The 25 best law schools for landing a high-paying job at a big firm

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Cornell Law School graduates celebrate their new degrees.
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Cornell Law School

Earning a law degree was once a sure-fire path to a successful and lucrative career. Law school enrollment remains high, but an oversaturation of lawyers has left graduates struggling in the job market. Even the grads who find jobs aren’t guaranteed a six-figure salary, leaving many stuck under a mountain of student debt.

Which is why Business Insider’s recently released list of the 50 best law schools in the country focused on the institutions that lead to top jobs in the legal world. The ranking primarily homed in on the percentage of graduates who land full-time, long-term, highly coveted jobs, which we narrowed down to two things: positions at big law firms and federal clerkships.

Landing a spot at a large firm all but guarantees financial success – big firms pay significantly more than small ones. And the mega firms tend to play follow-the-leader when it comes to compensation: After a prominent New York City firm raised its base starting salary to $180,000 last month, many other big names followed suit.

We culled data from the American Bar Association to find the schools that funnel the highest percentage of graduates into the largest law firms – those with more than 500 employees. We used overall rank on our main list as a tiebreaker. Read on to see which law schools send the most graduates these companies.

Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Yarborough and Alexa Pipia.


25. Emory University

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Emory University School of Law/Facebook

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:17%

Bar passage rate: 89%

Median LSAT score: 165

Seventy-five percent of Emory Law‘s more than 300 graduates secured long-term, full-time jobs requiring bar passage. The private school, which is known for its public service law program, costs $51,510 per year.


24. University of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame Law School/Facebook

Location: South Bend, Indiana

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 20%

Bar passage rate: 84%

Median LSAT score: 164

The University of Notre Dame law school encourages students to extend their education outside of the US and offers several opportunities to study abroad, including stays at Notre Dame’s programs in London, Chile, or Italy. Grads join the ranks of successful alumni, such as Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.


23. Washington University in St. Louis

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WashULaw/Twitter

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Percent of graduates with highly coveted positions: 32%

Bar passage rate: 86%

Median LSAT score: 167

Post-graduation, a full 100% ofWash U Lawgraduates who were seeking a job secured one last year, with 76% of those positions requiring a law degree. This can be chalked up in part to Wash U’s myriad of opportunities for students to gain real-world experience, including a selection of nine externship opportunities, 18 clinical courses, and six trial teams and moot courts where students can put their skills to the test.


22. Fordham University

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Fordham School of Law Office of Admissions/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 22%

Bar passage rate: 86%

Median LSAT score: 163

Following its motto of “in the service of others,”Fordham University’s school of lawplaces an emphasis on pro bono work, and the class of 2015 racked up nearly 130,000 hours of public interest work during their time in school. This hands-on experience pays off: 67% of graduates secured full-time, long-term jobs where they put their law degree to use.


21. George Washington University

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The George Washington University Law School/Facebook

Location:Washington, D.C.

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 23%

Bar passage rate:86%

Median LSAT score:165

Theoldest law schoolin the nation’s capital, GW Law has the fourth-highest number of graduates (465) on our list. Students can choose from over275 elective coursesand 20 differentspecialized areas of study. The school’s intellectual property law programis among the best in the country.


20. Boston College

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Boston College Law/Twitter

Location: Newton, Massachusetts

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 23%

Bar passage rate: 91%

Median LSAT score: 162

The private law school has a dynamicenvironmental law programthat offers a dual degree with Tufts University to earn an MA in urban planning and environment. In 2015, 77% of Boston College Law graduates secured jobs requiring bar passage.


19. Boston University

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Wikipedia

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 23%

Bar passage rate: 93%

Median LSAT score: 163

Boston Universityboasts one of the highest percentages of women on the list, with female students making up 55% of the class of 2015. BU Law features diversity in its classes as well, offering more than 200 courses that cover almost every type of law, from construction to patents to food, drugs, and cosmetics.


18. Vanderbilt University

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Vanderbilt University Law School/Facebook

Location:Nashville, Tennessee

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 23%

Bar passage rate:93%

Median LSAT score:166

Vanderbilt Law Schoolopened in 1847 as one of the university’s first two departments. It offers nine different programs – including social justice, international, and intellectual property – to JD candidates to focus on a specialized area of law once they complete the first-year core curriculum.


17. University of Texas at Austin

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University of Texas Law/Facebook

Location: Austin, Texas

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 25%

Bar passage rate: 88%

Median LSAT score: 167

Texas Law had one of the largest graduating classes on our list with more than 350 students earning degrees last year. The public school’s renownedtrial advocacy programwas founded nearly 40 years ago and has won 17 national advocacy championships in the past 11 years.


16. University of Southern California

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USC Gould School of Law/Facebook

Location: Los Angeles, California

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 28%

Bar passage rate: 87%

Median LSAT score: 166

The USC Gould School of Lawfeatures tailored programs, such as its Media, Entertainment, and Technology certificate program, that cater to its Los Angeles-based campus and students. Seventy-three percent of graduates land full-time jobs that require passing the bar.


15. University of California at Los Angeles

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UCLA School of Law/Facebook

Location: Los Angeles, California

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:30%

Bar passage rate: 82%

Median LSAT score: 166

AtUCLA Law, students are both taught a spirit of community service and immersed in one through the school’s emphasis on mentorship. Students can take advantage of advice from hands-on professors as well as networking opportunities with UCLA’s alumni base. These connections in part help students land jobs, and a respectable 30% of the class of 2015 procured positions at large law firms with over 500 employees upon graduation.


14. Yale University

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Yale Law School/Facebook

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:30%

Bar passage rate: 92%

Median LSAT score: 173

Students admitted to Yale Law were among the best-performers on the LSAT, with a median score of 173 – tied for the top spot with Harvard. Thirty-four percent of graduates of the Ivy League school landed federal clerkships, the most of any school on our list. Its 81% of graduates that landed full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage was the lowest in the top 10.


13. Georgetown University

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Georgetown Law/Facebook

Location: Washington, D.C.

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:32%

Bar passage rate: 88%

Median LSAT score: 167

Georgetown Lawprepares students well: 88% of graduates pass the bar on the first try. These newly minted lawyers join the ranks of notable Georgetown alumni, including the “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie, former-FCC Chairman Michael Powell, and former-US President Lyndon B. Johnson, although he never graduated.


12. University of California at Berkeley

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UC Berkeley School of Law/Flickr

Location: Berkeley, California

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:35%

Bar passage rate: 88%

Median LSAT score: 166

Berkeley Law is the only top 20 law school on the West Coast aside from Stanford, and it’s revered for its robust intellectual property program and pioneering environmental and energy law programs. Berkeley Law has the highest percentage of women enrolled (56% of students) on our list.


11. University of Michigan

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University of Michigan Law School/Facebook

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees:37%

Bar passage rate: 93%

Median LSAT score: 168

Michigan Law possesses a rich historical background. Three Supreme Court justices have attended the school, and one of its graduates became the first woman with a law degree to be admitted to the state’s bar in 1871. Michigan Law is the second-highest ranked public school on our list.


10. University of Virginia

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University of Virginia School of Law/Facebook

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 44%

Bar passage rate: 94%

Median LSAT score: 168

Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson himself, theUniversity of Virginia School of Lawis one of the oldest in the nation, and it aims to train lawyers who are committed to the ideals of leadership, integrity, and community service. The top public school on our list, UVA Las sends some of the most graduates into federal clerkships in the country, with 16% of the class of 2015 accepting such positions.


9. Stanford University

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Stanford Law/Facebook

Location: Stanford, California

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 44%

Bar passage rate: 90%

Median LSAT score: 171

Students of Stanford Law are paying an estimated $31,005 per year to live in California’s pricey Bay Area, on top of a $56,274 annual tuition price tag. But the return on investment is worth it: 73% of graduates at the West Coast’s top law school secure highly-coveted jobs, with 26% landing of graduates landing federal clerkships.


8. Harvard University

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Harvard Law School/Facebook

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 44%

Bar passage rate: 95%

Median LSAT score: 173

With 68% of students accepting highly coveted jobs right out of school, a law degree fromHarvardproves well worth the investment. But it’s not easy to come by: the median LSAT score of accepted students is 173, tied with Yale as the highest on our list. Harvard Law also boasts several prominent alumni, including President Barack Obama, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.


7. Cornell University

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Cornell Law School

Location: Ithaca, New York

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 48%

Bar passage rate: 92%

Median LSAT score: 167

Annual tuition for Cornell Law School is just shy of $60,000, among the highest on our list. But it pays off: 90% of graduates secured full-time, long-term jobs that required passing the bar. The school is recognized for its opportunities for pro bono work through programs like the Cornell Law School Public Service Challenge. Last year, students completed 1,165 hours of pro bono work.


6. Duke University

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Duke Law School/Facebook

Location:Durham, North Carolina

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 48%

Bar passage rate:94%

Median LSAT score:169

Duke Law‘scurriculumfocuses on areas of law where the demand for jobs will increase in the near future, such as international law, environmental law, and public law. The alma mater ofRichard Nixon and Charlie Rose has the fifth-highest percentage on our list of graduates securing highly coveted jobs. It also has the highest percentage on our list of graduates securing full-time jobs at law firms with 251-500 employees.


5. New York University

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NYU School of Law/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 50%

Bar passage rate: 96%

Median LSAT score: 169

Located in NYC’s Greenwich Village,NYU School of Lawwas founded in 1835 and has gained a stellar reputation for its curriculum, especially its international law and tax law programs. The school has 10 student-run publications, and 87% of graduates secured full-time jobs requiring bar passage.


4. Northwestern University

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Northwestern Law/Facebook

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 51%

Bar passage rate: 87%

Median LSAT score: 168

Out of 4,095 applications, the Pritzker School of Lawenrolled just 213 students (5.2%) for the 2015-2016 academic year. The private institution was founded in 1859 and is renowned for its competitive admissions, with 70% of entering studentspossessing at least two years of full-time work experience.


3. University of Chicago

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Wikimedia Commons

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 54%

Bar passage rate: 92%

Median LSAT score: 170

Graduates of the law school cofounded by John D. Rockefeller are destined for success. University of Chicago’s law school boasts the highest percentage of graduates securing highly coveted jobs (80%) of any school on our list. And more than half of employed grads (54%) find jobs at law firms with over 500 employees.


2. University of Pennsylvania

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Penn Law/Facebook

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 55%

Bar passage rate: 98%

Median LSAT score: 169

Graduates of theUniversity of Pennsylvania’s law school, the No. 1 school for 2016, have no trouble landing top jobs: 75% of grads secure federal clerkships or positions at big law firms, and a full 90% end up in full-time jobs that require passing the bar. These graduates follow in the footsteps of several notable Penn Law alumni, including Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and former Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts.


1. Columbia University

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Columbia Law School/Facebook

Location: New York, New York

Percent of graduates who secure jobs at law firms with over 500 employees: 61%

Bar passage rate: 92%

Median LSAT score: 171

Columbia Law School may be the most expensive school on our list – annual tuition runs $62,700 – but the price tag goes a long way toward securing a great job: 77% of graduates secure full-time, highly coveted jobs at big law firms or in federal clerkships. The school also welcomes diversity: 47% of students are women and 33% are minorities.