TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best Value Law Schools

NJ Cover_Page_2 The National Jurist has released its ranking of the Best Value Law Schools in the September 2009 issue:

The National Jurist identified 65 law schools that carry a low price tag and are able to prepare their students incredibly well for today's competitive job market. In determining what makes a law school a "best value," we first looked at tuition, considering only public schools with an in-state tuition less than $25,000, and private schools with an annual tuition that comes in under $30,000.  We then narrowed the playing field again by including only schools that had an employment rate of at least 85% and a school bar psasage rate that was higher than their state average. We then ranked schools, giving greatest weight to tuition, followed closely by employment statistics. [Click on chart to enlarge.]

NJ 30-31_Page_1   

Here are The National Jurist 65 Best Value Law Schools, along with their U.S. News overall ranking:

Best Value

Rank

US News

Rank

Law

School

1

Tier 4

N. Carolina Central

2

41

BYU

3

Tier 3

Nebraska

4

65

Georgia State

5

Tier 3

Mississippi

6

Tier 3

Montana

7

77

New Mexico

8

Tier 4

Florida Int’l

9

Tier 3

Idaho

10

52

Florida State

11

75

UNLV

12

51

Florida

13

30

Alabama

14

59

Tennessee

15

Tier 3

Memphis

16

35

Georgia

17

75

LSU

18

98

Louisville

19

Tier 3

Texas Tech

20

35

Wisconsin

21

65

Kansas

22

30

North Carolina

23

55

Kentucky

24

Tier 3

Hawaii

25

Tier 3

Missouri-Kansas City

26

87

Indiana-Indianapolis

27

55

Arizona State

28

65

Missouri-Columbia

29

85

SUNY-Buffalo

30

71

Oklahoma

31

Tier 4

Washburn

32

Tier 3

Toledo

33

65

Temple

34

41

George Mason

35

26

Iowa

36

59

Houston

37

87

South Carolina

38

30

U. Washington

39

43

Arizona

40

23

Indiana-Bloomington

41

28

William & Mary

42

52

Connecticut

43

45

Colorado

44

100

Maine

45

52

Cincinnati

46

77

Oregon

47

15

Texas

48

43

Maryland

49

Tier 3

Wayne State

50

n/a

Faulkner

51

20

Minnesota

52

71

Pittsburgh

53

Tier 4

Texas-Wesleyan

54

39

UC-Hastings

55

Tier 4

Campbell

56

Tier 4

Duquesne

57

Tier 3

Drake

58

Tier 4

Willamette

59

Tier 3

Samford

60

Tier 4

Capital

61

Tier 3

Stetson

62

87

Marquette

63

61

Lewis & Clark

64

77

Seattle

65

100

Gonzaga

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/08/best-value.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4eab53ef0120a51b384c970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Best Value Law Schools:

Comments

But this is meaningless without looking at what jobs the students are getting and what quality of education they are receiving. According to this methodology, a free junior college whose graduates immediately found jobs at McDonald's would be a better value than Harvard. It's another example of grasping at anything quantifiable, even at the expense of logic.

Posted by: Michael A. Livingston | Aug 25, 2009 6:59:48 AM

Michael has a good point. Many law schools in recent years have been accused of fudging their US News employment stats (for example, by giving unemployed grads "make work" jobs in the school's registrar's office) - whether that really has an effect is debatable but the cloud of suspicion remains. Also, on the educational quality aspect, the methodology should have given weight to factors such as availability of clinical programs and remedial bar study classes, both of which I think tend to boost a graduate's employability.

Posted by: NJ Lawyer | Aug 25, 2009 9:25:45 AM

Please don't publicize this. You are leading people astray. What do you think the average starting salary for NCCU students is? I looked and could not find the answer, which is a bad sign in of itself. Nonetheless, let's guess that the average starting salary is $90K. The average starting salary, remember, of a grad from a top school is $160K (though, for a year or two, even top grads will struggle). You don't need to be a math wizard to figure out that it makes financial sense to pay $120K in tuition to get a $160K job rather than $15K to get a $90K job. If you want to make a very crude calculation, $160K-90K = $70K, so the grad from a top school comes out ahead in less than 2 years. If you want to make a more sophisticated conclusion, you can factor in interest rates, taxes, etc., but I bet that there is no way in hell that it takes longer than 4 years for the top student to come out better than the NCCU student.

