Do Prestigious Law Degrees Really Matter?

April 30, 2015

Do prestigious law degrees really matter? Yes, according to a new study from Chris Rider, assistant professor of business strategy at Georgetown University, and Giacomo Negro, associate professor of organization and management at Emory University. The authors studied the career paths of 224 law firm partners after their prominent firm failed and found that while as a group the partners were likely to accept new positions of lower status elsewhere, their individual success largely depended on where they'd earned their law degrees.

According to the study, published in Organizational Science, law partners who graduated from the most prestigious law schools were least likely to lose professional status as a result of the collapse of their firm -- likely because they were able to draw on a strong professional network and appeal more to clients to find new work. Quality and productivity, at least as measured by the graduates' precollapse compensation, wasn't a factor, the authors say. That's because the graduates of the most prestigious schools were not necessarily the highest paid. An abstract is available here.

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