If you want to get into Biglaw, it's all about the Ivy.

It’s a list that should mean more than it does: which law schools are best at sending their graduates to large law firms, aka Biglaw?

There are a lot of reasons this question isn’t asked more often: law schools don’t like their supposed professional value to be reduced to placements at top firms, prospective law students don’t like to think that in three years they’ll have a “Biglaw or bust” mentality, and Biglaw placement lists undervalue clerkship appointments (which often turn into Biglaw gigs a year or two later). Intellectually, it feels small-minded to put a heavy focus on whether or not a school sends a high proportion of its graduates straight into Biglaw after graduation.

Except that in a world with ever-rising tuition costs, the ability to place students in Biglaw is more important than ever. Biglaw jobs are pretty much the only ones out there that pay enough money for graduates to be able to manage their ridiculous debt loads. And there are fewer Biglaw jobs than before. Top law schools should be able to place well in Biglaw, or they should be offering tuition rebates to students.

If the kids who are thinking about going to law school refuse to pay attention to life’s realities, maybe the parents who are pushing their children into the legal profession will take note. Here are the top schools for placing in Biglaw. If your kid isn’t getting into one of these schools, maybe you should reconsider co-signing their loans…

After the ABA’s data dump earlier this week, the WSJ Law Blog crunched some numbers and came up with the best law schools for sending graduates to firms with 250 or more lawyers. As you probably know, the ABA numbers told us that law schools are not doing a very good job of getting graduates into high-paying jobs.

The WSJ decided to focus on the schools that are making the best of a bad market. Here are the top schools. They’re not going to surprise a lot of people:

You can see the full top 25 over at the WSJ Law Blog.

Obviously, this list is going to have an East Coast, Ivy League bias. Bigger firms are out east, bigger firms recruit more heavily from the Ivy League, and high-achieving students who get into the Ivy League schools are more likely to gravitate towards high-paying jobs at big firms with Wall Street clients.

And that would be all fine if there weren’t so many other schools charging Ivy League prices for legal education and opportunities. If you are going to charge on the order of, say, Penn ($53,138 in tuition and fees), and you’re placing 53% of your graduates in Biglaw, that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, you’re charging like Emory ($46,414 in tuition and fees), and you’re only placing 15% of your graduating class in Biglaw, then it seems to me like you have a huge problem on your hands.

But you know how prospective law students think. Everybody thinks they’ll be in the top 15%, or top 10%. Hell, if you told a law student that only one out of 200 graduates ended up with a high-paying job, prospective students would show up on campus feeling sorry for everybody else.

Law Blog’s Best Big Law Feeder Schools [WSJ Law Blog]
Law School Rankings by 2011 Grads in BigLaw Jobs [Tax Prof Blog]

Earlier: ABA Employment Stats Are Just As Dire As We Expected


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