Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same

From the 1973 Blau-Marguiles survey of law schools Deans, the top five law schools:

1.  Harvard University

2.  Yale University

3.  Columbia University

3.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

5.  University of Chicago

From the 1974-75 Blau-Marguiles survey of law school Deans, the top nine schools:

1.  Harvard University

2.  Yale University

3.  University of Michigan,  Ann Arbor

4.  Columbia University

5.  University of Chicago

6.  Stanford University

7.  University of California, Berkeley

8.  New York University

9.  University of Pennsylvania

From the 1977 Cartter Report survey of faculty quality:

1.  Harvard University

2.  Yale University

3.  Stanford University

4.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

5.  University of Chicago

6.  Columbia University

7.  University of California, Berkeley

8.  University of Pennsylvania

9.  University of Virginia

10. University of Texas, Austin

11. University of California, Los Angeles

12. Cornell University

13. New York University

14. Northwestern University

15. Duke University

From the 1987 U.S. News reputational survey of Deans, which was the basis of its first ranking of law schools:

1.  Harvard University

1.  Yale University

3.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

4.  Columbia University

4.  Stanford University

6.  University of Chicago

7.  University of California, Berkeley

8.  University of Virginia

9.  New York University

10.  University of Pennsylvania

11.  University of Texas, Austin

12.  Duke University

13.  Georgetown University

14.  University of California, Los Angeles

15.  Cornell University

16.  Northwestern University

And, finally, the fall 2007 academic reputation survey by U.S. News:

1.  Harvard University

1.  Yale University

3.  Columbia University

3.  Stanford University

5.  University of Chicago

6.  New York University

6.  University of California, Berkeley

6.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

9.  University of Virginia

10. University of Pennsylvania

11. Cornell University

11. Duke University

11. Georgetown University

14. Northwestern University

14. University of Texas, Austin

Apart from Michigan, NYU, maybe Texas, maybe UCLA, not much movement over 30+ years--and even with the movers, the movement is slight.  (The movement looks more dramatic if one looks at the overall U.S. News rank, but that's a nonsense number for reasons with which everyone is, by now, familiar and is an apple/orange comparison since, until U.S. News, rankings had focused almost entirely on academic criteria--the U.S. News reputational survey is the last vestige of that, as it were.)  And some of the movement is just a consequence of the U.S. News echo chamber effect (a lower overall rank results gradually in slightly lower reputation scores:  vide Texas, whose reputation scores have dropped while its faculty quality, by every other measure, improved).

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