Thanks to the new granular employment data reported by law schools to the American Bar Association, we can try to evaluate student outcomes by a variety of metrics. I thought I'd try to rank schools by "elite employment outcomes" from the Class of 2012 data.
This ranking looks at two employment figures: full-time, long-term bar passage-required employment in firms of 101 or more attorneys; and federal clerkships.
No ranking is perfect, and this one is no exception. There are plenty of "elite" jobs that are not at law firms of more than 100 attorneys, particularly elite public interest positions, financial sector or other JD-preferred positions, or academic positions for those with a joint JD-PhD. There are "elite" boutiques with 100 or fewer attorneys. Not all federal clerkships are created equal. But this is at least a rough metric of two objective elements.
One additional complicating factor is the existence of school-funded positions. I opted to discount the employment rate by the school-funded rate for all full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment. Unfortunately, schools do not report the size of the firms for students receiving school-funded positions, and it may be that there are fewer school-funded positions at larger firms than smaller firms. But, with the metrics I have, I opted to include the rough discount across the board and accept the lack of precision.
Finally, I decided to visualize the rankings, because sometimes numerical rankings don't indicate the gaps in performance. There are fourteen schools that had over 50% of their students obtain elite employment outcomes; the fifteenth-ranked school was below 40%, which is demonstrated in the gap in the visualization below. I included in the graphic all schools with at least 20%; in the ranking, I included the forty-two schools with at least 15%. (Also of note: fifteen schools had less than 1% of their graduates obtain elite employment outcomes.)
|Class of 2012 data||Class||101+||Less funded||Fed clerks||Total|
|PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF||270||180||175.1||28||75.2%|
|CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF||215||121||110.9||31||66.0%|
|CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF||312||167||167.0||21||60.3%|
|NEW YORK UNIVERSITY||482||287||249.1||27||57.3%|
|VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF||364||174||146.7||45||52.7%|
|CALIFORNIA-IRVINE, UNIVERSITY OF||56||13||13.0||16||51.8%|
|MICHIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF||388||168||166.4||33||51.4%|
|CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES, UNIVERSITY OF||333||114||110.7||16||38.0%|
|SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNIVERSITY OF||221||68||68.0||15||37.6%|
|TEXAS AT AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF||373||100||99.3||31||34.9%|
|NOTRE DAME, UNIVERSITY OF||196||44||43.0||18||31.1%|
|GEORGIA, UNIVERSITY OF||229||40||40.0||20||26.2%|
|GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY||575||157||116.9||22||24.2%|
|ILLINOIS, UNIVERSITY OF||213||47||44.5||4||22.8%|
|NORTH CAROLINA, UNIVERSITY OF||256||42||41.1||12||20.7%|
|WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY||142||22||22.0||7||20.4%|
|WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY||156||23||23.0||7||19.2%|
|HOUSTON, UNIVERSITY OF||262||47||47.0||3||19.1%|
|ALABAMA, UNIVERSITY OF||172||14||14.0||16||17.4%|
|SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY||293||42||42.0||9||17.4%|
|MINNESOTA, UNIVERSITY OF||230||31||29.6||10||17.2%|
|WILLIAM AND MARY LAW SCHOOL||204||26||19.9||12||15.7%|
|WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY||130||14||14.0||6||15.4%|
|CALIFORNIA-HASTINGS, UNIVERSITY OF||443||59||59.0||8||15.1%|
|KENTUCKY, UNIVERSITY OF||147||17||17.0||5||15.0%|
UPDATE: Brian Leiter has included his thoughts here.
I should add that the table includes both the total number in "large" law firms, as well as a discount based on the percentage of full-time, long-term, bar passage-required positions (which is what I use in the underlying percentages). I concede that at many schools, school funding is only available to individuals in government or non-profit work. But I do not have that data. A sound case could be made for an alternative ranking that included all the big law firm employment without any discount.