May 11, 2023

More on the new USNews.com ranking stew

Prof. Derek Muller (Iowa) breaks it down.   Basically, the editors chose to downgrade the importance of "input" metrics (like LSAT and GPA), and dramatically increase the weight for output measures (like bar passage and employment), which now count for more than 50% of the overall score.  In a way, this is salutary, since it will incentivize schools to improve those metrics (or fudge more aggressively!).  The whole formula still of course makes no sense, and is inexplicable in terms of the weightings.  What is clear is that the results are even more detached from traditional criteria of excellence, like faculty quality.  The rankings will also now be much more volatile, for reasons Professor Muller explains.


May 11, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

USNews.com has outdone itself: it has made its law school rankings even more absurd than before!

There's not much to say about what is essentially a random ordering of law schools within tier groups.  Any student who made a decision on the basis of small (and, in some cases, even large) ordinal differences in this year's travesty really should have a cause of action against USNews.com.  (Some of the swings in overall rank are beyond bizarre!  UC Davis and Arizona dropped from the top 50?  Emory and George Washington dropped out of the top 30?  Is this a joke?)   I won't belabor the obvious, and will just repost an updated version of something I posted a year ago.  If anyone extends it beyond "the top 10," please let me know.

US News overall rank

School

Overall scholarly impact rank

Scholarly impact rank for faculty under 60

SCOTUS “per capita” placement rank

Academic reputation rank in US News

Avg. rank across the last four metrics [rank]

1

Stanford University

6

10

3

1

  5 [5]

1

Yale University

1

3

1

6

  2.75 [3]

3

University of Chicago

2

1

2

3

  2 [1]

4

University of Pennsylvania

8

14

15

9

11.5 [outside top 10]

5

Duke University

12

  8

  9

11

10 [10]

5

Harvard University

3

2

3

2

  2 [1]

5

New York University

4

5

5

3

4.25 [4]

8

Columbia University

5

9

9

3

6.5 [6]

8

University of Virginia

9

5

5

9

7.0 [7]

10

Northwestern University

15

17

9

12

13.25 [outside top 10]

10

University of California, Berkeley

6

7

9

6

7.0 [7]

10

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

13

13

5

6

9.25 [9]

 


May 11, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

April 24, 2023

Did USNews.com miscalculate employment rates or did the schools misinterpret the data reported?

Derek Muller argues, plausibly, it was the latter.


April 24, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

April 21, 2023

Will the USNews.com law school rankings for this year ever appear?

Hopefully not!  It appears that without the free labor supplied by law schools of reporting data, the thinly staffed USNews.com operation has been having trouble transcribing data from the ABA into its ranking formula.  Among the problems:  the ABA corrected some of its initial data, but that may have been missed; and USNews.com may not have calculated the employment data properly given its component parts. 


April 21, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

March 14, 2023

CEO of company that makes its $$$ by peddling consumer misinformation to students...

...is morally indignant that schools won't cooperate with his enterprise.  This is some real chutzpah!  They don't provide information, they collect data, don't audit it for accuracy, and then throw it into a nonsensical and inexplicable formula to produce an illusion of precision regarding supposed "qualitative" differences.  It's precisely because they are not providing information that they probably can't be sued under "consumer fraud" statutes.


March 14, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

March 02, 2023

More on gaming the USNews.com rankings via "median" LSAT and GPA

UPDATED:  A reader sent along the site to which my colleague, below, is referring.

A colleague at a proverbial "top ten" law school writes with some interesting observations a propos yesterday's topic (esp. the issue raised in the "Update"):

Because US News ranks schools based on *median* GPA and LSAT, many schools game admissions to optimize their medians for the purpose of rankings.

 

A school can try to admit 49% of its class with LSAT scores at or above their target median, even if their grades are atrocious. They can admit another 49% of the class with GPAs at or above their target median, even if their LSAT scores are terrible. Then they admit 2% that are above the median in both — offer them scholarships if necessary. Any student who was just below the median for both GPA and LSAT would be rejected, even if they would be more likely to succeed than most of the students admitted.

Continue reading


March 2, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

March 01, 2023

These are *not* the "choosiest" law schools, these are the ones most busy gaming USNews.com rankings

This is, alas, fairly gullible "reporting":

No. 1 for the highest median undergraduate grade point average is the University of Alabama School of Law, which accepted students with a 2022 median undergrad GPA of 3.95. Yale Law’s undergrad GPA was 3.94, putting it in a tie with the University of Virginia School of Law and the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. In fifth place is the Texas A&M University School of Law.