So, I repeat, please stop publicizing this misguided set of rankings. Or, at the very least, offer a corrective post pointing out this argument (the one that I have outlined). If any pre-laws read this blog post and take it to heart, you may mislead them into making a terrible mistake.

Posted by: blabla | Aug 25, 2009 9:47:41 AM

This list would be incredibly accurate if one were to remove all of the Tier 3 and 4 schools.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 25, 2009 9:52:37 AM

The methodology is wrong for BYU. The tuition that is listed is ONLY for mormon students. If you attend BYU as a non-mormon, then you will pay DOUBLE that amount. They use the argument that the tithing of mormons is paying for BYU. Right, not like thousands of mormons attended other religious institutions without being discriminated against.

Posted by: Jeannine A. Young | Aug 25, 2009 9:57:13 AM

Michael, the bar passage rate definitely quantifies the quality of the education, although the % employed, as you note, is fairly meaningless. It would be far better with % employed in a position requiring a JD.

Posted by: James | Aug 25, 2009 9:57:55 AM

It's also meaningless because we don't know if the percentages are independently verified, how they are audited if they are independently verified, and what methodology is used to determine the percentage. For example, how does each reporting law school deal with graduates that do not respond to requests about employment information? How do they independently verify such information from each reporting graduate? Unless the ABA implements and enforces standards for establishing meaningful placement rates, law school administrators are always going play with the figures rendering them into nothing more than law school propoganda. There can be no other reasonable explanation when law school placement figures as a whole clearly don't comport with reality.

Posted by: Rath | Aug 25, 2009 10:11:23 AM

Interesting. I tried to post about the flaws behind this list, but my post got deleted, though maybe this is because I am posting anonymously.

In any event, I will try again. Dear pre-laws, take this list with a grain of salt. Look for employment statistics before you go to a low-ranked school. What you will find, in many cases, is that grads from the low-ranked schools do not make as much money as grads from the top schools (and the difference is quite large--almost $100K/year if you're comparing a top school and a tier 4 school). Thus, in the long run, you will be better off financially going to a top school. Also, take the employment statistics with a grain of salt; there is no way that 87% of NCCU grads get legal jobs (career services offices are notorious for padding these stats in various misleading ways).

To give a concrete example, Georgia State University, which is ranked 4 on the best value list, states that the average starting salary of a Georgia State grad is about $80K ($93K for private sector lawyers). Emory, which is in the same general geographic location, states that its grads make an average of $109K ($124K for private firms, though less for "business and industry"). Thus, a new grad from Emory would make almost $30K more than a new Georgia State grad in their first year. If you assume that this earning disparity exists for the entire working lives of both grads, then the Emory grad would make $900,000K more than the Georgia State grad over the course of their lifetimes. (And, in reality, this is probably understating the case, since the disparity would probably grow larger than $30K as time wears on.) Thus, it's worth it to pay the extra $90K in tuition to go to Emory (3 years' tuition is about $30K at GSU and $120K at Emory).

By citing to this list without alluding to this fact, Paul Caron is doing a great disservice to you. I hope that he makes some sort of post acknowledging this fact or, at the very least, allows this comment to remain despite the fact that I am posting anonymously.

http://law.gsu.edu/careers/index/career_services_home/employment_statistics
http://www.law.emory.edu/admission/admission-tuition.html

Posted by: blabla | Aug 25, 2009 10:17:16 AM

Also, the GSU/Emory example is probably understating the case a little, because GSU is actually ranked in the top 100. If I could find career placement stats for a tier 4 school, it would be much more obvious how great the salary disparity really is. Unfortunately, most tier 4 schools don't make salary info publicly available (and they do that for a reason).

You may be thinking, of course, that there is more to law school than money. And, of course, this is correct. But this list purports to tell you which schools are the "best value." They certainly are not a good value in financial terms. If there is some thing about any one of these schools that makes them better, in a non-financial sense, than any of the top schools, this list certainly is no evidence of that.

If you want to get a better sense of my argument, read this WSJ article (ungated). It's not a great example of rigorous quantitative analysis, but you'll get the general flavor of the problem of going to a low-ranked school. And this article was written before the current downturn, so things are probably even worse now than they were then (though this is true for top grads, too).

