Recruiting lawyers from Ivy League universities is standard practice for most Big Law firms, let alone those in the little league. But why is New York lawyers Adam Leitman Bailey turn their back on the Ivy League lawyers?
The firm’s founding partner Adam Bailey explained all in a Huffington Post article in July that the reason his real estate practice shuns the top level law schools is because graduates from the second, third or fourth-tier to be “more hungry” to excel.
Bailey himself graduated from Syracuse University College of Law – then expanded on his firm’s reasons for not hiring graduates of Ivy League law schools and one of the main reasons is because the Ivy League schools do not rank or grade their students.
Accordingly, these students have little to no motivation to earn top grades or make the most of their law school experience. He added that many Ivy League students may not know how to deal with the pressures of a case because they do not need to compete for a job in a difficult market and that students at top-tier schools do not always take courses that are relevant to the firm’s particular practice of law.
Instead, they’re taking classes that will prepare them to become a United States Supreme Court Justice or a future President of the United States not a gritty, “street lawyer.”
“We want lawyers who have competed for three years for the top grades and at the same time who have learned topics relevant to our real estate practice,” he said. “Our young lawyers have competed with their peers and have a ranking to show for it. They excelled at their classes and took classes relevant to our actual practice of law. While the top law schools take guaranteed jobs based on the name of their school, our fall, spring and summer associates compete with each other for one or two coveted spots.”
Bailey also said that graduates from top-tier law schools have no interest in applying for a position at his firm anyway, though he admitted some Ivy League graduates are among the firm’s senior staff.
Adam Leitman Bailey P.C. recruits during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Within each cycle, recent graduates work approximately 20 hours at the firm for the duration of semester or full-time during the summer.
Upon completion of the trial period, internships are offered only to graduates the company feels could be ambitious and skilled enough to eventually become partners. The best of those graduates are offered a full-time position at the firm.
Tiffany Celeiro, a criminal justice major at Rutgers University who plans to enroll in law school, says she was initially surprised to find that Bailey’s firm was uninterested in recruiting Ivy League graduates.
And she says she mostly disagrees with their position.
“The last thing I would have thought is that any law firm would not want to hire Ivy League students,” Celeiro says. “There are some students that think that going to an Ivy League is a free pass to get into whatever law firm they please, though they do not put any effort into fighting for their goals because they know everything will work out anyways.”
She adds: “On the other hand … some students might decide to go to the Ivy League schools because of the prestige but those same students might be the active students who want to work hard and be in court all the time. Ambition comes from within each individual, not from the university one attends.”
Bailey’s blog post has received criticism from others — perhaps most notably in a response published on Above the Law, in which author Kathryn Rubino called Bailey’s article “the stupidest thing I have read all week.”
Despite the controversy Bailey’s blog post has stirred, other firms throughout the country have taken similar stances toward the hiring of Ivy League graduates.
Kurt Schlichter, founding partner at Schlichter & Shonack, LLP in Los Angeles, read Bailey’s blog post and “really liked his mindset.”
Founded nearly 18 years ago, the corporate defense law firm does not intentionally refuse to hire graduates of Ivy League law schools, but as Schlichter — who graduated from Loyola Law School of Loyola Marymount University — explains, the firm simply does not “find the people we’re looking for” when considering graduates from top-tier universities or open positions.
Schlichter adds that the firm tends to hire graduates that have more real-world experience and more of an “edge.” He says he’s “not really sure what they [Ivy League graduates] bring to the table.”
Chelsea Cattano, a pre-law student double majoring in English and political science at Drew University, says that she understands that Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.’s stance allows more career opportunities for hard-working graduates who do not come from top-tier schools. But she says she still disagrees with the firm’s decision to deny Ivy League graduates job offers. She says the idea that a person’s work ethic is related to the prestige of what university he or she attended is flawed and something top companies do to non-Ivy League graduates all the time.
“I do agree with the fact that [Bailey] opens a door for graduates who don’t have the name of an Ivy League school on their resume,” Cattano says. “That could definitely be me one day and it is nice to know that I could still run with the best of them.”
She adds: “I believe that Bailey is doing what he believes is best for him and his firm, but I don’t agree that he should write off graduates from Ivy League schools … we’re talking about students who went up against 6acceptance rates and made the cut. In my opinion, excluding an Ivy League graduate is on the same level as excluding a graduate who didn’t attend an Ivy League school.”
Source: Huffington Post