How Easy Is It to Relocate If You Went to a Second-Tier Law School? |

How Easy Is It to Relocate If You Went to a Second-Tier Law School?


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I have a law degree from a Tier 2 school in California and I
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

I have a law degree from a Tier 2 school in California and I'd like to move to New York, what are the chances that I'll get a good job?Unless you graduate from one of the top 25 law schools (sometimes top 15), a law degree is generally most marketable in the state in which you graduated. The reasoning behind this thinking (followed by most law firms) is that unless a candidate has exceptional qualifications, there is no incentive to pay additional fees to search for an out-of-state attorney, especially if there are several local attorneys looking for jobs. The exceptions to this rule are lawyers with highly specialized skills that are in high demand or work experience in a top law firm.

High demand jobs will always be easy to fill and therefore, the transition from state to state would not be a problem. However, chances are that if you are asking this question, you may not have the higher level science or accounting experience some firms look for when trying to fill the in demand positions. Almost everywhere in the county, firms and corporations would be willing to overlook a mediocre law school in exchange for technical expertise.

Prior experience in a top law firm can also vastly improve an attorney's chances of relocating successfully with a less well-known law school degree. Of course, if you are already working in a top law firm in a major metropolitan area, you most likely succeeded at a top law school, probably making law review or placing in top 10% of your class. If this is not the case, however, and you were able to find a job at a top firm despite that, the prestige of your job will provide you with the credibility that perhaps your law school couldn't provide on a national level.

At a certain point in the career of an attorney, the work experience overshadows the degree in hiring decisions. Unfortunately, when that happens for each firm can be different, so it is impossible to tell when the right time to move is. If your career is still in its early stages, though, you might consider sticking in your home market where your law school will provide you with the kind of connections that you need to get placed at the top firms, if that is your aspiration. If you start out at the local office of a national law firm, that firm may even allow you to transfer to another office without having to look for a new position altogether.

One last thing to note is that good grades can help your cause immensely. While the name of your law school might not carry the same cachet as some others, an incredible performance at a Tier 2 law school (top 5%, top 10%, Managing Editor of Law Review, solid summer associate work) can make you look like a good candidate, no matter what school you graduated from.

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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