The new U.S. News law school rankings, which we’ve been covering extensively in these pages, contain all sorts of interesting tidbits about the ranked schools. For example, in each school profile there is an “employed at graduation” figure, which “represents the percentage of all graduates who had a full-time job lasting at least a year for which bar passage was required or a J.D. degree was an advantage.”

That seems like an important and useful piece of information to know if you’re going to pay or borrow a six-figure sum to attend law school. Comparing the employment rates of different schools would be an important part of one’s due diligence when selecting a school.

Among the top 14 or so-called “T14″ law schools, which one had the highest “employed at graduation” rate? The answer might surprise you….

Looking over the entire list, it’s fair to say that the employment rate goes down as ranking goes down, which should come as no surprise in our prestige-obsessed profession. The top eight schools in the T14 — we were going to do top seven, but there’s a two-way tie for #7 — have an average “employed upon graduation” rate of 91.6 percent. The bottom six schools, meanwhile, have an average “employed upon graduation” rate of 71.2 percent. It would be fair to say that students at schools ranked #1 through #8 have significantly better job prospects than students at schools ranked #9 through #14.

(Of course, in this still-challenging job market, an “employed at graduation” rate in the 70s is quite good. Remember that it’s “employed at graduation,” not employed nine months or a year after graduation. These grads haven’t passed the bar exam yet and they already have jobs lined up, which is great.)

But now let’s take a look at the full list. Here it is, showing each school, its overall U.S. News rank, and its “employed at graduation” rate:

1. Yale – 90.7%
2. Harvard – 90.9%
2. Stanford – 93.2%
4. Columbia – 93.2%
4. Chicago – 90.6%
6. NYU – 93.1%
7. U. Penn. – 83.6%
7. UVA – 97.3%
9. Berkeley – 72.6%
10. Michigan – 70.7%
11. Duke – 72.9%
12. Northwestern – 77.4%
13. Cornell – 69.7%
14. Georgetown – 63.7%

Yes, that’s right: the school with the highest employment rate is seventh-ranked UVA. It’s not a member of the Holy Trinity of “HYS.” It’s not a member of the “CCN” cluster, three elite schools located in major legal markets.

It’s UVA, at #7. The school tied with UVA at that spot, U. Penn., has an employment rate of 83.6 percent. The school immediately below UVA, Berkeley, has an employment rate of 72.6 percent. But UVA has an employment rate of 97.3 percent — the only school north of 95 percent, significantly higher than Yale, Harvard, or Chicago (all below 91 percent).

According to U.S. News, these figures are based on 2012 data. So the class of 2012 at UVA must have done much better on the job market than the class of 2011. As you will recall, class of 2011 members at UVA made architectural models of the law school out of rejection letters and went around wearing t-shirts that read, “Virginia Law: $40,000 a year and no job.”

UPDATE (3/14/2013, 10:30 AM): Actually, as it turns out, the “employed at graduation” rate used in the latest rankings was based on class of 2011 data. So let’s just say that it’s very, very interesting that UVA achieved a 97 percent employment rate despite such public disgruntlement among students about jobs (or the lack thereof)….

How did UVA achieve such a result? It’s not clear, but it’s not the first time that UVA has worked some magic. As we reported yesterday, last year the school reported a remarkable increase in its yield rate — one that led some observers to question how such growth was achieved in a single year.

Congratulations to UVA on its amazing placement record. If you have information on how UVA racked up such an impressive “employed at graduation” rate, please let us know. Back in the glory days of the early 2000s, an “employed at graduation” rate close to 100 percent was no big deal — but in 2013, it’s a minor miracle.

Earlier: Does Anybody Ever Turn Down UVA Law? Or Are They Just Gaming Their Yield Rate?
Most Creative Way To Shame Your Office of Career Services
Law Students at a Top School Protest Continued Unemployment

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