TaxProf Blog

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Law School Rankings By Attractiveness To Students (25/50/75 LSAT/UGPA, Transfers In/Out)

CJ Ryan (Roger Williams) & Brian L. Frye (Kentucky), The 2019 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools:

In 2017, we published A Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, which presented the first (intentionally) objective ranking of law schools. Other law school rankings are subjective because their purpose is to tell prospective law students where to matriculate. Our “revealed-preferences” ranking is objective because its purpose is to ask where prospective law students actually choose to matriculate. In other words, subjective rankings tell students what they should want, but our objective ranking reveals what students actually want. These rankings were originally based on an average of the previous five-years of LSAT and GPA quartile and median averages for law schools. We updated these rankings with a 2018 ranking that focused exclusively on the 75th, median, and 25th quartiles of each of these measures for the entering class in Fall 2017. We have modified our rankings yet again to evaluate law schools based not only on their success at matriculating the most desirable first year law students, but also on their success at retaining those students and attracting transfer students.

Accordingly, we present our latest rankings, the 2019 Revealed-Preferences Rankings, as an objective measure of how successful law schools are at attracting and retaining students. We believe that our new methodology is an improvement on our previous methodology, because it incorporates data on transfers, which provide information about student preferences after matriculation. Unfortunately, our new ranking cannot be directly compared to our previous rankings, because it uses a new methodology. Nevertheless, we provide a comparison to our previous objective rankings, as well as to the prominent U.S. News and Above the Law subjective rankings. In addition, we once again provide regional rankings of law schools based on our 2019 Revealed-Preferences Methodology.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/03/law-school-rankings-by-attractiveness-to-students-255075-lsatugpa-transfers-inout.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Comments

Shouldn't this account or control for class size somewhere? If, for example, Yale and Harvard have nigh-identical LSAT and uGPA stats but Harvard's class is roughly three times the size of Yale's, that should mean something. Similarly, how to control for *lesser* schools that chose to halve enrollment in order to keep their LSAT and uGPAs at their historic levels in the wake of the law school crisis? They have artificially constrained supply for the express purpose of making their law school appear more desirable/elite.

And 2L transfers in are notoriously lax when it comes to their LSAT/uGPAs, since the schools don't have to report them. Under this ranking, Georgetown comes in at number one, no doubt aided in large part by the 100 plus transfer students it takes in any given year. But seeing as virtually all of those transfers came from law schools with much lower LSAT/uGPA stats - their2017 ABA Form 509 disclosures lists transfers in from, inter alia, American, New York Law (not NYU), Charleston, Charlotte, Florida Coastal, Golden Gate, Nova Southeastern, etc. - it seems this particular measure of student attractiveness directly cuts against measuring 1L LSAT/uGPA. Hmm...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 18, 2019 10:32:56 AM

Just because a ranking uses objective facts doesn't make it a good ranking. It reminds me of Cooley ranking system that objectively showed it was the second best law school in the country - in large part because of the objectively true fact that it had a very large law library (or, more accurately, libraries).
This ranking focuses only on the input - the quality of students. A better measure of the quality of a law school is the output - what job outcomes and bar passage results do the students achieve compared to what would be expected based on the students' LSAT and UGPA.
BTW: I completely agree with the previous comment about transfers. In fact, I would tend to rate a school that accepts a lot of less-qualified transfer students lower, not higher.

Posted by: r | Mar 18, 2019 8:42:35 PM

@r writes "A better measure of the quality of a law school is the output - what job outcomes and bar passage results do the students achieve compared to what would be expected based on the students' LSAT and UGPA."

I agree entirely. In fact I did this a few years ago when another legal education website went to the trouble of ranking the ABA-accredited law schools by the percentage of grads who landed full-time/long-term/license-required jobs (I forget whether this was just before or just after the measuring date changed from nine months after graduation to ten months). I took that data, compared it to the USNWR academic selectivity data - and reranked the law schools by the deltas from those two rankings. For instance, a hypothetical school that had a very low academic index but a very high percentage of FT/LT/lic-req'd grads would rank very highly, and vice versa. And lo and behold, my own alma mater, which is ever so dear to me, ranked dead last - meaning no other law school in the country did such a poor job in job placement relative to the incoming quality of its 1Ls.

Coincidentally or not, this very website hosted a similar ranking system not long afterwards.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 20, 2019 9:01:21 PM