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Stay Put After Taking the LSAT, Philadelphia Students

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Where should students from the City of Brotherly Love apply to law school after taking the LSAT? Philadelphia, of course.

Loyola professor Theodore Seto has created a stir with his recent publication ranking law schools by their representation in the partnerships of the top 100 law firms. Using the rigorous scientific method known as “counting them,” Seto published his list in an attempt to show employment outcomes for the nation’s top schools. While there’s no surprise that schools such as Harvard, Georgetown and NYU top the list, there were a few others shockers. For example, Yale wasn’t in the top 10, but George Washington was.

Admittedly, Seto didn’t account for class size in his totals. So even though GW might have more partners than Yale, that’s most likely a relic of Yale’s relatively small class size.

It doesn’t change the fact that there are, in fact, more partners out there from GW than from Yale, creating an alumni network in law firms for graduates of the former institution. While a Yale diploma carries prestige, a strong alumni network in the field that you plan on entering can be just as helpful.

So what’s this mean for me and my impending LSAT? Philadelphia Blueprint students might be asking.

I’m getting there.

As Philly.com’s Drew Singer points out, despite the lower rank afforded them by the USNWR largely based on average scores on the LSAT, Philadelphia area schools performed unexpectedly well in the rankings. While the smoke is still clearing on the recent Villanova censure over fraudulent reporting of data like scores on the LSAT, Philadelphia staple Temple tied Miami at 26 (compared to its USNWR ranking of 61), one slot ahead of Notre Dame. Villanova came in at 35 (versus its 84 and probably falling USNWR rankings), and the unranked Widener slipped in at 70.

While a few degrees travel nationally and thus increase the number of partners at top firms as they travel between areas (think Harvard and Georgetown), most others appeal to local markets. As there is demand for Big Law in Philly but relatively few people from top schools who will abandon the larger markets, the firms have to turn somewhere to fill their ranks with potential partners. So while New York might be dominated by people with a higher scores on the LSAT, Philadelphia firms are pulling from schools at a lower rank with solid results.

That doesn’t mean you can cruise carelessly through the LSAT, Philadelphia students, but it reinforces Seto’s main point: “Hiring and partnering by the NLJ 100 are remarkably local; law school rank is much less important than location.”

So after taking the LSAT, Philadelphia students (as well as all our other students in smaller markets) might want to look down the road instead of out of state for their legal education.

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