Friday, November 27, 2009

TTT: A Dangerous Misnomer

You don't have to hang around law school related forums, blogs, or other internet resources long before being exposed to the abbreviation TTT, which stands for Third Tier Toilet. The origins of this term seem to be a bit nebulous. Apparently, it was first used to describe poorly ranked colleges rather than law schools.

Regardless of where the term originated, today it is used (rather imprecisely) to describe "bad" law schools. The term is used both by supercilious elite law students/graduates (such as those who post at autoadmit) to denigrate the masses and by disgruntled non-elite students/graduates in reaction to their less than stellar job prospects.

The imprecise application of the term, however, can mislead students seeking to enroll in law school. Folks at autoadmit, for example, may go as far as to call Georgetown (at T14 school) a TTT. This leaves many with the impression that the label "TTT" is the byproduct of snobbery - people from better schools just looking down their noses at lesser institutions. They, therefore, ignore warnings about their TTT's because they consider all such advice to be suspect.

The actual term "Third Tier Toilet" is also misleading. The top 100 law schools ranked by US News and World Report, are ranked above the third tier. Many people reason that if their school escapes being classified at below the top 100 (or is only occasionally ranked outside the top 100), they are safe from the fate that awaits those who attended third tier (or lower) ranked schools. Surely, they assume, a better ranked tier 2 or any tier 1 is a sound investment.

This is not true. TTT's are not necessarily schools that rank below the top 100. Rather they are schools that offer disappointing career opportunities. Most schools outside of the top 14 (maybe top 25) send only a small percentage to the large firms via summer associate programs (even during good times). Other students may get decent job opportunities, but usually these pay well below $100k. The rest of the students are left to rely on family connections, usually ill fated networking attempts, or settling for small firm settlement mills or temp work. Many, either out of frustration or necessity, abandon law altogether.

Some people may not like referring to their school as a "toilet" especially if it takes good grades, solid recommendations, and 160+ LSAT scores to get in. I, however, think it's a fair description of a school (regardless of its other credentials) that sucks in unwitting students with promises of great careers, convinces them to work themselves silly while bowing down their professors, and then leaves a substantial number (if not a majority) of them without any option to find decent paying work.

This describes plenty of so called first and second tier schools. Sitting in your mom's basement staring at your American, Villanova, or Pitt law degree and wondering how you'll ever make a living is just as depressing as doing the same if you have a Suffolk, Roger Williams, or Elon law degree on the wall.


  1. EsqNever, I have never put my Drake law degree in a frame. It is still in its original USPS mailer. But I do have a (non-law) job. However, I currently live in my sister-in-law's basement. Isn't law school a great investment?!?!

  2. My 2TT degree is only framed because my parents did so without my knowledge. They are still under the sad delusion that I actually achieved something. In my mind, this is the equivalent of a certificate of achievement from that Video Professor guy on TV.

    I actually never framed my undergrad degree - I just put it in the view book they gave out for free and shoved it in a drawer. I wasn't all that proud of earning it, but it's worth infinitely more than my J.D.

  3. I've got both of you beat. About a semester into going to my unnamed first tier, I became so angry with the amount of money I was constantly spending on study aids and BARBRI, etc. So I decided I would never buy a parking permit again. I calculated that it would cost me less to park in faculty parking and get tickets then it would to buy the pass. What was their revenge on me? They never sent me my diploma. I finished paying the $600 parking fines about 3 years ago.... YEARS after graduating. And the bastards said they would send my my diploma and they never did. I couldn't care less. LMAO.

  4. What a bunch of petty people. Oh, I forgot. They are "legal scholars" and "scions of the legal community." These "professors" and school administrators are above this type of behavior.

    They would NEVER dress down an ignorant, scared 1L for not having a thorough understanding of the Rule Against Perpetuities - especially since said 1L has only come across this concept once (in a crappy casebook).

    Angel, you need to post about this incident. Maybe some pre-law student will see just how small, petty, and ugly these "professionals" can be.


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