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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Most Underrated and Overrated Law Schools

J. Haskell Murray (Regent) passed along this spreadsheet which compares median LSAT and peer reputation in the 2014 U.S. News rankings:

The 20 Most Underrated Law Schools (Median LSAT > Peer Reputation):

Law School
Median LSAT Rank Median LSAT Peer Rep. Rank Peer Rep. (1-5) LSAT Rank - Peer Rank
Chapman 73 158 142 1.8 -69
Florida Int'l
97 156 158 1.6 -61
Regent
128 153 186 1.2 -58
Campbell
122 154 173 1.4 -51
Baylor
40 162 90 2.3 -50
Richmond 40 162 90 2.3 -50
Elon
113 155 151 1.7 -38
Texas Tech 97 156 130 1.9 -33
New Hampshire 97 156 130 1.9 -33
Drexel 88 157 118 2.0 -30
South Texas 128 153 158 1.6 -30
Western State 156 151 186 1.2 -30
Northeastern
51 161 80 2.4 -29
St. John's 73 158 102 2.2 -29
Whittier 156 151 181 1.3 -25
Penn State 66 159 90 2.3 -24
Samford 128 153 151 1.7 -23
Pepperdine 40 162 62 2.6 -22
Quinnipiac
97 156 118 2.0 -21
St. Louis
97 156 118 2.0 -21
McGeorge
97 156 118 2.0 -21
Tulsa
97 156 118 2.0 -21
Liberty
165 150 186 1.2 -21

The 20 Most Overrated Law Schools (Median LSAT < Peer Reputation)::

Law School
Median LSAT Rank Median LSAT Peer Rep. Rank Peer Rep. (1-5) LSAT Rank - Peer Rank
Miami 97 156 51 2.8 46
Howard
141 152 102 2.2 39
Arkansas-Little Rock 141 152 102 2.2 39
UMKC 141 152 102 2.2 39
Syracuse
128 153 90 2.3 38
Vermont 128 153 90 2.3 38
North Dakota 165 150 130 1.9 35
Marquette
113 155 80 2.4 33
Dayton 174 149 142 1.8 32
South Dakota 174 149 142 1.8 32
Valparaiso 174 149 142 1.8 32
Loyola-NO 141 152 110 2.1 31
Indiana-Ind. 
97 156 68 2.5 29
New Mexico 97 156 68 2.5 29
Kansas 88 157 62 2.6 26
American
66 159 42 3.0 24
Albany
141 152 118 2.0 23
Creighton
141 152 118 2.0 23
Suffolk 141 152 118 2.0 23
Baltimore 141 152 118 2.0 23
Widener 165 150 142 1.8 23
Touro 181 148 158 1.6 23

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Comments

The differences are interesting, but who's to say which list is "underrated" and which list is "overrated?" Students are voting by enrolling; professors are voting with peer reputation ballots. When they disagree, it's not obvious whether student decisions reflect reality and professors' opinions are the mistaken ratings, or vice versa.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Apr 2, 2013 6:30:17 AM

An odd claim: that schools with higher than expected inputs (e.g., students with good credentials) but lower than expected outputs (e.g., reputation) are "underrated." One might worry about the possibility, to the contrary, that schools with great students but poor reputations aren't aren't providing much value added to those students.

Posted by: Theodore Seto | Apr 2, 2013 8:15:33 AM

Funny thing is that the "overrated" schools are mostly abject toilets, especially TTTTouro, which gave us legal superluminary John "Painterguy" Koch.

Posted by: John Bungso is an a-so | Apr 2, 2013 2:17:15 PM

Theodore, that is a fair comment. I was focused, however, on objective v. subjective, not input v. output.

At least for Regent, you see a similar gap between the objective outputs (full-time JD employment, bar passage, etc.) and the subjective peer reputation score. See, e.g., full-time JD-required employment where Regent’s rank is actually two spots higher than its LSAT rank and 60 spots higher than its peer reputation rank. http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/03/-full-rankings-bar-admission-required-full-time-long-term.html.

Also, it could be that students believe law professors’ opinion regarding reputation is a very valuable output, but I doubt it. It is a shame, in my opinion, that 25% of the U.S. News rank is governed by law professors’ opinions rather than by objective inputs and outputs.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Apr 2, 2013 4:44:55 PM

So, a school is overrated when it provides better programs and underrated when it provides worse programs? I think your "underrated" and "overrated" titles need to switch; or, this spread sheet should be titled "Most Underrated and Overrated Law Graduates."

Posted by: Artie | Apr 2, 2013 5:11:51 PM

It would be nice to see a class size column too, or number of graduates practicing. i wonder if peer reputation is reduced for small law schools?

Posted by: Cedric | Apr 2, 2013 9:11:29 PM

Artie --- since when was peer reputation a measure of good law school programs? I bet most of the reputation voters know little or nothing about the majority of schools.

Posted by: AB | Apr 3, 2013 9:13:03 AM

One minor point - Prof. Murray’s Excel file linked above omits Mercer U. School of Law. I crunch USN&WR numbers here at our law school, so I added them and did the calculations. Subtracting their Median LSAT Rank (estimated at 141) minus Peer Rank (110) gets an “overrated” factor/score of 31 (or, in the alternate, indicates they are doing a great job of adding value to incoming students ranked 141 by graduating them through a program ranked 110 by their peers).

So in the second table above, mentally add Mercer adjacent to us (Loyola New Orleans - our numbers in these categories are very similar to Mercer’s). I say Mercer is “probably” ranked 141 in Median LSAT because I just estimated: USN&WR reports 25th and 27th LSAT Percentiles and so I’m not sure where Prof. Murray got the Median LSAT data. Can anyone speak to that?

Posted by: Brian Huddleston | Apr 4, 2013 8:53:44 AM

How about a collumn for % who passed bar exam within 5 yrs, average salary within 5 yrs of graduation, and for tuition (lower is better). These would be objective rather than subjective, and would be a real reflection of value received. If anything these peer ranking and test scores just reflect perception, while these great students may actually be receiving very poor value. If I was going to send a kid to law school, I would want one with reasonable tuition, where most of their graduates ended up with decent jobs.

Posted by: richard40 | Apr 4, 2013 9:45:37 AM

AB - This is USNews' description of the "Peer assessment score":

Peer assessment score (0.25): In fall 2012, law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty members were asked to rate programs on a scale from marginal (1) to outstanding (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know."
A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. About 63 percent of those surveyed responded.

USNews then incorporates an "assessment score by lawyers/judges" worth (0.15). Together, these two categories form the "Quality Assessment", which is worth (0.40).

I assume the author used the Peer Assessment score, or even the broader Quality Assessment score. Using either score, the Peer Reputation score hinges on faculty assessment of programs at other schools. I can't find an indication the author used the "assessment score by lawyers/judges".

Posted by: Artie | Apr 9, 2013 10:57:52 PM