Proximity For Partner

The NYTimes reported on a new study that shows that law school proximity matters for big-law partner prospects. And it may matter more than the rank of the law school. "The study is called Does Law School Still Make Economic Sense? An Empirical Analysis of ‘Big Law’ Firm Partnership Prospects and the Relationship to Law School Attended [and] will be published in the May issue of the Buffalo Law Review."

The study looked at "33,000 lawyers at the largest 115 law firms in the country [and] found that the dozen highest ranked law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Northwestern, had a high correlation between their status and the number of alumni who made partner." No surprise there.

"But some of the other 100 schools examined showed greater differences between their ranking and their alumni partner numbers.... For example, Suffolk University Law School in Boston is not ranked nationally but it has 167 graduates who are partners in top law firms.... Over all, it trails Harvard, Yale and two other New England law schools in partner numbers, but its strong performance ... shows that geographical proximity to a major legal market may be a good predictor of 'big law' career success."

As further indicia that proximity matters for partner prospects, "[a]lumni who are law firm partners in New York were from, in descending order, law schools at Columbia, Harvard, Fordham, Georgetown, Brooklyn, Yale and University of Pennsylvania. In Washington, the greatest number of partners found in the study came from Georgetown, Harvard, George Washington, University of Virginia and Catholic University. Similarly, in Chicago, the partners graduated from Northwestern, University of Chicago and University of Illinois."

And "Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, for example, is ranked nationally as No. 108 among the 200 accredited law schools, but is listed in the study as No. 32 for the number of alumni who become partners at the largest law firms."

Ultimately, the study found that "[t]aking everything into account, students double their chances of law firm partnership by attending Harvard or the University of Chicago rather than any school with annual tuition of less than $50,000." 

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