The National Law Journal (NLJ) released its annual report this weekend 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 outcome measure. This is the first published Class of 2012 employment information.
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 2012. This does not include temporary or contract attorneys, though it does include non-partner track attorneys.
Where do the data come from?
Methodology via the NLJ:
Methodology: Data for this Go-To Law Schools special report were provided by the law firms surveyed for the NLJ 250, The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms by headcount. We received data from 190 firms. For firms that did not submit new associate numbers, we relied on data from ALM Media LLC’s RivalEdge database and independent reporting. We determined rankings by the percentage of 2012 juris doctor graduates who took associate jobs at NLJ 250 firms. The rankings do not reflect law graduates who took jobs as clerks following graduation. Our data do not include new associates at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison or King & Spalding.
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. (View the NLJ 250 from the class of 2010 here and from the class of 2011 here.)
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, some 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 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 8.22% 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 range from 0% to 8.22%, and probably do not fall into a normal distribution.
2012 placement into NLJ 250 firms by law school
|1||University of Pennsylvania Law School||163||270||60.37%|
|2||University of Chicago Law School||119||216||55.09%|
|3||Columbia Law School||245||460||53.26%|
|4||New York University School of Law||253||478||52.93%|
|5||Northwestern University School of Law||144||280||51.43%|
|6||Harvard Law School||297||590||50.34%|
|7||Duke Law School||107||221||48.42%|
|8||Stanford Law School||86||182||47.25%|
|9||University of California, Berkeley School of Law||139||307||45.28%|
|10||Cornell Law School||85||192||44.27%|
|11||University of Virginia School of Law||151||357||42.30%|
|12||University of Michigan Law School||149||388||38.40%|
|13||Georgetown University Law Center||193||616||31.33%|
|14||Yale Law School||68||222||30.63%|
|15||University of California at Los Angeles School of Law||97||333||29.13%|
|16||University of Southern California Gould School of Law||63||220||28.64%|
|17||Vanderbilt University Law School||51||194||26.29%|
|18||University of Texas School of Law||96||372||25.81%|
|19||Fordham University School of Law||114||487||23.41%|
|20||University of California, Irvine School of Law||13||56||23.21%|
|21||George Washington University Law School||122||542||22.51%|
|22||Boston University School of Law||58||273||21.25%|
|23||Boston College Law School||54||256||21.09%|
|24||University of Illinois College of Law||40||213||18.78%|
|25||Washington University in St. Louis School of Law||49||300||16.33%|
|26||University of Notre Dame Law School||32||196||16.33%|
|27||Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law||44||280||15.71%|
|28||Emory University School of Law||39||253||15.42%|
|29||University of Houston Law Center||35||262||13.36%|
|30||College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law||27||206||13.11%|
|31||Howard University School of Law||19||148||12.84%|
|32||University of North Carolina School of Law||32||260||12.31%|
|33||University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law||17||141||12.06%|
|34||Washington and Lee University School of Law||15||129||11.63%|
|35||University of Washington School of Law||20||181||11.05%|
|36||University of Minnesota Law School||25||230||10.87%|
|37||Seton Hall University School of Law||32||310||10.32%|
|38||University of Kentucky College of Law||15||148||10.14%|
|39||Loyola Law School, Los Angeles||41||414||9.90%|
|40||University of California Hastings College of the Law||43||443||9.71%|
|41||Wake Forest University School of Law||15||155||9.68%|
|42||Villanova University School of Law||24||255||9.41%|
|43||University of Georgia School of Law||21||225||9.33%|
|44||Indiana University Maurer School of Law–Bloomington||19||208||9.13%|
|45||University of California, Davis School of Law||17||198||8.59%|
|46||Santa Clara University School of Law||26||306||8.50%|
|47||University of Wisconsin Law School||24||284||8.45%|
|48||Rutgers School of Law–Camden||23||274||8.39%|
|49||Loyola University Chicago School of Law||23||274||8.39%|
|50||University of Tennessee College of Law||12||146||8.22%|