I've been aggregating data from a handful of law school data sets, and I thought it might be useful to provide some "microrankings" derived from that data. The first: elite public interest employment.
Public interest employment is perhaps the most underdiscussed aspect of law school employment outcomes. It may be because it doesn't pay well, like elite law firms. Or it may be a skepticism from many that anyone "chooses" public interest work given debt loads.
But there are thousands who enter the legal work force each year in public interest work, and many of them who don't choose it as a "fallback" position but who are genuinely interested in such work. (In a prestige-obsessed legal culture, it can be hard for some to accept.) One way to measure that, I thought, would be through a measurement of "elite" public interest work--which, I guess, is a concession to a prestige-obsessed legal culture.
The Skadden Fellowship Foundation awards one of the most prestigious and coveted public interest-related positions one can obtain--so prestigious, David Lat meticulously tracks the placement each year alongside the placement of Bristow Fellows or Supreme Court clerks.
Another set of coveted fellowships come from Equal Justice Works, which helps place students in Equal Justice Works Fellowships and as AmeriCorps Legal Fellows.
Fortunately, each site maintains comprehensive records of recent placement. I looked at each school's placement for these fellowships over the last three years (Skadden, 2012-2014; EJW, 2011-2013).
Part of this microranking is a "score," which scores the school on a 20-80 scale based upon its relative performance. The top school, on a percentage basis, will score an 80; the schools who placed none will score a 20; and others will fall on a spectrum based upon their relative performance. Like many rankings, this will illustrate that there is a "pyramid" of placement: the farther down the ranking one goes, the more compressed the schools are among the scores.
I thought a three-year average for two sets of fellowships (nearly 400 in all) would be a useful metric. Admittedly, these are not many positions, but they are not few, either. Certainly, one may quibble as to whether these, and these only, are "elite" public interest positions. These and other usual caveats apply.
The "placement" is the three-year total placement; the "percentage" is the three-year placement divided by the three-year graduating class total. I thought I'd call this a "microranking," as it is a ranking of a single, narrow metric. Thoughts posted below the table.
|Three-Year Average Elite Public Interest Graduate Placement
|65*||CALIFORNIA-IRVINE, UNIVERSITY OF||1||1.8%|
|59||CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF||14||1.5%|
|55||CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES, UNIVERSITY OF||14||1.4%|
|54||CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK||5||1.3%|
|50||ILLINOIS, UNIVERSITY OF||7||1.2%|
|NEW YORK UNIVERSITY||17||1.2%|
|48||WASHINGTON, UNIVERSITY OF||6||1.1%|
|46||CALIFORNIA-DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF||6||1.0%|
|SOUTH DAKOTA, UNIVERSITY OF||2||1.0%|
|MICHIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF||11||1.0%|
|40||CINCINNATI, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.8%|
|DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA||2||0.8%|
|39||PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF||6||0.7%|
|38||TOLEDO, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.7%|
|37||CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF||4||0.7%|
|36||NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY||3||0.6%|
|34||BUFFALO-SUNY, UNIVERSITY OF||4||0.6%|
|IOWA, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.5%|
|TEXAS AT AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF||6||0.5%|
|WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY||2||0.5%|
|WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY||2||0.5%|
|32||OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY||3||0.5%|
|SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.5%|
|MIAMI, UNIVERSITY OF||5||0.4%|
|MINNESOTA, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.4%|
|WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY||2||0.4%|
|WISCONSIN, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.4%|
|APPALACHIAN SCHOOL OF LAW||1||0.3%|
|CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY||2||0.3%|
|GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY||2||0.4%|
|NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY||1||0.3%|
|28||CALIFORNIA-HASTINGS, UNIVERSITY OF||4||0.3%|
|INDIANA UNIVERSITY - BLOOMINGTON||2||0.3%|
|27||ARIZONA SUMMIT LAW SCHOOL||1||0.3%|
|AVE MARIA SCHOOL OF LAW||1||0.3%|
|CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW||3||0.3%|
|ST. MARY'S UNIVERSITY||2||0.3%|
|VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF||3||0.3%|
|26||CALIFORNIA WESTERN SCHOOL OF LAW||2||0.2%|
|LOUISVILLE, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY-LOS ANGELES||3||0.2%|
|MARYLAND, UNIVERSITY OF||2||0.2%|
|SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY||2||0.2%|
|ST. THOMAS, UNIVERSITY OF (MINNESOTA)||1||0.2%|
|WHITTIER LAW SCHOOL||1||0.2%|
|25||BALTIMORE, UNIVERSITY OF||2||0.2%|
|KANSAS, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY||2||0.2%|
|NOTRE DAME, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY||2||0.2%|
|OKLAHOMA CITY UNIVERSITY||1||0.2%|
|OKLAHOMA, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY||1||0.2%|
|SOUTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL||2||0.2%|
|24||ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY||1||0.2%|
|BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL||2||0.1%|
|DETROIT MERCY, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY||1||0.2%|
|JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL||2||0.2%|
|LEWIS AND CLARK COLLEGE||1||0.2%|
|SAN FRANCISCO, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.2%|
|SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW||2||0.2%|
|THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW||1||0.1%|
|WILLIAM AND MARY LAW SCHOOL||1||0.2%|
|23||CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA||1||0.1%|
|CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW-IIT||1||0.1%|
|DENVER, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.1%|
|GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY||2||0.1%|
|HOUSTON, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.1%|
|INDIANA UNIVERSITY - INDIANAPOLIS||1||0.1%|
|LOYOLA UNIVERSITY-NEW ORLEANS||1||0.1%|
|MCGEORGE SCHOOL OF LAW||1||0.1%|
|NEW ENGLAND LAW | BOSTON||1||0.1%|
|NORTH CAROLINA, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.1%|
|SAN DIEGO, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.1%|
|SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY||1||0.1%|
|SETON HALL UNIVERSITY||1||0.1%|
|22||FLORIDA COASTAL SCHOOL OF LAW||1||0.1%|
|FLORIDA, UNIVERSITY OF||1||0.1%|
|NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL||1||0.1%|
|21||THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL||1||0.0%|
|*denotes only one year's data|
Note: due to rounding, some schools may appear to have similar percentages but have different ranks, or vice versa.
A few thoughts.
First, the top public interest schools are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the top "overall" schools.
Second, UC-Irvine's rank as #2 overall is awfully deceptive, given that it placed one student from an extremely small graduating class of 56. But I thought it would be unfair to exclude the school entirely.
Third, Northeastern's placement is notable. It not only has one of the highest public interest placement rates in the country, but its novel first-year curriculum orients students toward public interest. Its placement is high even among "elite" public interest opportunities.