Paul L. Caron
Dean



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Meta-Ranking Of Flagship U.S. Law Reviews

Bryce Clayton Newell (Tilburg University), 2016 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews:

I decided to create a meta-ranking of the possible contenders for gauging the relative importance of journals and offers: US News Overall Ranking (averaged from 2010-2017), US News Peer Reputation Ranking (also averaged from 2010-2017), W&L Combined Ranking (at default weighting; 2007-2014), and Google Scholar Metrics law journal rankings (averaging the h-index and h-median of each journal, as proposed here by Robert Anderson). I've ranked each journal within each ranking system, averaged these four ranks using a 25% weighting for each, and computed and ranked the final scores. I think this approach benefits from incorporating a couple different forms of impact evaluation (W&L + Google) while not disregarding the general sentiment that law school “prestige” (USN combined rank + peer reputation rank, each averaged over an 8-year period) is an important factor in law review placement decisions.

Here are the Top 25:

MetaRank

Journal

Change from USN Rank

MetaScore

Avg. USN Peer Rank

Avg. USN Overall Rank

W&L Rank

Google Rank

1

Harvard Law Review

1

1.5

1

2

2

1

2

The Yale Law Journal

-1

1.75

1

1

3

2

3

Stanford Law Review

0

2.75

3

3

1

4

4

Columbia Law Review

0

3.75

4

4

4

3

5

University of Pennsylvania Law Review

2

6.5

9

7

5

5

6

Michigan Law Review

4

8

8

10

8

6

7

California Law Review

1

9

7

8

12

9

8

New York University Law Review

-2

9.25

6

6

14

11

8

Virginia Law Review

1

9.25

9

9

9

10

10

The Georgetown Law Journal

4

9.75

13

14

6

6

11

Texas Law Review

4

12

15

15

10

8

12

University of Chicago L. Rev.

-7

12.75

5

5

25

16

12

Duke Law Journal

-1

12.75

11

11

16

13

14

Cornell Law Review

-1

13.25

12

13

15

13

15

UCLA Law Review

1

13.5

16

16

7

15

16

Northwestern University Law Review

-4

15.25

14

12

13

22

17

Minnesota Law Review

3

15.75

20

20

11

12

18

Vanderbilt Law Review

-1

17.5

17

17

20

16

19

Notre Dame Law Review

4

21.75

27

23

19

18

20

Iowa Law Review

5

22.5

27

25

18

20

21

Boston University Law Review

3

24.25

25

24

22

26

22

William and Mary Law Review

8

25.5

32

30

21

19

23

The George Washington L. Rev.

-2

26

23

21

29

31

23

North Carolina Law Review

11

26

21

34

28

21

25

Southern California Law Review

-7

26.5

19

18

32

37

26

Boston College Law Review

5

27.25

29

31

23

26

The big movers here (in this ranking versus the average US News Overall Rank from 2010-2017) seem to be (but there are quite a few others who moved around):

  • New York Law School moved up a whopping 38 places (to #99);
  • Vermont moved up 31 places (to #91);
  • UC Irvine dropped 30 places (to #59);
  • Akron moved up 28 places (to #99);
  • Albany moved up 27 places (to #96).

Journals like Fordham (#26, up 10 places), Hastings (#36, up 12 places), Cardozo (#42, up 18 places), American (#46, up 11 places), and Lewis and Clark (#53, up 23 places) that have been frequently referred to in Angsting Thread comments as “hitting above their weight” all also improved at least 10 places (as did Missouri, Connecticut, Denver, Brooklyn, Chicago-Kent, Seattle, Oregon, Buffalo, Santa Clara, Indy, DePaul, South Carolina, St. Louis, Hofstra, Marquette, and Howard). Other journals dropping 10 or more places include: Arkansas-Fay., Kentucky, Georgia State, Temple, SMU, Arizona State, Georgia, and Alabama.

Other sizable moves in the top 20:

  • Chicago (#12) drops 7 places (Google’s ranking moderated the even more drastic difference between Chicago’s US News rank and W&L rank);
  • Iowa moved up 5 places (to #20);
  • Northwestern dropped 4 places (to #16);
  • Michigan (#6), Georgetown (#10), Texas (#11), and Notre Dame (#19) all moved up 4 places.

The meta-rank of California law schools is:

  1. Stanford (3)
  2. California (7)
  3. UCLA (15)
  4. USC (25)
  5. UC-Davis (33)
  6. Hastings (36)
  7. Pepperdine (55)
  8. Loyola (56)
  9. UC-Irvine (59)
  10. San Diego (73)
  11. Santa Clara (78)

My 2016 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews @PrawfsBlawg:

Below is a graphical representation of the correlation between my “meta-ranking” (top 149 journals) and these four other ranking systems

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/04/2016-meta-ranking-of-flagship-us-law-reviews.html

Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

In real life, practitioners just click on the "secondary sources" button on Westlaw and type in their question. If they get a nice hit on their subject, great. On-topic law review articles can be an invaluable and in my opinion, underutilized, source given how little extra effort it requires. But nobody cares if the article comes from Creighton or Columbia.

Posted by: Jim Harper | Apr 5, 2016 7:36:31 AM

Ok, I'll bite. What is a "meta ranking?"

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Apr 5, 2016 7:38:23 AM

There are a few different meanings to the word "meta." Here, I used it to denote that this ranking was based off of other rankings (four of them), rather than primary data. So, while each of the underlying rankings was generated by some form of primary data collection and analysis (whether combinations of reputation rankings by peers and GPA and LSAT scores or some sort of impact/citation counting methodology), this "meta-ranking" uses each of these other rankings as its inputs.

The purpose of the creating and posting the rankings, in my mind, was to generate a (civil) discussion about whether there might be any good reason to think about developing a different way to measure law journal prestige (for those who care about such things) besides the oft-cited US News rankings or even just W&L or Google, etc. It wasn't a claim that these rankings are superior to any others, just that I am interested in feedback about the general idea of doing something like this. I would appreciate any comments along those lines, even if the consensus is that “what we have works fine, so why try to fix it?”

Posted by: Bryce Newell | Apr 5, 2016 11:51:32 AM

No offense, but most law professors don't really care what articles law practitioners are reading. We have loftier goals.

Posted by: LawProf | Apr 5, 2016 12:56:17 PM

This is really pointless! Note, in particular, that both W&L and Google Scholar reward journals for publishing more issues per year.

Posted by: Brian | Apr 5, 2016 2:01:40 PM

So the "Meta" is an average of other rankings? Is it weighted?

The advantage being to generate a broader yardstick?

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Apr 6, 2016 7:47:20 AM

"No offense, but most law professors don't really care what articles law practitioners are reading. We have loftier goals."

It works just as well in reverse: "No offense, but most law practitioners don't really care what articles law professors are writing. We have loftier goals." And unlike law professors, we don't ultimately have to answer to Congress for how we spend our time and money (good luck preserving unlimited GradPLUS after the election, regardless of who is elected...).

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 6, 2016 10:43:59 AM

LawProf,
Serious question from lowly practitioner: what goals?

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Apr 6, 2016 1:01:08 PM

I'm a law professor, and I really hope LawProf above is trolling. If not, then he should speak for himself and his goals, not what "we" in the academy care about. He certainly isn't speaking for me in his comment above. My goals are "lofty" but also capacious enough to include practitioners' reading, writing, and use of legal scholarship.

Posted by: Anonprof | Apr 7, 2016 4:52:09 AM