August 14, 2018

Ten Most-Cited Law Faculty in the United States for the period 2013-2017

Based on the latest Sisk data, here are the ten most-cited law professors in the U.S. for the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) (remember that the data was collected in late May of 2018, and that the pre-2018 database did expand a bit since then).  Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.






Age in 2018


Cass Sunstein

Harvard University


Constitutional, Administrative, and Environmental Law, Behavioral Law & Economics



Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Berkeley


Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure



Eric Posner

University of Chicago


Law & Economics, International Law, Commercial Law, Contracts



Mark Lemley

Stanford University


Intellectual Property and Cyberlaw



Richard Epstein

New York University, University of Chicago


Constitutional Law, Torts, Law & Economics



William Eskridge, Jr.

Yale University


Constitutional Law, Legislation



Akhil Amar

Yale University


Constitutional Law



Thomas Merrill

Columbia University


Administrative, Constitutional, and Property Law



Mark Tushnet

Harvard University


Constitutional Law, Legal History



Jack M. Balkin

Yale University


Constitutional Law, Cyberlaw



August 14, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

August 13, 2018

Top 50 Law Schools Based on Scholarly Impact, 2018

Professor Gregory Sisk & colleagues have updated their scholarly impact ratings (last edition), looking at mean and median citations to tenured faculty scholarship for the years 2013-2017 inclusive, using fall 2018 faculty rosters as the benchmark.  (Sisk et al. rank 70 faculties; I print the top 50, below.)  The weighted score represents the sum of the mean citations for the tenured faculty times 2, plus the faculty median.  Where the median is low relative to the immediate competition that's an indicator that a few highly cited faculty are carrying the school; in other cases, where the median is quite high, it's an indicator of more across the boards scholarly output.  By noting age, one can see that some faculties are heavily dependent on their most senior members for their citations.  Ties reflect the normalized weighted scores.

The citation counts were done during a two-week window in late May of this year in the Westlaw database as follow:  TE(Brian /2 Leiter) and date (aft 2012) and date (bef 2018).  "TE" limited the results to the body of the text, thus eliminating references to names in acknowledgments.  Although the searches were done in May of 2018, it's clear the pre-2018 database expanded after May (e.g., I had 553 hits when Sisk & colleagues did the study, while the same search, today, yields 589--that's a higher increase than in some other cases that were checked).  Across whole schools this won't matter, since the database was relatively stable during the two-week window when the data was collected.

Citations to faculty scholarship in law journals is, of course, only one metric of scholarly distinction and accomplishment.  Still, it is a useful check on uninformed opinions, and tracks rather well the actual scholarly output of different schools.  I'll have a few more substantive comments on the 2018 results tomorrow.

Over the coming weeks, I will post new lists of the most-cited scholars by specialty utilizing the Sisk data.

Results below the fold:

Continue reading

August 13, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

New scholarly impact study coming this week

Greg Sisk (St. Thomas) and colleagues will be releasing a new scholarly impact study of law schools for the five-year period, 2013-2017 quite soon.   I'll post the results and a link to the study when it is available, and then, over the next few weeks, will post rankings of top scholars in various areas of scholarship.

August 13, 2018 in Rankings | Permalink

July 20, 2018

University of Illinois, Chicago Board approves acquisition of John Marshall Law School in Chicago (UPDATED)

A big moment for the legal education landscape in Chicago if this goes through and if the new UIC John Marshall Law School offers state resident tuition discounting comparable to that at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  While Urbana-Champaign won't be much affected, there will be considerable pressure on the private law schools in Chicago, namely, Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago.  (Northern Illinois, another public law school in the far suburbs of Chicago, won't be helped either.)   The real pressure will be on DePaul, which has suffered from years of mismanagement and turmoil, and is the lowest rank of the three in the rankings (#128 most recently; Loyola-Chicago and Chicago-Kent are solidly in the top 100).  

One unknown is how much of the John Marshall law faculty will be taken on board by UIC; in terms of scholarly prominence, it is clearly weaker than the faculties at Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago.

UPDATE:  Dean Darby Dickerson at John Marshall kindly wrote and gave me permission to share some further information about the proposed merger:

The parties have negotiated that all full-time faculty will be transferring to UIC, with their tenure status, rank, and pay intact.

