ABA Journal


Law Schools

Which law schools are best for career prospects? For profs? Rankings in 11 categories released

Oct 10, 2013, 12:04 pm CDT


Maybe this is the answer to weaning people of the US News rankings. When everybody and his dog has a competitive ranking system, employers and mooncalves won't know which one to fall for.

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 10, 12:16 pm CDT

"Career prospects" means graduating classes with highest average salary 9 months out of law school. Stanford and Yale aren't in the top ten because a disproportionately large percetage of their graduates take clerkships directly out of law school and clerkships pay less than Biglaw. When the clerkships are over, however, the Stanford and Yale grads do alright in the rest of their careers.

The Princeton Review also based the rankings on the silly student satisfaction survey data it has used for years, notwithstanding that the defects in its survey methods (and surveys in general) have been pointed out over and over again. The idea that Columbia students are the happiest law students, for example, (one of the Princeton Review's survey findings), is too ludicrous to discuss.

I'd agree with you about the ranking saturation antidote, McLeod, but for the fact that everybody and his dog already has a competitive ranking system and it doesn't seem to have diminished the interest in rankings. This is a cultural character problem of this Country that seems impervious to correction. It's the law school version of the "American exceptionalism" fantasy.

By Pushkin on 2013 10 10, 12:49 pm CDT

I am of the opinion that if you intend to practice in one state, the law schools in that state are the best for job prospects. Most firms (other than BigLaw) do not seek to hire lawyers from the "best" law schools.

By Lynn on 2013 10 10, 2:49 pm CDT

So the people with the best careers are the ones who are paid the most a year out of law school? Ha!

By Brian on 2013 10 11, 12:34 pm CDT

The top schools on this ranking should be concerned about their commitment to public interest work. Funneling students into high-paying, un-rewarding jobs in BigLaw is not the hallmark of a good school (or even the first stages of a good career). Ten years later, what do their careers look like, and what have they done for the legal profession or for the underserved populations that rely on well-trained lawyers with something other than money on the brain? As a Stanford grad, I'm glad to see my school is not on that list. I'd like to think it says something about my many classmates who are out there trying to change the world, earning a fraction of what they could otherwise be pulling down.

By Steve on 2013 10 11, 12:50 pm CDT

If Columbia has the "Best Career Prospects" what does that say about all of the other schools? I graduated CU Law in 2011 and was admitted to the state bar of Texas. I'm making $65K a year. I spent months looking a job until I found the one that I have now and I'm fortunate to have it—the result of my only interview during that time. Local and regional firms that I initially didn’t give a thought about won't even give me an interview for their "entry level" associate positions. I’ve applied to countless other legal positions over the last two years, both public and private and have only had one interview for a job that would have resulted in a 30% pay cut. At this point you can make whatever judgments you wish about me personally, but I had strong grades in law school and I interview well (I used to work in HR as a recruiter). My belief is that there simply aren't good, better or best career prospects when the question concerns the present legal market. For me, going to law school was an absolute mistake regardless of the institution. I've been trying to rectify this by increasing my technical skill set at the local community college (calculus classes, engineering physics, etc.), with the hope of transitioning into an earth science or engineering career. Good luck to the rest of you.

By E. on 2013 10 11, 1:11 pm CDT

As someone who once taught at BU, thanks!

By Dcinsider on 2013 10 11, 1:34 pm CDT

Here's a category they forgot: "Best Bang for the Buck"

The University of Alabama School of Law was ranked no. 1 in the country recently in an article that compared cost of tuition, amount of student loan debt at graduation, likelihood of obtaining a job at graduation, and the income generated by said job.

By JimfromBham on 2013 10 11, 2:24 pm CDT

B. McLeod, I have seen your name a thousand times here and every single time, it reminds me of Bo McLeod, a columnist/commentator/wise man/sometime gentle humorist who wrote for many years for a small-town southwest Georgia newspaper. You've got some big shoes to fill.

By Accipiter on 2013 10 11, 2:38 pm CDT

Your comment about Alabama goes along with Lynn's about law schools in a state. I don't think Alabama is the place to go to law school if you want a job in Boston, New York, Chicago or San Francisco, but it's graduates have a huge edge in Alabama and Mississippi. Their most recent employment survey shows 14 students employed in law firms with more than 100 lawyers and 47 in law firms with less than 50 lawyers, including 11 solos.

By PBlaw on 2013 10 11, 8:35 pm CDT


When I graduated from Alabama (back in the Stone Age), I had offers from Hogan & Hartson and Shaw Pittman in DC, Jones Day in Cleveland, and other places in Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, etc. A classmate went to Cravath in NYC. Several others went out of state.

The reality is that the Yankee law firms want those of us from the South to come up there so (1) they can show they are geographically diverse, and (2) we can help them relate to their clients from the South.

By JimfromBham on 2013 10 12, 1:55 am CDT

PBlaw - also, the academics at Alabama's law school are intense. Check out the LSAT score for admission, and the score for scholarship consideration - extremely competitive. Plus, also please consider the fact that our Albritton lecture series has had every active US Supreme Court Justice speak at least once to the students and faculty. It is an extraordinary national law school, with extremely reasonable tuition.

By JimfromBham on 2013 10 12, 2:13 pm CDT

If the median income is $160,000 a year, that's just too much. Its just not right. That also means clients are paying too much.

A new lawyer fresh out of law school is just not worth $160,000.

And how are small businesses supposed to survive if lawyers cost so much?

The legal profression needs to stop having greed as the its basic foundation.

By Lex on 2013 10 13, 7:19 pm CDT

4 --> Yes.
13 --> I've been thorough this over many comments already. People in debt have no choice but to be "greedy". It not geed but fiscal responsibility.

By SME on 2013 10 14, 6:13 pm CDT

13, small businesses need to stop having greed as their basic foundation. Quit trying to starve the guys doing the actual work of helping you succeed.

By associate on 2013 10 17, 1:15 pm CDT

@ 12 - Jimbo

Sure you had offers from prestigious northern firms when you graduated from 'bama "back in the Stone Age." However, your anecdote doesn't apply in today's job market. Check out the biglaw employment stats for Alabama from LST:

Notice how only ~8% of the class ends up in a firm with more than 100 lawyers in the office? The vast majority of Alabama's class stays local in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee in all the small firms around the area. U of A has low unemployment, but that doesn't mean their grads are filling hot spots.

By Are You Serious on 2013 10 19, 4:10 am CDT

Anyone who has practiced law for any length of time knows that many traits contribute to being an excellent attorney. The law school that a person went to is basically irrelevant. I have been involved in litigation against lawyers from Harvard and other top law schools. It has been my experience that they are no better than those who went to a good state law school.

By Lynn on 2013 10 19, 11:48 am CDT

And yet, how many Supreme Court Justices are looking to hire clerks from "a good state school"?

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 19, 2:48 pm CDT

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