Tuesday, March 17, 2020

New USNews.com "program" rankings for law schools

USNews.com "program" rankings for law schools have usually been even more worthless than the "overall" rankings of law schools, mostly tracking how well schools market a "program" than the actual quality of faculty or offerings.  (Tax is the classic example.)   This year they added four new categories:  "Business and Corporate Law", "Contracts and Commercial Law," "Criminal Law" and "Constitutional Law."  Although there were some halo effects from school names, the results are actually more sensible than one might have expected.  Here's the top ten in each of these categories (outside the top 10-15, the lists mostly just track a school's overall U.S. News rank it seems to me).

Business and Corporate Law

1 Columbia University (NY) 4.8
1 Harvard University (MA) 4.8
3 New York University 4.7
4 University of California--Berkeley 4.6
5 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.4
7 University of Chicago (IL) 4.3
8 Georgetown University (DC) 4.2
8 University of California--Los Angeles 4.2
8 University of Virginia 4.2
8 Yale University (CT) 4.2

NYU should have been tied with Columbia and Harvard at #1, but that's minor.  Not quite sure, however, how evaluators would be interpreting "business law" apart from corporate.  I suspect many were including some of what might also belong under commercial law.

Constitutional Law

1 Yale University (CT) 4.9
2 Harvard University (MA) 4.8
3 Stanford University (CA) 4.7
4 University of Chicago (IL) 4.6
5 Columbia University (NY) 4.5
5 New York University 4.5
7 University of California--Berkeley 4.4
7 University of Virginia 4.4
9 Duke University (NC) 4.3
9 Georgetown University (DC) 4.3

This one is a little quirkier.  NYU and Chicago are both plainly stronger than Stanford in constitutional law, which should be in the top ten, but not the top five.  The rest of the top ten is fairly plausible, although I wouldn't take the precise ordinal ranking very seriously.   University of San Diego came in at #28 (score of 3.3), some indicator that evaluators were actually thinking about the faculties and not just the "brand name," although #28 still seems low for USD.

Contracts/Commercial Law

1 Columbia University (NY) 4.7
1 University of Chicago (IL) 4.7
3 Harvard University (MA) 4.6
3 New York University 4.6
3 University of California--Berkeley 4.6
6 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.5
8 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4.4
8 University of Texas--Austin 4.4
8 Yale University (CT) 4.4

Criminal Law

1 New York University 4.5
1 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
3 Harvard University (MA) 4.4
3 University of California--Berkeley 4.4
5 Georgetown University (DC) 4.3
6 Columbia University (NY) 4.2
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.2
6 University of Virginia 4.2
6 Yale University (CT) 4.2
10 Duke University (NC) 4.1
10 University of California--Los Angeles 4.1
10 University of Chicago (IL) 4.1
10 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4.1
10 Vanderbilt University (TN) 4.1

This one is also a bit quirkier, although NYU should certainly be #1.   But Penn should have been in the top three at least as well.   And it's clear that evaluators were taking this to mean both criminal law and procedurejudging from the results.


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