The U.S. economy began to rebound in 2011, but that was not enough to convince law firms to ramp up associate hiring. Most law schools sent smaller percentages of their 2011 classes into first-year associate jobs at the nation’s largest 250 law firms than they did in 2010. Among the 50 schools most popular with hiring firms, 22 percent of 2011 graduates landed associate jobs — down from 27 percent in 2010.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by the percentage of 2011 juris doctor graduates who took jobs at NLJ 250 firms, the nation’s largest by headcount as identified by The National Law Journal‘s annual survey. We’ve also identified firm favorites — the schools where NLJ 250 firms recruited the most graduates. Finally, we have identified the law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner in 2011.

— Karen Sloan

Elite firms seem to have lost their appetites
With firms becoming ever more discriminating, the era of massive associate classes appears at an end.


Straight from the hiring partner’s mouth
We queried hiring partners at four NLJ 250 firms about their summer-associate hiring outlook and what qualities they seek in new lawyers. The partners spoke on condition of anonymity in order to be as candid as possible about their internal hiring processes.


The Go-To Law Schools
The 50 law schools with the highest percentage of graduates who go on to NLJ 250 firms.

Firm Favorites
The schools that top NLJ 250 firms relied upon most to supply first-year associates.

Associates to Partner
Law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner in 2011.

Cost-benefit analysis of law school tuition

Law school tuition crossed the $50,000 barrier during 2011, but the costliest schools didn’t necessarily afford the best law firm job prospects.