While it can be tough to get into elite law schools, the real challenge happens post-graduation: securing a good job.
Law-school enrollment remains high — 39,984 students graduated in the class of 2015 — but the prestigious degree no longer holds the same clout that it once did, and an oversaturation of lawyers has left graduates struggling in the job market.
For the class of 2010, only 40% of graduates were working at law firms by 2015, and 20% of the class held jobs that didn’t even require a law license.
Even many who do land at a law firm can struggle to pay off the crushing debt. Law students incur an average loan burden of $84,000 by the time they graduate from a public school and $122,158 by the time they graduate from a private school, according to the American Bar Association.
But only about 17% of 2014 graduates employed at law firms full-time were making the coveted $160,000 salary, while half reported salaries of $40,000 to $65,000.
So, to determine which law schools stand as the best in the country, Business Insider focused on the institutions that lead to top jobs in the legal world. Using data from the ABA, the ranking primarily homed in on the percentage of graduates who land full-time, long-term, highly coveted jobs, which includes positions at big law firms that pay well — those with over 251 employees — and federal clerkships, which are difficult to secure and frequently set up successful careers.
The ranking also took into consideration the percentage of graduates with full-time, long-term jobs that require passing the bar, the percentage that are unemployed but seeking employment, bar-passage rate, tuition, and median LSAT scores. You can read more about our methodology here.
Placing a higher weight on jobs — and no weight on selectivity or reputation — yielded unexpected results. The University of Pennsylvania earned the top spot, followed by the University of Chicago at No. 2. The law programs at Yale and Harvard, perennially ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in other rankings, came in 10th and third, respectively.
Continue on to check out the full list.
Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Yarborough and Alexa Pipia.
Edited by Alex Morrell and Sara Silverstein.
DON’T MISS: The 50 best colleges in America
50. Seton Hall University
Location: Newark, New Jersey
Percent of graduates with highly coveted positions: 7%
Bar passage rate: 83%
Median LSAT score: 157
The only private law school in New Jersey, Seton Hall offers instruction in the areas of health, intellectual property, public interest and public policy, and social justice. About 80% of graduates secured full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar-exam passage.
49. Louisiana State University
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Percent of graduates with highly coveted positions: 6%
Bar passage rate: 84%
Median LSAT score: 155
In addition to a traditional law degree in common law, Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Herbert Law Center also gives students the option to earn an additional degree in civil law, which the school describes as a “blend of Roman, Spanish, and French legal traditions.” After graduation, 70% of LSU law students secure full-time, long-term jobs that require passing the bar.
48. University of Kansas
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Percent of graduates with highly coveted positions: 10%
Bar passage rate: 86%
Median LSAT score: 156
Law students at the University of Kansas can complete dual-degree programs in several areas, including business, journalism, and communications. Tuition for the public school is the third-lowest on our list at $35,328.