By “classic legal academy” measurements, the Skadden Fellowship is the most prestigious postgraduate conduit into legal public-interest work. Skadden Fellows marry academic excellence with remarkable track records of gaining practical public-interest work experience during law school. I don’t think the “classic legal academy” metric (GPA, law review, elite school, etc.) is the best way to identify and cultivate the next generation of public interest lawyers – it certainly isn’t the only way. (And thank goodness because I went to the Harvard of North Broad Street. Temple. I’m a proud Owl.) Nonetheless Skadden Fellows are extraordinary achievers with extraordinary commitment and ambition to make change for people who are marginalized and vulnerable. Skadden Fellows are kick-arse in this way.
A few years ago when I worked with NALP, I loosely kept tabs on the incoming classes of Skadden Fellows. It’s helpful for law school administrators to see which schools consistently succeed in producing Skadden Fellows – yes/yes, it’s a lot of Harvard/Yale, but many more schools too – and also to learn more about the kinds of projects the Fellows propose and where in the U.S. they work. The other day I revisited the Skadden Fellowship numbers – props to the Skadden Foundation for making the information available and for running such a clean website – to see what’s been going on. So here’s 5 fellowship classes worth of numbers and one thought that occurred to me.
This is the “where the Fellows come from” post – i.e. which law schools. I’ll follow up at some point soon with a “where the Fellows go to” post – i.e. their placements, by location and type of placement organization. But again, the fellowship website is informative and worth a look…
Where they come from (the basics and the details and a quick analysis)…
- Class of 2012: 28 Fellows from 16 law schools
- Class of 2013: 29 Fellows from 16 law schools
- Class of 2014: 28 Fellows from 16 law schools
- Class of 2015: 28 Fellows from 16 law schools
- Class of 2016: 27 Fellows from 14 law schools
Hello, consistency. But the picture fragments a little bit upon a closer look…
Skadden-Fellow-School-Breakdown-2012-2016 (PDF link).
|Skadden Fellows by Law School – 2012-2016|
|Washington & Lee||1|
|John Marshall (IL)||1|
|Loyola Los Angeles||1|
|Washington U. (St. Louis)||1|
My analysis in seven words: Whither the bottom half of Tier One? “Tier One” is language connected to the infamous US News & World Report law school rankings. The Tier One schools are those ranked 1-50. Tier One’s bottom half – ranked 25-50 – is highly competitive but far from Ivy. In the Skadden Fellowship Class of 2015 exactly one school ranked between 25-50 (by current USNWR rankings) graduated a Skadden Fellow: UC Irvine. In the Class of 2016 no schools in the bottom half of Tier One are graduating a Skadden Fellow.
I wonder if a “diamond in the rough” phenomenon exists. Obviously the super-elite law schools are going to produce Skadden Fellows. But what ab0ut the Fellows who don’t come from, say, Top-25 schools?
The lower Tier One schools (25-50) are academically rigorous and draw high achievers. I bet they have bunches of students who could be viable Skadden Fellowship candidates. Lower-ranked schools, by contrast, may have that one Skadden candidate who immediately stands out from her peers. An all-star. A diamond. So I wonder, with what I grant is some conjecture, but based on numbers and experience and instinct: how many Skadden Fellows could be found at schools living in that 25-50 echelon?