What are the best predictors of high income and promotion to partner for future lawyers? Is social class still important? What about going to an elite law school?
Some of the best data on the subject is analyzed here.
In a nutshell, law school grades are a better predictor of future high paying jobs and partnership status, than going to an elite law school. The economic benefits of going to an elite law school have declined dramatically since the 1970s, when it was a huge asset, and the economic advantage of having grown up upper middle class or upper class have declined dramatically as well for lawyers. Law school grades are the best predictor of whether a new lawyer at a large law firm will make partner, although even the best of the best do so only a third of the time, despite the fact that law school grades are almost never considered in the decision to make associate attorneys partners.
The socioeconomic status of law students as a whole, however, is almost exactly the same as it was in the 1950s. At top law schools about half of students come from families in the top ten percent, socioeconomically, and while only ten percent of law students come from the bottom half. At less prestigious law schools, the mix is only a bit more plebeian. But, these days, once you get into law school, your family ties and "breeding" don't really matter anymore.