Old Grads' Network
by Virginia Postrel • Oct 7, 2005 at 11:27 am
A reader writes to correct my claim that Texas is run by UT, SMU, and A&M grads. He makes an interesting point, and one scarily relevant to the Miers nomination.
I think your perspective is heavily Dallas-centric. As a native Texan who had the audacity to go out of state for college and law school both, I was struck by the incredible difference between Dallas law firms and Houston law firms when I was interviewing for summer clerkships. Although it is generalizing somewhat, Houston is considerably more meritocratic than Dallas.
I interviewed with every major Texas firm in Dallas and/or Houston (including the firms that combined to form Harriet Miers's). As a native of San Antonio, I had absolutely no connection to either city, and I came from the lower middle class anyway * no country clubs or society balls in my background. In Houston, interviewers were consistently impressed by my academic credentials. In Dallas, I faced constant questions about my connections to the city, who I knew (no one), who my daddy knew (no one), etc. Over the course of my ten callback interviews in Dallas, I got the strong sense that those firms would have preferred an SMU/SMU resume (as long as it also had Highland Park H.S. and Highland Park C.C. on it) to my "top-20 university/top 5% at top-10 law school" credentials.
Harriet Miers has spent her life in Dallas, and done extremely well in its connections-oriented legal culture--so well that one of her Dallas friends has now nominated her to the Supreme Court. That gives me the creeps. If she had a record as a constitutional thinker, I might feel differently. But then, if she had a record as a constitutional thinker, she wouldn't have fit in in Dallas.