TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Anderson: 2019 Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), 2019 Law School Rankings by Employment Outcomes:

The new ABA employment outcomes data for law schools have been released, and that means it's time for a new WITNESSETH law school employment A-Rankings. As I have in the past, I've ranked law schools using all of the data in the ABA employment reports. The technique used incorporates each outcome with a unique weight, rather than simply counting "good" and "bad" outcomes. In fact, this technique does not rely at all on a subjective determination of what outcomes are good or bad. It's an unsupervised machine learning technique that determines the weight of each outcome based on its relationship to other outcomes among the 201 schools. Therefore, this is a truly objective ranking measure.

As in past years, the results differ slightly from typical US News rankings.

Here are the Top 25 in Rob's ranking:

A-Rank

Law School

Score

1

PENNSYLVANIA

0.460322

2

CHICAGO

0.453658

3

VIRGINIA

0.443592

4

COLUMBIA

0.418959

5

HARVARD

0.408021

6

DUKE

0.40102

7

NYU

0.396698

8

YALE

0.390213

9

CORNELL

0.388366

10

STANFORD

0.38659

11

NORTHWESTERN

0.384478

12

UC-BERKELEY

0.37934

13

MICHIGAN

0.365023

14

VANDERBILT

0.312403

15

GEORGETOWN

0.288056

16

FORDHAM

0.250512

17

TEXAS

0.247994

18

WASHINGTON U.

0.206468

19

BOSTON U.

0.199171

20

NOTRE DAME

0.185449

21

UCLA

0.167739

22

SETON HALL

0.166374

23

UC-IRVINE

0.162925

24

MINNESOTA

0.143225

25

IOWA

0.139478

Rob's full ranking of all 201 law schools is here.

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Law School Employment Outcomes by "Employment Status":

Yesterday I posted my new 2019 law school rankings based on employment outcomes. In this post, I explore how the different categories of "Employment Status" (as the ABA calls them) affect the rankings of the schools. Some of the Employment Status categories are unambiguously bad or good: "Unemployed" is bad and "Employed Bar Passage Required Full Time Long Term" is good. The analysis performed in my rankings confirms that these two polar opposite outcomes are on opposite ends of the continuum, as shown in the table below.  ...

Note that these numbers are not subjective determinations by me. They are generated based on which job categories tend to go together at which law schools. This means that law schools that tend to have a lot of unemployed graduates also tend to have a lot of "Non-Professional Position" placements and "JD Advantage" placements. Although the data does not directly observe the "quality" of any individual jobs, this should suggest that caution is warranted in interpreting JD Advantage jobs as representing desirable employment outcomes in most cases.

Employment outcomes are an important factor in choosing a law school. Applicants should be wary of schools with large number of JD Advantage jobs, at least outside the T-14. Those who rank law schools based on employment (hi, US News!) should discount JD Advantage jobs heavily, which currently they generally do not.

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Another Look at Law School Rankings by Employment Outcomes:

Yesterday I posed my (somewhat) annual ranking of law schools based on ABA employment data. There are many modeling choices that go into any such ranking, and after looking at some of the numbers I decided to present a different and arguably better version of the ranking. This version differs by centering and scaling the data prior to running the principal components analysis.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/05/anderson-2019-law-school-rankings-by-employment-outcomes.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

I haven't had my coffee yet, so I might be unduly curmudgeonly, but I'm not sure I'd give this approach much weight.

According to the link at "technique", the model correlates employment outcomes based on characteristics associated with higher ranking schools. So, there's a subjectivity in this in the rankings, and this is only as reliable as they are.

But the bigger problem is that correlation is not causation. Characteristics associated with lower-ranking schools, like in-state employment, are not intrinsically good or bad, but they're altering results to make a school seem better or worse, not on the nature of the employment, but on where the school is.

If I've got this right--
Let's say Columbia, Penn, and Yale, all send a graduate to the same big law firm in New York City. Yale and Penn get a boost because they're not in New York. Columbia gets hurt because it is.

I would guess that no one thinks this makes any sense at all, but it's in the model.

Posted by: Greg Sergienko | May 7, 2019 5:47:01 AM