Thursday, October 30, 2008
There is an elite cadre of super-selective high-end law firms (generally litigation boutiques), whose hiring standards are so high that the top of the associate class at many leading law firms wouldn't make the cut! Think of Kellogg Huber in DC, Susman Godfrey in Houston, Bartlit Beck in Chicago, Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, among others. A partner at one of these firms, responding to my observing that there was no chance Chicago was going to eliminate meaningful grading, wrote:
The best thing about Chicago is that I can evaluate a student based on a transcript quite easily in terms of academic performance, and then make a personality assessment for "fit." If we did not have grades to go on, I would default to recommending no one, because I do not put my personal capital with my friends and colleagues at risk without some assurance that the candidate is up to the job in question. I think that the decision of these schools to go pass/fail effectively means that we will not be able to hire from them. We are too small to take the attitude (as we have in the past with Yale, which is somewhat sui generis) that all of these students are more or less equally qualified from an analytic/intellectual perspective.
Since we are a very high end consumer of legal talent from the law schools, I wonder if we and other similar shops will more and more turn to Chicago [if the others go the 'no grade' route].
I'd be curious to hear from other attorneys how they expect their firms to react if more of the top schools switch to just two grades, like Yale. Please post only once; comments may take awhile to appear. I'll permit an anonymous comment, as long as there is an e-mail and IP address consistent with what the post claims about hiring practices.