Which schools manufacture the most law firm partners?

Now here are rankings worth paying attention to. Professor Theodore P. Seto of Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) has published a research paper showing the law schools that produce partners at large law firms.

This list seems useful in at least two ways. First and most obviously, if you want to make Biglaw partner money, it’s worth knowing which schools produce Biglaw partners. But this list is also useful when you are thinking about the kind of alumni network that a school can provide.

Obviously, this list is going to favor the elite diploma mills, but there are some interesting surprises…

TaxProf Blog has sifted through the paper and pulled out the top 75 law schools for producing partners at National Law Journal top 100 firms. Here’s the top 10 (number of post-1986 partners in parenthesis):

1. Harvard (946)
2. Georgetown (729)
3. NYU (543)
4. Virginia (527)
5. Columbia (516)
6. G. Washington (447)
7. Michigan (444)
8. Chicago (426)
9. Texas (384)
10. Northwestern (365)

Clearly, on this list, size matters. Smaller schools like Yale and Stanford rank further down on this list. If you really think that going to GW will put you in a better position to pursue a lucrative Biglaw career than going to Yale… please go right ahead and do that, it’ll mean less competition for everybody else.

One of these days, one of these smarty-pants professors who wants to prove that the U.S. News ranking isn’t the only way to rate law schools will figure out that adjusting for school size is really freaking important.

That being said, there are some interesting findings from Professor Seto. Here’s an interesting group of schools:

26. Miami (160)
26. Temple (160)
28. Notre Dame (159)

And here’s another:

42. St. John’s (121)
42. Wisconsin (121)
44. Brooklyn (119)

Location, location, location.

St. John’s is producing just as many Biglaw partners as Brooklyn? Temple is pumping them out at the same gross levels as Notre Dame? That’s not something they’re putting in the admissions brochures at Notre Dame or Brooklyn.

Despite the weakness of not adjusting for school size, the rankings support Seto’s main point: “Hiring and partnering by the NLJ 100 are remarkably local; law school rank is much less important than location.”

Unless you are going to an elite law school with a national reputation, you should probably go to school in a geographical area where you want to practice.

See, sometimes life really is that simple.

Where Do Partners Come from? [SSRN]
Seto: Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners [TaxProf Blog]


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