Biglaw, Cardozo Law School, Law Schools, Money, Rankings

Law Schools That Will Get You Into Biglaw On The Cheap

Now this is an interesting list. Yesterday we wrote about how the National Law Journal ranked law schools based on how many graduates they send straight into large law firms. Even if you think law school is a “scam,” you have to at least acknowledge that it’s a pyramid scheme. There are some winners. There are some people who mortgage their financial futures but are then rewarded with $160,000-a-year jobs right out of school. (Yes, I’m suggesting that billing 2400 hours a year, locked in a windowless conference room, reviewing some stupid emails or lease agreements, is a “reward” — just go with it.)

As we discussed yesterday, you can look at the list in many different ways, and quibble with certain aspects of it. The ranking doesn’t account for schools who send people into Article III clerkships, for instance. And you should note that getting a Biglaw job isn’t the be all and end all of a successful law school experience.

Still, given the cost of law school, it’s a very useful list. And today the NLJ looks at its rankings through what is to my mind the most important lens: which schools will do the best job of getting you a Biglaw position, while charging you as little as possible for the opportunity. That’s the question more prospective law students should be asking.

The answers that the NLJ comes up with are simply awesome….

You’ll remember from yesterday that the University of Chicago Law School topped the list for sending its grads into Biglaw. The school is also tops for its cost effectiveness when setting people up with Biglaw offers. From the NLJ:

The University of Chicago Law School was ranked No. 1 on the NLJ’s Go-To Law School list, with 58.97% of its 2010 graduates taking jobs at NLJ 250 law firms. At the same time, it was ranked No. 18 in terms of law school tuition costs, meaning that 17 schools out of the 50 on the Go-To list cost more.

The school’s annual tuition in 2010 was $44,757, according to the American Bar Association/Law School Admission Council Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

Hopefully Chicago Law Dean Michael Schill won’t use this information to pull a Larry Kramer and jack up tuition, arguing that the school is “underpriced” at nearly $45K a year.

If you’re not surprised to learn that Chicago is the best school for Biglaw value, you’ll be shocked by the school ranked #2:

Howard University School of Law was ranked No. 31 on this year’s Go-To Law School List. Some 15.04% of its 2010 graduates got NLJ 250 jobs, and it was the third-cheapest school among the 50, charging $24,490 in 2010 for tuition.

Now this looks like a brother with options.

Howard? That’s not a typo? They’re not missing an “a” and a “v” here or there?

How freaking cool is that! Think about it: if you want a great shot a snagging a Biglaw job while getting the best value for your tuition dollar, you have choices. You could go to the popular bastion of conservative economic theory, where the law-and-economics crowd is free to revel in their cold, formulaic approach to justice. Or you can go to a traditionally black university, concerned with the social outcomes of our jurisprudence. I. Love. America!

How many black kids out there got into T14 schools but could have gotten a full ride from Howard? How many conservative kids decided to bang their heads against the wall of the liberal establishment at Yale when they could have gone to Chicago with money in their pocket? These are the kinds of questions that people should be asking when they choose a law school, not just mindlessly going through the U.S. News rankings and matriculating at the best school they got into.

Of course, this list wouldn’t be any fun if it was all about winning. Cardozo, you know I love you penguin walking guys and girls who may need to spend more time in the gym. But this next note is going to make you sad:

The law school with the highest tuition compared to its percentage of graduates taking NLJ 250 first-year associate jobs was Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Of its 2010 graduates, 12.6% landed NLJ 250 jobs, for a ranking of No. 34 on the Go-To list. Cardozo’s tuition was $45,170, making it the 14th most expensive school among the 50. Federal and state judicial clerkships didn’t count toward the Go-To Law School rankings, and Cardozo reported that 18 graduates, or 4.7% of the class, took clerkships after graduation.

“We think we’re well positioned, based on our relationships in the legal field, to do very well as the market picks up,” said John DeNatale, director of communications at Cardozo.

Ouch. That’s not great, especially considering how many people go to Cardozo specifically to be a part of the New York market for higher-paying jobs.

In any event, this is the kind of information that can help people make crucial decisions about, well, the rest of their lives. I hope people are paying attention.

You can read the full article — which mentions several other law schools by name, including Cornell, the University of Texas, Washington & Lee, Boston College, William & Mary, and Malcolm Gladwell favorite BYU — over at the National Law Journal.

Chicago, Howard are the best buy ‘Go-To’ law schools [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2011)

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