Thursday, March 29, 2007

2008 US News Law School Rankings Leaked

The internet is abuzz right now with unofficial, leaked versions of the 2008 U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings. The rankings are to be officially released on Friday, March 30, 2007. (The official U.S. News rankings site can be linked to here.) The leaked rankings are available on the Law School Discussion website, LLM Guide, and Concurring Opinions. Law School Discussion and LLM Guide have the full rankings--both the top 100 and the 3rd and 4th tiers. TaxProf Blog has a comparison of the 2007 and 2008 rankings here. Brian Leiter weighs in on the topic here, and on the Volokh Conspiracy Orin Kerr provides his views on rankings (note: the post was at 9:21 p.m. on March 27, 2007; you have to scroll down).

I've got my own views of the rankings, which I can opine on at some later date, but in the meantime, what do readers think of the rankings? I'd like to hear your views.

Also, for those who are interested, there is a growing body of legal academic literature on the subject of law school rankings (now there's an irony for you). For starters, try Theodore Seto, Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings (available on the Social Science Research Network here) and Alfred L. Brophy, The Emerging Importance of Law Review Rankings for Law School Rankings, 2003-2007 (available on SSRN here). For those who do not know, SSRN is a free service for finding scholarship, although you have to register for it (you can register at the SSRN homepage at


Anonymous said...

The rankings are important in the same way that the little icons that car makers put on their cars are important--the rubes have no way of telling a good law grad from a bad one, so they basically go by price--this Lexus (BMW, etc.) costs a buttload, so it must be a really good car. That Honda over there must be not so good, the're only asking $14k for it.

I graduated from a fourth-tier school and went to work with grads from several top 50 schools--and, lo and behold, I didn't give up a thing to them in terms of quality or production. The only real difference was that they considered work in a state appellate court system a sign of failure.

The Washington Monthly has done a great "alt rankings" for the last couple years, where the criteria all have to do with ranking the schools according to what they contribute to society (rather than what they expect society to lavish upon them). It completely upends the rankings, because, just as with law schools, the schools that do best on US News rankings are rarely those that do much for anyone but themselves.

Wha? said...

I once clerked for a lazy, degenerate rich white boy that barely made it through a traditionally minority Louisiana law school. Every Supreme court justice in Louisiana showed up at his birthday party, and he once filed a motion/brief/argument that shut down the entire Louisiana criminal court system until the legislature passed an emergency bill gauranteing public defenders at least a living wage.

Where you go to school makes no difference as long as you can graduate with your passion intact.

wha? said...

and yes, my spelling sux.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that Ole Miss dropped down to the third tier? Is it wrong that I smirked when I read that?

Anonymous said...

Thinking about this whole status exercise, I realized that the whole enterprise is misbegotten from the start, but for a reason I had never considered before:

I bet you dollars to doughnuts that the differences in the top 100 schools are so trivial that they can ONLY be established by a biased polling method such as US News uses. If you could somehow actually compare school quality, the differences among those schools would be infinitesimal or less. Each of those schools represents vast arrays of human and financial capital devoted to a single goal, becoming as much like Harvard and Yale as possible and to place the most students at the highest wage. Don't think they aren't good at it, or that any of them can magically do something that the rest don't do.

What would be as useful (at least as much as any such exercise could be) would be to dump the top 100 and the second 100 schools into a "First Tier" and "Second Tier" pool and say "The only way to tell these schools apart is reputation, which is a circular ranking scheme that's not worth a damn, so we're just going to leave them all in the pool."

And then spend the time to try and figure out a way to rank the "lesser" schools, where there might actually be significant differences in quality and outcomes.

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