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119040786780835602.html

Posted by: blabla | Aug 25, 2009 10:25:45 AM

The list should be used in the context of decisions such as private, high-priced Tier 2 vs. lower-cost Tier 3. Anyone who would choose Georgia State over Harvard based on this data is a dangerous idiot. Where this info would be helpful is in deciding between, e.g., Seton Hall and Arizona State.

Posted by: The Portly Lawyer | Aug 25, 2009 11:52:16 AM

Is a good value to go to a bottom tier law school where it is highly likely you will never be employed as a lawyer? There's more to law school than cheap tuition.

That said: it shouldn't take these sort of rankings to make it clear that, for future lawyers:
(expensive law school) + (low ranking and reputation) = (poor decision making skills)

Posted by: Rhodium Heart | Aug 25, 2009 11:55:34 AM

Those employment statistics are bogus. There is no way, in this legal market, that over 90% of students from the schools on this list are finding employment (even if you count contract attorney work as "employment").

Posted by: Susie D. | Aug 25, 2009 11:58:37 AM

>>>the bar passage rate definitely quantifies the quality of the education

By that definition, BarBri is the best legal education you can get.

Posted by: Joe Blow | Aug 25, 2009 12:10:29 PM

Slowly but surely, we are choking off the litigative society that's been engendered in this country for so many years.

Falling salaries for lawyers are a welcome sign of that choke-off. We need these to continue to fall. We can hurry the process along with additional tort reform.

Suggest you law school students abandon this shrinking field, and find a nice career in science or engineering, assuming you're qualified for such pursuits.

Posted by: the aura of truthiness | Aug 25, 2009 12:14:02 PM

This is a bit off-topic, but I must say that I am quite disappointed to see so many disparaging comments about "bottom tier" law schools, as if the degree is not worth the paper on which it is written.

True, perhaps we graduates of Tier 3 or 4 schools do not often work at a mega-firm and make $160k+. But, was it ever our aspiration to do so? My sister attended a top 15 law school and now lives in DC, works 70 hrs per week and earns $165k. I attended a Tier 4, work 50 hours per week for a company and I earn $110k. Did she come out madly ahead due to her "superior" law school? In my opinion, no she did not. I can also say I love my job. Additionally, of the 6 attorneys in my company's on-site legal department, 3 attended Tier 3 and 4 law schools and as I am the only junior attorney, I assume my colleagues earn significantly more than myself.

Maybe I am an exception, but I find it sad and also slightly amusing to hear comments like "highly likely you will never be employed as a lawyer." The snobbery is sickening.

Posted by: Matt | Aug 25, 2009 12:33:43 PM

What are the criteria to decide if a law school is tier 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Posted by: lobosolo | Aug 25, 2009 12:36:52 PM

And, in reality, this is probably understating the case, since the disparity would probably grow larger than $30K as time wears on.

Perhaps not as much understating as you might think, since of course as time wears on there's inflation as well (and interest paid on student debt until you pay it off.) But the point is well taken in general.

Posted by: John Thacker | Aug 25, 2009 12:42:29 PM

Thus, it's worth it to pay the extra $90K in tuition to go to Emory (3 years' tuition is about $30K at GSU and $120K at Emory).

Unless you'd be in the top part of the class at Georgia State and the bottom at Emory, perhaps. Doesn't your example assume that you would be a median student at either school? But if the higher ranked school is significantly tougher, that assumption doesn't necessarily hold. So you're probably overstating the case a bit in that direction.

Posted by: John Thacker | Aug 25, 2009 12:49:46 PM

Buyer beware. The attorney choke off is real. Any school not in the top 25 law schools poses a threat of being a complete waste of money to all its students, except possibly its top 5-10 graduates (students, not percentage).

Otherwise, law school is a waste of money. That list is crap, I bet most of the tier 4 schools have a high percentage of unemployed or unemployable graduates (contract work or leaving the law profession does not count as employment).

I look forward to the law school backlash.

Posted by: joeindc44 | Aug 25, 2009 12:57:36 PM

This also doesn't take into account such factors as scholarships. If you are a good enough student to earn an academic scholarship at a good school, you will pay less and (probably) get good enough grades to land a better job.

Now what about those who can get academic scholarships to lower ranked schools, but not higher ranked schools? Is a free ride at a tier-2 school a better deal than full fare at an elite private school?

What is the value of admission to a really good school if you graduate at the bottom of your class? Could you have been a higher ranking student at a cheap school? What is more valuable: a 2.0 GPA from the best law school in the country, or a 3.5 GPA from a middle-of-the-road school? How about a 4.0 from a school with a poor reputation?

Another question: while graduating from a good school clearly gives you a big boost in landing your first good job, how much is it a factor after years on the job? If you excel at a mediocre firm after graduation from Podunk U, make partner, earn a good reputation and win some big cases, you can move on to very prestigious or high paying jobs. If your work performance at a big-name firm after graduating from Snob U fails to meet expectations, you may find yourself an asociate for Lionel Hutz down the road. So how many years after graduation should we be projecting that difference in salary?

Overall, I find most law school rankings lack real substance. You can make some broad generalities, like students who go to more prestigious schools have higher starting salaries and more career opportunities - but that's as far as I'd ever want to extrapolate. For me, I believe there are a handful of schools that are most desirable (you know what they are), followed by a lot of schools that are acceptable (basically any school that an average person would recognize), and anything else (schools with low enough name recognition that most people wouldn't know it was a real school) isn't worth the tuition at any price.

Posted by: Gullyborg | Aug 25, 2009 12:57:42 PM

The bar passage rate metric is also deeply flawed. Looking at whether students score above average is fine in a large state with many law schools, but meaningless in smaller states. For example, Arkansas has a grand total of two law schools, one of which is in the first tier and both of which are relatively cheap. The bar passage rates for the two aren't drastically different, which means that neither qualifies as 'above average' for this survey. Are either of those schools a good value? Neither?

Posted by: Brad | Aug 25, 2009 1:05:49 PM

Let me respond to a few comments:

"This is a bit off-topic, but I must say that I am quite disappointed to see so many disparaging comments about "bottom tier" law schools, as if the degree is not worth the paper on which it is written."

None of us are trying to disparage anyone's education for it's own sake. We're all just trying to provide as much helpful info as possible for people who are considering going to law school.

"My sister attended a top 15 law school and now lives in DC, works 70 hrs per week and earns $165k. I attended a Tier 4, work 50 hours per week for a company and I earn $110k. Did she come out madly ahead due to her "superior" law school?"

You can find anecdotal evidence that supports any argument, but the statistics clearly show that the graduates of higher-ranked law schools make more money. There are no statistics, as far as I am aware, that show whether graduates of lower ranked schools have a better quality of life in other ways (hours, nice bosses, etc.). So we really have no idea whether grads of lower ranked schools have a better quality of life or not. You argue that they do. I can think of many good reasons why their quality of life could be worse--they may have a harder time finding a job, may have less money, may be forced into working for low quality of life jobs like contract work, etc. You argue that grads from higher ranked schools end up going to huge firms that make them miserable; this is true, to a point. But remember, also, that many people leave these jobs for others that pay a little less and have a better quality of life--AUSA, mid sized firms, etc. Many of those opportunities are not open to grads from lower ranked schools.

"Unless you'd be in the top part of the class at Georgia State and the bottom at Emory, perhaps. Doesn't your example assume that you would be a median student at either school?"

Yes, kind of. But I think it is dangerous to go into law school assuming that you are going to be at the top of your class. Law school is hard, and there are a lot of smart people. You may not be the best.

"Any school not in the top 25 law schools poses a threat of being a complete waste of money to all its students, except possibly its top 5-10 graduates (students, not percentage)."

Unfortunately, I sort of agree with this statement. In a normal economy, a degree from a top 25-ish law school is probably a good investment, assuming you like being a lawyer. Schools ranked between roughly 25 and 150-ish are potentially a good investment, depending on the circumstances. Schools ranked below 150ish are generally a bad idea, unless you have special circumstances (the school is the best school in an area with no other law schools, you have great connections, etc.). Is this elitist? Maybe. But it is probably good advice nonetheless. Also, the bad economy has made even this ranking a little rosy.

"Another question: while graduating from a good school clearly gives you a big boost in landing your first good job, how much is it a factor after years on the job?"

Yes, the importance of your law school diminishes with time, though it depends on what kind of job you are talking about. For example, the really plum government jobs are tough to get if you don't have a sparkling resume. Also, don't underestimate how important it is to get that first job.

Posted by: blabla | Aug 25, 2009 1:32:38 PM

Yes, the law school you graduated from diminishes in importance after time only with respect to this very important caveat...that law school put you on your career path that will determine where you practice "after years on the job." You are not going to laterally transfer from some po-dunk law firm to Venable unless you literally are the best litigator ever (ie., see the Devil's Advocate).

Read the contract world blogs, people are living lives of absolute desperation after graduation working on document review projects with no possibility of escape. So, yeah, I will disparage these schools because they are to blame. All they care about is your ability to sign your student loan contract.

Therefore, if you are likely to be a midpack student (i.e., LSAT at around 93% or below), you are wasting your money if you go to any school other than a tier one. That is, if you can get into #30 Alabama and graduate with in the top 1/2, you are better off than you would be having gone to tier 4, but #1 in value, NCC, graduating in the top 25%.

Posted by: joeindc44 | Aug 25, 2009 2:31:18 PM

NJ Lawyer, the difference between the $90K job and the $160K isn't anywhere near $70K. It's more like $40K gross when you consider the higher cost of living in the BosWash corridor than in, say, Atlanta or Columbus (check a cost of living calculator). And of course that's gross, pre-tax, marginal salary, so the actual take-home advantage is less than $25K/year. Call it 5 years or so to make up the $15K vs. $120K tuition difference.

If there's a 50-vs-70 hours a week difference between the jobs, then the top-tier graduate spends the first five years of her career working twenty extra hours a week to pay off the differential in the cost of schooling before any of the rewards show up in her pocket. That might well be worth it to her . . . but it's hardly a no-brainer.

Posted by: Anna | Aug 25, 2009 2:32:17 PM

Ah, the arrogance of those who went to the top-tier schools remains long after graduation. I went to New Mexico, which is listed as a top value but only #77. At UNM Law, I got to participate in a great clinical program (we are either the only school or one of the only schools that requires clinic for graduation) which allowed me to practice in court before I graduated. UNM belongs where it is, at the top of this list.

Here is something that many people do not consider. If a Tier 3 or 4 guy cannot get a job from some arrogant white shoe firm, then he or she should just go out make their own bones. Even in Obama's America, there is nothing stopping anyone from earning their own keep, through P.D. contracts, hanging out at the local courts, contract work, or many other things. You don't need affirmation from the firms that only hire the Harvard/Yale/Standford grads. The funny thing about those "top-tier" grads is that in my experience, they aren't nearly as ready to go out and actually practice law as a U of New Mexico graduate is. Plus, if you notice, many of the lower tier schools have higher bar passage rates that the top-tier schools. I always find it real humorous to hear that one explained away, i.e. the lower schools merely teach the bar exam.

Go Lobos!

Posted by: Brian G. | Aug 25, 2009 2:39:30 PM

These lists are only as good as their methodology. With that said, I don't think you can ignore the law school at UC Irvine [UCI Law] which has put together an impressive staff and is offering free tuition to its incoming class of students. This policy has naturally attracted top tier students to its ranks.

But because it is only in its starting year of operation, UCI Law wouldn't qualify for the list above [Too early for it to establish an employment rate or bar passage rate for its students, etc.]

Posted by: Justin Levine | Aug 25, 2009 2:40:40 PM

These rankings are a complete waste. I think back to the rankings where Cooley came up with it's own system and put itself in the top 10. Career services in T3 / T4 schools LIE. They have to. At NCC no where near 90% of the grads are employed in legal positions. These schools will count you employed if you're working at Starbucks, they'll count you as employed if they hire you part time to organize books in the law library. Until the ABA requires a more specific ranking system T3/T4 diploma mills will continue to be a toxic consumer product. Jeez, in my state we've regulated the payday loan lenders. Many T3/T4 schools are just as dangerous to consumers if not more so. Last I checked payday lenders don't usually leave you high and dry with 100k in non-dischargable debt.

Posted by: James | Aug 25, 2009 6:15:17 PM

"... Georgia State University, which is ranked 4 ... [has an] average starting salary ... [of] about $80K ($93K for private sector lawyers). Emory, which is in the same general geographic location, states that its grads make an average of $109K ... new grad from Emory would make almost $30K more than a new Georgia State grad in their first year ... [t]hus, it's worth it to pay the extra $90K in tuition to go to Emory (3 years' tuition is about $30K at GSU and $120K at Emory)."

