How dare Chapman, tier four school that it is, claim to outperform Harvard? How terribly uppity of those folks from Orange County. And how dare these people with 75th percentile finishes at tier two schools clutter the AALS recruiting conference! Send them back to East Dakota State. Newly arrived MoneyLaw contributors Nancy Rapoport and Jeff Harrison have skewered these offensive expressions of elitist privilege. As MoneyLaw's founder and administrator, I am proud that Tom, Nancy, and Jeff are writing for this forum.
The time has come, I think, to begin developing a truly meritocratic agenda that gives the right amount of weight to the perceived prestige of a law school, whether the question arises in connection with the value of that school's scholarly output or the desirability of that school's graduates. Here is the short version:
Credentials don't matter. Performance does.As one of my favorite rock stars, Liz Phair, might say, you just need to be whip-smart. Like Liz, I'll take anyone who is "all potential with no credentials." Put your words down on paper and get them published, and I'll take you any time, any place ahead of a top graduate of a top law school who prefers basking in elite glory over getting the job done.
To be sure, there are people who have overcome the handicap of three, seven, sometimes even ten years of education at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford. Among them rank some -- but by no means all -- of the real stars of this business. Whatever our own academic credentials, we as law professors should strive toward making our business more meritocratic. Will true meritocracy ever come to pass? Now that would be somebody's miracle.