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Especially in a tight legal job market, one slight imperfection on the academic record of a lawyer looking for employment can mean quite a lot. It can mean the difference between someday becoming a judge on a federal or state court and being a judge at a pie-baking contest at the county fair. It can mean the difference between landing a job at O’Melveny & Myers, one of the premier law firms in the world, and working at Jacoby & Meyers, one of the premier law firms in the shopping center. It can mean the difference between having the opportunity to someday appear before the Supreme Court asking: “May it please the court,” and appearing at the checkout counter asking customers: “Paper or plastic?” As most attorneys know, law firms are academic credential snobs. When you think about it, they almost have to be. With hundreds of r�sum�s to sift through, grade point average, class rank, law review and law school attended are convenient indicators used in deciding who will be granted an interview and whose r�sum� will be put “on file.” You know what file I’m talking about. It’s the file where your r�sum� is kept “should our hiring needs change in the future.” Because academic credentials play such a big role in landing a job at The Firm, getting hired is largely a numbers game. Other qualifications, or lack thereof, take a back seat to how well one did in law school. Most firms establish academic record thresholds for candidates to pass through before an interview will be granted or an offer for employment extended. A law firm might, for example, have a policy to interview only those in the top 20 percent of their graduating class. Thus, if serial killer Ted Bundy (University of Florida College of Law) had, from death row, submitted his r�sum� to The Firm, he would have been considered for employment if he graduated at the top of his class. The reincarnation of Clarence Darrow, however, wouldn’t have a chance if he graduated in the bottom half of his law school class. (While we are on the subject, I should mention that I do not believe in reincarnation. Well, at least I really, really hope I’m not reincarnated because that would mean having to go to law school all over again.) Also crucial to one’s employment prospects is the law school one attends. For this reason, J.D. envy runs rampant in the legal community. Graduates of the top 10 law schools are in pretty good shape and, with decent grades, these people don’t have too much trouble getting interviews and job offers. Attending a top school can even make up for less-than-stellar grades. The number of law firms that visit Yale Law School each year to conduct interviews, for instance, exceeds the total number of third-year students. Thus, graduating from a good law school is like having a gold star on your r�sum�. It’s more like having a black mark on your r�sum�, however, if you graduated from one of the directional schools, e.g., Eastern West Virginia, South Dakota East Valley State, Northwestern Southern Florida or Dr. Chang’s School of Eastern Healing Arts and Law. So, what to do if you are from a law school that includes directions to campus in its name? Your best option is to pursue a career in the exciting industry of insurance adjusting. If you decide to stick to the law, however, there are ways to improve your chances for getting hired. You can do what my law school roommate did and send your r�sum� to every law firm listed in the Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory. Basically, this turns your search for professional employment into a sort of job lottery. You’re playing the numbers and hoping that if you send out enough copies of your resume, you might hit the big payoff. Before getting started,you need to know that for each cover letter you send out with your r�sum�, there will be close to an equal number of rejection letters showing up in your mailbox. My roommate amassed quite a collection of letters from law firms, all of which seemed to conclude with the same words: “good luck in your future endeavors.” He collected enough letters, in fact, to wallpaper three walls and the entire ceiling of our dorm room. I don’t like to brag about him, but my law school roommate received rejection letters from some of the best law firms in the nation. Classmates stopping by to check out the wallpaper would say, “Wow! You got rejection letters from some of the biggest and best New York and Chicago firms. Congratulations. I didn’t have the nerve to send my r�sum� to those places.” It was all kind of embarrassing. For those considering a career in the law, I would recommend a less humiliating course of action — study hard, get good grades and go to a good law school. That way, you, too, can be a credentials snob.

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