Q: Can you offer any advice for overcoming the low-tier law school hurdle?*
A: Network with fellow alums. They overcame and understand the hurdle. At an interview with someone from a higher-tier school, if you chose the school for financial reasons, say so, and even mention other better schools you may have gotten into but could not afford. If your school, nonetheless, prepared you practically for passing the Bar and hitting the ground running in the profession, say so. Employers understand debt load issues and want to hire lawyers who are more practice-ready than not.
Try not to be defensive about this or anything else during your job search. Many great, even well-known lawyers, went to low tier law schools and even graduated near the bottom of their class. Maybe refer to a few successful alums in your field from your school while you’re interviewing…the point needn’t be belabored, but it will be noted.
* This was one of the questions we didn’t get to answer during the recent American Bar Association CareerAdvice Live webinar on “Interviewing Wisely in a Challenging Market.” To hear a replay of the program and see an archived Live Chat session that followed, go to the series web page. In fact go there often, access the video and print resources, and participate in the short job search and practice-readiness programs the second Friday of every month that I’m hosting and moderating in the special ABA series.