Ivy League

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

[A friend] called me and said, “Sonia, come to Princeton. You have to go to an Ivy League school.”

And I said, “What’s an Ivy League school?”

I was a good student. But I wouldn’t even have known to apply, because I came from a world where that wasn’t part of the expectations. And that’s true of a lot of kids in a lot of neighborhoods.

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in comments made about her decision to apply to Princeton University and later Yale Law School, during an appearance earlier this week at the University of Tulsa College of Law. Sotomayor went on to say that she wouldn’t be where she is now if it weren’t for affirmative action.

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…

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