• The profession of law is by no means static.
  • In fact, Yale Law School teaches its students practical applications of a law school education other than practicing law.

Summary: This article explores the unique way Yale Law School graduates think about their legal careers. To the untrained eye, these graduates may seem aimless with their careers -- taking jobs in academia and government instead of prestigious law firms. But on closer examination it appears that these graduates might have discovered the secret to greater career and life happiness. This article explains how most attorneys are rent seekers and how to make this system of rent work for you like Yale Law grads do.

What Yale Law School Teaches About How to Approach Your Legal Career That No Other Law School Does

Each day I receive resumes from attorneys who went to Yale Law School and, with some exceptions, the resumes are all quite strange to me. Many of these attorneys start out in large law firms and then after a few years of practice seem to go adrift. They take legal jobs in government, in academia, with policy think tanks and so forth—and then bounce around from one of these types of jobs to another. A large proportion of these attorneys never go to work inside of law firms and then contact me years after graduating from law school flirting with the idea of trying it out.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

The positions are often competitive to get and offer relative security, but they do not pay particularly well, are not very demanding in terms of the work they require, and the “economic value” that these jobs offer to society is often negligible compared to working inside of a law firm. Since the attorneys are not accountable to “real clients” they do not have the pressure of billable hours. The “clients” are governments, policy think tanks, rich law schools and others with money to spend without requiring a ton of accountability. The attorneys can be “safe” taking jobs that allow them to charge “rent” to employers who, within reason, will not require anywhere near the level of accountability and hard work that a law firm would require.

These Yale attorneys get so far off the law firm path they are unlikely to ever be able to go back (and many do not want to).

What do you think about Yale attorneys? Share your experience in the comments below.

I have pondered this for the longest time and, quite honestly, when I compare the resumes of the people I see from Yale Law School to those of graduates of Harvard, Stanford and other top law schools I have always thought the people from Yale Law School look “lost” and as if they do not know what they are doing. I have seriously contemplated that there must be something seriously wrong with the school because the resumes, one after another, give the appearance of “aimlessness.” When these attorneys call me looking for work inside of law firms after this type of career path—which generally has conferred limited meaningful experience from the perspective of a law firm—they often “expect” to join law firms as partners.