In addition, emeritus faculty will also have an opportunity to transition to emeritus status at UIC. 

During the 207-2018 academic year, we offered a voluntary buyout opportunity to our more senior faculty to allow them the ability to retire if they wished to avoid a benefits transition. Six faculty members accepted that offer; two retired in June and the other four will retire in December. 

We have three new faculty members who either have just started or will be starting later this month. We're in the process of hiring five new tenure-line faculty members who will begin in Summer/Fall 2019, and we then hope to hire about eight new tenure-line faculty members in the two years after closing. 

In June, the full-time faculty voted unanimously to support the transaction. The vote included several faculty members who had accepted the buyout opportunity. They were excited about the opportunity for the school and our students, but had personal reasons for desiring to retire before closing.

I learned also from IHE that the new UIC John Marshall Law School will offer in-state tuition rates.  That will make the new law school a force to be reckoned with in the legal education market in Chicago.

July 20, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

June 22, 2018

The continuing University subsidy of the U of Minnesota Law School

This story is certainly indicative of the depths of the decline in law school applicants especially in the Midwest.  That the flagship law school, long one of the top twenty in the United States, should still be facing these difficulties is sobering.  And, of course, since runs American legal education, the school faces a stark choice:  lower admissions standards (and scholarship offers) to take more paying students with lesser numerical credentials, and the school's rank will drop; if the school's rank drops, some number of out-of-state students who might have paid to go there, won't, and the cycle will continue.  Some clever state AG needs to find a way to take Bob Morse & co. to court for consumer fraud, and end this misery for everyone.

UPDATE:  There's a comment from Bill McGeveran over at the Blog Emperor's post about this story that deserves notice:

First, of the 11 public law schools in the top 30, the only ones to get a lower percentage of their revenue from state support are Berkeley, Michigan, and Virginia -- all with endowments 2 to 4 times larger than ours. The so-called "subsidy" is actually bringing us into line with our peers.

Second, our applicant numbers, yield, and class size have all increased significantly for the entering classes of 2017 and 2018, without any sacrifice in the credentials of our incoming students.

All law schools need to be conscious of costs today, and we're no exception. But there's no dire crisis at Minnesota, even if that's a less interesting news story.

June 22, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

May 29, 2018

Which schools stopped hiring 2011-2018?

An interesting chart from Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern), though it was misleading to treat t14 and t20 as separate categories here--resource-rich schools like Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt and  USC, which were in the t20 category, did fairly regular hiring during this period, just like the t14 category.  But it's clear, and not surprising, that lower ranked schools, which no doubt faced more financial pressures due to the decline in applications, accounted for most of the hiring drop.  Many of those schools are now coming back into the market for new law teachers.

May 29, 2018 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

April 09, 2018

U.S. and Pepperdine: There but for the Grace of God go we all (Michael Simkovic)

Pepperdine’s law school recently made an error when submitting enrollment data to U.S.  Pepperdine contacted U.S. News promptly after uncovering the error and submitted corrected data in time for U.S. News to use the corrected data in its ranking.  Although the erroneous data was more positive than the corrected data, no reasons have been given to believe that Pepperdine intentionally sought to deceive U.S. News. 

I know and respect Paul Caron, the current Dean of Pepperdine.  While we don’t always agree on technical or political issues, the notion that he would intentionally commit fraud—and then immediately correct his error—is outlandish.  (In the interest of disclosure, Leiter Reports joined a network of legal education blogs that Paul organized, but Leiter Reports and Caron’s blog, TaxProf, often compete and advance different perspectives.  I have vocally criticized some of the research covered on TaxProf blog.).

Nevertheless, U.S. News punished Pepperdine by making it an “unranked” law school this year.  Those who are not familiar with the reasons for this move in the rankings might mistakenly believe that Pepperdine fell outside the top 100.  According to analyses by Bill Henderson and Andy Morriss, if not for the penalty imposed by U.S. News, in all likelihood Pepperdine’s rank this year would have risen from 72 to between 64 and 62. 

