Go-To Law Schools banner620x372

Three Texas institutions are among the top 50 law schools feeding the most graduates into Big Law.

The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas and the University of Houston Law Center all ranked on an exclusive listing of go-to law schools by Law.com, a website by ALM Media, Texas Lawyer’s parent company. The list shows the top 50 schools based on the percentage of 2017 graduates who took associate jobs at the 100 U.S. firms with the most lawyers.

On the national level, the top 100 law firms in the United States hired 4,199 law graduates in 2017. The 50 law schools that were the most popular with those firms saw 29 percent of their law graduates landing associate jobs.

Texas ranked 17th among the top 50 schools. Among its 326 grads, 93 grads, or 29 percent, entered jobs at the top 100 firms. The firms that hired the largest numbers of Texas grads were: Norton Rose Fulbright, with eight graduates; Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins, with seven each; and Latham & Watkins and Shearman & Sterling, with five each.

David Montoya, assistant dean for career services at Texas, said he’s happy that 29 percent of his grads entered the top 100 firms, and he’s not surprised at the list of firms that hired the most of his grads.

“The Fulbright & Jaworski Texas roots run very deep here, and of course the merger changed the name, but the Texas presence is still very solid with recruitment efforts here at Texas law,” he said, adding that Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins also have strong Texas histories. “In any given year, one of those could very well be No. 1 for recruiting here.”

Southern Methodist ranked No. 28 on the list. Among its 236 graduates, 15 percent or 36 grads went to work at the top 100 firms. The firms hiring the most from Southern Methodist were: Haynes and Boone, with nine graduates; Vinson & Elkins, with four; and Jones Day and Sidley Austin, with three each.

“I’m thrilled. Dallas is a great legal market: We have amazing firms and more of the largest firms are moving into the Dallas market. I think that’s what is showing,” said Karen Sargent, assistant dean and executive director of Southern Methodist’s office of career services. She’s not surprised that Haynes and Boone hired so many Southern Methodist grads. “They have always been a strong supporter of the school.”

Houston came in at No. 43 on the list. It sent 10 percent of its graduates—or 22 out of 231—into the top 100 firms. The firms that hired the most Houston graduates were: Baker Botts, with four grads; Locke Lord, with three; and two grads each at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Kirkland & Ellis and Norton Rose Fulbright.

“One of the things we try to stress is our students are able to do everything, and it’s great they do end up doing anything and everything in terms of career. I’m pleased we’re in the top 50 of almost 200 law schools, in terms of students going into big firms,” said Houston law dean Leonard Baynes. “It’s not bad being in the top three in the state of Texas, out of 10 law schools.”

Law.com also examined which law schools had the most alumni promoted to partner in 2017. Texas ranked fourth on this metric, with 30 alumni promoted from associate to partner. Southern Methodist came in 20th here, with 16 alumni who became partners. Houston wasn’t listed for this metric.

To investigate law schools for the go-to list, Law.com collected data on 146 law schools—more information than can run in print. Here are details on the number of grads from other Texas law schools who took jobs with the top 100 firms.

  • Baylor University School of Law: 5 of 132 graduates, or 4 percent
  • South Texas College of Law Houston: 5 of 298 graduates, or 2 percent
  • St. Mary’s University School of Law: 1 of 197 graduates, or 0.5 percent
  • Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law: no data
  • Texas Tech University School of Law: 2 of 197 graduates, or 1 percent
  • Texas A&M University School of Law: 1 of 184 graduates, or 0.5 percent
  • University of North Texas Dallas College of Law: no data

Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports