TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Law School Rankings By Influential Judicial Alumni Measured By H-Index: Michigan Is #1

Ravel, The Law School with the Most Influence Will Surprise You:

Forget Yale and Harvard as the training grounds for future judges. It turns out that Michigan Law has the most concentrated impact on national jurisprudence. Surprised? So were we.

In Ravel’s new power ranking of law schools based on which schools turn out influential judges, Michigan Law tops the list. Instead of looking just at the number of judges a school graduated, we used a new data analysis to rank judges based on both quantity and quality of their work, and then we connected that analysis to where the most influential judges studied.

Judges 2

More About Our Methodology
We based Ravel’s Influence Score on Hirsch’s index. Originally, the h-index was used to compute the impact of researchers in the scientific community, with the goal being to quantify the impact and relevance of an individual’s scientific output. Studies have shown that the h-index is predictive of career trajectory and that it could be applied to compute the impact of research groups. For more on how an h-index score is calculated, check out this explanation.

To be considered in our ranking, a school must count at least 10 judges amongst their alumni, and each judge must have authored a minimum of 10 opinions. Using Ravel’s case law database, we calculated the h-index for the federal judges who graduated from each school, and the school’s h-index was computed as the average of the alumni. Scores were not adjusted for the size of the school.

A high h-index score means that the opinions authored are frequently cited and thus, considered influential. For example, an h-index score of 20 means that a judge has written at least 20 opinions that have been cited 20 times by other opinions. More prolific judges tend to rank higher.

(Hat Tip: John Edwards.)

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