What's the verdict on attending a third-tier law school?
The conventional wisdom 2–3 years ago (e.g., the Wall Street Journal law blog, various blogs, advice from law students, etc.) appeared to be that if you went a to third tier law school, you’d need to dramatically lower your expectations in terms of starting salary (i.e., get comfortable with $(40—)50–60k instead of $90–100k) and job prospects (i.e., rely more on networking through clerkships than on-campus recruiters; take temporary contract review jobs for a while). A year ago, as “BigLaw” firms started to lay off thousands of associates, conventional wisdom seemed to hold that if you have any other career prospects, you should look to those before turning to law school. This question aims to gather conventional wisdom and speculation from law applicants, students, and graduates alike, specifically as such wisdom and speculation pertains to the general (acknowledging that one’s prospects will vary according to grades, connections, etc.) career prospects of a third-tier law school graduate. I’m also interested in how current law school applicants and students are taking the current economic situation into consideration and what their decision-making process is like, as well as how and what recent law grads are doing job-wise right now.
For a bit of background, I am several years out of college, highly interested in the law and legal practice having worked as a paralegal, and am re-considering law school once again after a long bout of worrying the debt accumulation would worsen my life forever. For those who wonder if I actually want to be an attorney, I can see myself feeling intelligent, productive, and stimulated (“happy” seems too simple as a descriptor) as an attorney. At this point I am considering attending a 3rd tier school night program so as to lessen the overall debt load by 1/3.
I’m hoping for thoughtful, fact-based, reasoned answers regarding this extremely life-altering decision from anyone with current and direct experience or knowledge, rather than emotional or panicked outbursts/rants which I have found on other websites and blogs in response to this question.
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.