Story here. The reality, of course, is that actual tuition is being cut across the country, as I have heard repeatedly from Deans at a wide variety of law schools, all of which are spending more on financial aid to attract the students they want. (I am surprised in the linked article by the comment attributed to Brian Tamanaha [Wash U/St. Louis], who is quoted as pronouncing that U of Arizon's tuition has to be even lower.)
Haven't mentioned them in awhile, but I see Lawrence Cunningham (George Washington) compiled a list. As we've noted before, SSRN downloads are affected by area (corporate, intellectual property, and law and economics folks make more use of SSRN than scholars in other fields), and extraneous factors (like having a blog!).
Lucinda Harrison-Cox, Raquel Ortiz, and Michael Yelnosky of Roger Williams Law have updated their annual study of per capita faculty scholarly productivity in top journals, now from 1993 to 2012. The results are here.
Their research focuses on schools outside the US News Top 50, and uses a modified version of the methodology Brian employs in this ranking.
As Brian pointed out previously, this list gives some insight into which regional schools have more of a scholarly culture.
I hope nobody will blame me for noting that in Drexel's debut year in the study, our faculty cracked the Top 40. That's not bad, given that the majority of our faculty members weren't scholars during most of the relevant time period (which began in 1993); most were hired into their first tenure track job in 2006 or later.
Here. It has two interesting bits of information: first, that U.S. News used the more fine-grained job data now available to give more weight to actual, full-time law jobs, but Bob Morse won't disclose the new weightings so that schools can't "game the rankings" (a remarkable admission, about twenty years too late in coming!); and second, schools that saw major improvements in their overall U.S. News rank due to this more sensible weighting of employment outcomes were precisely many of those moderately priced flagship state law schools that I pointed out awhile back were still very much worth considering by prospective students.
UPDATE: Scott Altman (Southern California) writes:
I agree with your comment that US news was wise to rely on more fine-grained data. But I do not think they did so in a way that benefits consumers. The employment figure that they disclose – full-time, permanent jobs that require or benefit from a JD – was said to get full weight in their rankings. But these figures did not discount the full-time, permanent JD required jobs that law schools funded.
Most schools, of course, do not report any full-time permanent jobs that are law school funded. But some schools report many such jobs. GW, for example, reported that 80 of its graduates were employed in full-time permanent positions funded by the school. US News includes these 80 jobs in GW’s fully-weighted employment statistic. Virginia reported 64 such students. The University of Chicago reported 24.
I am unsure whether these law-school-funded jobs are genuinely full-time, permanent, JD required positions – though I have my doubts. I am quite sure that they are not the kind of job that should be lumped for consumer purposes with permanent jobs not funded by the schools. By displaying statistics that include these jobs, US News does a disservice. By refusing to disclose the role these jobs play in rankings, US News only exacerbates the infirmities of its rankings with nontransparency.
In the case of Chicago, the jobs are all public interest-related, and are part of a major push Dean Schill has made since taking over here in January 2010 to increase public interest work by Chicago graduates (Dean Schill also established the most generous LRAP in the country, and has expanded our public interest clinics). I know several of these students in these p;ositions, and these are both legit jobs and the first choice for the students involved, but they wouldn't have been able to do it without the Law School's public service commitment. Obviously, I do not know about the other schools.
ANOTHER: Dean Paul Mahoney at Virginia kindly shared with me (and gave me permission to post) an e-mail he sent to Professor Altman, which confirms that UVA's approach is similar to Chicago's:
I saw a statement of yours on Brian’s blog in which you questioned whether students receiving Virginia’s public interest fellowships are in full-time, long-term legal jobs. For the record, our fellowships provide funding for full-time jobs for at least a year in government or public interest organizations. Recent fellows have worked in federal agencies, on Capitol Hill legal staffs, in prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices, and in public interest organizations. As Brian said of Chicago’s program, these are “legit jobs” and in many cases are exactly the job the student came to law school to pursue. I hear often from former fellowship recipients who are grateful that UVA helped them get a foot in the door of an organization that otherwise would probably not have made an entry-level hire. Like Chicago, we have made a significant investment in encouraging public interest employment, including a redesigned loan forgiveness program and increased funding for summer public interest fellowships.