Unranked status could have an adverse impact on Pepperdine’s enrollments and finances.  It is punitive, unnecessary, and perhaps even counter-productive in that it might discourage honest self-reporting of mistakes.  A more reasonable and compassionate approach would be to let Pepperdine off with a warning, and report the incident without changing the rankings, for example by including a footnote in the ranking explaining the misreporting.  U.S. News is a private business, but because of its virtual monopoly on rankings, enjoys quasi-regulatory authority.

Some of Pepperdine’s competitors might rejoice at Pepperdine’s misfortune, believing that admissions and enrollment are a zero-sum game.  They are making a mistake.

The lesson of the last decade is that law schools rise and fall together far more than they benefit from each other’s hardship.  What U.S. News does to Pepperdine this year, it could one day do to any law school that makes a mistake, even if it honestly and reasonably attempts to correct it.

Healthy competition between law schools can promote innovation and efficiency, and be good for students and research productivity.  But we should be careful that competition does not erode our ability to act cooperatively in pursuit of shared beliefs and shared values of fairness and due process.

April 9, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink

March 19, 2018

US News to law schools: don't own up to data reporting errors, or we will punish you

Pepperdine as case study.  No good deed goes unpunished by Bob Morse & co.

March 19, 2018 in Rankings | Permalink

March 13, 2018

An Open Letter to Other Law Bloggers Regarding the US Rankings


When the new rankings come out shortly, may I suggest that you not post the overall ranking.  You all know the overall rank assigned to a school by U.S. News is meaningless, often perniciously so.  It combines too many factors, in an inexplicable formula, and much of the underlying data isn't reliable, and some of it (e.g., expenditures on secretarial salaries and electriciy) isn't even relevant.  You all know this.  So don't report it.  The fact that this garbage appears in what used to be a major 'news' magazine doesn't change the fact that it is garbage. 

Instead, let me suggest that if you want to blog about the rankings when they come out, write about some of the underlying data that speaks for itself:  the reputational scores, for example, or the bar passage rates, or the numerical credentials of the students.  Those have limitations too--the median of 500 is not really comparable to the median of 200; the reputation scores are not based on presenting evaluators with any information about the schools being evaluated; and so on--but one can at least say clearly what the limitations are, and one is not hostage either to the dishonesty of the schools "reporting" the data or the sheer idiocy of the U.S. News ranking formula.

APRIL 9, 2009 ADDENDUM:  I should also note that, to my knowledge, U.S. News has done nothing to address the methodological problems raised last year.

UPDATE (MARCH 5, 2013):  The Dean of a flagship state law school writes, "Your post on US News Rankings is much appreciated. Schools like mine do not play the game, and truly try to keep our tuition low.  We spend our money on our students and their education. The hypocrisy of the 'legal education reformers' astounds me. They will be the first to denigrate the education we offer here, since we are not a top 100 school. Thanks for the good message, even if not enough schools listen." 

UPDATE (MARCH 10, 2014):  Lawyer Bobby Cheren writes: "How about referring to them as the '' rankings from now on, as the magazine is essentially defunct?"  Apt point!

AND REMEMBER:  Changes in ranking do not mean anything in reality changed:  it means only that some law schools lied/fudged in their data reporting/massaging more than their competitors.

March 13, 2018 in Rankings | Permalink

March 04, 2018

40 Most Important Contributors to American Legal Thought since 1945

We did a related poll nearly a decade ago, and I've taken pointers from that one in constituting the list of candidates here (though this one covers a shorter time span).  I also consulted lists of the most cited legal scholars and the most cited articles in compiling the list.  For living faculty, only those 60 or older in 2018 were included.  Have fun!   Some figures straddle the pre- and post-1945 period, but you may consider the impact of their pre-1945 work on American legal thought since then.

SINS OF OMISSION from the poll include Thomas Merrill, Martin Redish, Martha Fineman, and Janet Halley, among others that have been called to my attention.  Others complain that there are too many choices!

UPDATE:  A number of readers complained that more than 100 choices was too many, and is clearly discouraging people from participating, so I've shut it down.  I may try again, perhaps breaking this into more discreet areas of legal scholarship or even more discreet time periods.  Thanks to all who voted, and thanks to those who sent feedback.

March 4, 2018 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink