Lawyer Only Hires Non-Ivy League Grads: Smart or Pointless?

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Looking to become a lawyer but don’t have a law degree from an Ivy League school? That might not be a problem for some. Adam Leitman Bailey, an attorney who runs a real estate firm in New York City, wrote an op-ed last week about how he intentionally chooses not to hire law school graduates from “traditional highest tier schools.”

Bailey characterized top students of the second, third, or fourth tier law schools as “more ambitious and more hungry to excel in the legal profession.” He also said his firm recruits “those who have been battle tested in one manner or another.”

Here are Bailey’s four reasons for not hiring from the “best credentialed” law schools in the country:

  1. “The top students from these law schools have no interest in applying for a job at our firm.”
  2. “Many of these law schools either fail to rank their students or do not even grade them at all.”
  3. “No matter how mediocre the student’s performance, the statistics show that almost every large law firm offers all of the summer associates full time jobs. In order for the top law firms to attract the brightest students they must also show that in past years all of the candidates received job offers.”
  4. “These students may become a United States Supreme Court Justice or a future President of the United States so political theory and international law and classes on capital punishment may be extremely important to them. However, we need our street lawyers ready for battle and taking trial practice, corporations, tax, civil procedure and any real estate and litigation course offered.”

Hiring practices that discriminate based on the name of the school on the diploma are foolish to begin with. That’s like saying he only hires people from New England because he believes New Englanders are harder workers, or that he only hires people who have an undergraduate engineering degree because he believes engineering majors like to challenge themselves more than others. Moving on, his four reasons for non-hiring are nonsensical and here’s why:

  1. The first point appears to be a classic non-sequitur where the conclusion does not logically follow from the argument. I understand that Ivy League graduates don’t apply to Bailey’s firm, but why is that a reason to then not hire any who do show up? That doesn’t make much sense.
  2. This is a hasty generalization. Bailey links to Yale Law School’s grading policy, which grades students based on an honors-low pass-fail scale, to support his argument. Nevertheless, Yale is one of the few schools who does this, as well as Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley. Many other top schools grade their students on a typical 4.0 GPA scale, although some variations exist.
  3. This is another non-sequitur. Why are other law firms’ unsatisfactory hiring practices a reason to not hire Ivy League grads?
  4. I’m no law school expert, but even I know civil procedure is a required core course at most, if not all schools. And last time I checked, we only have one president and nine Supreme Court justices. There are plenty of Ivy League grads who took civil procedure and will not be the president or a Supreme Court justice, and I’m sure some of them are interested in becoming “street lawyers ready for battle.”

Now, Bailey is not stupid. A graduate of Syracuse University College of Law, he runs a reputable real estate firm with an impressive resume. And there is some truth to the assertion that Ivy League schools may not be the best schools to go to if you want to practice certain areas of law (although this isn’t really what Bailey is arguing). If I were to guess, this article is a publicity stunt to raise awareness for his firm. Let’s just hope that his arguments in litigation are sharper than the ones used here.

Hyunjae Ham
Hyunjae Ham is a member of the University of Maryland Class of 2015 and a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Hyunjae at



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