Q) First off, I have to say thank you for your column about BigLaw snobs. It made me feel better about my choice to attend a geographically convenient, cheaper (9k/year vs 30k/year) law school in my hometown. ATL makes me want to puke.
I am entering 1L next week after years of putting off law school. I know I want to be a lawyer, but I didn’t want to go to law school without getting some solid life experience under my belt and without having a plan for the type of law I want to practice. I decided I love dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration. My TTTT school has an international program they are awfully proud of. I am wondering if it is realistic to get involved with international law and ‘shoot for the moon’ when it comes to my future or if I should just resign myself to a local life of mediating divorces. Not that I would mind that at all, truthfully… but why not go for gold if you think there’s a chance?
To rephrase, do you think I’ve got a shot at getting a job a hot-shot Federal agency or even an international firm if I’m coming from a TTTT school? If you were interested in dispute resolution law, what would be your ‘plan’ for law school? (what would you try to do during your summers and even during the year to give yourself the best shot at gainful employment after graduation?)
Thanks again for considering my question, I love your column.
A) Here’s my advice: Calm down. You’ve already made the decision to go to law school – whether it’s a T1 or a TTTT, it’s still law school – so that that part of the equation is done. Take a deep breath.
To me, your only objective right now should be to gain a solid legal education. That’s it. Remember, it’s impossible make an informed decision without any information.
As for finding work after school, it will be tough. Lawyers are resume snobs. Fact. Big firms don’t interview candidates from TTTT schools. Fact. So if you really want to “shoot for the moon” you’ll need to gussy up your resume as much as possible. Law review, great grades, internships… It still won’t be easy, but it’s possible. Fact.
Now, as to your specific questions regarding International Law, Federal Agencies and “dispute resolution law,” my advice is: Don’t worry about it. First of all, I have no idea what dispute resolution law really is. Honest. I’m pretty sure most mediators are former judges and highly experience litigators. In other words, that’s not a career you jump into right out of law school. As for International Law, take a few classes, see if you even like it. If you do, apply to some firms or Government Agencies that specialize in it. But for right now, chill and enjoy the last few weeks of summer.