Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Top 50 Law Schools in the United States, 2011

Thanks to our on-line survey of the readership (some 450 votes) from September 8-16, and the magic of Condrocet, we now know the truth:

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 233–142
3. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 318–66, loses to Harvard University by 291–81
4. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 345–42, loses to Stanford University by 254–114
5. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 351–37, loses to University of Chicago by 205–174
6. New York University  loses to Yale University by 355–33, loses to Columbia University by 235–126
7. University of California, Berkeley  loses to Yale University by 373–18, loses to New York University by 291–73
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  loses to Yale University by 372–17, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 196–152
9. University of Pennsylvania  loses to Yale University by 379–11, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 190–152
10. University of Virginia  loses to Yale University by 380–10, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 193–151
11. Duke University  loses to Yale University by 375–15, loses to University of Virginia by 258–97
12. Northwestern University  loses to Yale University by 376–12, loses to Duke University by 187–153
13. Cornell University  loses to Yale University by 376–13, loses to Northwestern University by 180–159
14. Georgetown University  loses to Yale University by 373–17, loses to Cornell University by 168–167
15. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 380–9, loses to Georgetown University by 219–123
16. University of California, Los Angeles  loses to Yale University by 376–13, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 197–135
17. Vanderbilt University  loses to Yale University by 375–7, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 222–100
18. University of Southern California  loses to Yale University by 379–7, loses to Vanderbilt University by 177–123
19. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 371–11, loses to University of Southern California by 186–126
20. Washington University, St. Louis  loses to Yale University by 374–7, loses to George Washington University by 172–137
21. Boston University  loses to Yale University by 372–8, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 173–134
22. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul  loses to Yale University by 373–7, loses to Boston University by 157–140
23. Tied:
Emory University  loses to Yale University by 372–8, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 156–140
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  loses to Yale University by 372–6, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 152–123
25. Fordham University  loses to Yale University by 366–12, loses to Emory University by 153–128
26. Boston College  loses to Yale University by 371–7, loses to Fordham University by 155–137
27. Tied:
College of William & Mary  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to Boston College by 168–116
University of Iowa  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to Boston College by 160–126
29. University of Notre Dame  loses to Yale University by 373–9, loses to University of Iowa by 139–136
30. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  loses to Yale University by 369–8, loses to University of Notre Dame by 142–128
31. University of Wisconsin, Madison  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 139–128
32. Indiana University, Bloomington  loses to Yale University by 370–6, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 143–133
33. University of California, Davis  loses to Yale University by 369–8, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 147–122
34. University of California, Irvine  loses to Yale University by 368–9, loses to University of California, Davis by 139–131
35. Ohio State University  loses to Yale University by 367–8, loses to University of California, Irvine by 142–133
36. University of California, Hastings  loses to Yale University by 368–8, loses to Ohio State University by 146–112
37. Washington & Lee University  loses to Yale University by 364–8, loses to University of California, Hastings by 132–123
38. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University  loses to Yale University by 364–15, loses to Washington & Lee University by 156–118
39. Florida State University  loses to Yale University by 360–9, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 142–132
40. George Mason University  loses to Yale University by 371–8, loses to Florida State University by 143–119
41. University of Arizona  loses to Yale University by 356–8, loses to George Mason University by 135–119
42. University of Colorado, Boulder  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to University of Arizona by 129–106
43. American University  loses to Yale University by 365–8, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 132–127
44. University of Washington, Seattle  loses to Yale University by 358–9, loses to American University by 130–125
45. University of Georgia  loses to Yale University by 364–7, loses to University of Washington, Seattle by 121–107
46. Arizona State University  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to University of Georgia by 135–113
47. Wake Forest University  loses to Yale University by 360–6, loses to Arizona State University by 132–112
48. University of San Diego  loses to Yale University by 365–6, loses to Arizona State University by 134–121
49. Brigham Young University  loses to Yale University by 365–7, loses to University of San Diego by 128–124
50. Brooklyn Law School  loses to Yale University by 359–8, loses to Brigham Young University by 125–112

 

And the runners-up:  University of Alabama  loses to to Brooklyn Law School by 123–116;

University of Florida, Gainesville  loses to University of Alabama by 116–99
Chicago-Kent College of Law  loses to University of Florida, Gainesville by 126–107
Tulane University  loses to Chicago-Kent College of Law by 115–111

So the most obvious thing about these results is the powerful evidence they supply of how much the U.S. News rankings influence perceptions, even among intelligent people like those who read this blog.   There are exceptions, to be sure, indicative of the fact that this readership is better-informed:  look at UC Irvine, Cardozo, Florida State, San Diego.   But this should, perhaps, explain why law schools are so attentive to the U.S. News rankings:  even academics, who know that NYU has a better faculty than Columbia, that Alabama has a better faculty than American, that Harvard has a better faculty than Yale, that the Colorado and Arizona faculties are as good as most of those ranked ten or more places higher, are still hugely influenced by the U.S. News ordering.  To be sure, I didn't ask just about "faculty quality," and it is probably still quite right from the standpoint of law firms and judges, for example, to rank Columbia ahead of NYU, even if many academics now think NYU has a slight edge on faculty quality.   The U.S. News-induced weirdness gets more serious the farther down the list one goes, of course.  The damage U.S. news has done to UC Hastings (quite generally recognized as a top 20 law school back in the 1980s) is a case in point.  And how did schools like Miami, Utah, Maryland, and up-and-comers like Denver, Penn State and Villanova not make the runners-up to the top 50?   (I could pick others--if we didn't try to rank all law schools on the Harvard model, then there should be 100 schools, at least, in the 'top 50.')  'Tis a strange world of acadmic reputation we live in.

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