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

February 28, 2018

Private law school tuition discounting

Blog Emperor Caron has the details.

February 28, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

February 20, 2018

Nearly a 30% jump in December 2017 LSAT takers compared to the prior year...

...according to LSAC.  This won't mean a 30% increase in applications, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a 10% bump in total applicants this year.  This year has already been the best year to be on the law teaching market in at least five years, and I expect if we do see an increase in qualified applicants to law schools, we will see an increase in hiring of new law teachers next year as well.

February 20, 2018 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

February 02, 2018

Harvard Law School actually advertises its SSRN ranking

It's pretty clear civilization has ended.  The SSRN citation ranking is almost as worthless as the download ranking, since it skews very heavily to just a handful of areas that are well-represented on SSRN.

February 2, 2018 in Legal Humor, Rankings | Permalink

January 08, 2018

SSRN download rankings now measure mentions in newspapers

The top 11 "most downloaded" law authors in the last 12 months are eleven tax professors who co-authored two papers on the recent tax overhaul, which garnered a prominent mention in The New York Times, leading to more than 70,000 downloads in the last month.  For 10 of these 11 tax professors, these two NYT-plugged papers constitute 95% or more of all their downloads.  The traditional #1 in downloads among law professors, Cass Sunstein, is now a mere 12th!  This has happened before with SSRN, but usually involving one author (e.g., Christopher Fairman, or Daniel Solove).   Farewell to SSRN downloads as a metric of any interest for at least a year!

January 8, 2018 in Faculty News, Legal Humor, Rankings | Permalink

December 18, 2017

Law school transfer students

Jerry Organ updates his data for 2017.  Taking large numbers of transfer students--whose credentials are invisible to the US News ranking gods--can allow a school to take a smaller 1L class (whose credentials are reported to the ranking gods) while still generating tuition revenue.  Of course, not all schools take transfers for that reason, but the larger the numbers, the more likely that is part of the consideration.

December 18, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

December 12, 2017

Signs of the times: George Washington Law reduces incoming class size... reverse U.S. News ranking slide.  Proof once again that a ranking website runs U.S. legal education.

December 12, 2017 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

December 04, 2017

Stanford Business school claimed to be awarding only "need-based financial aid"...

...but they weren't.  Several law schools, including Stanford, make the same claim, and I suspect an analysis of the real data would show something similar.  Ever since we were fortunate to be able to award Rubinstein Scholarships to incoming students, I've been amused to discover how often Yale and Harvard find those students to be especially "needy." 

December 4, 2017 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink