UPDATED WITH CORRECTIONS: The original verison had some of the numbers wrong.
NYU, to its credit, posts very detailed job information, including about summer jobs held by rising 3Ls. For the Class of 2009--so the class interviewing in fall 2007 for summer 2008 jobs--88% of NYU students had firm jobs. That dropped a bit for the Class of 2010 (interviewing in fall 2008 for summer 2009 jobs--the effects of the economic collapse now being felt), to 80%. But then for the Class of 2011--so NYU students interviewing in fall 2009 for summer 2010 jobs--that plunged to just 55% getting summer associate jobs with private firms. This, of course, was the point where the firms, absorbing the effects of the economic downturn, had downsized their summer programs.
I was curious whether a similar pattern had emerged for Chicago students, so asked my CSO colleagues for data. For the Class of 2010 (interviewing in fall 2008 for summer 2009 jobs), not quite 91% secured summer jobs with private law firms. For the Class of of 2011, that dropped to about 70%, a slightly smaller drop than at NYU (a not quite 21% drop, versus 25%), and from a higher base line. For the Class of 2012, that number went back up to almost 80% in private firm jobs in the summer of 2011. (I don't know the comparable NYU figure.) What might explain the differences, given that student numerical credentials are comparable at the two schools, though Chicago enjoys a reputational advantage among practitioners. Perhaps the latter explains the differing outcomes, though anecdotal evidence suggests something else is at work. When the leading law firms reduce the size of their summer programs by a quarter to a third, they still typically want to have students from a diverse array of top law schools. But the cut-back in the size of the summer programs means that instead of 2 or 3 students from Chicago, they may only have 1 or 2. Of course, if all firms follow a similar strategy, the net effect is going to be very different for a law school like NYU with a large class (about 450) versus the net effect for a law school like Chicago with a small class (about 200). My guess is we'll see a similar pattern if we compare, say, summer job placement at Yale (about 200) to Harvard (about 550), or Cornell (about 200) to Georgetown (about 600). If that data is on-line somewhere, please send me the links. While large law schools can have some advantages (mostly in the array offerings), if the preceding hypothesis is correct, they may now be at a decided disadvantage in terms of job placement at leading law firms, all else being equal.
ANOTHER: The full and accurate U of C data are now on-line, and the final figures are actually a bit better than what I had reported here.