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Monday, October 31, 2011

U.S. News Annual Peer Assessment of Law School Tax Programs

Best grad schoolsI received in the mail my ballot for the 2013 U.S. News Tax Rankings (for prior U.S. News tax rankings, see 2012 and 2008-2011). As in prior years, the survey is intended "to identify the law schools having the top programs in tax law."  The survey is sent "to a sample of law school faculty listed in the AALS Directory of Law Teachers 2009-2010 as currently teaching a course or seminar in tax law."  Recipients are asked "to [i]dentify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality tax law courses or programs. In making your choices consider all elements that contribute to a program's excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication record, etc."

As Donald Tobin (Ohio State) has noted, it is more than strange that NYU has finished ahead of Florida and Georgetown each year that U.S. News has conducted the survey.  Because the survey ranks the schools by how often they appear on the respondents' "Top 15" lists, this means that some folks list NYU, but not Florida and Georgetown, among the Top 15 tax programs.

In filling out your survey, you may want to consult our article, Pursuing a Tax LLM Degree: Where?, which compiles information about 13 highly ranked tax LLM programs: (1) NYU; (2) Florida; (3) Georgetown; (4) Northwestern; (5) Miami; (6) Boston University; (7) San Diego; (8) Loyola-L.A./LMU; (9) SMU; (10) Denver; (11) University of Washington; (12) Villanova; and (13) Chapman. The topics on which information is reported in the Article include: (1) tuition; (2) scholarships; (3) the full-time tax professors who teach in each program and the tax courses they teach; (4) the number of full-time and part-time students enrolled in each program; (5) general information about adjunct professors teaching in each program; (6) required courses; (7) elective courses, specialty certificates, and concentrations; (8) opportunities to develop tax practice skills by taking experiential learning courses and simulated practice courses; (9) extracurricular tax activities; (10) opportunities to graduate with honors or receive academic prizes; and (11) career planning and placement services offered to students in each program. The article also ranks the tax faculty at these thirteen law schools by citations (the Top 5 are NYU (1), Florida (2), Georgetown (3), Miami (4), and Northwestern (5)) and SSRN downloads (the Top 5 are Loyola-L.A. (1), NYU (2), Chapman (3), Florida (4), and San Diego (5)).

Other resources available on TaxProf Blog include:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2011/10/us-news-annual.html

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Comments

SSRN citations, because they can be so easily gamed, have zero credibility as a measure of quality.

Posted by: anon | Oct 31, 2011 12:17:24 PM

Why can't US News send a list of the schools with LL.M. (Taxation) programs and ask for rankings? Instead, it sends a list of all law schools, including the ones with no LL.M. program and one tax course. It would not surprise me to learn that on some survey, that school finds a vote.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Oct 31, 2011 5:02:15 PM