Robert Anderson

Associate Professor Pepperdine University School of Law

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« Bloated Is Better for Law School Rankings | Main | A Last Word on the Seto Rankings »

12/18/2012

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Shouldn't the number of partners produced be relevant to the discussion of feeder schools to the largest 100 law firms? Even if, per capita, Chicago produces a large number of partners, at the end of the day, there are more partners from other schools doing the hiring. Thus, to the extent partners look to hire associates from their alma maters, one would anticipate that the more partners from a law school in practice, the more likely that a student from that law school would be hired.

James, I think that's a great point and one I actually considered addressing in the post but didn't to keep it short. You are probably right that the number of partners already within a firm is helpful for students' outcomes on a per-capita basis. This could be because of conscious or unconscious preference given to alumni from one's own school. A "critical mass" of partners can be a beachhead for an upstart school to expand its employment prospects, and a dominating presence could reinforce the lock of an "establishment" school.

However, Seto's data looks back so far in time (to 1986) that any such effect should be reflected in the per-capita numbers *now*. In other words, to the extent that the "beachhead" or "establishment" effects help current students, we should see that effect in current per-capita numbers, which is the data that would be most relevant in decision-making.

Where raw numbers might be interesting is the case where a school had made large gains in partner representation in recent years, which might foreshadow per-capita success in the future. That's not what Seto's ranking measures, however.

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