standing up in court to represent their clients in a meaningful case. I also think that many applicants expect that the most exciting or most important cases are only handled by the lawyers who graduated from the most elite law schools. However, here’s what I discovered when I looked up the participants for this case:

  • Judge: Emory Law School
  • Plaintiff’s Counsel: Washington University School of Law
  • Defense Counsel: Georgetown University Law Center, Wake Forest University School of Law, Michigan State University College of Law

It would be hard to argue that any of those attorneys graduated from bad law schools (whatever your definition of “bad” is), but it is also true that none of them graduated from law schools ranked in the top ten. Certainly, there are reasons for wanting to seek admission to the highest-ranked law schools, and some opportunities are easier to access the higher up the rankings ladder you go. Yet, at least in this case, there they were, making important arguments on a case that has implications to the presidential election, and only one was a T14 graduate.