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How can I overcome regional bias against certain law schools?

By Edward Honnold

Q: I am a 2nd year student at Univ. of Maryland School of Law (Top Tier ranking), and I will be relocating to New Jersey after I graduate (family reasons). During my search for a summer 2002 position, I've found that most of the well-respected law firms in the Philly/South Jersey area either hire from Top 10 schools or local schools (Rutgers, Villanova, etc.), with few exceptions. I've done well at law school (top 10% of my class & Law Review), but I'm afraid that the regional bias will work against me. Is my assessment correct? If so, how can I make myself more marketable in order to overcome the regional bias? Thank you.

A: You may be correct about the regional bias. But I would not let this stand in the way of an aggressive search for a summer position. In your cover letter, I would cite briefly your connection to the Jersey region. I would pursue an aggressive telephone and E-Mail campaign. I would also prepare to spend some time in the Jersey region, offering to visit law firms on an informal basis, to develop a network of contacts. Maintain your sense of purpose and your clear vision of finding work in that geographic area, and with your academic record, I expect you will succeed.

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