Here are the academic reputation results (with about a two-thirds response rate) for the top 30 (further out of the top 30, the weirder the results get):
1. Harvard University (4.8)
1. Stanford University (4.8)
1. Yale University (4.8)
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)
6. University of Virginia (4.4)
10. University of Pennsylvania (4.3)
11. Cornell University (4.2)
11. Duke University (4.2)
13. Northwestern University (4.1)
13. Georgetown University (4.1)
13. University of Texas, Austin (4.1)
16. University of California, Los Angeles (3.9)
17. Vanderbilt University (3.8)
18. University of Southern California (3.6)
18. Washington University, St. Louis (3.6)
20. Emory University (3.5)
20. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul (3.5)
20. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.5)
23. Boston University (3.4)
23. George Washington University (3.4)
23. University of California, Davis (3.4)
23. University of Notre Dame (3.4)
23. University of Wisconsin, Madison (3.4)
28. Boston College (3.3)
28. Indiana University, Bloomington (3.3)
28. University of Iowa (3.3)
28. Washington & Lee University (3.3)
One interesting general result is the way that the reputational "gaps" between schools have hardened. Two interesting particular results, and both fair ones, in my view: Notre Dame, which has made dramatic improvements in faculty quality in the last twenty years, is now solidly in the top 25 in academic reputation; and UC Davis, which has also improved significantly in the last generation, is also now solidly top 25.
The lawyer/judge repuation surveyr response rate fell to 9% this year, the lowest ever--no doubt reflecting the irrelevance of the US New sresults to employer recruiting. U.S. News has been averaging results in this category voer two years in these surveys for awhile now, in order to take account of the low response rate:
1. Harvard University (4.8)
2. Stanford University (4.7)
2. University of Chicago (4.7)
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.7)
2. Yale University (4.7)
6. Columbia University (4.6)
6. New York University (4.6)
6. University of Pennsylvania (4.6)
6. University of Virginia (4.6)
10. Cornell University (4.5)
10. Duke University (4.5)
10. Georgetown University (4.5)
13. Northwestern University (4.4)
13. University of California, Berkeley (4.4)
15. University of Texas, Austin (4.3)
16. Vanderbilt University (4.2)
17. University of California, Los Angeles (4.1)
17. University of Southern California (4.1)
19. College of William & Mary (4.0)
19. Indiana University, Bloomington (4.0)
19. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (4.0)
19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hll (4.0)
19. University of Notre Dame (4.0)
19. Washington & Lee University (4.0)
19. Washington University, St. Louis (4.0)
26. Emory University (3.9)
26. George Washington University (3.9)
26. University of Florida, Gainesville (3.9)
26. University of Washington (3.9)
30. Boston University (3.8)
30. University of California, Hastings (3.8)
30. Wake Forest University (3.8)
These results are very Northeast-centric, due to the way U.S. News surveys law firms. But the most striking result here is that Columbia and NYU tied, probably the first time ever, in this category. Another striking result is that UCLA and USC tred in reptuation as well among practitioners, again, I believe, for the first time.
Some other observations: Florida State came in 48th overall given the U.S. News formula, while Florida came in 46th, though I think it is now common knowledge among academics that FSU has the stronger faculty. The University of Illinois, which suffered a severe reputational penalty last year for its fraudulent data reporting, sunk even further to 47th overall, and reputational scores outside the top 30 among both academics and practitioners. In terms of faculty quality, it is now pretty clearly the most underranked law school in U.S. News, but it may also offer a cautionary note to schools that cheat in the reporting.
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.
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."
You can see the number of graduates per school at NLJ 250 firms, both total and as a percentage of the class, as well as the school's tuition. A very useful resource for prospective students, I would think.
UPDATE: Peter Tosirisuk, a law student at Stanford, kindly sent alone these useful charts he made with the NLJ data:
It's here, with not many surprises (though UC Irvine is in the top 20--this was their first class of graduates, who were recruited with full rides). Bear in mind that this only counts graduates who take jobs at the 250 largest law firms, and thus excludes those graduates who go into clerkships, PhD programs, government service, or elite litigation boutiques.
And by "inaccurate," they mean only that the lists included non-law faculty or faculty who didn't teach at the school in question--they do not mean that the data itself actually reflects the opinon of law students about professors whose classes they really took. No one has any way of confirming that. The editors have appended a list of articles on "Rate My Professors," but as I noted before, the literature (if you actually read it) does not support the use to which National Jurist put it. They still should withdraw the entire ranking, and hire some educational and statistical consultants to come up with a worthwhile metric.