10 TTT All-Stars

If you believe the legal rumor mill, and we’re not sure why you would, a degree from a so-called TTT law school is a first-class ticket to a dead-end career. But the truth is that successful lawyers can come from any of the 184 ABA-accredited law schools, even (gasp) schools that aren’t in the Top 14.

Here are just some of the many accomplished legal minds who matriculated from the not-so-hallowed halls of America’s TTTs who’ve “done good” enough to manage to land top law jobs.  Just as U.S. News does with Tier-3 and Tier-4 rankings, the following individuals are simply listed alphabetically.

Alice Moore Batchelder

Law School: University of Akron School of Law (Tier 3)
Notable Work: Judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; made George W. Bush’s shortlist for the Supreme Court seat that ultimately went to Justice Alito. [USA Today]

Jeffrey Birren

Law School: Southwestern (Tier 3)
Notable Work: General Counsel, The Oakland Raiders. [Southwestern.edu]

N. Cornell Boggs III

Law School: Valparaiso University School of Law (Tier 4)
Notable Work: Chief Legal Officer and Group Vice President for Public Affairs, Coors Brewing Company.  [AllBusiness.com]

Bonnie Dumanis

Law School: Thomas Jefferson Law School (Tier 4)
Notable Work: District Attorney for San Diego County since 2003. [Sign On San Diego]

Robert H. Jackson

Law School: Albany Law School (Tier 3)
Notable Work: Supreme Court Justice; Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg. [Wikipedia]

Bill Lockyer

Law School: McGeorge School of Law (Tier 3)
Notable Work: Former California Attorney General; current California State Treasurer.  [Treasurer.ca.gov]

Rich McKay

Law School: Stetson University College of Law (Tier 3)
Notable Work: President of the Atlanta Falcons; former GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won Super Bowl XXXVII. [Wikipedia]

Dwight D. Opperman

Law School: Drake University Law School (Tier 3)
Notable Work: Former CEO of West Publishing; oversaw the creation of the WestLaw database; sold West to Thompson Reuters for $3.4 billion.  [Forbes]

Thomas J. Ryan

Law School: Suffolk Law School (Tier 4)
Notable Work: General Counsel, Pepsi.  [Suffolk.edu]

Various Firm-Name TTT Alumni

Law School: New York Law School (Tier 3)
Notable Work: Not to be confused with NYU Law School, this much-maligned institution is responsible for some of the biggest white shoes that BigLaw has ever known. [NYLS.edu]

Here are just some of the school’s notable alums:

Who did we miss?  Leave the unsung TTT All-Star’s info below in the comments.

  • Alma Federer

    #11—BL1Y:  Law School—Bozeman State (Tier ?).  Notable Work:  Regular Commentator on the Bitterlawyer.com website; expert on handling testy partners at law firms; expert on handling anxious floozies at bars as well as all things personal; expert on any topic under the sun.

  • Space Olympian

    Are you kidding me?  The #1 person on this list should be Warren E. Burger, 15th CJ of SCOTUS.  He graduated from none other than William Mitchell College of Law.

  • guest1

    Touro (T4): Kathleen Rice, Nassau County DA (Long Island, NY)

  • Anonymous

    Alma, you are one bitter lady. But why u picking on Bl1Y?

  • BL1Y

    Alma is mistaken, I went to a Top 5 school, I’m just TTT as a person.  It’s a common mistake, no worries.

  • Anon22

    what school did you go to BL1Y do tell!


    Benjamin Brafman, counsel to none other than Michael Jackson and Plaxico Burress, is a notable criminal defense attorney who graduated from Ohio Northern (Tier 3).

  • Anonymous

    BL1Y seems like a Yale guy to me. Smart but utterly useless.

  • redshift

    Why so serious about BL1Y everyone? Chill out and grab a drink fellas. It’s only the internet.

  • BL1Y

    @9:49: How is that different from a Harvard guy, a Stanford guy, a Columbia guy, or an NYU guy?

  • BDS

    Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Univ. of Baltimore (T4)

    • UB2L

      hey! ub is T3 now. ugh, what a TTT thing to point out…

  • BL1Y Hater

    So you went to NYU.  Wow!  You must be a genius!!!!!

  • Alma Federer

    He probably went to NYU, looked into the window, then went back to the T4 school he graduated from.  Come on, this BL1Y guy is not for real.  Besides, I know another guy from NYU who is also somewhat effeminate. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  • SDL20

    guy who knows, where did bl1y go to school?

  • Anonymous

    BL1Y is a cool dude, most of the time.

  • BL1Y

    Hater: I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that going to a top 5 school makes you smart.  With all of the legitimate things you could make fun of me for, why make something up?  Either you’re lazy, or just stupid.

  • NYLS3L

    You left off my personal favorite, Zygmunt Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, also a NYLS grad.

  • JoseyWales

    Tony LaRussa – Graduated Florida State Law, techinically tier 2 but what is the difference?  Manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, winner of 2 world series, manager of the year awards.

  • One-Trick Pony

    Tony LaRussa’s hot!

  • Tom

    Putting aside everything wrong with the city of Cleveland itself, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law should be on this list. 
    CMLaw has a huge alumni presence throughout Ohio and is consistently at the top (this may be a mistake to mention) of the bar passage rates for first time Ohio Bar takers.
    Notable Alum: Timothy J. Russert

  • Anonymous!

    Burger wins–William Mitchell (Tier 3).

  • BL1Y

    Harper Lee dropped out of UA Law.  Not a TTT, but were there even ranking in the 1940s?

  • Noneya

    Mark Lanier-Texas Tech. In top ten of American Litigators

  • SCU3L

    Leon Panetta – SCU Law – Director of the CIA

  • CULS

    Paul J. McNulty – Deputy Attorney General of the United States – Capital University Law School. Chief prosecutor for John Walker Lindh, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali and Zacarias Moussaoui.

  • UDM grad

    University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (tier 4): James L. Ryan Justice of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Michael Cavanagh former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Thomas Brennan, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. And Maura Corrigan former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

  • Anonymous

    Vice President Biden – Syracuse University College of Law.

  • Broke jobless SUCOL grad

    I have to reiterate the first comment, and expand on Syracuse University Colllege of Law (abbreviated as SUCOL, but pronounced suckle, as they suck the life, money, hope, and marrow out of you).
    They are truly evil and unholy parasites the feast on the still beating hearts of the hopeful law students who don’t have family connections or money, but think that their achievements and experience count. Even those on Law Review can’t get work.
    Dante did not invent a level of hell deep enough to place these people in…especially the people in Student Life (pronounced student STRIFE), and Professional Development Carrers Office (pronounced PETCO, b/c they shovel low grade dog food and calll it a job opportunity).
    I guess you could say that the non-tenured professors are worthy of praise, but once they get the keys to the tenued professors nap room, their talent falls by the wayside.

  • Rance Stoddard

    I like this post. Many anonymous individuals on the internet tend to make derisive comments about fourth tier schools being a complete waste of money, but I feel like most of those comments are grounded in equal parts snobbery and ignorance.

    I went to law school (at a tier four) for one reason–I wanted to be a criminal prosecutor. For that job, at least at the local level, the name of your law school really is not that important.

    There were some students at my school who came in with the unrealistic expectation that they were going to land $150K jobs their first year out of law school. These were also typically the students who did not perform as well in school. They had not done their homework prior to deciding to go to law school, and they really did not do their homework while in school.

    Fourth tier schools should be lauded for what they are–opportunities for people (like me) with less than spectacular undergraduate records or LSAT scores who still want to be attorneys. With that understanding, it doesn’t matter that 4T’s are not get-rich-quick institutions. If you know there is a particular job that you want, and you need a law degree to get it, then you go and you get the law degree. Fourth tier schools make that possible for a lot more people.