August 22, 2008
Texas Law School Rankings
Texas Lawyer has released its annual ranking of the nine Texas law schools, based on a survey completed by 1,132 students enrolled at the school (the response rate ranged from 10%-25% at each school). The ranking equally weighs eight variables:
- Teaching Quality
- Faculty Accessibility
- Preparation for Practice
- Placement Office Helpfulness
- Student Diversity
- Library Services
Here is the overall ranking of the Texas law schools under the Texas Monthly methodology, along with their ranking in U.S. News and World Report (overall and peer reputation) and SSRN downloads (as well as their ranking among U.S. law schools) [click on chart to enlarge]:
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This is obviously a very stupid survey. The fact that a certain set of students was less happy with their law school does not make that school better. One's happiness is judged largely by the alternatives. If there was a law school taking the absolute stupidest kids in the country and finding them jobs as paralegals making $30k a year it might get good reviews from the students. UT students may be less happy with their career services dept -- but I'll bet they are still getting much better jobs than students at SMU. And yeah more SMU students are glad they chose SMU, but where else were they going to go? Ask 100 SMU law students if they wish they could have gone to UT instead, and I'll bet 98 of them say yes. Ask 100 UT law students if they wish they could have gone to SMU, and I'll bet 98 of them say no.
Posted by: Anon | Aug 22, 2008 5:32:00 PM
Why are the last 5 factors weighted equally with the first three?
Surely "Teaching Quality" and "Preparation for Practice" are more important than "Placement Office Helpfulness" and "Library Services"
Posted by: Vermando | Aug 22, 2008 7:06:00 PM
Finally, a survey that confirms what Texans know to be the best law school in the state, rather than the North Eastern elite, who know nothing about Texas. SMU is a private school that provides individual teaching. Not possible in the 300 student classrooms at UT. Go Mustangs!
Posted by: Stella | Aug 22, 2008 7:18:07 PM
Seriously? The first comment poster needs some frenchcries to along with his whaaa-burger.
Somebody call the whaaaa-mbulance!
Texas is a fine school, and is highly ranked in the very controversial US School & News Rankings. The sheer size of the University prohibits it from being able to offer its student some of the amenities that the smaller schools like SMU, Texas-Wesleyan and T-Tech.
UT graduates will have just as much DIFFICULTY in finding jobs as their SMU counterparts. (Certainly no better chances) Its more about doing well in the classroom and eliminating one-dimensional characteristics. Have a poli-sci undergrad degree and mediocre law grades? Join thousands of others across the country that are settling for quasi-law jobs for under $50k/yr.
Posted by: Seriously? | Aug 22, 2008 10:26:13 PM
This survey is a joke. Put a recent Baylor graduate against a recent graduate from any other TX school and see what happens. But, I suppose some people would be opposed to actually working hard and getting a real education. Afterall, third year is all about cruising by right?
Posted by: rujoking? | Aug 23, 2008 12:46:33 PM
Being a UT law alum, I can't disagree with this survey. I didn't go to UT to learn to practice law on my own (there's not a single class that teaches you how to draft a pleading), I went to UT because of the reputation, quality of the other students, and the fact that it would be easier to land a V100 job.
Posted by: Jon | Aug 23, 2008 12:57:55 PM
All the "helpfulness" in the world is not going to get you a good job if the school's reputation isn't up to par. They can be the best placement staff in the world, but they are not the reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin.
Posted by: HLS 2L | Aug 23, 2008 12:59:45 PM
The comment from the original article says it all:"..they don't always get the job that they want." If Dedman Law School is so strong, why don't students get the kind of placement they expect? The fact is students like the fact they you can coast at Dedman and not really learn much about how the legal system works or anything about how to reason analytically at a deep or practical level. And serious law firms recognize that. Dedman students receive what the faculty give: a warmed over fifties/sixties style legal education. The comment above about the northeast elite is very revealing, demonstrating what a real backwater the school is. Dedman should be better than it is, but with a faculty that has little or no national reputation, what can one expect? The survey proves one thing: if you are stuck at a bottom of a well, the well starts looking awfully good.
