July 26, 2022
So with about 500 participants and nearly 70,000 votes on paired comparisons, here are the results. The number in parentheses indicates how many times out of 100 comparisons the school prevailed.
US News overall rank continued to exercise a strong, but not always dominant, influence. Several law schools outperformed their US News rank: e.g., Harvard (#4 in US News), NYU (#7), UCLA (#15), Forhdam (#37), UC Irvine (#37), Indiana/Bloomington (#43), Wisconsin (#43), Arizona (#45), Colorado (#49), Cardozo (#52), San Diego (#64), Brooklyn (#98). Others noticeably underperformed: e.g., Stanford (#2 in US News), Penn (#6 in US News), Alabama (#25). Indeed, several law schools in the U.S. News top 40 were outside the top 40 in this survey: Florida (#21), BYU (#23), Georgia (#29), Arizona State (#30), George Mason (#30). (I was a bit surprised some of these didn't make the top 40 in this survey.)
Here are the top 40:
1. Harvard University (96)
2. Yale University (94)
3. University of Chicago (91)
4. Columbia University (90)
4. New York University (90)
4. Stanford University (90)
7. University of California, Berkeley (88)
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (87)
9. University of Virginia (86)
10. University of Pennsylvania (85)
11. Duke University (79)
12. University of California, Los Angeles (78)
13. Georgetown University (77)
14. Cornell University (76)
14. Northwestern University (76)
16. University of Texas, Austin (75)
17. Vanderbilt University (69)
18. University of Southern California (66)
19. Boston University (63)
19. Washington University, St. Louis (63)
July 24, 2022
Instead of the condorcet method, this year we'll try the pairwise comparison methodology. Remember: scholarly strength of the faculty is the criterion, not U.S. News. (There are about 65 schools in the database, based mostly, but not entirely, on the Sisk impact study. Only "the top 40" will be posted on the blog.)
May 12, 2022
The report is now available here. Professor Lawsky recorded 106 hires, the most in a good number of years, although nothing like the numbers before 2010, when 150 or more was the norm. Inevitably some rookie hires are missed: Chicago had three grads on the market, all three of whom received tenure-track offers, but it looks like one did not report to Professor Lawsky. Some misses are inevitable, but I'm confident her overall picture is quite informative.
UPDATE: Professor Lawsky very kindly updated her report to include the missing Chicago candidate. Thank you, Professor Lawsky!
May 09, 2022
A colleague elsewhere sent me data on law school endowments in 2019 (most probably went up in 2021, although they're probably back down now). We divided the total endowment by the total JD and non-JD student enrollment based on the 2021 ABA disclosures to determine the per student value of the endowments. Endowments, of course, are not the only source of income beyond tuition: public law schools, for example, get substantial amounts of money from the state, while some law schools get substantial annual gifts (for more than a decade, for example, Chicago has benefitted from renewable three-year gifts supporting the Rubenstein Scholarships in an amount that would be equivalent, by my estimate, to another $125,000,000 in endowment!). There is, of course, a striking if hardly perfect correlation between per student value of endowments and US News.com rankings, in part because per capita expenditures account for all the differences between otherwise comparable schools.
Interestingly, several of the very wealthy law schools (e.g., Yale, Stanford, Harvard, and Notre Dame) actually have lower per student endowments than their parent universities as a whole; while others (like Virginia and Michigan) have far more.
In any case, here are the top 20 law schools by the per student value of their endowments (schools with an *asterisk outside the top 10 have a gross endowment greater than $100 million; all the schools in the top ten have gross endowments greater than $100 million).
1. Yale University ($2,033,106)
2. Stanford University ($1,422,512)
3. Harvard University ($1,060,304)
4. University of Notre Dame ($670,157)
5. University of Chicago ($623,318)
5. University of Virginia ($623,923)
7. Columbia University ($496,710)
8. University of Michigan ($480,237)
9. University of Pennsylvania ($403,714)
10. Duke University ($352,594)
May 06, 2022
ABA Committee recommends dropping the requirement of standardized testing (e.g., the LSAT) for law school admission
Here. While the ABA has some power, the real power rests with USNews.com: if they still want LSAT scores, law schools will still use them. If USNews.com drops the LSAT scores, then the race to get the highest median GPA, regardless of the difficulty of the undergraduate course of study, will accelerate, since that will be the only numerical measure left for student admissions. That would be a disaster. Comments are open for thoughts from readers on this development and what it portends; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.
April 27, 2022
The arbitrary adjustments to weightings and the like to one side, here's a change that would improve legal education and law school admissions: drop the median GPA as a factor. Not all GPAs are equal. A 3.9 in communications or education is inferior to a 3.5 in engineering or chemistry or philosophy or economics. Some majors are harder than others. But US news generates massive pressure to ignore field of study in favor of GPA. It's a disaster. Drop median GPA as a factor.
April 26, 2022
Professor Jeff Sovern (St. John's) writes:
I wonder whether schools that perform better on lists like the citation lists posted on this blog from time to time have lower requirements for the amount of teaching professors do and if so, how much. I am also curious to know what standard law school teaching expectations are these days, something others may also wonder about. Could those of you who read this please post the teaching requirements at your law school in the comments? At my school, St. John’s, the default teaching load is twelve credit hours per year. Professors with chairs are expected to teach ten hours per year while early-career professors get a course reduction of about one course a year and in one semester in their first few years teach no courses. Professors may seek a research leave every seventh year consisting of a semester at full pay or a year at half-pay.
Comments are open; submit your comment only once, they are moderated and may take awhile to appear. Include a valid university email address, which will not appear. It would be preferable for posters to name the school in question, which is why I need to know the email address, even if you choose not to post your full name.
April 14, 2022
April 13, 2022
April 05, 2022
Yale Law melodrama continues: Professor Stith disagrees with Dean, says student protest violated the Law School's Free Speech Policy
Story here (prior coverage--and earlier examples of the clearly dysfunctional institutional culture). Despite the continued bad press, and even as its USNews.com reputation score falls to 3rd, its #1 scholarly impact positions depends increasingly on an ageing faculty, and its younger faculty increasingly live in New York City (or decamp to NYC schools), the per capita expenditures metric will still keep Yale at #1 in USNews.com.