At first glance, it looked like a brighter picture for first-year associate hiring in 2010. After all, the top two schools on the list supplied nearly 3% more of their graduates to the nation’s 250 largest law firms, compared with 2009. But overall, this year’s Go-To Law Schools sent fewer graduates into the big-firm market. The percentage of 2010 graduates taking jobs at NLJ 250 law firms was 27.3%, compared with 30.3% of 2009 graduates.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by the percentage of juris doctor graduates in 2010 who took jobs at NLJ 250 firms, the nation’s largest law firms identified by our NLJ 250 annual survey. Besides the top 50 Go-To Law Schools, we’ve identified firm favorites — the schools from which law firms on the NLJ 250 recruited the most graduates. This year, we’ve also included annual tuition costs at the 50 Go-To Law Schools.  — Leigh Jones  

Paying the price for law firm employment
Schools’ placement programs foot the bill to send new lawyers to private firms for a test run.

Top law schools placed fewer graduates at top firms in 2010
Hiring of graduates of the top law schools by the nation’s largest law firms slid by 10% during 2010 compared with 2009. A look at the details shows that the vast majority of those schools sent fewer graduates into the big-firm market.

Everything associates didn’t learn in law school
Getting ahead takes much more than knowing the Rule in Shelley’s Case or the finer points of the tax code.

Chicago, Howard are the best buy law schools
The University of Chicago Law School and Howard University School of Law gave their 2010 graduates the most the big-firm bang for their tuition buck. Those schools had the highest percentage of graduates taking first-year associate jobs at NLJ 250 law firms for the lowest tuition price.

NLJ VIDEO  The Hiring Game: Tips to Win It
• Reed Smith hiring partner Richard Holzheimer advises potential associates to “do your homework” about the firms where they are interviewing. Watch video
• Georgetown University Law Center 3L Kim Allen offers a student’s perspective on the interview process. Watch video

The law schools that yielded the highest percentage of graduates hired by NLJ 250 firms.


* Graduate class size based on average of last three years.
** Graduate class size based on latest data in ABA/LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools.



The schools that top NLJ 250 firms relied on the most to supply first-year associates.


Methodology: Data for the Go-To Law Schools special report is provided by law firms surveyed for The National Law Journal‘s NLJ 250, our annual survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. We also queried the law schools for hiring data. Ranks were determined by the percentage of 2010 graduates who took jobs as first-year associates at NLJ 250 law firms. We determined the percentage by using the 2010 juris doctor graduating class size provided by each school. The ranking does not reflect law school graduates who took jobs as judicial clerks after graduation.