Posted by: steinandmaryenkale | Aug 24, 2008 9:43:01 AM
The previous poster is an unhappy malcontent most likely, perhaps rejected or fired by SMU. The faculty is tremendous, first rate in both the state, the nation, and the world in Constitutional Law (Dean Attanasio and Professor Bloom are the premier constitutionalists in the country), Federal Jurisdiction (Professor Martinez is a brilliant scholar), International Law (Professors Kofele-Kale and Turner are ranked number one in the nation among international law scholars), Corporate Law (Professors Steinberg and Crespi are brilliant teachers and leading luminaries in the field), Jurisprudent (Professor Martinez, once again, is unsurpassed), Intellectual Property (Professor Nguyen is a brilliant teacher and first rate scholar as is Professor Bloom who shines in this field as well), Commercial Law (Professors Anderson and WInship are phenomenal), and not to mention Property Law (first rate teachers all around). The world just doesn't get what a shining gem SMU is.
Posted by: anon | Aug 24, 2008 12:36:48 PM
"UT graduates will have just as much DIFFICULTY in finding jobs as their SMU counterparts. (Certainly no better chances)"
Huh? At my firm, we'll hire from the top 25-30 percent of students from UT. We'll only hire kids from SMU in the top 10 percent (same with Baylor and I think Houston. We might hire the top 1 percent from Tech, but I don't think we would even consider the other school.) I'm at a snobby big firm, but the fact remains that UT will open more doors for more students than SMU (just like Harvard will open more doors than UT). Right or wrong, that's the way firms (and the DOJ, corporations, etc) think.
Posted by: Clothes Horse | Aug 24, 2008 5:24:06 PM
Congratulations Clothes Horse, for working at a big snobby law firm. Who cares? I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would not have chosen to go to UT law (because I CHOSE NOT TO GO), nor any other school for that matter. Nor would many people I know. But that's not really the point. The point is that this entire thing is completely absurd. EVERY law school has 3L's who coast, including Harvard, Yale, and ohmygosh yes, UT. EVERY law school has students happy or unhappy with their first jobs. You stuck up morons so concerned with being #1 need to get your heads out of your backsides. No firm wants first-year attorneys thinking they are God's gift to the ABA, who in reality don't know crap. So get over yourselves. Try living your life and actually enjoying it instead of acting like middle schoolers.
Posted by: alm09 | Aug 24, 2008 10:43:38 PM
I filled out the survey and scored UT low, primarily because the career services office is an embarrassment. After I struck out at OCI despite top 1/3 grades + journal(bad year to want corporate), the only guidance they offered was to spam resumes to small firms on Martindale (that probably pay $50-65k/yr). They were no help at all in terms of connecting me with decent Texas firms that still needed to fill their classes, or advising me on how to break into good firms outside of Texas. Not even a hint that maybe I needed to develop an “interest” in litigation if I wanted to get hired. Granted, I do bear some blame as ultimately I was the one who did the interviews, and my grades could have been better in the absence of some rough events in my personal life. But it says a lot of bad things about a law school when the CSO is entirely unconcerned with placing students with solid academic credentials in decent firms. It wasn’t as if I was being a selective prestige whore either. I would have been perfectly happy in a mid-market firm paying $80k+ as long as the work was decent.
That said, to place UT below the other Texas schools is outright silly. I would have needed to be top ten percent at Baylor or SMU to get the interviews I got being top 1/3 at UT. I scored UT low because my other options were mid-T14 schools, and I now wish I had paid full price there instead of taking in-state tuition + academic scholarships at UT. I think my results would have been different coming from a better school, and I have little doubt that a better school’s CSO would have been more helpful if I found myself in a similar situation there. Comparing UT to other Texas schools though, it is no contest. I would not have attended law school had my only options been Baylor/SMU/UH or worse because the price/placement ratio indicates that the odds are against earning a good return on an investment in one of those schools.
Posted by: UT 3L | Aug 25, 2008 7:20:12 AM
This list is a joke. Placing Texas Wesleyan at #2 destroys all credibility.
As for SMU, it is a great school and one can get a great job if one is in the top 10%-15% after your first year. However the other 85%-90% of the students find mediocre jobs that pay $50-60k.
Also, only about 20% of jobs come from OCI, so the stat that 97% of students are employed 9 months after graduation is a complete farce. Of course they will be employed, unless they are independently weathly, how else are they going to pay the bills (and student loans?).
