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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, December 31, 2007

WSJ: Law School Rankings That Matter

Interesting op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal:  School Rankings That Matter, by Cameron Stracher (New York Law School):

The school at which I teach -- New York Law School -- jumped to fifth on the list of New York area law schools (with an all-time high passage rate of 90%), while Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University leapfrogged to third, behind only NYU and Columbia. Cardozo, however, is ranked 52nd by U.S. News among all law schools (fourth in New York), while New York Law School is ranked in the "third tier" of law schools (along with Albany, Hofstra, Pace and Syracuse). So which ranking matters? ...

[T]here are really two kinds of law schools: those at which students decide where they want to interview, and those where firms decide. The large majority of law schools belong to the latter group. Hiring partners admit that they use GPA or other bright-line criteria (like law review membership) to interview at Tier 2, 3, and 4 schools, while taking resumes from nearly everyone at Tier 1 schools.

In short: The difference between the 55th-ranked law school and the 105th law school is of little significance in determining which students are more likely to get a good job. At both schools, unless a student is in the top 15% or 20% of his class, he has little chance of getting a high-paying job directly upon graduation. Students might be better served by going to a lower-ranked law school and doing better, rather than going to middling law school and not doing as well.

For more, see the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:  Do the U.S. News Rankings Matter?, by Peter Lattman

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That's good advice if you assume that you'll do better at the bad school than the good one. Unfortunately, there's no real reason to think that. I think anyone who takes this advice is making a serious mistake.

Posted by: michael livingston | Dec 31, 2007 12:21:59 PM