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Class Of 2012 Nlj 250 Statistics

By Kyle McEntee and Patrick J. Lynch
February 22, 2013

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.

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

2012 placement into NLJ 250 firms by law school

Rank School NLJ 250
% of
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%