Posted by: anon | Aug 25, 2008 9:57:39 AM
Alm09's post is odd to say the least. The comment seems to accept the fact that SMU is Number One while attacking those who rank as being snobs. Perhaps ranking SMU number one is like sime medieval practice of crowning a pig as a king: a way of turning over the order of things and sticking it to the elite. The point of this entire exchange is that none of the Texas law schools are any good compared to the east or west coast elite, or the elite in the Big 10 or Pac 10. Here we have schools playing to be top (SMU's web site proudly boasts that the school colors are the red of Harvard and the blue of Yale. Hmmmm)
Posted by: anon | Aug 25, 2008 9:58:12 AM
SMU is not a great school. The school's faculty is just plain embarassing and undistinguished. It boasts a tax program but there really is nothing there. The school landed in the top fifty around 2005 after it started an evening program. As a result, it does not have to report the LSAT/GPA for a third of its entering class. Anyone who knows anything about legal education will recognize SMU for what it is: a wrmed over fifties style education for people who think that just because a school is private it must be great. There are plenty of horrible private schools, and SMU is among them as the rankings for most of the university programs indicate.
Posted by: anon | Aug 25, 2008 11:28:41 AM
Ditto to rujoking - I went to UT in hopes of actually learning to practice law, but found that it didn't teach me anything but how to talk in circles. Many of my professors had only 2-3 years of actual law practice experience. If you're a litigator, you're a little better off because you can take trial clinics. If you want to work in a transactional practice, you're out of luck - you won't learn anything. This is why when aspiring law students ask me about going to law school, I discourage it - or at least discourage UT.
Posted by: MC | Aug 25, 2008 12:03:46 PM
Current employment stats of top 4 NY firms:
SMU - 0
UT - 2 associates, 2 partners
Sullivan & Cromwell
SMU - 0
UT - 2 partners, 2 special counsel, 2 associates
SMU - 0
UT - 1 counsel
SMU - 2 associates
UT - 3 partners, 3 counsel, 22 associates
Posted by: NY Atty | Aug 25, 2008 2:08:10 PM
How dare someone say SMU is not great and that its faculty are undistinguished and embarassing? We have John Attanasion, premier expert in Constitutional Law, Bioethics, Health Law, Intellectual Property, Torts, and Law and Economics. Dr. Attanasio is an Oxonian who has published in the Chicago and Georgetown Law Reviews. We have Lackland Bloom, brilliant first amendment scholar (showcased recently on the Today Show) and author of a long anticipated and heralded book from Oxford University Press that tells how constitutional law actually works. Let us also not forget Paul Rogers, former dean who brought SMU to where it is and a brilliant expert witness and scholar in antitrust. Rogers has also done much to promote women in the law school up the ranks of full professor, even when he does not have a special interest. Roy Anderson, SMU alum and leading lumuniary in commercial law and contract remedies, does us proud with his extensive scholarship and brilliant, nationally respected teaching. Our professors are sought after and well known nationally. Xuan-Thao Nguyen turned down offers from prominent and world-class law schools to stay at our first rate law school as did Peter Winship, Christopher Hanna, George Martinez and Marc Steinberg. Jeff Gaba is a brilliant environmental law school and theorist of property, recently showing how Locke affects property law (who knew?). And let us not forget the recent hires, a brilliant group waiting to carry the mantle of several generations of SMU scholars forward to the next century. Dean Attanasio should show some leadership and sue the previous poster for defamation.
Posted by: anon | Aug 26, 2008 9:39:29 AM
Who cares about the stats from NY? SMU rocks in Dallas!
Posted by: anon | Aug 26, 2008 9:23:38 PM
Ha, ha, ha, ha. I graduated from one of those schools you call the bottom ranked schools. Hey, make sure you remind the judge or jury the next time I encounter you in court that you should win the case because your school is ranked higher. Practicing lawyers are still worried about where their schools were ranked? Wow! I really cannot understand why a professor or the Texas bar would waste valuable time ranking law schools rather than investing that time in critical intellectual pursuit. Having come from a foreign country, I find it facinating! If you graduated from law school, you should not depend on law firms to hire you in order to practice law. It takes guts to go out on your own! I did not apply to any of the so-called "Texas" top ranked school, ha, ha, ha, ha. Although if I had applied, I might have been rejected. My bottom ranked school gave me everything I needed to succeed as an attorney; and, I will do it all over again if I had to! Enjoy your "Texas" elite schools rankings, if that rocks your boat. As for me, life is good!
Posted by: Intelligentia | Feb 12, 2009 10:32:45 PM
well this ranking sure turns everything inside out and upside down.
Posted by: mdoz | Feb 23, 2009 5:10:38 AM