Friday, October 15, 2010
Tax Prof Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.), Where Partners Come From -- Finding the Brass Ring:
This post reports preliminary results of a study examining what many law students view as the ultimate outcome measure: partnership in a big firm. Specifically, it attempts to gauge how successful graduates of each US law school have been at obtaining big-firm partnership status over the past 25 years. The study is limited to current partners (October 2010) in US offices of the NLJ 250.
My research assistants have almost completed the task of collecting the relevant information for all 250 firms from Martindale-Hubbell on-line. I have personally quality-checked the spreadsheets for the five largest law firms in the United States, which collectively employ 13,942 US lawyers – 11% of all US lawyers employed by the NLJ 250. This post reports the results for those five firms. The five firms studied (with their two largest US offices, measured by number of partners) are:
- Baker & McKenzie (Chicago, New York)
- DLA Piper (Chicago, New York)
- Jones Day (New York, Washington)
- White & Case (New York, Washington)
- Skadden Arps (New York, Washington)
Ted ranks the 131 law schools with at least one graduate as a partner in these five law firms. Here are the Top 51:
No. of Partners
William & Mary
Ted also lists the law schools that most outperform their 2010 U.S. News ranking (San Francisco is ranked 67 places higher than in the 2010 U.S. News ranking, Loyola Chicago +64, St. John's +57, Loyola-L.A. +48 Chicago-Kent +46), as well as the law schools that most underperform their 2010 U.S. News ranking (Vanderbilt is ranked 27 places lower than in the 2010 U.S. News rankings, Washington U. -25, Stanford -24, Yale -22, Minnesota -18).
Ted also ranks the law schools by relative class size (although he notes that "[f]rom an employer's perspective, the adjustment for class size is inappropriate. Employers generally look for the largest, deepest pool of potential associates they can find. Class size is relevant.").
Ted describes his future planned work in this area:
My next step is going to be to extend the analysis to the full NLJ 250. The fact that the five firms analyzed employ 11% of all lawyers employed nationwide by the NLJ 250 suggests that the results reported here are likely to be somewhat representative, but this needs to be confirmed. In particular, I expect that Harvard is a more likely recruiting target for firms further down the NLJ 250 list than its competitors. (In Los Angeles, for example, Harvard graduates are heavily represented among big-firm partners; Chicago graduates are not.)
I have also collected city-by-city data. Again, I expect it will show that few schools are actually national law schools – in the sense of producing significant numbers of big-firm partners in multiple cities. Here again, I expect Harvard to perform well.
Finally, I intend to compare the percentage that each school's graduates comprise of all entry-level hires with the percentage that that school's graduates comprise of the NLJ 250 partner population. In effect, I intend to compute a success/washout ratio for each school. My intuition is that firms hire very heavily at some schools because of the schools' prestige, notwithstanding the fact that few graduates of those schools ultimately become partners, and that the converse is true as well. This information may be useful to both students and hiring partners.