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Friday, May 7, 2010

U.S. News Law School Rankings: Judicial Clerkships

U.S. News Logo U.S. News & World Report yesterday published its second ranking of law schools by the percentage of the 2008 J.D. graduating class with clerkships with Article III federal judges.  Here are the Top 50 law schools by this measure, along with the percentage of all federal and state judicial clerkships and their overall U.S. News ranking, as well as Brian Leiter's ranking by the percentage of U.S. Supreme Court clerkships for the 2000-2008 Terms (determined by the size of the most recent 1L class):

US News

Federal

Court

Clerkship

Ranking

 

 

US News

Overall

Ranking

Leiter’s

Supreme

Court

Clerkship

Ranking

 

 

 

Law

School

 

%

Federal

Court

Clerkship

 

%

All

Courts

Clerkship

 

%

Supreme

Court

Clerkship

1

1

1

Yale

31.4%

35.1%

0.325%

2

3

4

Stanford

22.0%

23.0%

0.131%

3

2

3

Harvard

15.5%

19.0%

0.151%

4

5

2

Chicago

13.0%

13.0%

0.155%

4

11

15

Duke

13.0%

16.0%

0.010%

6

7

14

Pennsylvania

12.8%

16.5%

0.012%

7

10

7

Virginia

11.8%

13.6%

0.035%

8

4

5

Columbia

11.0%

11.0%

0.048%

9

17

 

Vanderbilt

10.6%

15.0%

 

10

28

13

Georgia

10.4%

17.0%

0.015%

11

28

 

North Carolina

10.0%

10.4%

 

12

11

9

Northwestern

9.4%

12.0%

0.024%

13

22

 

Emory

9.0%

9.1%

 

13

9

9

Michigan

9.0%

13.6%

0.024%

13

15

17

Texas

9.0%

13.0%

0.009%

13

34

 

Wash. & Lee

9.0%

20.0%

 

17

6

8

NYU

8.5%

10.5%

0.033%

18

19

 

Washington U.

8.2%

10.5%

 

19

13

 

Cornell

8.0%

9.5%

 

20

22

12

Notre Dame

7.8%

14.4%

0.017%

21

14

18

Georgetown

7.4%

7.8%

0.008%

22

15

 

UCLA

7.1%

10.5%

 

23

38

 

Alabama

7.0%

12.0%

 

23

Tier 3

 

South Dakota

7.0%

18.0%

 

23

7

6

UC-Berkeley

7.0%

9.0%

0.040%

26

26

 

Iowa

6.7%

12.0%

 

27

Tier 3

 

Arkansas-L.R.

6.3%

12.6%

 

28

Tier 4

 

Appalachian

6.0%

6.0%

 

28

27

 

Indiana-Bloom.

6.0%

11.0%

 

28

22

 

Minnesota

6.0%

16.5%

 

31

48

 

Tulane

5.4%

12.0%

 

32

67

 

New Mexico

5.1%

13.3%

 

33

64

 

Baylor

5.0%

10.0%

 

33

48

 

Maryland

5.0%

18.0%

 

33

Tier 3

 

Mississippi

5.0%

17.0%

 

33

18

 

USC

5.0%

5.0%

 

37

38

 

Wake Forest

5.0%

9.0%

 

38

38

 

Colorado

4.9%

25.0%

 

38

86

 

Richmond

4.9%

17.0%

 

40

42

10

BYU

4.6%

16.0%

0.020%

41

72

 

Temple

4.5%

16.2%

 

42

72

 

Penn State

4.4%

20.3%

 

42

72

 

Seton Hall

4.4%

39.3%

 

42

Tier 3

 

South Carolina

4.4%

19.1%

 

45

21

 

Illinois

4.3%

6.9%

 

46

Tier 4

 

Ave Maria

4.0%

7.1%

 

46

Tier 4

 

CUNY

4.0%

17.8%

 

46

28

 

William & Mary

4.0%

14.0%

 

49

42

 

UC-Hastings

3.9%

6.0%

 

50

67

 

Brooklyn

3.7%

6.2%

 

Robert Morse, Director of Data Research at U.S. News:

At this time, U.S. News does not have plans to incorporate the clerkship ranking into the methodology for the America's Best Law School rankings.

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Comments

I don't know how to make sense of this. Georgia and North Carolina above Michigan, Northwestern, Cornel, and Georgetown. There are conceivably so many possible explanations for this that I can't really see what good this ranking is--especially for something as idiosyncratic as which students judges choose to accept as their clerks.

Posted by: Seth | May 7, 2010 4:56:30 PM

Simple: court of appeals/scotus clerkships are very limited, and dominated by the top 3-4 schools on this list. When it comes to district courts, judges can be regionalist, because their clerks will likely practice in the jurisdiction. And regionalism is rampant in the south. The other schools you mention get the table scraps.

Posted by: enonymous | May 7, 2010 11:12:25 PM

This is exactly why U.S. News must be taken with a LARGE grain of salt.

This is how you make sense of it, Seth: As a general rule, state schools in small states will outperform their U.S. News rankings with federal clerkships. This is because the legal profession is still regulated state-by-state and a state school that may not have the best objective numbers may still have tremendous advantages in the state where they are located.

Case in point: South Carolina. South Carolina Law DOMINATES the state. If you want to practice law in the palmetto state, that is where you go. Every single appellate judge in South Carolina is an alumnus, along with 9/12 Article III judges in the District of South Carolina, and 2/3 of S.C.'s Fourth Circuit judges (4/5 before Williams and Wilkins retired). However, U.S. News ranks them as Tier 3, primarily because the school has no money due to state budget cuts and poor facilities. Also, any school that has to draw a large class from a small state is going to have a lower average LSAT/GPA than a school that has no home state obligations or can limit the size of their incoming class.

The same is probably true for South Dakota, Arkansas-L.R., and Ole Miss. This is also probably why UNC and UGA are so high on the list.

Posted by: usnewssucks | May 8, 2010 7:42:33 AM

Regionalism is also the explanation for NYU's place on this list. NYU's region is the Second Circuit, maybe some NJ Third Circuit judges, SDNY, EDNY and some D.N.J. judges. In the Second Circuit and SDNY in particular, NYU is competing with students from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and every other law school in the country--everyone wants to come to New York. So when you compare this to students from Georgia, Vanderbilt and North Carolina who are clerking for their local district judges, NYU comes out on the bottom.

Regarding NYU v. Columbia, Columbia has been around longer and has more connections with Art. III judges. It is also likely that Columbia attracts the kind of student interested in a clerkship more so than NYU does.

Posted by: DJS | May 8, 2010 1:22:37 PM

Fair point enonymous. But NC is the 11th largest state in the USA by population (as of 2005 - and has only grown since then), so I take issue with categorizing it as a "small state." (And there are 7 law schools in the state, unlike SC.)

Posted by: Tarheel | May 9, 2010 5:56:19 AM