This annual special report focuses on what, for many law students, is the bottom line: ­whether they stand any chance in hell of landing a coveted ­associateship at a major law firm. We found that the picture was marginally brighter — but that isn’t saying much. We also examine trends in the hiring market, including a decline in large-firm participation in on-campus interviews. It’s less that they no longer believe in the cattle show — although one firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, has come up with an alternative that it likes — than that firms have fewer entry-level jobs to fill. Some elite law graduates, meanwhile, are finding a new appreciation for the charms of midsize firms.


These schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 firms.

The schools that NLJ 250 firms most relied upon for first-year associates.

Our top 50 go-to schools ranked by tuition.

The schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner during 2012.

The schools that outperformed their U.S. News & World report ranking in placing graduates at NLJ 250 firms.

Methodology: Data for this Go-To Law Schools special report were provided by the law firms surveyed for the NLJ 250, The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms by headcount. For firms that did not submit new associate numbers, we relied on data from ALM Media’s RivalEdge database and independent reporting. We determined rankings by the percentage of 2012 juries doctor graduates who took associate jobs at NLJ 250 firms. In all, we have data from 248 firms covering 4,429 graduates. The two missing firms are Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and King & Spalding. The rankings do not reflect law graduates who took clerkships following graduation.


Skipping interviews ‘a wonderful reprieve’ for students and firm
Quinn Emanuel created a buzz in March when it announced it was abandoning the on-campus model — in which firms show up on law school campuses for several days of back-to-back, 20-minute interviews with second-year students seeking summer-associate jobs — in favor of spring cocktail receptions for students at six top law schools, where first-year students mingled with Quinn Emanuel attorneys.

On-campus interviewing takes a hit
Interviewing remains a big deal at many of the nation’s top law schools, however, and pretty much the only way to snag an associate position at the largest law firms.

Midsize firms are happy to sort through the remainders
Slow hiring at their larger competitors makes them more attractive to the elite class of law school graduates.