Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools, Rankings, UVA Law

Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013)

Jump for joy if you landed a Biglaw job!

For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation. But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that’s been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm collapses, Biglaw has faced many difficulties, and these challenges have been passed on to would-be associates when it comes to hiring.

Take, for example, the hiring scene in 2008, when the law school that earned the highest honors on the NLJ’s report could brag about sending 70.5 percent of its graduates to top law firms. Although we’ve started paving the road to recovery after several sluggish years, the employment picture for law students hasn’t rebounded to those levels.

Slowly but surely, it’s been getting better. In fact, this year, the future for law students seeking Biglaw jobs looks “marginally brighter.” But how much better? Let’s find out….

While the hiring percentages from America’s top law schools are still dramatically different than they were during Biglaw’s heyday, there was a slight uptick in the total percentage of graduates from these schools heading to much coveted associate positions. The National Law Journal has more information:

Things are starting to look up in terms of hiring at the nation’s largest law firms. Most law schools sent slightly larger percentages of their 2012 classes into first-year associate jobs at these firms than they did in 2011. Among the 50 schools most popular with hiring firms, 25 percent of graduates landed associate jobs, up from 22 percent in 2011. Even so, hiring was not as robust as in 2010, when 27 percent of the graduates from the top 50 schools landed at the largest firms.

Well, that’s encouraging. These days, your future’s so bright you have to wear rose-colored glasses, and these are the ten law schools where students’ employment prospects are the rosiest (click to enlarge):

This is Penn Law’s second year as the frontrunner on this list, but the rest of the top ten has changed, and one law school even got knocked out of the competition completely. U. Chicago is now in second place after finishing in the #7 slot last year (knocking Northwestern down to #5), while NYU moved up dramatically from its #9 spot on the 2012 list. And which school dropped out of the top ten? It must be a sad, sad day over at UVA Law — there’s likely not a single popped collar in sight, due to this most dismal occasion.

If you’re interested, you can see the full list, which includes the top 50 law schools, here. The National Law Journal also has a list of “firm favorites,” noting the law schools that specific firms recruited most heavily from. Here are some highlights from that list (which aren’t quite as grand in terms of numbers as in years prior):

Cleary Gottlieb: NYU (25 first-years)
Kirkland & Ellis: Northwestern (17 first-years)
Gibson Dunn: Harvard (16 first-years)
Latham: Boalt Hall (15 first-years)
Skadden: Columbia (13 first-years)

So while we aren’t where we used to be — only 13 percent of permanent jobs after graduation from law school were obtained through Biglaw on-campus interviews in 2011, compared to more than 24 percent in 2008 — we’re on our way there. If nothing else, this list is useful in that it’s a great way for students at top law schools, both current and prospective, to gauge their employment prospects in a recovering market.

Let’s just hope that things continue to get better. Look at it this way: Biglaw may still be in flux, and the stakes and competition may be “higher than ever” for jobs, but it’s better than having no employment prospects at all.

The Go-To Law Schools [National Law Journal]
Firm Favorites in 2013 [National Law Journal]
Ranking the Go-To Law Schools [National Law Journal]
‘The stakes are higher than ever’ [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2012)
Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2011)
Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2010)

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27 Responses to “Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013)”

  1. Brocaine_Brandy says:

    Related, Western New England Sandwich School now ranked third behind Harvard and Yale as the best school to get a BIG BLAWG JOB!

    -Western New Flaw School Marketing VP

    • Guest says:

      Those associate gigs at Panera are competitive.

      • Brocaine_Brandy says:

        Indeed, it’s especially tough when deciding whether you want to be at a smaller firm such as Wachtel or Firehouse, Potbelly, or Cravath vs. the mega firms such as Baker, DLA Piper, Subway, or Arbys. Plus you could always leverage the versatility of your sandwich school degree and go directly in house at a place like Publix or A&P, so many options, so little time to decide.

        • guest says:

          It’s all about proper training. Law students need to keep that in mind.

          For bet-the-company hunger, I go to Jimmy John’s. For complex cross border taste, it’s Qdoba.

