Category Archive: Law School Rankings

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Above the Law Unveils Inaugural Top 50 Law School Rankings

Legal blog Above the Law has always had the reputation of telling it like it is. Whether calling out weird law school teaching assistants or discrediting breakdowns of diverse law schools, Above the Law has thrived on being brutally honest.

That’s why it’s no surprise that Above the Law’s first foray into law school rankings follows the same approach.

Today, Above the Law unveiled its inaugural top 50 law school rankings. From the start, it’s clear what separates their law school rankings from others: An emphasis on job placement. The end of Above the Law’s introductory paragraph says it all: “The time has come for a law school ranking that relies on nothing but employment outcomes.”

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2014 US News & World Report Law School Rankings Out Now

Like the rings of a tree, the release of a new set of US News & World Report law school rankings marks the passing of another year. One day, they’ll accept my offer to produce an awards show akin to the Oscars, handing out Validys to the winners (think an Oscar-like statue that resembles Aristotle) and Testies to the losers (it’s best not to think about what that one will look like).

Until then, I’ll have to settle with writing an article for the LSAT blog each year, analyzing the rise and fall of different law schools, and the trends present in the rankings.

First, the US News & World Report law school rankings themselves:

2014 US NEWS & WORLD REPORT LAW SCHOOL RANKINGS WINNERS:

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Law School Transparency Unveils Own Law School Rankings

When it comes to ranking law schools, US News and World Report dominates the picture to the extent that their rankings are often referred to without even being mentioned by name. It’s common to hear, for example, that Harvard is ranked No. 3, without any discussion of who ranked Harvard No. 3 or why. Prospective law students and their parents and friends often perceive these law school rankings as objective fact. While some objective factors do figure into these rankings, the weighting of these factors reflects the subjective decisions of the editors who compile the rankings.

If you’re planning on going to law school, odds are that it’s because you want to become a lawyer (I hope I’m not making any big assumptions here).

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How the New Law School Rankings Should Affect Your Plans

Unless you’ve been skipping my articles (in which case, you probably won’t be reading this one, either), the new US News and World Report law school rankings came out last week. I’ve already given you my reactions to the law school rankings.

Now you have to just ask yourself one question: “How should I use this data in my decision, punk?” Say it in a Clint Eastwood accent for the proper effect.

Many of you are about to put down a seat deposit and finalize your decision on which law school to attend. That’s a huge decision in your life. It’s going to determine your proximate experience over the next three years, and it will have ramifications on the rest of your life (including the possibility of finding your significant other).

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A Closer Look at the 2013 US News & World Report Law School Rankings

As I’m sure you are aware, the 2013 US News & World Report law school rankings are out. And thus starts the celebrating of 1Ls who picked an up-and-comer, the head shaking of 1Ls who picked Illinois, and the hand wringing of those of you who thought you knew where you were attending next year. The US News & World Report law school rankings can throw a wrench into that decision.

Two quick notes before I start my evaluation.

First, the law school rankings aren’t the end-all/be-all of where you should go to law school. Use them as a guide. Recognize what they are – a reflection of a reflection. They use a formula to incorporate, among other things, perceived prestige of the institution. That doesn’t mean that you’ll fit in and learn more at a higher ranked school.

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Rank Should Still Play a Role in Finding Your Best Law School

What’s the best law school? Most of you would respond, “Oh, that’s easy. Let’s just check US News and World Report.” You’d check it, and you’d find that Yale Law School is now and forever at the Wintergarden Theater. I mean, the best law school. You might also check Cooley’s rankings and find that Harvard Law School is ranked as the best law school, but not many people go by them.

And this creates a question — why are the USNWR rankings treated as gospel, while the Cooley rankings are, at times, derided? It could be that Cooley has placed itself as the second best law school in the country, outdoing traditional powerhouses like Columbia, Yale and Stanford (and Chicago — I’d never forget you, Chicago!). That seems a blatant conflict of interest.

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Villanova Scandal Shows LSAT Scores Matter to Schools, Too

There’s a lot of buzz going on right now about Villanova’s Law School. Diverse Education reports that “Villanova’s average LSAT scores were padded by two to three points between 2005 and 2009…The median GPA was raised by up to 0.16 points.”

While the law school didn’t lose its ABA accreditation, it certainly could have. Instead, the bar association issued a public censure that the law school must display on its web site for two years. Not exactly great for the law school’s image.

As a student you’re probably interested in a high LSAT score to get into the best law school possible. But why would a law school care enough about its average LSAT scores to lie about it and run the risk of losing its accreditation?

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Guess What, Stanford? You Can Never be the Best

Guess what? The rankings still sort of suck.

If the US News & World Report rankings didn’t already seem problematic enough, a few weeks ago Bill Henderson of Indiana University came to some conclusions that are a bit annoying, although not that surprising. Henderson is known for studying the rankings, and making models of the rankings to play with. Using these models, he was able to yet again show how these rankings are sometimes based on some crappy measures. Getting back to that in a second.

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US News Law School Rankings: Eh, Can’t Really do Anything About Them

Way back in February, the ABA (American Bar Association) decided it was going to investigate the US News rankings of law schools with the hope, it seems, of finding out if they are at all helpful for prospective law students and law schools in general.

The result, as reported earlier today by Law.com, appears to be a resounding “Eh.”