March 31, 2014

Top U.S. research universities, 2014

Here, based on aggregation of U.S. News reputational data, for those who are interested.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 31, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

March 20, 2014

Falsehood of the day: "U.S. News, for all of its faults, is how employers think of you"

Elie Mystal, one of the bloggers at "Above the Law," wrote this last week (a reader forwarded it to me).  No evidence was offered, and that's not surprising:  the statement is false in almost all cases.  Employers, to be sure, have views about different law schools, but they are based on experience, in some cases, experience that stretches over decades.  Actual lawyers and judges do not, in my experience, pay any attention to U.S. News at all.  A couple of years ago, for example, I was speaking to a distinguished group of Northwestern University Law School alumni about the U.S. News rankings.  There were about 125 to 150 lawyers (and a few judges) there.  Many of the lawyers in attendance had been or were the current hiring partners at their firms.  I asked a simple question:  how many had looked at the recent U.S. news rankings of law schools?  Maybe five hands went up in the entire room.  To a person, all these lawyers and judges said they based their evaluations of law schools--where they recruit, how deep into the class they will go for new hires--on their past experience with the schools and their graduates.  Full stop.  No one was waiting for the U.S. News law school rankings to decide where to interview or whom to hire.

So if lawyers and judges don't care about them, who does care about the U.S. News rankings?  Prospective students and journalists.  Prospective students are very clearly influenced by them, in part because journalists hype them and report on them irresponsibily.  And because of those two constituencies, law schools have to care as well:  if, in fact, the students a school wants will go elsewhere because of a precipitous drop in the US News ranking, this will over a period of time affect how the employers that hire frm that school perceive it, not because they follow U.S. News, but because they will notice the change in the caliber of the student body.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 20, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

March 12, 2014

Why can't law schools just ignore US rankings?

Because of idiotic pieces like this that treat changes in the overall rank as meaningful. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 12, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

March 11, 2014

U.S. 2014 Reputation Results

Here are the top 50 in academic reputation (66% response rate):

1.  Harvard University (4.8)

1.  Yale University (4.8)

3.  Stanford University (4.7)

4.  Columbia University (4.6)

4.  University of Chicago (4.6)

6.  New York University (4.4)

6.  University of California, Berkeley (4.4)

6.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.4)

9.  University of Pennsylvania (4.3)

9.  University of Virginia (4.3)

11. Duke University (4.2)

12. Cornell University (4.1)

12. Georgetown University (4.1)

12. Northwestern University (4.1)

15. University of Texas, Austin (4.0)

16. University of California, Los Angeles (3.9)

17. Vanderbilt University (3.8)

18. Washington University, St. Louis (3.6)

19. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3.5)

19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.5)

19. University of Southern California (3.5)

22. Emory University (3.4)

22. George Washington University (3.4)

22. University of California, Davis (3.4)

22. University of Notre Dame (3.4)

26. Boston University (3.3)

26. University of Wisconsin, Madison (3.3)

28. Boston College (3.2)

28. College of William & Mary (3.2)

28. Fordham University (3.2)

28. Indiana University, Bloomington (3.2)

28. Ohio State University (3.2)

28. University of Iowa (3.2)

28. Washington & Lee University (3.2)

35. University of Alabama (3.1)

35. University of Arizona (3.1)

35. University of California, Hastings (3.1)

35. University of Florida, Gainesville (3.1)

35. University of Georgia (3.1)

35. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (3.1)

35. University of Washington, Seattle (3.1)

35. Wake Forest University (3.1)

43. Arizona State University (3.0)

43. Tulane University (3.0)

43. University of Colorado, Boulder (3.0)

46. Brigham Young University (2.9)

46. Florida State University (2.9)

46. University of Maryland (2.9)

49. American University (2.8)

49. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University (2.8)

49. University of Connecticut (2.8)

49. University of Utah (2.8)

Schools clearly underranked in this year's academic survey include Southern California, Illinois, Florida State, and San Diego (2.7).  In the case of Illinois, they are clearly still suffering from the scandal about student credentials.

Here are the top 25 in lawyer/judge reputation (32% responded, an all-time high, probably due to the new survey methodology--schools were asked to nominate professionals familiar with the school)

1.  Harvard University (4.8)

1.  Stanford University (4.8)

3.  Columbia University (4.7)

3.  University of Chicago (4.7)

3.  Yale University (4.7)

6.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.6)

7.  Duke University (4.5)

7.  New York University (4.5)

7.  University of California, Berkeley (4.5)

7.  University of Virginia (4.5) 

11. Cornell University (4.4)

11. Georgetown University (4.4)

11. Northwestern University (4.4)

11. University of Pennsylvania (4.4)

15. University of California, Los Angeles (4.1)

15. University of Texas, Austin (4.1)

15. Vanderbilt University (4.1)

18. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.9)

19. Emory University (3.8)

19. University of California, Hastings (3.8)

19. University of Notre Dame (3.8)

19. University of Southern Califiornia (3.8)

19. Washington University, St. Louis (3.8)

24. Boston College (3.7)

24.  College of William & Mary (3.7)

24. George Washington University (3.7)

24. Indiana University, Bloomington (3.7)

24. University of California, Davis (3.7)

24. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3.7)

24. Washington & Lee University (3.7)

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 11, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

March 09, 2014

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!

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 9, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

March 05, 2014

More signs of the time: declining 1L enrollments

Blog Emperor Caron has the sordid details.  Not all declines are created equal:  some are due to dramatic drops in applicants, but some are surely due to a desire to preserve the numerical quality of the study body and thus rankings.  The schools with increases in enrollment, also noted, are interesting.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 5, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

March 03, 2014

NLJ 250 Placement Rankings corrected...

...courtesy of Blog Emperor Caron.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 3, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

February 25, 2014

Where the NLJ 250 firms hire

Blog Emperor Caron reports on the brand new listing.  Some shuffling about, but basically the same as in prior years (Columbia, Harvard, Chicago, Penn almost always in the top five; NYU, Northwestern almost always in the top six; Stanford, Cornell, Duke, Berkeley almost always in the top ten; etc.).  Yale's typically weak performance is due to the fact that the NLJ 250 study does not capture graduates who go into clerkships, are doing PhDs, going into government service, joining elite litigation boutiques, and so on.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 25, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

February 20, 2014

Law firm hiring, the latest NALP report for fall 2013

Good, not great:  much better than the depths of the recession, and holding steady or improving from last year in most parts of the country, but not close to being back to pre-recession levels (no surprise there).

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 20, 2014 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

January 28, 2014

California bar passage rates...

...over time.

UPDATE:  Blog Emperor Caron breaks out the data in a chart.  Here's how the school's rank by percentage of first-time test-takers who passed the bar between 1997 and 2011 (the number in parentheses is the rank for the period 2007-2011, which gives a sense of which schools have improved their performance, and which have not):

1.  Stanford University (1)

2.  University of California, Berkeley (3)

3.  University of California, Los Angeles (4)

4.  University of Southern California (2)

5.  University of California, Hastings (7)

6.  University of California, Davis (7)

7.  Pepperdine University (5)

8.  Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (6)

9.  University of San Diego (13)

10. University of San Francisco (9)

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 28, 2014 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink