November 13, 2019

Blast from the past: law school rankings in the 1970s


November 13, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

November 11, 2019

Some students and alumni of "Penn Law" are not happy about becoming students and alumni of "Carey Law"

They have a point.  The University of Maryland already has a "Carey Law School," making losing the connection to Penn a particularly bad idea.   Why not "Penn Law-Carey"?

November 11, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

November 08, 2019

$125 million gift to Penn Law...

November 07, 2019

Measuring law faculty scholarly impact by citations

Professor Gregory Sisk (St. Thomas) comments.

UPDATE:  And more thoughts from my colleagues Adam Chilton and Jonathan Masur.

November 7, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

October 29, 2019

Society for Empirical Legal Studies (SELS) objects to use of HeinOnLine citation data to measure "scholarly impact"

Their letter to editor Robert Morse is here.  I agree with a lot of this; herewith a few comments, sometimes expanding on the points made in the SELS letter, sometimes disagreeing.

The SELS letter states that while "no ranking system is perfect, one strength of the existing ranking approach--as U.S. News officials themselves have argued--is that it provides several accurate metrics for consumers to evaluate for themselves."   This did make me laugh, although I understand the good intentions behind the statement.  In fact, as we all know, has regularly provided consumers with misinformation, since it never audits the self-reported data schools submit, whether about expenditures or job placement.  

The letter continues: 

Unlike other indicators like graduation rate and bar-passage rate, however, HeinOnline’s current citation system does not appear to accurately capture what it represents to. HeinOnline’s metric would purportedly measure a faculty member’s “scholarly impact.” But the method suffers from a variety of systemic measurement flaws so significant that they undermine its validity as a measure of scholarly impact—and with it, the validity of any metric incorporating it. Making the HeinOnline data part of the Best Law Schools ranking would therefore deviate from your longstanding practice of offering readers accurate information.

A small point:  while U.S. News college rankings incorporate graduation rates, the law school rankings do not.  The main concern of the SELS letter is that may add the Hein impact data to the overall ranking formula.   I hereby predict with confidence that will do exactly that within the next two years.  The trend in all their professional school rankings in the last few years has been to try to add "objective" indicia; citation data is the best candidate in the case of law schools.

Of course, the Hein data has exactly the problems that the SELS letter notes (and we have discussed previously):   books and book chapters are invisible, and partly because of that, and partly because Hein is a database of only law-related journals, interdisciplinary scholarship will get less weight in the "scholarly impact" measure.   Of course, it might reasonably be said that "scholarly impact" for a law school should be reflected in law publications, not, e.g., in impact in philosophy or economics journals.  (The two examples given--a highly-cited article co-authored by Lucian Bebchuk [Harvard] in a non-law journal and the highly cited historian Samuel Moyn [Yale] whose citations derive primarily from books--are apt, but probably not typical.  Bebchuk will surely do extremely well by a Hein-only measure even if that one article is excluded, while Moyn won't; but does anyone think that would have factored into Yale's hiring decision?)

But the real question about adding the Hein data is a comparative one.  Right now the ranking of law schools measures [sic] the scholarly quality of faculties through an academic reputation survey, that has become simply an echo chamber:  if a school's overall rank increases, the reputation score increases; and vice versa.   The Hein data--or any scholarly impact data--would make the measurement of scholarly quality independent of the reputation echo chamber.   (In, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale typically tie at #1 in academic reputation; while Chicago, Columbia, and sometimes NYU come in at #4; contrast that with what scholarly impact data reveals.  The differences with impact data become even more dramatic further down the academic reputation hierarchy.)

So if the choice is between academic reputation data and no measure of scholarly impact, versus adding the Hein impact data, I'd vote for the latter.  (I agree with the SELS letter that Google Scholar would be a better metric, but policy is not to do anything that requires real work on their part, and using Google Scholar would be time- and labor-intensive.)

Continue reading

October 29, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 15, 2019

Blast from the past: when "The National Jurist" went off the rails...

...back in 2013.  I gather they're still around, but I've not read them since.

October 15, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

October 10, 2019

Enrollment rebounding at University of Minnesota Law School

It's been a wild decade, with enrollment declining by almost a third, but now almost back to pre-recession levels.

October 10, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

September 12, 2019

Top 40 law faculties according to readers of the blog

So with 214 votes cast, here are the results; I've added spaces to mark out schools that were "clustered" pretty closely together.