The top five in terms of median LSAT are Yale Law (175), followed by Harvard Law School (174). Tying for third place are the University of Chicago Law School, Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School (173).

Most law schools figured out long ago that in the USNews.com formula, you get more benefit from a high median GPA than a high median LSAT:  that's because the scores are normalized, and with the LSAT there's only about 20 places in play (175 to 155, say), while with GPA it's a much wider spread (sixty places or more), so that if you're near the top, you do better in the USNews.com formula.  That's why, e.g., places like Alabama, Wash U, and Texas A&M can be in the "top five" for median GPA but nowhere near the top for five median LSAT:   they made a choice to sacrifice LSAT in order to inflate GPA.  That's a good strategy for rising in USNews.com rankings.  It doesn't make them "choosy," it makes them strategic.  And, of course, omitted from the picture is what majors these GPAs are in:  a 3.95 GPA in chemistry or economics or philosophy is quite a bit different than a 3.95 GPA in communications or education.  If it's more of the latter than the former, than once again it's not "choosiness" but strategy. 

UPDATE:  A colleague at Wash U points out that I am mistaken about Wash U, which has a very high median LSAT as well (although not "top five").  Since the combination of a high median LSAT and a high median GPA tracks past USNews.com rankings (plus location--which helps the coasts, not the midwest), and Wash U's combination is a real outlier in this regard, the question is how are they doing it?  There are three (not mutually exclusive) possibilities I can think of:  (1) they are paying a fortune to get these students; (2) they are admitting a very small 1L class, and increasing the number of transfer students to make up lost revenue (their credentails do now account in USNews.com land); (3) they are disregarding the demandingness of the curricular program when it comes to GPA.

ADDENDUM:  These data suggest #1 is a key factor.


March 1, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink

February 21, 2023

Best American judges of the 20th century?

The earlier poll got nearly 200 responses, though since Professor Kerr (Berkeley) linked to it from his popular Twitter account, the responses probably came from more than just the regular blog readers.  Of the write-ins (some of whom were not eligible, like Roger Taney [!]), the only one that got traction, rightly so, was Robert Jackson, who should have been on the original list.  In any case, here are the top 15 from the poll:

1. Louis Brandeis  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Learned Hand  loses to Louis Brandeis by 54–51
3. Benjamin Cardozo  loses to Louis Brandeis by 59–45, loses to Learned Hand by 57–54
4. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  loses to Louis Brandeis by 55–47, loses to Benjamin Cardozo by 60–52
5. William Brennan  loses to Louis Brandeis by 57–45, loses to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. by 52–49
6. Henry Friendly  loses to Louis Brandeis by 53–33, loses to William Brennan by 48–37
7. Thurgood Marshall  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–32, loses to Henry Friendly by 42–33
8. Earl Warren  loses to Louis Brandeis by 52–39, loses to Thurgood Marshall by 48–41
9. John Marshall Harlan II  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–23, loses to Henry Friendly by 39–29
10. Richard Posner  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–36, loses to John Marshall Harlan II by 45–31
11. Ruth Bader Ginsburg  loses to Louis Brandeis by 68–28, loses to Richard Posner by 50–39
12. Hugo Black  loses to Louis Brandeis by 58–32, loses to Richard Posner by 47–41
13. Roger Traynor  loses to Louis Brandeis by 40–20, loses to Hugo Black by 33–25
14. Robert Jackson (write-in)  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–36, loses to Roger Traynor by 35–29
15. Felix Frankfurter  loses to Louis Brandeis by 64–24, loses to Robert Jackson (write-in) by 45–34

I suspect politics dominated quality in some of these results, but at least a lot of clearly skilled jurists made the list.  I was surprised Brandeis came out on top, rather than Hand or Cardozo, but so it goes with online polls!  Thoughts from readers welcome; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.

 

 

 


February 21, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 17, 2023

Who were the best American judges of the 20th-century?

Here's a poll with I hope most of the likely choices for the "top 10".  You can write-in others.  Only judges no longer serving were eligible.  Have fun!


February 17, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

January 30, 2023

40 law schools are now "boycotting" the USNews.com rankings...

...according to Blog Emperor Caron, who has been keeping track.  Most of those joined after USNews.com announced it would utilize only public data and its own survey data.  According to the Blog Emperor, 53 schools have officially declined to join the boycott, while the rest are either hedging or not telling!


January 30, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink