The winter holidays and the new year are almost upon us, so why not let some new law school rankings bring you good cheer? The Princeton Review recently released its annual law school ranking, covering the best 168 law schools in the country (up from 164 last year, but disregarding the fact that there are ~200 law schools with varying degrees of accreditation by the American Bar Association). Our condolences to the thirty-odd law schools that were unable to make the cut for the Princeton Review’s 2021 edition of the rankings — it must sting knowing that your institution is part of the small sliver of law schools that aren’t among the “best.”
We’ve focused on one of the 14 rankings categories that we thought people would be the most interested in: The law schools where graduates have the best career prospects. It wasn’t long ago that the Princeton Review’s loose definition of “career prospects” meant an entire class of law graduates could be putting the “bar” in “barista,” but thankfully the methodology was changed about six years ago, and these career rankings actually mean something now.
Princeton Review’s “Best Career Prospects” results are now based on highly relevant data reported by law school administrators, including median starting salaries, the percentage of students employed in jobs requiring bar passage (and not employed by the school), and the percentage of students who were able to pass the bar exam on their first try. The Princeton Review also relies on responses from student surveys.
Here are the top 10 law schools on the Princeton Review’s “Best Career Prospects” list for 2022. Things changed a bit for T14 schools this year:
1. New York University School of Law (no change)
2. Stanford University School of Law (no change)
3. University of Virginia School of Law (ranked #4 last year)
4. Duke University School of Law (ranked #5 last year)
5. University of Michigan Law School (ranked #3 last year)
6. Harvard University Law School (no change)
7. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law (ranked #9 last year)
8. University of Chicago Law School (ranked #7 last year)
9. University of California Berkeley School of Law (ranked #10 last year)
10. Columbia University School of Law (ranked #8 last year)
What happened to create such shuffling in the rankings? For the answer, let’s return to Princeton Review’s methodology. Each law school was given a “career rating,” which on top of all of the statistical data reported by law school administrators, includes the following information:
This rating measures the confidence students have in their school’s ability to lead them to fruitful employment opportunities, as well as the school’s own record of having done so. This rating takes into account both student survey responses and school-reported statistical data. We ask students about how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships, and clerkships; and how prepared to practice law they expect to feel after graduating.
Princeton Review continues to rely much too heavily on students’ feedback over actual data. Once again, people who felt like they’d get great jobs were more important than the people who were actually able to get great jobs. For example, this may be why NYU Law, with ~82% of the class of 2020 employed in full-time, long-term jobs where bar passage was required (discounting 26 school-funded positions) is in first place, while Columbia Law, with ~93% of the class of 2020 employed in full-time, long-term jobs where bar passage was required (discounting five school-funded positions) is in tenth place.
Did your law school make the cut? If it did, do you think it was ranked fairly? If it didn’t make the list for best career prospects, do you agree with that assessment? Please email us or text us (646-820-8477) with your thoughts.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.