1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)

2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 107–78


3. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 154–33, loses to Harvard University by 153–34

4. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 154–37, loses to Stanford University by 96–90


5. New York University  loses to Yale University by 157–37, loses to University of Chicago by 105–81

6. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 177–18, loses to New York University by 102–83


7. University of California, Berkeley  loses to Yale University by 184–9, loses to Columbia University by 149–40
8. University of Pennsylvania  loses to Yale University by 183–9, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 95–83
9. University of Virginia  loses to Yale University by 184–7, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 95–77

10. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  loses to Yale University by 187–7, loses to University of Virginia by 87–86


11. Duke University  loses to Yale University by 189–5, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 103–69


12. Georgetown University  loses to Yale University by 192–4, loses to Duke University by 106–69
13. Northwestern University  loses to Yale University by 189–6, loses to Georgetown University by 90–88
14. Cornell University  loses to Yale University by 189–6, loses to Northwestern University by 89–75

15. University of California, Los Angeles  loses to Yale University by 192–1, loses to Cornell University by 95–79


16. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 193–0, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 100–69


17. Vanderbilt University  loses to Yale University by 186–1, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 92–63


18. University of Southern California  loses to Yale University by 185–0, loses to Vanderbilt University by 99–42


19. Washington University, St. Louis  loses to Yale University by 183–0, loses to University of Southern California by 88–52
20. Boston University  loses to Yale University by 185–3, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 80–67
21. University of California, Irvine  loses to Yale University by 188–1, loses to Boston University by 81–67
22. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 187–1, loses to University of California, Irvine by 78–70

23. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul  loses to Yale University by 183–0, loses to George Washington University by 75–63


24. Emory University  loses to Yale University by 186–1, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 78–60
25. University of Notre Dame  loses to Yale University by 180–1, loses to Emory University by 73–69
26. Boston College  loses to Yale University by 180–2, loses to University of Notre Dame by 78–60

27. Fordham University  loses to Yale University by 185–2, loses to Boston College by 73–65


28. College of William & Mary  loses to Yale University by 180–2, loses to Fordham University by 73–55
29. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  loses to Yale University by 178–0, loses to College of William & Mary by 64–60
30. University of California, Davis  loses to Yale University by 180–0, loses to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign by 60–57
31. University of Iowa  loses to Yale University by 180–0, loses to University of California, Davis by 70–53
32. University of Wisconsin, Madison  loses to Yale University by 175–0, loses to University of Iowa by 66–57

33. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University  loses to Yale University by 174–6, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 67–63


34. George Mason University  loses to Yale University by 178–3, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 72–49
35. Indiana University, Bloomington  loses to Yale University by 172–1, loses to George Mason University by 58–56
36. Ohio State University  loses to Yale University by 173–0, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 57–48
37. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  loses to Yale University by 182–0, loses to Ohio State University by 65–50
38. Arizona State University  loses to Yale University by 173–3, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 65–56
39. Brooklyn Law School  loses to Yale University by 169–6, loses to Arizona State University by 61–57
40. Florida State University  loses to Yale University by 176–1, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 59–56

UC Hastings trailed Florida State by ten votes, and Alabama trailed Hastings by 3 votes.

Unfortunately, this looks a lot like the U.S. News overall rank, which is a nonsense number, although there are notable exceptions:  e.g., NYU coming out ahead of Columbia, but also places like George Mason, Brooklyn, and Florida State (but San Diego not making the top 50 was a sign of the pernicious influence of US News).  You can get an idea of which school's voters tried to get a strategic advantage by ranking their school ahead of Yale, as 6 voters for Brooklyn and Cardozo each did (while only 2 Fordham voters did so).   Condorcet largely washes out that kind of voting, but it may have some effect, I can't say for sure.

What's really needed is a survey that presents evaluators with faculty lists, rather than school names--perhaps down the line!  Or if someone else wants to try it, I can help publicize and/or offer advice.

September 12, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

September 10, 2019

Top 40 Law Faculties in terms of scholarly distinction, 2019 edition

We haven't played this game in awhile, so here it goes:  66 choices in an attempt to find "the top 40".  Don't participate if your knowledge of law schools is limited to what you learned from   Only participate if you have an informed opinion about the scholarship these faculties produce.   Feel free to choose "no opinion" for faculties you don't know much about.  And have fun!

September 10, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

July 19, 2019

International ranking of law journals

A group of Israeli legal scholars undertook this quantitative and qualitative study,resulting in a tiered ranking of journals as A*, A, B, C and unranked.   One could quibble here and there, but it's a reasonably sensible result.

July 19, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink