Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 24, 2014

NLJ: Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

National Law Journal, The Go-To Law Schools:

Go to Law SchoolsLarge law firm associate hiring ticked up for a second straight year in 2013—welcome news, considering law schools sent more newly minted juris doctors into the job market than ever before. Among the 50 schools most popular with hiring firms, 27 percent of graduates landed associate jobs—up from 25 percent in 2012. That was the highest hiring percentage recorded since 2010.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by the percentage of 2013 law school graduates who took jobs at NLJ 250 firms—the nation’s largest by headcount as identified in The National Law Journal’s annual survey. We’ve also identified the law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner during 2013, and compared how each law school’s cost compares to its large firm hiring record.

The Top 50 Go-To Law School:  These schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 firms:

Rank Law School 2013 Grads @ NLJ 250 2013 JDs % of Grads @ NLJ 250 Tuition
1 Columbia 286 437 65.45% $55,488
2 NYU 295 537 54.93% $51,150
3 Harvard 309 577 53.55% $50,880
4 Chicago 114 215 53.02% $50,727
5 Pennsylvania 136 259 52.51% $53,138
6 Northwestern 146 286 51.05% $53,468
7 Duke 117 241 48.55% $51,662
8 Stanford 89 189 47.09% $50,802
9 Cornell 87 193 45.08% $55,301
10 UC-Berkeley 135 301 44.85% $48,068
11 Virginia 161 364 44.23% $46,400
12 Michigan 165 400 41.25% $48,250
13 Yale 80 206 38.83% $53,600
14 Georgetown 238 638 37.30% $48,835
15 Texas 120 378 31.75% $32,376
16 Vanderbilt 65 206 31.55% $46,804
17 UCLA 101 332 30.42% $45,221
18 USC 65 220 29.55% $52,598
19 Fordham 118 481 24.53% $49,526
20 Notre Dame 45 184 24.46% $45,980
  • Firm Favorites:  NLJ 250 firms most relied upon these law schools to fill their first-year associate ranks
  • Associates to Partner:  These law schools saw the most alumni promoted to partnership during 2013
  • Go-To vs. 'U.S.News':  When it comes to placing graduates at NLJ 250 firms, these schools outperformed their 'U.S. News & World Report' rankings
  • The Value Index:  Check out our cost benefit analysis chart to find out which of our top 50 Go-To Law Schools offer the best bang for the buck when it comes to getting a job at an NLJ 250 firm

Update #1:  Wall Street Journal, Want to Work in BigLaw? Apply to These Law Schools

Update #2:  The National Law Journal has issued a corrected ranking.

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink


Rutgers Law Professor Michael Livingston believes there are people with six figures of non-dischargeable debt who don't want to earn six figures to pay off said debt! Michael, are you making the world a better place by working for an institution that impoverishes its graduates?

Hard to "make the world a better place" when you have $150-250,000+ in debt, can't afford a car, rent, clothes, food, etc. Law school turns its graduates into debt slaves.

Posted by: Juris Debtor | Feb 27, 2014 7:03:17 AM

Livingston, your students do not have the option to work in Biglaw, that is why they don't bother to even express interest in it. And the quality of your students is mediocre, so probably the best thing they can do to make the world a better place is to not work as lawyers at all.

Posted by: JM | Feb 25, 2014 10:23:58 AM

@Michael Livingston
How the hell are you going to make the world a better place after taking 150 K as debt, and getting a JD? What is the relationship between JD and a better world? I can understand it if they are doing research or starting companies, but the lack of STEM and entrepreneurial abilities is what got them here, in the first place.

If one more person tries to relate PI and making a world a better place, I will go postal.

Posted by: vijay | Feb 25, 2014 7:51:03 AM

@anon Just talking to students. Amazingly enough, some of them want to make the world a better place. amazing but true

Posted by: michael livingston | Feb 25, 2014 4:35:33 AM

The list reflects that reality that Cornell and Fordham take in and graduate some of the finest students in the nation. Now, if we can correct unfair regional biases from people like Beldar, both schools would earn comparable rankings in "peer assessment" scores in a beauty pageants like US News, and would be more appropriately ranked in US News. These rankings are genuine, because they reflect what real employers think about the quality of the schools and their graduates. Frankly, what the deans of law schools of places like Iowa or Pepperdine think is immaterial.

Posted by: Rapid Ron | Feb 24, 2014 8:20:16 PM

Fordham is in NYC where the most BigLaw jobs exist, and is the next ranked local law school after NYU and Columbia - it is really not that hard to explain. Based on those numbers BigLaw takes roughly the top 25% of the class at Fordham - not an unreasonable result.
Note that this study uses the top 250 firms, not just the AmLaw 100.

Posted by: Todd | Feb 24, 2014 7:35:43 PM

Fordham? Seriously?

Even Cornell is a stretch to be on this list, and its position, like Fordham, reflects Eastern regional biases that stopped making real sense sometime in Eisenhower's first term

Posted by: Beldar | Feb 24, 2014 7:00:26 PM

> This assumes that "big law" is what most students want. It isn't.

BigLaw isn't the only way for said students to pay back their loans, but if said students aren't finding another way....

Posted by: Andy Freeman | Feb 24, 2014 4:24:24 PM

With $55K per year tuition, you have to take a big law job to justify that. Factor in living expenses and lost opportunity costs, they just might break even about the time they're passed over for partner. And then they can hang out their shingle in New Rochelle or Akron.

Posted by: Lee | Feb 24, 2014 1:57:51 PM

165 of the 2013 grads of UM got biglaw jobs. Maybe that's not bad if many people planned to go public interest, etc., but if you look at , you can see that almost the entire class (380 people) participated in OCI last year. Assuming the number stayed relatively constant (or at least didn't increase drastically), that means less than half of UM students who want biglaw get it.

Posted by: anonatUM | Feb 24, 2014 1:02:42 PM

BigLaw is the only career path that offers a reasonable opportunity to pay down the massive debt incurred by most of us who attended law school in the current generation (barring the government handouts for "public service" jobs).

If most students aren't going to end up with those jobs, then all but the T14 law schools really need to cut their costs massively and make themselves more affordable for students going into the jobs that Prof. Livingston says we want. (And he is partially correct - a high percentage only want BigLaw jobs because a few years in the grinder there allows one to pay off a large chunk of debt).

Bottom line - law school is not worth the price nowadays, and as more and more people figure that out, enrollment will only continue to plummet.

Posted by: Todd | Feb 24, 2014 1:01:40 PM

Will most of these new grads simply vote for their own schools?
Do they have any special insight into the law programs of other schools?
IMO, this is an interesting data point but you have to be very, very careful in how it is used.

Posted by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA | Feb 24, 2014 1:00:09 PM

michael livingston, interesting. what do most students want? and what is the data you are relying on?

Posted by: anon | Feb 24, 2014 12:09:35 PM

There are younger lawyers who see through these "rankings" and "metrics" of a business model whose days are numbered.

Posted by: Jan Golchek | Feb 24, 2014 6:13:07 AM

This assumes that "big law" is what most students want. It isn't.

Posted by: michael livingston | Feb 24, 2014 5:12:58 AM