Another Set of Law School Rankings; ATL Emphasizes Employment

By William Peacock, Esq. on May 07, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Without even perusing Above the Law’s 2013 Top 50 Law School Rankings, we were certain of one thing: they beat the heck out of Thomas M. Cooley’s Judging the Law Schools Rankings (which emphasize the number of chairs in the library — Thomas M. Cooley is #2, right behind Harvard!).

No ma’am, ATL’s rankings emphasize something far more important to grads and pre-L’s everywhere: actual legal employment. As the glorious blog quipped, “Most people attend law school to become lawyers. Not butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers.” Bonus points are awarded for BigLaw and clerkships.

Other significant factors include school costs and alumni satisfaction. Insignificant factors include LSAT scores, GPA, scholarships, and other things that have no impact whatsoever on post-law school life.

What was the result? Here are the top five per ATL, with their US News Ranking in parenthesis:

  1. Yale Law (1)
  2. Stanford Law (2, tie)
  3. Harvard Law (2, tie)
  4. University of Chicago Law (4, tie)
  5. University of Pennsylvania Law (7, tie)

Nothing too surprising there. Top tier schools tend to do well when it comes to employment, obviously. A surprising inclusion was the great Washington and Lee at #38 (USNWR #26), which birthed this lawyer/blogger, yet according to U.S. News, only had a 27.9 percent employment rate at graduation.

(It's hard getting people to travel to backwoods Lexington, Virginia to interview students. When they do show up, however, they fall in love. Hence, the A+ ratings for Alumni and current student satisfaction.)

Who missed the cut? UC Hastings (USNWR #48). Sorry, everyone I work with. Don't stab me at the foosball table. (Editor's Note: Grrrrr.)

The ATL rankings are an interesting alternative to traditional or hilariously inept rankings. However, some have already chimed with criticism in the comments section, including the valid point that the emphasis on clerkships and BigLaw makes these rankings less useful for those seeking other types of employment. And yes, Virginia, other types of employment do exist. They're called public defenders and prosecutors, professors, U.S. Attorneys, and ... bloggers.

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