Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 25, 2013

NLJ: Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

Go-ToNational Law Journal:  The Go-To Law Schools: A Special Report:

This annual special report focuses on what, for many law students, is the bottom line: ­whether they stand any chance in hell of landing a coveted ­associateship at a major law firm. We found that the picture was marginally brighter — but that isn’t saying much. 

The National Law Journal ranked the Top 50 law schools by the percentage of their 2012 graduates that found positions at NLJ Top 250 law firms.  Here are the Top 25:

  1. Pennsylvania (60.4%)
  2. Chicago (55.1%)
  3. Columbia (53.1%)
  4. NYU (52.9%)
  5. Northwestern (51.4%)
  6. Harvard (50.3%)
  7. Duke (48.4%)
  8. Stanford (47.3%)
  9. UC-Berkeley (45.3%)
  10. Cornell (44.3%)
  11. Virginia (42.3%)
  12. Michigan (38.4%)
  13. Georgetown (31.3%)
  14. Yale (30.6%)
  15. UCLA (29.1%)
  16. USC (28.6%)
  17. Vanderbilt (26.3%)
  18. Texas (25.8%)
  19. Fordham (23.4%)
  20. UC-Irvine (23.2%)
  21. George Washington (22.5%)
  22. Boston University (21.3%)
  23. Boston College (21.1%)
  24. Illinois (18.8%)
  25. Washington University (16.3%)

The National Law Journal also lists the 17 law schools that most outperformed their U.S. News ranking. Here are the Top 10:

  1. Howard (+88)
  2. Villanova (+59)
  3. Rutgers-Camden (+51)
  4. Santa Clara (+50)
  5. Seton Hall (+32)
  6. Houston (+28)
  7. Kentucky (+24)
  8. SMU (+24)
  9. Tennessee (+19)
  10. Loyola-Chicago (+18)

The National Law Journal also lists the 54 law schools that saw the most graduates promoted to partner in the NLJ Top 250 in 2012. Here are the Top 10:

  1. Harvard (66)
  2. Georgetown (39)
  3. Virginia (36)
  4. NYU (33)
  5. Michigan (31)
  6. George Washington (29)
  7. Chicago (27)
  8. Columbia (27)
  9. Northwestern (21)
  10. Boston College (20) & Texas (20)

Prior National Law Journal Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs:

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"This assumes that BigLaw jobs--probably for not more than five years--should be the goal of legal education."

When grads are faced with, on average, around $125-150,000 in debt, what else can the goal be?

Posted by: john | Feb 27, 2013 9:23:41 PM

On "Mark's" observation:

I'm intrigued by UCI. Its dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, personally leveraged every relationship possible with judges and law firms (acting as career services dean and personal referrence in many cases) in order to further his top 20 vanity project, and he landed a whopping 13 heads out of a "class" of about fifty folks in "big law" and that's not a bad thing, at least for those folks that benefitted from it, and paid no tuition.

But, before tuition paying applicants (desiring to get a big law job or federal clerkship) rush to attend UC Irvine Law, they need to ask "can he, and will he continue to do so as the class size grows to its desired size, in light of the fact that UCI is now one of the most expensive (non-ABA approved)law schools in the nation, charging more in tuition alone for in state students than some top private schools, and being located in one of the most expensive places in the nation?"

Posted by: Anon | Feb 26, 2013 10:48:24 PM

Kyle - I am of course going by my own anecdotal experience and not actual data, but I find that statistic to be highly implausible. I suspect you have never practiced in the NYC area or met any Touro grads yourself, or you would probably have your doubts as well.

Posted by: KingMe | Feb 26, 2013 6:39:18 AM

This assumes that BigLaw jobs--probably for not more than five years--should be the goal of legal education.

Posted by: michael livingston | Feb 26, 2013 2:08:41 AM


You're not understanding the Employment Score. It's a starting point, which requires readers to dig deeper into the data. The reason Touro has a (slightly) higher score is that it has a higher percentage of graduates working in long-term, full-time lawyer jobs (less solos who are LT, FT). As you can gather from both schools' data, as well as the NLJ 250 statistics, Fordham places significantly more students into biglaw.

Posted by: Kyle | Feb 25, 2013 9:33:12 PM

Unemployed Northeastern-you don't need a big firm job to make law school worth the cost.

$13K per year more than you would have made without the degree will do it.

And since your degree in English / History / International Relations / other soft b.s. qualifies you for nothing, it's not too hard for law school to beat unemployment benefits.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 25, 2013 7:41:45 PM

My daughter got her JD at American University and a Tax Law degree from the University of Florida. She just made partner at Jones Day. She made herself a benefits expert.

Posted by: Ken_in_SC (@Ken_in_SC) | Feb 25, 2013 3:22:18 PM

Percentages may be misleading for schools that graduate less than 100 students a year. Also note that UCI is not fully accredited (still provisional) yet since it is too new.

Posted by: Mark | Feb 25, 2013 1:22:05 PM

Deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Feb 25, 2013 1:02:33 PM

I'd also note, as a Fordham grad, that raw numbers may give a different result than percentages. Fordham is very big by law school standards.

Posted by: Tim maguie | Feb 25, 2013 12:58:56 PM

Wouldn't it make sense to rank by the number of graduates employed in biglaw, academia (tenure track) and federal clerkships combined (and perhaps certain other federal jobs)? Are we really to believe that Yale's employment prospects are comparable to GULC's? My guess is that most of the 69% at Yale that didn't get biglaw didn't want biglaw, and most of the 69% at GULC who didn't get biglaw are struggling to put food on the table.

Posted by: Rob | Feb 25, 2013 12:11:55 PM

So... not even 20 law schools out of 202 accredited institutions send 1 in 4 graduates into a job that made the cost of that law school worthwhile in the first place over the medium term. What a broken system.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 25, 2013 8:58:50 AM

Ah, but when you correlate the data with data from, the chart really shifts!

Posted by: Eric Muller | Feb 25, 2013 6:30:43 AM

Despite Fordham's 19th place ranking here, Touro outperforms Fordham in Law School Transparency's employment score.

Which shows you how much LST's employment score is worth in comparing between schools.

Posted by: KingMe | Feb 25, 2013 5:47:11 AM