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Didn't Get into Yale Law? Penn May Be the Next Best Thing.

Vivia Chen

May 2, 2013

BenFranklin.450px-KeysToCommunityMy head has been spinning from all of those law school rankings. It used to be so simple—just pick your school according to U.S. News & World Report and be done with it. Now everyone's grandmother seems to have an angle on law school rankings.

Above the Law has just thrown its hat into this mess with its own list of top 50 law schools based on a readers' survey. It is refreshingly simple—it's all about how graduates fare in the legal job market. As ATL aptly puts it: "Most people attend law school to obtain jobs as lawyers. (Not butchers or bakers, or candlestick makers.)"

The list is also unabashedly elitiest (get over it: law is elitist)—giving greater weight to schools that send a high percentage of their grads to the nation’s top 250 law firms or federal judicial clerkships. To a lesser extent, ATL also considered the cost of tuition at the various schools.

So here are ATL's top 10 schools. (The U.S. News ranking below is provided courtesy of the ABA Blog):

1) Yale (also ranked first by U.S. News)

2) Stanford (tied for second place by U.S. News)

3) Harvard (tied for second place by U.S. News)

4) University of Chicago (tied for fourth place by U.S. News)

5) University of Pennsylvania (tied for seventh place by U.S. News)

6) Duke (ranked 11th by U.S. News)

7) University of Virginia (tied for seventh place by U.S. News)

8) Columbia (ranked fourth by U.S. News)

9) University of California at Berkeley (tied for ninth place by U.S. News)

10) New York University (ranked sixth by U.S. News)

The top four, in particular, are totally predictable. What's notable, though, are the schools that underperformed their U.S. News ranking: Columbia and NYU. (Hey, big-city hotshots, what's going on?)

But what's really interesting to me is how well Penn and Duke did, relative to their U.S. News ranking. And, though I'm tired of doing it, I am forced again to sing the praises of Penn (remember, it's the favorite hunting ground of Big Law, and the Wharton School offers a special certificate for Penn law students). Now, ATL has given Penn the prize for "Best Employment" and "Best Quality Jobs." What's more, students gave Penn "A-plus" for both academics and career counseling, and an "A" for social life. I mean, what else could you ask for?

Besides all that, Penn just got a Webby People's Voice Award in the law category for its website . As The National Law Journal reports: "The Webbys are widely considered the most prestigious Internet awards."

So on top of being a school with fabulous employment prospects and a fun social life (in Philadelphia—really?), Penn even has a cool website. What's going on there? Is Penn really that hip and wonderful, or does it have the best PR machine ever? What's the scoop, folks?

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.


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In Philadelphia? Yes, really. Amazing school in an amazing city.

Penn also has (one of?) the best journals in the nations!

Penn Law is a fantastic place to be in all ways. I currently attend it, and having finished the toughest year, I am still singing praise for Penn! Everything written in the article is true - the job prospects are great, the professors are brilliant (ok maybe the article didn't say that), and the social scene is great for a setting that requires so much dedication. It truly is a collegial place - PR isn't just touting this idea for no reason!

Same from back in the 80s and 90s. This school long has been a jewel. Fun, supportive, collegial, connected, and small. It is also rather well integrated into an amazing university and a terrific city in which to study and contemplate the law, policy, and leadership. Links to Wharton, short train ride to NYC and DC. What's not to like?

I am a 2001 PennLaw grad and truly enjoyed my time at the school. If its anything like it was then, its a fantastic choice for any student!

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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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