Unfortunately your example mistakenly assumes that grads from both schools have the same cost-of-living after law school. That assumption is highly unlikely as GSU is predominately for those law students that intend to practice in GA (read: Atlanta) whereas Emory's focus is more national. $130k in NYC is obviously not the same as $130k in Atlanta.

Posted by: Jess Me | Aug 25, 2009 6:58:05 PM

I present to you, the life of one Ned Berry Stiles, a living, though now deceased, reminder that your legal career, if that is what you want, will be shaped by your efforts and abilities, not by your school:

"Ned Stiles, 70, Leader of Wall St. Law Firm, Dies"
By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Ned Berry Stiles, a former managing partner of the international Wall Street law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton*, died Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn. He was 70 and lived in Greenwich and Quogue, N.Y.

He had a brief illness after a stroke, the firm said.

Mr. Stiles was its managing partner from 1988 to 2000, when he became of counsel. During his tenure, Cleary, Gottlieb strengthened its presence in Europe and the Far East, adding offices in Frankfurt, Rome and Moscow.

He was chairman of a City Bar Association committee in the late 1990's when it set goals for greater diversity in New York's legal profession. He was active in the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and had a role in keeping the law firm downtown in enlarged quarters at 1 Liberty Plaza.

Ned Stiles was born in rural Kentucky, graduated in 1953 from Miami University** in Oxford, Ohio, served as a captain in the Air Force and received his law degree at the University of Cincinnati*** in 1958. He was a staff lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington before joining Cleary, Gottlieb in 1961.

Mr. Stiles is survived by his wife of 28 years, the former Deborah Fiedler; a daughter, Jessica, of Greenwich; three sons, Michael, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Andrew, of Seattle, and Peter, of Austin, Tex.; and a brother, Andrew, of Louisville, Ky.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/01/obituaries/01STIL.html>

*Cleary is one of the top old line, white shoe, blue chip, Wall Street law firms. He reached the very top of the heap.

**State School USNews Tier 2 now

***State School now, municipal then, USNews Tier 2 now

Posted by: Fat Man | Aug 25, 2009 8:22:41 PM

As if on cue, the NYTimes points out:

"Downturn Dims Prospects Even at Top Law Schools"
By GERRY SHIH
August 25, 2009
p. B1
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/business/26lawyers.html

When Julia Figurelli, a second-year student at the University of Pennsylvania, decided to enter law school a year ago, she expected to find a lucrative law firm job in three years — if not collecting the $160,000-a-year associate salaries at one of the uppermost partnerships. By the time she obtains her J.D., she says, she will have around $200,000 in debt.

“Had I seen where the market was going, I would’ve gone to a lower-ranked but less expensive public school,” she said. “I’m questioning whether law school was the right choice at all.”

emphasis added.

Posted by: Fat Man | Aug 26, 2009 12:13:55 PM

I went to Widener U. School of Law. It ranks near the bottom of every ranking. When I passed the Pennsylvania bar (yes, on the first time), 17 years ago, I hung out a shingle. I'm still going strong, and I crack up every time I get a resume from some newly minted, unemployed UPenn Ivy Leaguer.

Posted by: Timothy J. Trott | Aug 26, 2009 12:51:33 PM

Therefore, if you are likely to be a midpack student (i.e., LSAT at around 93% or below), you are wasting your money if you go to any school other than a tier one. That is, if you can get into #30 Alabama and graduate with in the top 1/2, you are better off than you would be having gone to tier 4, but #1 in value, NCC, graduating in the top 25%.

An interesting theory. You seem to be claiming that schools aren't really all that different in how hard they are, but there's an enormous difference in reputation. Otherwise I can't see how you're claiming the someone who is only top 25% (not top 10% even) at Tier 4 NCCU would be able to get in the top half at Alabama.

While you certainly have a point, there's also not a lot of point in going to one of the more expensive top 14 law schools only to not be in the top half of your class. And that will apply to around half the people in any class.

For most people, it's a tougher call than the dichotomy you present. Top 25% or top 10% or better at Alabama or Washington U. in St. Louis, or bottom half at Yale or Harvard?

Posted by: John Thacker | Aug 26, 2009 2:19:00 PM

This may be even more poorly conceived than the regular rankings. We all know what employment rate is suspect but, as I understand it, there is no variable for salary. "Best value" would seem to imply return on investment. Without salary numbers the table seems pretty meaningless.

Posted by: Jeff | Aug 27, 2009 8:15:50 AM