The Smartest People Are Avoiding Law School

Students pay close attention to the 2013 Chicago Law Foundation Public Interest Auction.

Students pay close attention to the 2013 Chicago Law Foundation Public Interest Auction.

On The Beaten Path? What Your Law School Ranking Says About Your Prospects For Making Partner


Where you go to school will determine where you work and your chances of landing in a Big Law job. Kind of. That’s the lesson from recently published data from Above the Law. Michael Allen is a managing principal at Lateral Link, a legal search and recruiting firm. Recently, he put together some intriguing data, tracking partner placements for Am Law 200 clients, a report of clients put together by The American Lawyer, from 1990 to 2000 law school graduates from the top 20 law schools.

The University of Chicago Law School had the highest percentage of graduates ending up as partners in Big Law with 17 percent. The University of Virginia Law School followed with 14 percent. Tying for the third  was Harvard Law School and the University of Texas-Austin Law School with 13 percent each. Interestingly, UT-Austin snuck into the Tier 14 schools, beating 11 of them. The school with the lowest percentage was Washington University in St. Louis Law School with only 3 percent of graduates ending up as a Big Law partner.

However, the statistics come with an asterisk. The number of graduates at each school from 1990 to 2000 is an estimate. For example, Virginia’s percentage is based on 415 confirmed current partners and an estimate of 3,070 graduates from 1990 to 2000.

One thing this data can’t do, however, is determine how likely it is to end up as a Big Law partner based on which law school someone graduated from. Obviously, not everyone goes to law school dreaming of Big Law. Just because 3,700 people graduated from a law school from 1990 to 2000 doesn’t mean 3,700 wanted to be Big Law partners.

Additionally, percentages don’t portray the types of students who attend law schools. Some schools might attract more students with a Big Law mindset. For example, a school located on the East Coast, where many Big Law jobs are, might attract more students looking for that type of career. Take the bottom five schools on the list, for example. Vanderbilt, UCLA and Emory all have 7 percent of graduates going to Big Law. As stated above, Washington University in St. Louis has 3 percent. And the last school on the list, George Washington University has 11 percent. It is also the only school out of those five located in the Northeast.

A certain school will not make or break the chances of ending up at a Big Law firm. However, some schools seem to attract that ambition a little more.


Source: Above the Law