On May 9, Law.com has released its annual top 50 “Go-To” law schools for 2018. Columbia Law School topped the list with more than 68% of recent law grads landing high-paying associate jobs at top law firms. The University of Chicago came in second, and New York University was third.
“The firms’ hiring teams know that our students will arrive with superb legal and leadership skills, ready to take on the most challenging assignments,” Columbia law dean Gillian Lester tells Law.com.
Overall, Davis Polk & Wardell, a 160 year-old New York firm with nearly 1,000 attorneys in their New York branch alone, snapped up the largest number of Columbia Law grads in 2017 with 24 hires. They were followed by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamiltion (19) and Debevoise & Plimpton (18).
Check out the top 10 law schools according to Law.com below.
Law.com ranked the top 50 law schools based on the percentage of 2017 JD grads who landed associate jobs at the largest 100 firms.
In addition, Law.com’s rankings also took into consideration which law schools had the most alumni promoted to partner positions in 2017, how many associates each firm hired, and tuition at each school compared to Big Law placement rate. That said, Law.com also does not take into consideration LLM grads hired by law firms as associates or grads who work at overseas firms.
Yale Comes Up Short
Yale Law School, which normally ranks atop law schools, came in at 18th, with just 28% of graduates ending up in big law jobs – half the percentage found at Duke Law or Virginia Law. In addition, some schools that normally top the rankings fared quite low on Law.com. Harvard Law, which like Yale places a higher percentage of students in clerkships, placed 8th with just 50% of graduates ending up in blue shoe law firms. Stanford Law, which traditionally rounds out the Top Three, just missed the Top 10 ‘Go-To’ schools at 43%.
Among the top law schools in Law.com’s ranking, six were based out of New York City: a city where six of the 25 largest American law firms are headquartered.
According to NYU Law’s associate dean for career services Irene Dorzback, New York City offers a number of networking opportunities.
“That’s a tremendous number of alumni who are involved,” Dorzback tells Law.com. “In some ways, that’s the advantage of being in New York.”
Reputation is Equally Important
While location can play as an advantage, a law school’s reputation is also a significant factor. Law.com ranked both University of Virginia School of Law and Duke Law School highly. Kevin Donovan, senior assistant dean for career services at UVA Law, tells Law.com that the strong program at UVA Law attracts recruiters despite UVA not being in a hot-law firm location.
“The success we’ve been having, there’s no magic to it,” Donovan tells Law.com. “We have a great faculty that attracts great students. Our admissions team has put together a series of extraordinary classes in recent years. We work hard to get them ready, and they work hard to get ready. And we’ve got a really strong alumni network.”
Hiring Market Drops
The hiring market for current law students isn’t looking too hot. According to new NALP statistics, large law firms – defined as 100 or more lawyers – hired less summer associates last Fall. In 2015, law firm summer associate classes had a median size of 20. Now, the median size is 16, the ABA Journal reports.
Abbie Willard is the associate dean for career services at the University of Chicago. In an interview with Law.com, Willard notes that law firm summer programs are taking a hit.
“We’re not seeing nearly as many firms growing their summer programs,” Willard tells Law.com. “When your entry-level salary has jumped to $180,000, you’re going to be more careful about how many people you bring in. Even if that person is only with you just a couple of years, that’s quite the investment.”