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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Most Overrated and Underrated Law Schools: U.S. News v. SSRN

US News SSRNIn Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006), Bernie Black (Northwestern) and I compared the ranking of law schools using U.S. News and SSRN downloads.  In three prior posts, I  updated the chart on pages 98-102, showing the ranking of law schools under U.S. News (overall and peer reputation) and SSRN (recent and all-time downloads).

On page 124 of the article, we listed the most "undervalued" and "overvalued" law schools, based on the spread between their U.S. News peer reputation and SSRN all-time downloads. In three prior posts, I listed the most "undervalued" and "overvalued" law schools by U.S. News quartile.  Here are the 50 most "undervalued" and "overvalued" law schools:

Schools Undervalued by US News

Schools Overvalued by US News

School

US News

SSRN

Spread

School

US News

SSRN

Spread

T. Jefferson

181

73

-108

Baylor

76

203

+127

Suffolk

116

29

-87

CUNY

116

211

+95

Chapman

139

63

-76

Howard

99

191

+92

NY Law School

128

53

-75

Oregon

53

141

+88

St Thomas(MN)

139

65

-74

Oklahoma

67

154

+87

Widener

139

67

-72

Arkansas (LR)

99

183

+84

Baltimore

116

50

-66

Tulane

43

125

+82

Pace

128

70

-58

Nebraska

67

149

+82

J. Marshall (IL)

152

104

-48

Montana

116

196

+80

Seton Hall

87

42

-45

Gonzaga

99

174

+75

Drake

128

83

-45

St. Mary's

158

223

+65

South Texas

152

107

-45

Richmond

67

129

+62

Touro

158

115

-43

Wyoming

116

177

+61

Florida Int’l

152

111

-41

Hawaii

76

135

+59

UMKC

99

58

-41

Arkansas (FAY)

87

145

+58

William Mitchell

139

99

-40

Kentucky

67

124

+57

Michigan State

87

49

-38

N. Carolina Cent.

168

224

+56

George Mason

53

16

-37

West Virginia

109

163

+54

Ohio Northern

168

134

-34

SMU

53

106

+53

San Diego

53

21

-32

Maine

99

152

+53

Tennessee

59

28

-31

Wake Forest

35

87

+52

Penn State

76

46

-30

Duquesne

139

190

+51

Valparaiso

152

122

-30

Catholic

87

137

+50

San Francisco

109

81

-28

South Dakota

139

187

+48

Temple

53

26

-27

Connecticut

49

96

+47

American

49

23

-26

North Dakota

128

175

+47

Albany

116

91

-25

William & Mary

28

74

+46

Florida Coastal

186

161

-25

South Carolina

87

132

+45

Loyola (CA)

59

35

-24

Appalachian

181

226

+45

Texas Tech

116

92

-24

UC-Hastings

35

79

+44

Hamline

139

116

-23

Georgia State

67

110

+43

Southwestern

128

105

-23

Kansas

59

102

+43

St Thomas (FL)

173

150

-23

Wisconsin

26

68

+42

Illinois

35

13

-22

Tulsa

116

158

+42

Case Western

59

38

-21

Rutgers-Newark

76

118

+42

G. Washington

22

2

-20

LSU

99

140

+41

Rutgers-Cam.

76

56

-20

Mississippi Col.

158

199

+41

Regent

186

166

-20

Detroit

173

213

+40

N. Kentucky

158

139

-19

BYU

46

85

+39

Cardozo

49

31

-18

New Mexico

76

115

+39

Samford

139

121

-18

Northeastern

87

126

+39

Santa Clara

76

60

-16

Loyola (LA)

109

147

+38

New Hampshire

128

114

-14

Alabama

35

72

+37

Roger Williams

152

138

-14

Cincinnati

76

113

+37

New England

168

154

-14

Washington & Lee

28

64

+36

Brooklyn

67

54

-13

Washington (WA)

35

66

+31

Hofstra

99

86

-13

Quinnipiac

128

159

+31

Seattle

87

76

-11

Faulkner

181

209

+28

Washburn

128

117

-11

Mercer

116

143

+27

S. Illinois

139

128

-11

Campbell

168

195

+27

Louisville

99

89

-10

Georgia

35

61

+26

 

 

 

 

North Carolina

19

45

+26

 

 

 

 

Idaho

116

142

+26

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/05/the-most-overrated-.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

The obsession with rankings is one of the main problems with American law schools.

Posted by: michael livingston | May 22, 2014 4:42:43 AM

SSRN is no less flawed, as it focuses on a very narrow sort of contribution to the public understanding of law. Until books, monographs, blogs, and similar contributions are taken into account, SSRN is no less guilty of zooming in on one selected item than is US News guilty of looking at several selected items that do not envelop the entire picture. The best mark of rankings -- and I agree, we live In a world obsessed with rankings (and not just of law schools) -- is how the world views the situation.

Posted by: James Edward Maule | May 22, 2014 9:01:23 AM

The shark is jumped! Comparing US News Ranking to SSRN downloads is not much more meaningful an indication of anything about law school quality than comparing US News Ranking to a faculty's average waist circumference.

Posted by: Eric Muller | May 22, 2014 9:26:53 AM

An interesting measure, though the use of SSRNs as the catalyst make it necessarily faculty-centric. A few months ago, out of curiosity, I knocked out a spreadsheet that compared the "spread" between a school's rank in student selectivity (weighted uGPA & LSAT scores; the data came from US News) and the percentage of graduates that landed the proverbial full-time, long-term, license-required, non-school funded attorneys jobs (data from Faculty Lounge). In essence, a rough sketch of student *inputs* versus student *outputs.* Lo and behold, the most overrated school by that metric was none other than my own Northeastern, followed closely by American.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 22, 2014 9:49:54 AM

What's the methodology here (ie, do you just count downloads)? How does this control for size of the faculty? If it doesn't, then the push is on the have more faculty at every school. Wouldn't it make sense to tie the SSRN download numbers to the number of students enrolled in the school, or at least the number of full-time faculty at the school, perhaps? Maybe this has been done and I've missed it in the methodology somewhere.

Posted by: Wondering | May 22, 2014 10:40:09 AM

Any plans to share that spreadsheet someplace UNE? I'd love to take a look at that comparison.

Posted by: Former Editor | May 22, 2014 11:47:18 AM

USNews is written as a guide for prospective students. That is its intended purpose. Because prospective students place huge value on rankings, they have become very important to higher ed institutions. I guess this means having students is important, or something.

If the USNews rankings are to be replaced at all, they should be replaced with a ranking of student outcomes (i.e. employment and debt). That would be much more directly relevant to them than some proximate measure that includes things they don’t care about (size of library, student-faculty ratio).

Why on earth would they be replaced with rankings related to faculty publications? Why do prospective students care one iota about that?

And how, in 2014, after all of the criticism, can law faculty members continue to be so arrogant and oblivious?

Posted by: JM | May 22, 2014 12:18:36 PM

@former editor,

Take out the space between the words in my pseudonym, add a @ and a gmail.com after it, and you can reach me.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 22, 2014 5:19:59 PM