T14 or Bust?

Person's feet surrounded by arrows representing many directions

Hey, JDs-to-be. A quick PSA about law school rankings. I really hate the popular narrative about how things are with this now, because honestly, it’s just damaging. T14 (shorthand for the top 14 schools on the rankings calculated by U.S. News & World Report) is not the be-all and end-all of law school by a long shot.

I’m always trying to listen and be part of the conversation so I can help students, and what I overhear and see right now on social media really does worry me. When you look at the number of people who apply to the T14 and the number of seats they actually offer, it’s a no-brainer that most people shouldn’t be thinking of themselves as shoo-ins there and putting their eggs only in that basket. It just sets people up for disappointment, and for some of them, sometimes not getting into a T14 turns into a real existential crisis–and this whole process just DOES. NOT. have to be like that.

It was the same thing when I worked for the NCAA. Every high school star thinks they’re going to get recruited by a D1 school and then go into pro sports, and that just isn’t the case. By the time you get to the end, less than one percent of people who played high school ball who will go pro. The problem is that everyone wants to think that *they* are going to be the one who’s in that one percent.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe in yourself. You are an amazing and worthwhile human being on this planet. You have value just for the simple fact that you walk this earth. But what I *am* saying is: be logical, be disciplined, and do the work–do your research. Do the math to figure out whether and how you can execute on your dreams. Don’t listen to the chatter out there, especially when it’s from people who are basically in exactly the same boat as you! There are over 200 law schools in the United States. There are LOTS of schools that are not T14, or even T50 or T100, that are GREAT options that will get most people where they want to go in their legal careers.