Is it the name or is the old real estate adage, "location, location, location," the prevailing factor in choosing the right law school? An interesting survey released by Vault.com researched law school grad's evaluation of the best Law Schools for new attorney employment, based on location. And we all know that is the ultimate prize-finding that great job after completing (or some might say enduring) three years of legal education.
Vault notes that choosing the right law school is still primarily based upon where the future attorney hopes to land since it is important to be trained to pass the bar exam in the state where you want to practice. Does that trump the rankings when making a choice between a nationally ranked law school and one in the city where you ultimately plan to practice?
Vault gathered input from 15,000 associates at big law firms about where they attended law school, then ranked schools nationally and regionally based on those numbers. The Top Ten schools nationally for associate employment at big firms starts with predictable contenders such as Harvard, Georgetown and Columbia. But if you ask associates in the Midwest the same question, none of those schools appear on the list, they are instead replaced by regional contenders Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri. It is also no surprise that when making the evaluation of major city hires, the top employment in Atlanta--for example--comes from Georgia State and the University of Georgia Law Schools and in Chicago it is Northwestern and the University of Illinois. Much of this, no doubt, has to do with where the big firms in those cities choose to recruit. But the survey does emphasize the importance of considering the location of the school in a prospective law student's choice, because it is such a prevailing factor on employment at the city, state and regional level.
Vault notes that this survey shows employment numbers of law grads from different schools, indicating where graduates have the best job opportunities. The numbers do not measure the quality of the graduates themselves--those stats are listed in Vault's Top 25 Law Schools Ranking, where grads from various schools are ranked by firms and recruiters based on graduates' skill levels.