Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Frye: The New York Times Law School Rankings

Brian L. Frye (Kentucky; Google Scholar), The Gray Lady’s Guide to Legal Education:

For better or worse, the U.S. News & World Report law school ranking has dominated legal education for decades, by giving prospective law students information about the relative prestige of law schools. But in recent years, it has become largely irrelevant, as prospective law students have begun to look elsewhere when deciding which law school to attend [The Decline & Fall of the US News Rankings]. Apparently, we need a new law school ranking to provide useful information about prestige. This essay provides such a ranking. ...

The methodology of the NYT ranking is simple, but elegant. I created a list of 196 United States law schools by copying it from the U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools” 2024 ranking. I then searched for the official name of each law school in the New York Times archive and recorded how many times the law school had been mentioned by name in the past 12 months. I then ranked all 196 law schools according to the number of times they were mentioned by the New York Times in the last 12 months. The law school with the highest number of mentions was ranked number one, the law schools with no mentions were ranked last, and the rest of the law schools came in between.

NYT Law School Rankings

Brian identified 102 law schools mentioned in the New York Times in the May 24, 2023 to May 24, 2024 period. The remaining 94 law schools without any mentions were ranked #103, including several law schools ranked in the U.S. News Top 50: Northwestern (9), USC (20), Wake Forest (25), Ohio State (26), Texas A&M (26), BYU (28), Washington & Lee (33), George Washington (41), Indiana-Maurer (42), SMU (42), Baylor (46), Kansas (46), and Villanova (48).  

Brian notes: "Often, law schools use more than one name, and the official name of a law school can be hard to surmise. When in doubt, I used the name attributed to the law school by Google, but also searched alternative names, which rarely changed the results. In any case, I recorded any mention of a law school, irrespective of the name mentioned."

For what it's worth, "Pepperdine Caruso School of Law" (52 in U.S. News) is listed without any citations in the New York Times for the one-year period, but my search located two mentions with slightly different name variations (November 7, 2023 and December 8, 2023), which would have placed Pepperdine 42 in Brian's Gray Lady Rankings.

Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink