Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tipping the Scales Law School Rankings

TippingTipping the Scales, Our Debut Ranking Of Law Schools — Stanford Comes Out On Top:

In our ranking, the scores for schools’ acceptance rates and median LSAT results are weighted 25% each. We reward schools that can be choosy about the students they accept.  Another 25% depends on the percentage of graduates that don their caps knowing they have jobs lined up. Along with the fact that this figure says a lot about schools’ career services, states release bar exam results at different times., and we didn’t want to give certain schools geography-based advantages. Finally, median private sector salaries and median public interest salaries count for 12.5% each. Money isn’t everything, but it’s undeniably important for the many lawyers saddled with student loans.

We left out information that’s harder to quantify and far more likely to be suspect if not downright flawed. For example, in U.S. News’ ranking, input from deans and other faculty members accounts for 25% of schools’ index scores. Those opinion surveys are little more than popularity contests because deans and faculty have only limited knowledge of what is going on at schools other than their own. And they can be deeply flawed anyway due to possible sampling errors.

For similar reasons, we also don’t believe that the opinions of legal professionals count for all that much. Most of them would only vote for their alma maters, anyway. Yet, U.S. News annually polls law firm partners, state attorneys general and federal and state judges and their opinions count for 15% of that magazine’s methodology. And we certainly don’t include a fuzzy category used by U.S. News called “faculty resources”—expenditures per student, student-faculty ratio, and library resources. Frankly, that’s all well and good but only gets in the way of the more important criteria to determine the true quality of a law school.

Here are the Tipping the Scales Top 25, along with their 2014 U.S. News rank:

  1. Stanford (#2 in U.S. News)
  2. Yale (#1)
  3. Harvard (#2)
  4. Pennsylvania (#7)
  5. Columbia (#4)
  6. Duke (#11)
  7. Northwestern (#12)
  8. UC-Berkeley (#9)
  9. Virginia (#7)
  10. Michigan (#9)
  11. Chicago (#4)
  12. NYU (#6)
  13. George Washington (#21)
  14. Cornell (#13)
  15. Georgetown (#14)
  16. Alabama (#21)
  17. Texas (#15)
  18. Minnesota (#19)
  19.  USC (#18)
  20. Vanderbilt (#15)
  21. UCLA (##17)
  22. Washington U. (#19)
  23. U. Washington (#28)
  24. Georgia State (#54)
  25. George Mason (#41)

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

Update: Brian Leiter (Chicago), Another Random Website Cooks Up Another Off-Kilter Ranking...

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink


25% of the ranking is based on the acceptance rate? That sounds legitimate, since of course acceptance rates aren't gameable or self-reported. Yeesh...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 30, 2013 9:36:06 AM

Of all the law school rankings out there, this one is the most recent.

Posted by: Jimbo | Oct 30, 2013 8:32:48 AM