Here. Two interesting excerpts. One:
Before deciding which law school to attend this fall, Eric Singer flipped through the latest U.S. News & World Report law-school rankings. He eventually chose the University of Chicago over New York University, even though NYU is ranked higher overall.
Instead of relying on U.S. News, Mr. Singer scanned independent online sites and research papers and concluded that Chicago has "better clerkship placement, better placement into academia, better national-firm placement, and a stronger faculty," says the 25-year-old teacher in Ann Arbor, Mich. "Law school is a large purchase; you have to be a more informed consumer," he adds.
It is scary to think that anyone would choose NYU over Chicago (or any school over any other) because of a two-place difference in U.S. News. But the anecdote involving Mr. Singer--who clearly made use of my ranking site for data on such things as clerkship placement, placement in law teaching, and faculty quality--is consistent with my impression that the better students are, in fact, savvy consumers of the U.S. News rankings.
Some students say it's a mistake to rely too much on U.S. News. Keyan Rahimi-Keshari last year chose to attend Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tenn., ranked 16th in U.S. News, over 36th-ranked California-Hastings in large part because of the rank differential. But he couldn't get a summer-job interview from any of the 40 firms he applied to in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he wants to work after graduation. The magazine's rankings, he has concluded, doesn't account for the fact that schools below the top 10 may not carry as much weight with employers outside their region. He's considering transferring to a California school.
"Below the top 10" is probably not the right cut-off with regard to Mr. Rahimi-Keshari's point, but it is clearly correct that almost all law schools place most of their graduates regionally, a fact prospective students should consider. As I've said before, the best indicator as to the "national" market value of the degree is to find out which law firms from outside the immediate market area actually interview on campus.