Paul L. Caron

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Muller: Projected Declines Of NYU & Cornell In 2024-25 U.S. News Law School Rankings Highlight Impact Of New Methodology's Shift From Quality To Quantity

Derek Muller (Notre Dame; Google Scholar), NYU, Cornell, and the New USNWR Law School Rankings Landscape:

US News (2023)After I project next year’s USNWR law school rankings, as I did last May and again here in December, there’s always a lot of chatter about the changes, about schools moving up and down. But the more notable thing is why the schools have changed spots, and there’s not a lot of explanation built into a single ranking metric. And some schools attract more attention than others. I would say I’ve received a decent number of questions about NYU (projected to be around 11) and Cornell (projected to be around 18) than most other schools, as both are significantly lower than their typical ranking. Why?

It has much less to do with any changes at those institutions, and much more about the rankings methodology changes.

And one way of thinking about the change—and specifically the change that adversely affected NYU and Cornell the most—is a change from quality to quantity. ...

NYU and Cornell place an overwhelming number of their graduates into “elite” law firm outcomes, so they suffered when the “at graduation” metric dropped off. And USNWR does not weigh the quality (actual or perceived) of jobs differently—a job is a job. ...

Recently I looked at the schools I estimated to be in the “top ten” of USNWR’s employment metrics. These are estimates, because USNWR does not release how it weights each category of employment. But three schools stand out among these top ten, as they are schools that typically do well in the rankings but are not among the top ten of USNWR rankings: SMU, Texas A&M, and Washington University in St. Louis. ...

  501+ firm 101-500 firm Fed Clerks Total All other Unemployed Grads
SMU 22.2% 9.3% 4.8% 36.3% 62.6% 1.1% 270
Texas A&M 7.6% 4.1% 4.7% 16.3% 83.1% 0.6% 172
Wash. Univ. 31.7% 12.3% 8.4% 52.4% 47.6% 0.0% 227
NYU 54.5% 12.3% 6.3% 73.2% 24.7% 2.1% 473
Cornell 73.8% 7.4% 3.5% 84.7% 11.4% 4.0% 202

At Cornell, 84.7% land in these elite jobs, an astonishingly high percentage. At NYU, it’s 73.2%. The other three schools I list here aren’t particularly close. And for NYU, it’s all the more impressive that it graduated 473 students, nearly or more than doubling what most of the other schools do. It’s an extraordinary effort to secure that many high quality jobs for its graduates. ...

[F]or USNWR purposes, those placement rates aren’t captured. It’s just jobs. It’s the quantity of placement. Getting students out of that “unemployed” bucket is basically the way to rise in the rankings these days.

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