Class of 2010 NLJ 250 Statistics

The National Law Journal (NLJ) released its annual report last month on the law schools that send the most graduates to the 250 largest American law firms (NLJ 250). In this post we’ll answer a few basic questions about this important employment data. To our knowledge, this is the first Class of 2010 employment information publicly provided.

While this topic has received pretty extensive coverage, explaining the basic information available about post-graduation outcomes is necessary to understanding why the ABA must regulate law schools more strictly and extensively.

A significant segment of our readership includes prospective students seeking to understand a vast amount of hard-to-understand information that shortchanges those seeking to understand the various opportunities (and information about those opportunities) at different law schools across the United States. This is what the data clearinghouse does, and what we will keep doing for all employment information about the entry-level market.

What is the NLJ 250?

The NLJ 250 includes the 250 largest law firms headquartered in the United States. This is measured by the firm-reported annual average number of full-time and full-time equivalent attorneys working at the firm, in any office, in 2010. This does not include temporary or contract attorneys.

Where do the data come from?

The NLJ collects survey data from the law firms themselves, not the law schools. A significant percentage of all NLJ 250 firms responded to the survey about first-year hiring. (We have inquired with the NLJ as to the exact percentage and will update this post when the NLJ gets back to us.)

What do these numbers tell us?

Large firm placement percentage is an important, albeit imperfect, proxy for the number of graduates with access to the most competitive and highest paying jobs. The percentage, accordingly, tell us which schools most successfully place students in these highly sought-after jobs. Successful large firm placement is best analyzed by looking at multiple years worth of data.

What do these numbers not tell us?

First, self-selection controls all post-graduation outcomes. Nobody is coerced into a job they are offered (unless you consider debt pressure or other strong personal influences coercive), so these numbers do not provide more than a proxy for opportunities. Opportunities, after all, are prospective students’ real concern when analyzing employment information, and these rankings do not necessarily reflect a school’s ability to place students into NLJ 250 firms.

Many graduates, particularly at the top schools, choose to clerk after graduation instead of working for these law firms. While not all of these graduates would have secured employment at the NLJ 250 firms, many could have. For this reason, one popular technique used to understand a school’s placement ability is adding the percentage of graduates at NLJ 250 firms to the percentage of graduates clerking for Article III judges. This method is not perfect; read our white paper (beginning on page 28) for a more detailed explanation of the strengths and weaknesses of this technique.

Second, NLJ 250 firm jobs are not the only competitive, high-paying firm jobs. Boutique law firms are also very competitive, with some paying New York City market rates and above. Additionally, the NLJ 250 does not include large, prestigious internationally-based law firms with American offices.

Third, not all NLJ 250 firm jobs are equally competitive. Law firms from different regions and of differing caliber have varying preferences for the students from different law schools, including how far into the class they are willing to reach. That is, two schools that place an equal percentage of graduates in NLJ 250 firms may do so for reasons other than similar preferences among equally competitive NLJ 250 firms.

Fourth, the rankings include data only about the law schools that placed at least 10.57% of its entire class in the NLJ 250 firms. All other American law schools placed a lower, unknown percentage at NLJ 250 firms. The remaining schools likely range from 0% to 10.57%, and probably do not fall into a normal distribution.

If you have more questions, please feel free to email or reply this post. We will update this as needed.

2010 placement into NLJ 250 firms by law school

Rank School NLJ 250 Grads Total Grads % of Class
1 University of Chicago Law School 115 195 58.97%
2 Cornell Law School 112 192 58.33%
3 Columbia Law School 239 433 55.2%%
4 University of Pennsylvania Law School 145 272 53.31%
5 Harvard Law School* 287 577 49.74%
6 University of Virginia School of Law 175 374 46.79%
7 University of California, Berkeley School of Law 135 296 45.61%
8 Northwestern University School of Law 126 284 44.37%
9 New York University School of Law* 209 483 43.27%
10 University of Michigan Law School 158 372 42.47%
11 Stanford Law School 72 173 41.62%
12 Duke Law School 81 213 38.03%
13 Georgetown University Law Center 242 644 37.58%
14 University of California at Los Angeles School of Law 123 350 35.14%
15 Yale Law School* 67 198 33.84%
16 Boston College Law School 89 265 33.58%
17 Boston University School of Law 81 270 30%
18 Vanderbilt University Law School 62 208 29.81%
19 University of Southern California Gould School of Law 56 195 28.72%
20 University of Texas School of Law 101 379 26.65%
21 Fordham University School of Law* 123 479 25.68%
22 George Washington University Law School 127 513 24.76%
23 University of Notre Dame Law School 41 172 23.84%
24 Emory University School of Law 54 255 21.18%
25 Washington University in St. Louis School of Law 51 269 18.96%
26 University of Illinois College of Law 35 195 17.95%
27 Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law 42 259 16.22%
28 College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law 33 214 15.42%
29 University of California, Davis School of Law 30 195 15.38%
30 Wake Forest University School of Law 25 166 15.06%
31 Howard University School of Law 20 133 15.04%
32 Georgia State University College of Law 22 162 13.58%
33 Seton Hall University School of Law 41 320 12.81%
34 Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law 48 381 12.6%
35 University of California Hastings College of the Law 52 419 12.41%
36 University of Wisconsin Law School 31 252 12.3%
37 University of Iowa College of Law 24 197 12.18%
38 University of Maryland College of Law** 29 242 11.98%
39 University of Minnesota Law School 34 284 11.97%
40 Villanova University School of Law** 28 235 11.91%
41 University of North Carolina School of Law 28 237 11.81%
42 Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law 23 198 11.62%
42 University of Houston Law Center 33 284 11.62%
44 Tulane University Law School 29 252 11.51%
45 University of Georgia School of Law 25 218 11.47%
46 Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law 33 293 11.26%
47 Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School 16 145 11.03%
48 Loyola University Chicago School of Law 29 266 10.9%
49 Rutgers School of Law-Newark 28 258 10.85%
50 Washington and Lee University School of Law 13 123 10.57%

* Graduate class size based on average of last three years.
** Graduate class size based on latest data in ABA/LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools.

Source: National Law Journal