A bigger percentage of students graduating from top law schools in 2007 took jobs at NLJ 250 law firms than those graduating in 2006.
Columbia Law School landed in the No. 1 spot again as the school that sent the greatest portion of graduates to NLJ 250 law firms, with nearly 75 percent of its students in 2007 taking jobs among the nation's largest law firms. The school ranked No. 1 last year, when 69.6 percent of its graduates went to NLJ 250 law firms. Boston College Law School rounded at the list of the top 20 go-to law schools, with 36.8 percent of its 261 juris doctor graduates in 2007 heading for full-time jobs at NLJ 250 law firms.
All together, the top 20 law schools that NLJ 250 law firms relied on most to fill their first-year associate ranks sent 54.9 percent of their graduates to those firms, compared with 51.6 percent in 2006.
This year's list of go-to schools was compiled from recruiting information that law firms provided on the 2007 NLJ 250, The National Law Journal's annual survey of the nation's largest law firms.
In 2007, the top 20 schools sent 3,511 of their graduates to work as first-year associates at NLJ 250 law firms. Total graduates among those schools in 2007 equaled 6,395. In 2006, the 20 go-to law schools sent 3,561 to NLJ 250 law firms out of 6,902 graduates.
Making a big jump in its percentage of graduates accepting positions at NLJ 250 firms was Northwestern University School of Law. It took the No. 2 spot, compared with No. 11 the year before. Some 73.5 percent of its 2007 graduates went to NLJ 250 firms, or 172 graduates out of a total of 234. The year before, 143 graduates out of 265 went to NLJ 250 firms, which equaled 54 percent.
"We've made a tremendous effort to reach out to employers," said David Van Zandt, Northwestern's dean. The school has also focused on enrolling students with significant postgraduate work experience, which makes them attractive to law firm recruiters, he said. And the school has worked to accept students in recent years from geographically diverse areas, with an emphasis on those from the Northeast, which has helped to boost recruiting from NLJ 250 firms, he said.
Another school with a big increase was University of Southern California Gould School of Law, which jumped from the No. 20 spot to No. 14 this year. Of its 195 J.D. graduates in 2007, 85 of them, or 43.6 percent, took jobs with NLJ 250 firms. Of its 215 J.D. graduates in 2006, 36.3 percent began working full time for NLJ 250 law firms.
Two schools dropped four spots compared with the ranking for 2006 graduates. Stanford Law School had 51.4 percent of its 2007 graduates go to NLJ 250 law firms, compared with 54.9 percent of its 2006 graduates. The school dipped to the No. 12 spot, from No. 8 the year before. Boston College Law School, ranked No. 20, sent 36.8 percent of its 2007 graduates to NLJ 250 firms, compared with 39.1 percent the year before. It was ranked No. 16 last year.
NEW TO THE LIST
Two law schools were new to this year's top 20 list, driving two schools off the list. Earning a spot was the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, which ranked No. 17. NLJ 250 law firms hired 39.1 percent of its 320 graduates in 2007. Michael Schill, the UCLA law school dean, also attributed his school's popularity among NLJ 250 firms to an increased effort to geographically diversify the student body. "We're being more aggressive," Schill said. In addition, Boston University School of Law, ranked No. 18, was new to the list. It sent 113 of its 291 graduates in 2007 to NLJ 250 firms.
Dropping from the list of top 20 schools was University of Texas School of Law, ranked No. 19 last year. Of its 460 J.D. graduates in 2007, 35.2 percent became attorneys at NLJ 250 law firms. Also falling off the list was Fordham University School of Law, which was ranked No. 17 last year, when 38.8 percent of its 2006 graduates went to work at NLJ 250 firms. Of the 498 graduates in 2007, 36.1 percent took NLJ 250 jobs.
Law firms ranked the highest on the NLJ 250 consistently recruited from the top 20 go-to law schools. DLA Piper, the nation's largest law firm with 3,623 lawyers, hired more graduates from Georgetown University Law Center, ranked No. 13 on this year's list, than any other law school. DLA Piper recruited from 51 law schools total in 2007. But a few of the biggest law firms turned to schools that were not among the top 20 schools. For example, 1,447-attorney Reed Smith and 1,381-lawyer Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis hired from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law more than any other law school. In addition, 1,766-attorney Greenberg Traurig most frequently hired from University of Miami School of Law for its first-year associates.
The school providing the most first-year associates to the top 20 NLJ 250 law firms was New York University School of Law (NYU), which sent 51 of its 2007 graduates to those firms. Two firms among the top 20 NLJ 250 that did not provide recruiting information were Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Holland & Knight. Among all of the NLJ 250 law firms, 37 did not provide recruiting information.
The law school with the highest concentration of graduates going to one firm was Harvard Law School, which sent 21 of its students to 1,316-attorney Kirkland & Ellis. The Chicago-based firm recruited from 38 law schools total.
The firm that recruited first-year associates from the most law schools was Jones Day, which brought aboard graduates from 58 schools. Baker & McKenzie recruited from the fewest schools -- just 13 -- for its U.S. offices. The firm hired more of its new attorneys from NYU than from any other school.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom also recruited from a relatively small number of schools. On the NLJ 250 survey last year, Skadden indicated that it hired its 2007 first-year associates from 15 law schools. A firm spokesman said the schools indicated on the survey were just a sample of those from which it hired, and that Skadden routinely considers applicants from more than 50 schools each year. Eighteen of its new associates came from Columbia.
Columbia's strong showing among all NLJ 250 firms was due to its quality of students and its location, said David Schizer, dean of the law school. "Many students come here because they love New York City and a significant fraction of them decide to stay," he said.
Editor's note: For more information on the survey of the NLJ 250 law schools, see The National Law Journal's coverage.