Since 1955, Fortune magazine has published the Fortune 500, a comprehensive ranking of the top closely held and public corporations in the United States as ranked by gross revenue. In the past, we’ve spoken about other Fortune magazine rankings, like its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, where top law firms have been included year after year.

But it seems that lawyers have pervaded the Fortune 500 rankings as well, because some of the biggest companies in the nation are headed by law school graduates. As we noted in Morning Docket, of the 498 CEOs named on this year’s list, 46 of them went to law school.

But which schools did they attend? Let’s find out….

The vast majority of our country’s business leaders with a background in law received their degrees from top-ranked institutions. From U.S. News & World Report:

[Nine] of the CEOs are Harvard Law School alumni, while Columbia University’s School of Law, Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, and the University of Virginia’s School of Law can each claim three different CEOs on the list among their alumni.

But as it turns out, you don’t necessarily need to attend a highly-ranked law school to become CEO at a Fortune 500 company. Sometimes, law grads have “managed” (thanks to the ABA Journal for this snark) to achieve greatness even though they graduated from schools ranked below the U.S. News top 100 rankings.

Those schools are the University of Akron’s School of Law (ranked 119th in U.S. News’s Best Law Schools ranking), Villanova University’s School of Law (tied for 101st), and West Virginia University’s College of Law (tied for 101st), which counts two Fortune 500 CEOs among its ranks.

Hell, you can even become a Fortune 500 CEO if you graduated from a law school whose rank went unpublished by U.S. News. It seems that you can still dream big if you went to a stereotypical fourth-tier law school — but not too big, because only one CEO on the list went to an RNP school.

At TaxProf Blog, Professor Paul Caron has compiled a ranking of the schools with Fortune 500 CEO grads:

It looks like Harvard finally beat both Yale and Stanford, so stick that in your rankings pipe and smoke it.

If you’re interested in checking out the full list of Fortune 500 CEOs who attended law school and the companies they’re associated with, you can click through to the next page….


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