Paul L. Caron

Friday, August 24, 2012

Best Value Law School Rankings

Best ValueThe National Jurist today released its 6th Annual Best Value Law School Rankings:

Our Best Value Rankings ... is designed to find the law schools where graduates have the best chance of passing the bar and getting a legal job, without taking on a ton of debt.

This study does not attempt to assess a school's reputation and academic selectivity or focus on any metrics that would encourage schools to engage in wasteful spending. Instead, it is designed to assist the majority of students who will practice at small- or mid-sized law firms or in public service.

To identify the law schools that provide the best value, The National Jurist looks at the most important exit numbers:

  • Weighted Employment Rate (35%)
  • Tuition (25%)
  • Average Debt Load (15%)
  • 2-Year Bar Passage Average (15%)
  • Cost of Living (10%)

Here are the Top 20 Best Value Law Schools:

The National Jurist also gave A- value grades to 15 schools and B+ value grades to 12 schools. But as Above the Law points out, the National Jurist used flawed student debt data in compiling the rankings, as several schools (including Barry, Kansas, and Rutgers-Camden) have been busted for underreporting their average student debt loads.

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I don't understand how aggregating this data makes sense-- isn't the "best value law school" going to be the one that offers candidates the most money while not being significantly lower-ranked than the other law schools to which s/he was accepted? I.e. the best value must be calculated by each applicant based on cost of tuition, aid offered, cost of living in the relevant place, and bar passage rates/job prospects in the state in which s/he wants to live? Low average debt at New Mexico doesn't matter if you got into a t15 or if you got a full ride to someplace equivalent to UNM, and matters a lot if you want to practice in NM.

Posted by: junior mint | Aug 25, 2012 9:17:36 PM

BYU has been in the top 5 the past three years. Does anyone know what happened to not get them even placed on this list?

Posted by: Ted Thalix | Aug 25, 2012 10:08:16 AM

Wisconsin's 99% bar passage rate is misleading, since all Wisconsin (and Marquette) grads are automatically admitted to the bar of Wisconsin, provided they pass the character/fitness evaluation. Only those Wisconsin and Marquette grads who want to practice in another state, usually Illinois, have to take the bar exam of that state.

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Aug 25, 2012 6:35:22 AM