Vault-weighted Placement Comparison

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Vault-weighted Placement Comparison

Postby pissantvache » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:25 am

So, since the National Law Journal decided to release a treasure trove of data (on how it computed its go-to law school index), I decided to review the Vault Rank-weighted placement statistics as a means of evaluating the average quality of a school's placement. That is, I assigned a score to each firm that was inversely proportional to the firm's Vault rank (Wachtell got 100, Cravath 99, Skadden 98, and so on), multiplied that by the number of graduates each school placed at that firm, added those scores up, and divided by the total placements that school effected, to determine the average quality of a school's placement.

Without further ado, here are the results (I've also added the name of the firm closest in Vault rank to the score for comparison purposes):

1. Yale (80.02) (Arnold & Porter)
2. Harvard (71.80) (Cadwalader)
3. NYU (69.91) (Fried Frank)
4. Columbia (69.43) (Baker & McKenzie)
5. Boalt (69.08) (Baker & McKenzie)
6. Chicago (67.00) (Proskauer)
7. Stanford (66.92) (Proskauer)
8. Georgetown (64.28) (Goodwin Procter)
9. Northwestern (63.67) (Goodwin Procter)
10. Cornell (59.41) (Winston & Strawn)
11. Penn (57.48) (Fulbright & Jaworski)
12. Duke (56.59) (Fulbright & Jaworski)
13. Michigan (56.39) (Dechert)
14. UVA (53.44) (McDermott Will & Emery)

Obviously, there are a lot of problems with this ranking: First (and somewhat inexplicably), I'm not sure that the NLJ data is all that good. Davis Polk only, apparently, has 6 2012 grads. This doesn't make sense. Paul Weiss isn't even included in the list. Less inexplicably, the magic circle firms also aren't included. This probably did affect the rankings somewhat. For example, Columbia does very well with DPW, and many law review students there select PW over higher rated firms. The fact that NYU has a huge number of grads go to Cleary (included) could, thus, be corrupting the data as between Columbia and NYU.

Second, this ranking--unlike the NLJ's--doesn't account for the number of grads who don't go to Biglaw. So Penn ends up looking emphatically not great in this ranking, but when coupled with its higher placement rates (~60% according to NLJ data), could still be competitive with a higher ranked school like Berkeley (~45%).

Third, and most obviously, the Vault ranking has a lot of problems too, as has been well documented here.

I think the biggest surprise here is Berkeley's strong result, especially vis-a-vis Stanford. I expected NYU/CLS/Harvard/Yale to do well compared against Stanford due to the NYC focus of the Vault rankings, but that Berkeley would maintain nearly the same placement rate as Stanford (a little bit over 47%, compared with 45%), but do so much better in vault placement is a surprise. I suppose one possible mechanism by which this could happen is that lots of Stanford grads pursue prestige boutiques like Keker and Susman, while Berkeley students have less access? I suppose clerkships could have an effect as well, but there my expectation would be that Stanford would look more like Yale where (by hypothesis) the easy availability of clerkships means that inadequate job offers lead students to jump to a clerkship to trade up. But given their similar size and rank, and the divergence between the two, I'm being led to conclude that in fact stanford students don't have anywhere near the clerkship access that Yalies do.


(edited to add thoughts on Vault).

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Re: Vault-weighted Placement Comparison

Postby jrf12886 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:36 am

Thanks for putting this together. Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt for the reasons you pointed out, but it's still a nice set of information.

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