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Want to go to a ‘real lawyers’ law school? Consider Louisiana State

Posted Mar 28, 2013 8:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Want to go to the law with the highest number of “real lawyer” graduates? Then the University of Virginia is a good choice, along with Louisiana State University and George Washington University.

Those schools all made a top 10 list of “real lawyers” schools compiled by Pepperdine law professor Derek Muller using data from U.S. News & World Report, TaxProf Blog reports in posts here and here. Muller's “real lawyers” schools are those with the best percentages for recent graduates who obtained jobs that require bar passage, and are full-time and long-term.

The top 10 "real lawyers" schools are:

1) University of Virginia 94.7%

2) Columbia University 94.1%

3) Stanford University 90.6%

4) Harvard University 90.1%

4) New York University 90.1%

6) University of Chicago 88.2%

7) Yale University 87.8%

8) University of Pennsylvania 84.7%

9) Duke University 82.1%

10) George Washington University 81.3%

10) Louisiana State University 81.3%

Above the Law noted the real lawyers list, with this comment: “What’s most surprising ... is that this list includes schools outside of the T14. UC Berkeley, Michigan, Northwestern, Cornell and Georgetown: When you’ve gotten your pants beaten off by law schools ranked #21 and #76, you got some splainin’ to do!”

Some of those schools fared better on an “elite outcomes” list compiled by Muller that looks at the law schools with the most graduates employed in judicial clerkships or working full-time and long-term in law firms of more than 100 lawyers.

The top 10 "elite outcomes" schools are:

1) Stanford University 72.9%

2) Columbia University 69.5%

3) University of Pennsylvania 67.1%

4) Yale University 66.4%

5) Harvard University 65.0%

6) Northwestern University 61.4%

7) Duke University 56.1%

8) University of Chicago 54.2%

9) New York University 54.1%

10) University of California at Berkeley 51.3%

Among Muller's other lists are “career baristas” (for the law schools with the most recent grads employed in nonprofessional jobs, full-time and long-term) and “the temps” (for law schools with the most grads employed in any position that’s part-time, short-term, or both).

The No. 1 “career barista” school was the University of Akron, which had nine graduates in this category, amounting to 7.8 percent. (Muller cautions that when the percentages are so low, small numbers may appear large.) The top “temps” school was Florida Coastal School of Law, with 32.8 percent of its grads in this category.

The ABA Journal asked Muller why he created the lists. The reason, he says, is partly "the absurdity of ordinal lists. One issue of 'transparency,' I think, is that we are now absolutely overwhelmed with data, with no attempt to parse what the data means. I’m dealing with literally hundreds of classifications of employment data hurled at us in the U.S. News & World Report, and there still isn’t consensus as to the utility of the data, 'good' and 'bad' employment outcomes, and so on. So, I thought I might as well start creating my own reality, if you will, and manufacture a few 'top 10' lists, as they seem ever so popular."

Muller says the most meaningful category of his creation may be "elite outcomes," although it doesn't include such things as high-quality public interest jobs and good JD-advantaged positions. While transparency has been a good thing, the process of informed decision-making still needs improvement, he says.

His advice to would-be law students? "Prospective law students should learn that data is just that: data," Muller says. "What you do with the data is your decision, but recognize that the data itself had serious limitations and requires extreme caution before making any decision."

Updated at 1:10 p.m. to include Muller's comments.

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