Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Commentaries on Law School Rankings

The Connecticut Law Review has published commentaries on law school rankings:

This Article complements a recently published paper in which I discussed the theoretical and methodological aspects of law review rankings. The purpose of this Article is twofold: refinement of the theoretical framework, and implementation. It proposes, defends, and implements a complex ranking method for general-interest student-edited law reviews, based on a judicious weighting of normalized citation frequency and normalized impact factor. It then analyzes the distribution of journals’ scores, and the diminishing marginal difference between them. Finally, it examines the correlation between law schools’ positions in the U.S. News & World Report 2006 ranking and their flagship law reviews’ positions under the proposed method and between these schools’ overall scores and their law reviews’ final scores.

Much recent scholarship has focused on the U.S. News and World Report rankings and other ranking systems; other scholarship has focused on citations of law journals. This paper combines those two areas. It explores the connections between U.S. News rankings (particularly the peer assessment scores) and citations of schools’ main law reviews by journals and by courts. There are high correlations between the U.S. News peer assessment scores and citations of main law reviews by journals for the U.S. News top-50 schools. For comparison purposes, the paper also looks to Brian Leiter’s rankings and finds a similar correlation.

The strength of the correlations decrease for U.S. News third and fourth tier schools. The paper considers some of the implications of the correlations for law school rankings and suggests that, perhaps, future rankings should include citations as a factor in assessing the quality of law schools. One table illustrates how differently the third and fourth tiers of U.S. News would look if law review citations were the basis for ranking law schools. A final table provides a ranking of law reviews based on journal citations.

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