          • Brocaine_Brandy says:

            Fuck yea on that bet the company hunger Jimmy John’s delivery move, wish they were up in NYC, a Turkey Tom or Boolegger Club would be awesome right about now.

          • Guest says:

            Ever try the JJ Gargantuan? I think they’re in the process of renaming it the Belly Mystal in some locations.
            Pretty damn tastee.

        • ChoateAlum says:

          Outted as a Florida bro.

          • Brocaine_Brandy says:

            I’ve always been pretty open about spending some of my formative years in Palm Beach, did you lax at choate bro?

    • Very_Small_Rocks says:

      Volokh hired someone from Western New England School of Law and Sandwich Artistry?

  2. Guest says:

    UC Irvine? BigLaw?

  3. guest says:

    UVA used to place pretty well, I’m surprised they were beaten by Cornell.

  4. Spike says:

    It would be interesting to compare this to the Law School Transparency employment score. For example, the LST employment score for Touro (which does not make the list here) is higher than that of Fordham (which is #19 on this list).
    This type of list is better because it is compiled by a third party and does not rely on the school’s numbers and perhaps subjective interpretation of particular graduates’ situations, as LST’s does.

  5. Cambridge38 says:

    Numbers are misleading because they reflect total # of students hired, not the percentage (per capita) numbers. Harvard and GULC look good because they have large #’s of students. But, percentage-wise, GULC in particular would sink.

    • DaveyBoyJones says:

      What are you talking about? They are ranked by percentage numbers. Notice how the numbers in the “first-year associates to NLJ 250 firms” are not in descending order? What makes this misleading is that judicial clerks count as “not at NLJ 250 firms,” though the great majority of them will be at such firms the following year. This, in addition to academia, is why H/S/Y rank behind UPenn — not because people from those schools really want a biglaw job straight out of law school and are being disproportionately dinged. Interpreting this data to mean that you should choose Penn over all other schools if what you want is a biglaw job would be incorrect.

      • JadedAtty says:

        Have to agree here. I always find these rankings inaccurate, or at least misleading. I’m a fairly recent YLS grad. During recruiting season, I don’t recall any of my classmates failing to secure BigLaw jobs if they wanted them. Many simply didn’t care, and went on to work in the judiciary, academia, government, non-profit sector, etc. Granted, perhaps the economy was a bit rosier when I was in school, but I doubt YLS scored well on this ranking even then. That said, I imagine this same bias exists at Stanford, Harvard, or any other school where students realistically can (and do) pursue other fields besides law-firm work. Still, I think a recurring mantra was “Don’t go to Yale if you want to work at a law firm,” as if partners would scrutinize YLS students’ motives more than those from other schools. In my experience, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

        I guess my point is that, among the top law schools, I’m not sure this ranking has much (if any) value. For example, I doubt U Chicago’s “vault” from 7 to 2 really manifested itself in markedly better employment prospects for students. For whatever reason, more U of C kids probably opted to work for large firms this year. If, however, you’re considering a lower-ranked law school that consistently has better than expected job prospects, by all means, take that into consideration (though, in theory, good employment numbers should also bolster a school’s ranking in U.S. News).

    • JHR2012 says:

      That’s incorrect. Though Harvard looks worse because many of its students are clerking for a year or two before working in a large firm.

  6. BlackstoneMN says:

    Since Cooley has successfully vertically integrated the law school and law firm processes, we are shocked that we are not included in this list.
    -Cooley Law School and Big Law Firm, Inc.
    Member NYSE

    • Brocaine_Brandy says:


      -Something that should constantly be mentioned in conjunction with Cooley.

  7. [...] Above the Law Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013) Above the Law For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation.  [...]

  8. [...] Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013) [...]

  9. [...] Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013) by admincandy on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 | No Comments Best Law Schools for Getting a Biglaw Job (2013) But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that's been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm … These days, your future's so bright you have to wear … Read more on Above the Law [...]

  10. [...] fair points. Last month, U. Penn. topped the list of best law schools for getting a Biglaw job — for the second year in a row. Clearly they’re doing something right over [...]

  11. [...] indicators of their success. Some law schools do very well at getting their graduates into high paying or otherwise desirable jobs. While they may be costly schools, graduates get jobs that allow them [...]

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