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Monday, November 7, 2005

New Student Ranking of Law Schools

Leiter_logo_1Following up on last week's launch of our new Leiter's Law School Rankings web site (blogged here):  The Record, the independent student weekly at Harvard Law School, has surveyed HLS students to "identify and rank what [they] believe to be the ten best American law schools."  The editors note:

To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first and only study to explore the perceptions of law students at a particular law school on such a large scale as well as the first and only study to trace variations across 1L, 2L, and 3Ls classes as well as compare the opinions of JD students with those of LLMs.

Without further ado, here are the students' top 15 law schools, as well as how their rankings compare with the other rankings compiled in our forthcoming article, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. ___ (2005) (Symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings), as updated to reflect new rankings:

Top 15 Law Schools By Various Measures

School

Reputation

Publications

Impact

HLS

USNews

Leiter

L&S

Leiter

SSRN

E&W

Leiter

SSRN

Harvard

1

2

2

2

3

1

1

3

2

Yale

2

1

1

4

1

15

2

2

12

Stanford

3

3

4

9

3

4

3

4

3

Columbia

4

4

5

8

3

8

7

7

4

Chicago

5

6

2

1

1

2

4

1

1

NYU

6

5

5

11

7

12

5

6

15

Michigan

7

8

8

16

10

17

8

13

19

Penn

8

7

11

13

14

5

17

21

16

Berkeley

9

11

7

7

6

9

9

5

9

Virginia

10

8

10

6

14

11

11

13

10

Georgetown

11

14

12

5

18

10

6

8

7

Cornell

12

11

14

14

16

24

13

11

27

Duke

13

11

17

23

21

25

16

9

23

Northwestern

14

10

14

10

12

31

13

12

31

UCLA

15

15

14

17

13

3

12

15

5

Texas

15

15

8

3

7

17

10

9

6

Reputation:

Publications:

Impact:

Note that the Harvard Law students' rankings exhibit the same phenomenon we first observed in our Moneyball article, What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483, 1524 n.235 (2004):  Harvard ranks higher under their methodology (#1) than it does under the U.S. News measure they use for comparison purposes (#2 in the overall U.S. News ranking).  We noted that the ranker's school inevitably ranks higher under the ranker's methodology than it does under the U.S. News peer reputation ranking (chart updated to include new rankings):

Rank of Rankers’ Law School

Ranker

Ranker’s School

US News’ Rank

Ranker’s Rank

Black & Caron

Texas/Cincinnati

15/72

6/66

Brennan & LeDuc

Thomas Cooley

175

29

Eisenberg & Wells

Cornell

11

6

Ellman

Arizona State

43

7

Leiter

Texas

15

8

Lindgren & Seltzer

Chicago-Kent

61

22

Stake

Indiana

33

29

We noted in our Moneyball piece that we of course don't allege any intentional bias in any of these rankings.  Indeed, we rely extensively on the Eisenberg & Wells, Leiter, and Lindgren & Seltzer studies in our SSRN rankings article and greatly respect their methodologies and findings.

The Record rightly seeks to inject law student voices into the rankings picture.  At our symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings, Patrick T. O’Day & George D. Kuh explained how The Law School Survey of Student Engagement can systematically add student input to the evaluation of law schools.  Their paper, A New Approach to Measuring Law School Quality: The Law School Survey of Student Engagement, is forthcoming in 81 Ind. L.J. ___ (2005):

[T]he LSSSE survey offers a student-centered approach for assessing the “value added” of the law school educational experience by determining the extent to which JD students engage in good educational practices. ...The information comes directly from currently enrolled students. More than 34,000 law students from 74 law schools completed the LSSSE survey online in spring 2004 and 2005. The students represent a broad cross-section of JD students from across the country. Because all JD students are surveyed by an independent survey research organization, the results are reliable, comparable, meaningful, and credible. LSSSE findings provide insights into student behaviors and law school environments that can be addressed almost immediately to enhance student learning and law school effectiveness. Law schools already are using LSSSE results at faculty retreats and board meetings to focus discussions about the quality of legal education, to inform internal academic reviews, and to identify areas of teaching and learning where improvement may be desired.

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