There is something pleasing about seeing items placed in a list and categorized in some sort of order.
There are lists for everything these days. Some lists are fun and offer nothing more than bragging rights.
For instance, I will happily claim that I went to the No. 1 tailgating school and experienced the Grove (to understand the importance of that, you must know that I went to Mississippi State for my undergrad). Other lists, however, seem to be of utmost importance.
A list that constantly plagues law students and law schools alike is the law school rankings.
Each year, a variety of different publishing outlets release a list of law school rankings. Yale Law School has held the top spot in U.S. News & World Report since 1990. The rankings are also further divided into tiers.
Being from a top-tier law school comes with bragging rights. The question is, are these bragging rights something more, like an indication of success, or are they just as substantial as tailgate rankings?
When applying to law schools, the rankings seem to mean everything. You want to go to the best school you can, and you can feel a bit deflated when you realize some schools are out of your reach because of your test score or the outrageous price of tuition. It’s hard to not base the value of your education going into law school on its rankings.
Once in law school, the pressure of the rankings continues. You look at the murky job market and think, “Can I get a good job without being in the top tier?”
In calculating rankings, part of the equation is the percentage hired and the pay grade of the school’s graduating class. On the flip side, part of the hiring process for many firms and job opportunities is judging the rank of the school the applicant attended.
Ole Miss’ claim to be the “Harvard of the South” does not really resonate when put next to an actual Harvard degree.
While the ranks bear importance, does it really matter? Am I limited to minimal success because I attended a school outside of the Ivy League?
I choose to think not. I choose to believe that hard work and treating people well along the way are tickets to success and happiness.
Any job, no matter the salary, that you obtain by selfish or backhanded means, quite frankly, does not equate to success.
This past Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke out against the rankings. He said he refuses to look at rankings and that they are the “antithesis of what this country is supposed to be about.” They create a nobility and an elitist environment, and he said he looks at the individual when he hires people and prefers “kids from regular backgrounds and regular students.”
One of his clerks is from a school ranked 135th. He agrees that the rank of your school does not indicate how smart you are or how successful you will become.
I must note, however, that Justice Thomas graduated from Yale Law School.
Anna Rush is a second-year law student from Hattiesburg. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @annakrush.