How bad was it in 2009? The National Law Journal‘s annual Go-To Law School List paints a pretty sorry picture of first-year associate employment at the nation’s 250 largest law firms last year. The No. 1 law school sent just 55.9 percent of its 2009 graduates to NLJ 250 law firms. In 2008, the highest percentage of graduates heading to NLJ 250 firms was 70.5 percent. Importantly, the 2009 percentages include deferred associates, so an even smaller group actually went to work last year. Remember, the list consists of the very top performing schools, where job prospects in years past have proven recession-proof. Not so in 2009.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by the percentage of 2009 juris doctor graduates who snagged jobs at NLJ 250 firms by Sept. 30, 2009. Numbers are based on information gathered from our annual NLJ 250 survey — statistics we get from the nation’s largest law firms. We’ve also identified firm favorites — the schools from which the top law firms on the NLJ 250 recruited most of its first-years in 2009.

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