The BriefA Blog about the LSAT, Law School and Beyond
It seems like no one talks about anything else. But where did this term come from and what does it actually measure?
Where the Term "T-14" Came From
The term "T-14" refers to the top fourteen law schools according to U.S. News and World Report (USNWR). But why fourteen instead of ten or twenty-three or five? Because the top fourteen schools have stayed fairly consistent according to USNWR.
Let's repeat that for emphasis: they've stayed consistent according to USNWR.
But USNWR's rankings are somewhat arbitrary. Here's how USNWR determines them:
Notice that USNWR rankings are mostly a measure of reputation. This is a little odd, because USNWR also helps perpetuate these schools' reputations.
To some extent, the rankings are a self-fulfilling prophecy: the longer you maintain a high USNWR rank, the better your reputation…and the higher your USNWR rank. No wonder they stay static at the top.
It's also worth pointing out what the rankings are not. They are not primarily a measure of employment outcomes. They are not at all a measure of how prepared you'll be to succeed. "Faculty resources" is a poor stand-in for educational quality, as you can see in a more detailed breakdown of the ranking methodology:
Let's question some of these assumptions. Does the fact that a school spends more on its instructors, library, and supporting services mean that it is better? Maybe—or maybe it's just in a more expensive location. Does the amount a school spends on its instructors and library and supporting services really matter more than twice as much as the students' employment rate at graduation? Do you, or does anyone you know, care even 0.75% about how many volumes are in the school's library?
The point isn't that these rankings are bad. The point is that rankings—any rankings—necessarily rely on assumptions that may not hold true for you.
So, back to the most important question:
Does attending a T-14 school matter?
It depends on what you're looking for.
Graduating from a highly ranked school usually makes it easier to do the following:
- Get a job in Big Law—especially the first time around
- Get a federal clerkship
- Pursue legal academia
But graduating from a T-14 school does not guarantee a job, and graduating from a school of lower ranking doesn't mean you can't get a job in Big Law. Your class rank, network, and interviewing skills also matter a lot.
If you're contemplating a specific school, you should take a look at the latest ABA-disclosed employment outcomes.
We’ve rounded up five spectacular personal statements that helped students with borderline numbers get into T-14 schools. You’ll find these examples to be as various as a typical JD class. Some essays are about a challenge, some about the evolution of the author’s intellectual or professional journey, and some about the author’s identity. The only common thread is sincerity. The authors did not write toward an imagined idea of what an admissions officer might be looking for: they reckoned honestly with formative experiences.
An LL.M. is a one-year master’s degree for candidates who already have a degree in law, and it can help them switch to a new field of law, get a new job, or gain a professional edge. Read about why you might apply and how to maximize your chances in our admissions course: https://7sage.com/admissions/lesson/all-about-ll-m-degrees/.
The annual uproar about law school rankings might lead you to believe that the rank of the school you attend is the only factor in determining whether you will become a successful lawyer. As Above The Law points out, the T14 law school rankings, as determined by US News and World Report, rely heavily on inputs – especially peer assessment, grades, and LSAT scores — while ATL’s rankings rely more heavily on outputs like jobs and starting salaries. Given that the two lists overlap quite heavily at the top, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling like you might as well say goodbye to your law career before you’ve even read your first case note if you don’t get into a T14 school. But don’t lose heart! Many, many law school graduates attend non-T14 schools and go on to have successful law careers.
I speak from experience. By way of background, I graduated from Emory Law School squarely in the middle of my class. It was a great place to go to school, with whip-smart professors and clinics, but it was not T14 when I attended and still isn’t (though it’s been solidly T25 for many years). Emory is also located in Atlanta, which, for all of its charms, was not the city where I intended to practice upon graduation. Like so many others, I had my eyes set on New York City. I managed to write myself onto the law review which, given my highly mediocre class ranking, definitely helped boost my resumé. This, combined with my comfort with interviewing, helped me land a job in Big Law in the New York office of a Chicago-based firm, where I specialized in real estate law.
I jumped ship after five years and wound up in Cardozo’s admissions office, where I counseled prospective students about whether they should or shouldn’t go to law school, and why they might be a good fit for Cardozo in particular. I later returned to practicing real estate law with the New York City Economic Development Corporation. As a lawyer, first in private practice and later for the City of New York, I regularly interviewed candidates for summer associate and lateral positions. While I can’t speak for every law firm or government agency, I do think I have some insight about whether attending a T14 law school really matters—so here goes!
When does attending a T14 law school really matter?
Below, you'll find an overview of the different probability posts, listed by suggested order of completion:
- An Introduction to Probability
- Five Basic Facts About Probability
- Probability for a Single Event - P(A)
- Probability of Both Events Occurring - P(A and B)
- Optional: Why the P(A and B) Rule Works
- Probability of One or Another Event Occurring - P(A or B)
- Optional: Why the P(A or B) Rule Works
- Probability for Outcomes Not Occurring - P(not A)
- Probability for Outcomes That Are Not Equally Likely
- An Introduction to Combinatorics
- Optional: Why Does the Permutation Rule Work
- Permutations with Repeated Objects