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April 1, 2011

U of C Law grads named most attractive in the hiring pool

Top law firms are tapping the U of C Law School for talent more aggressively than at any other law school.

According to the National Law Journal (NLJ), 58.97 percent of Law School graduates have secured positions in the country’s largest firms, a higher percentage than any peer institutions, including all of the Ivy Leagues.

The study used the “NLJ 250,” the journal’s annual assessment of the law firms with the most full-time employees. In the past, the journal relied only on active lawyers for their calculations, but this year it changed its method to provide a broader conception of the firms.

Associate Dean of the Law School’s Career Services and Public Initiatives Abbie Willard has some hesitations about the new methods. “They said that we had 58.97 percent go to the NLJ 250; we actually had over 70 percent go,” she said. “Traditionally a lot of students do self-select to come to the University of Chicago because we do have such success with large law firms.”

The Law School graduates approximately 200 students annually and has always performed well in the annual NLJ study, but recent graduates are also making other significant decisions with their futures, according to Willard.

“We also had an increase for the class of 2010 from five percent to 10 percent of people who went into public service, and we’re just as happy about that as we are about the 70-plus percent that go into big law,” Willard said.

The study also did not account for students who become judicial clerks, which is a common option for graduates. Willard cautioned that the “NLJ 250” is not necessarily the best way to rank law schools.

“You want to look at where they go, but you also want to look at their self-report in terms of the kind of education that they get,” she said. “One of the things that distinguishes the University of Chicago is that people who come here tend to love the program and tend to feel that it really makes their capacity to have a broad range of opportunities later in their career.”

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