Will Harvard Overtake Yale in the Rankings? Don’t Hold Your Breath

yale law school.jpgYour outgoing editor is a Yale Law School grad, and your incoming editor is a Harvard Law School grad. So the two schools’ rivalry in the rankings is a subject of interest — and good-natured trash-talking — here in the office.
In a provocative post entitled Is the End Near for Yale’s Dominance?, Professor Brian Leiter writes:

[T]he awakening of the sleeping giant Harvard Law School under Dean Kagan’s tenure and its entry into the lateral market has meant that Yale now faces real competition at the very top. Add to that Yale’s chronic vulnerability–namely, its location–and the eagerness of both Columbia and NYU to hire almost any Yale faculty member at the drop of a hat, and it does mean that Yale Law School will have to work harder than a generation ago to remain on top.

Yale will continue to be helped, to be sure, by the small school bias of US News, which has insured (through the per capita expenditures measure) that YLS has remained #1 in US News even in years when HLS has higher reputation scores. And until the changes in faculty quality translate into changes in clerkships and academic placement, one suspects that YLS will continue to have its pick of prospective law students for the foreseeable future.

Professor Bill Henderson agrees — and has the empirical support to back it up.
Read more, below the fold.

From his post on Empirical Legal Studies:

According to a simulation model of the 2008 U.S. News rankings, which Andy Morriss and I recently constructed, Harvard would not overtake Yale even if:

  • Harvard’s median LSAT climbed to 180 and its median UGPA hit 4.0;
  • Harvard’s academic and lawyer-judge reputation scores were both a perfect 5.0;
  • Harvard’s acceptance rate plunged to less than 5%.

    In fact, even with these changes, Yale would still have a nice leadership cushion.

  • You can read more, including an interesting meditation on whether any of this should even matter, over here. (Money quote: “It is so easy to get too caught up on the hamster wheel of envy and prestige without realizing that the energy expended does not necessarily produce anything of lasting social value.”)
    If Yale is #1 in U.S. News, Is it the Best Law School? [Empirical Legal Studies]
    Is the End Near for Yale’s Dominance? [Leiter’s Law School Reports]
    Smith from Yale to Harvard [Leiter’s Law School Reports]

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