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Columbia Ranks #1 for Job Prospects; Baylor Is Tops for Competitiveness

Vivia Chen

October 9, 2012

Piggybank_© Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.comIf you're thinking of applying to law school, here's another list to help (or confuse) you in the decision. Personally, I find these lists a bit annoying and misleading. But like everyone else, I can't resist checking them out.

Here is Princeton Review's 2013 tally of "best" law schools in an array of categories. According to the press release, the results are based on its surveys of 18,000 students at 168 law schools:

Best law schools for career prospects (in order of ranking):

1. Columbia

2. U. of Chicago

3. UC Berkeley

4. Northwestern

5. NYU

6. Harvard

7. U. Penn

8. U. Michigan

9. Stanford

10. UVA

Best Professors Duke

Best Classroom Experience  Stanford

Most Competitive Students Baylor

Most Conservative Students Ave Maria

Most Liberal Students  Northeastern

Toughest to Get Into  Yale

For those of you keeping score, Columbia beat out Northwestern, which held the top spot in the job category last year. The New York Post says that Columbia "clawed its way to the top perch in the category 'Best Career Prospects' from a third-place ranking last year, after not even cracking the top 10 the year before." This year, Columbia grabbed the top ranking because it "managed to get 99 percent of its graduates a gig within nine months of leaving," and reported an average starting salary of $160,000 (Law School Transparency might quibble with those stats).

As a graduate of that "downtown" institution, NYU School of Law, let me make the case why I think it should trump Columbia. First, NYU's Greenwich Village location is far cooler than being all the way uptown in Morningside Heights (is that still Manhattan?); second, the students at NYU are more irreverent and fun (did I mention that downtown thing?); third, NYU holds a respectable ranking in the job category (okay, so fifth place is not the same as first—but NYU still beat Harvard).

In any case, you'll notice that the toughest law school to get into in the country didn't even make the top 10 list for jobs. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, because we all know that Yale law students are way too lofty to trouble themselves with mundane concerns like working in a law firm. That said, anyone who gets into Yale goes.

Which brings me to the law school that you might want to skip: Baylor, which gets the dubious honor of having the most competitive students in the nation. Law school is already unpleasant enough, so who needs fellow students who are out to get you? (Recall also that Baylor accidentally sent a spreadsheet detailing individual LSAT scores and GPAs of the entering class to its accepted students this year, which probably didn't ease the competitive environment.) What's more, the prize doesn't seem to be worth the strain: Baylor grads make a modest $59,600 as the starting salary.

Besides, you really want to spend three years in Waco?

Hat tip: ABA Blog.

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I'll jump in and be the fourth to defend Baylor. The competition is not among the students--it really is against the professors. Baylor students are generally supportive of each other; they have to be in order to survive.

I agree with the other Baylor comments. While Baylor requires much of its students, it is not cutthroat competitive. I find it odd that Ms. Chen would not consult the actual survey before making a statement such as: "Law school is already unpleasant enough, so who needs fellow students who are out to get you?"

I agree that the environment at Baylor is not competitive, just very stressful - but well worth every minute of it.

I don't think Baylor is all that competitive. When I went there the students always helped each other and worked together to survive. The way this ranking is done is that they look at the hours of sleep a student gets, the number of hours they spend studying etc. The only reason Baylor scores at the top is because third year there is miserable. Baylor has a high stress third year trial program.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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