2x1 best law schools in america

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

While it can be tough to get into elite law schools, the real challenge happens post-graduation: securing a good job.

Law-school enrollment remains high — 39,984 students graduated in the class of 2015 — but the prestigious degree no longer holds the same clout that it once did, and an oversaturation of lawyers has left graduates struggling in the job market.

For the class of 2010, only 40% of graduates were working at law firms by 2015, and 20% of the class held jobs that didn't even require a law license.

Even many who do land at a law firm can struggle to pay off the crushing debt. Law students incur an average loan burden of $84,000 by the time they graduate from a public school and $122,158 by the time they graduate from a private school, according to the American Bar Association.

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But only about 17% of 2014 graduates employed at law firms full-time were making the coveted $160,000 salary, while half reported salaries of $40,000 to $65,000.

So, to determine which law schools stand as the best in the country, Business Insider focused on the institutions that lead to top jobs in the legal world. Using data from the ABA, the ranking primarily homed in on the percentage of graduates who land full-time, long-term, highly coveted jobs, which includes positions at big law firms that pay well — those with over 251 employees — and federal clerkships, which are difficult to secure and frequently set up successful careers.

The ranking also took into consideration the percentage of graduates with full-time, long-term jobs that require passing the bar, the percentage that are unemployed but seeking employment, bar-passage rate, tuition, and median LSAT scores. You can read more about our methodology here. 

Placing a higher weight on jobs — and no weight on selectivity or reputation — yielded unexpected results. The University of Pennsylvania earned the top spot, followed by the University of Chicago at No. 2. The law programs at Yale and Harvard, perennially ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in other rankings, came in 10th and third, respectively.

Continue on to check out the full list.

Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Yarborough and Alexa Pipia.

Edited by Alex Morrell and Sara Silverstein.