worried man with cell phone
worried man with cell phone (Photo by Kazina / iStock)

If your goal is to land a Big Law job (and let’s be honest, why else are you reading this?), Columbia Law School is the place to be. So say goodbye to your sweetie, pack up your duffel, and take the #1 train over to Morningside Heights.

According to The National Law Journal, Columbia has regained its former glory: Despite a plummeting applicant pool—down 27 percent since 2008—Columbia is the big winner among law schools in the annual Big Law job sweepstakes. It bumped out the University of Pennsylvania Law School from the top spot (which held it for the last two years) based on percentage of graduates who landed at NLJ 250 law firms in 2013.

Though the NLJ lists 50 “Go-To” law schools, let’s just focus on ones where at least 50 percent got jobs at big firms:

1 Columbia Law School 65.5% 65.45% $55,488
2 New York University School of Law 54.9% 54.93% $51,150
3 Harvard Law School 55.6% 53.55% $50,880
4 University of Chicago Law School 53.0% 53.02% $50,727
5 University of Pennsylvania Law School 52.5% 52.51% $53,138
6 Northwestern University School of Law 51.1% 51.05% $53,468

You’ll notice some conspicuous absences on this list: Yale and Stanford. But don’t be alarmed. In a related NLJ article, Karen Sloan reports that Yalies and Stanfordians are probably busy clerking.

The NLJ also notes that “among the 50 schools on our Go-To list, 27 percent of recent graduates landed associate jobs at NLJ 250 firms, up from 25 percent in 2012,” which makes it “the highest percentage we recorded since 2010.” Among the top 20 schools on the list, “42 percent of recent graduates went on to large firm associate jobs, up from 40 percent last year.”

That’s certainly a notable improvement in the hiring picture—but I wouldn’t get too carried away. Don’t get too giddy just because you happen to get into one of the top 50 schools on that list.

Frankly, I have a quibble about what’s considered a “Go-To” school. I think this list is far too liberal: Almost half of the listed schools sent fewer than 20 percent of its grads to NLJ 250 firms. What’s more, seven of those schools sent fewer than 10 percent of grads into NLJ firms.

I think the bottom 30 or so law schools on that list should be called “You-Have-a-Shot-at-Big-Law-If-You-Graduate-at-the-Top-of-Your-Class” school. Seriously, how can you call a school a “Go-To” institution for Big Law unless at least a third of its grads get jobs there?

Call me elitist—but isn’t that what the Big Law game is all about?

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E-mail: vchen@alm.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawcareerist