However, many Top 20 schools are behind their lower-ranked counterparts when it comes to hiring. For example, USC and Vanderbilt have lower placement rates than up-and-comers like the University of Alabama, the University of Washington, and the College of William & Mary. In fact, both schools also trail stalwarts like the University of Iowa, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona.
However, here is the most telling statistic: Every school ranked from #1 (Yale Law) to #16 (UCLA) all had the exact same median starting salaries for the private sector: $160,000. Holy placeholders, Batman! So graduates of the University of Texas can expect the same starting salary as a Yale grad? Apparently, everything is bigger in Texas…even the paychecks. Top 20 law schools must be the new Lake Wobegon: “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average” (and all the lawyers earn $160K).
ALABAMA TOPS, WILLIAM & MARY CLOSE BEHIND IN SCHOOLS RANKED 21 TO 50
Not surprisingly, four of the big winners in the 2015 rankings – the College of William & Mary, the University of Washington, Brigham Young, and Southern Methodist University – are among the top five in students being hired. Each of these schools jumped up 4-9 places in the latest rankings. And their increased hiring percentages, which range from 10.7% (Southern Methodist University) to 20.2% (Brigham Young) over the previous year played a big part in these surges. Overall, the University of Alabama scored highest among schools ranked 21-50 at 86%). When it comes to starting private sector salaries, the big winners were Notre Dame ($105,000, Brigham Young ($100,000), the College of William & Mary ($98,000), and the University of Washington ($95,000).
Washington & Lee University, which plunged from #26 to #43 in the latest rankings, also fared the worst when it came to placement, dropping down to a 53.6% clip. The Indiana University also had a poor year, with new graduate hiring slipping to 64.7%. However, private sector hires from the university averaged a starting salary of $100,000 (though public sector hires there lagged far behind at $43,350 to start).
If you’re going to law school for football or basketball, you might just find a job too. Just don’t expect a big salary to start. That’s the theme for the remaining schools in U.S. News’ top 100 programs. Here, your best prospects are in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Razorback alum are hired at an 85.6% clip coming out (with a starting private sector salary of $70,000…and $56,000 for public work). Following closely behind are Louisiana State University (83.9%), the University of Kentucky (83.7%), the University of Nebraska (82.0%), and the University of West Virginia (81%).
Three schools to watch are the University of South Carolina, Penn State University, and the University of Kansas, which saw their hiring percentages increase over the previous year by 16.6%. 15.7%, and 12.8%, respectively. In fact, the University of Kansas enjoyed the largest increase in this year’s rankings, shooting up from #86 to #68. Similarly, the University of Nebraska has risen from #93 to #54 in the rankings during the past five years. Employers are definitely taking note of Cornhusker grads.
The same can’t be said for Loyola Marymount, which has dropped 31 spots in recent years and maintains a 47.9% placement rate. The University of Oregon followed closely behind at 49.1%. And keep an eye on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, which experienced a 7.7% drop in graduate employment.
(See following pages for the hiring percentages and salaries of the best and worst performers in this year’s rankings)
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.