Law Schools

Cooley Law School Develops More Useless Than Normal Law School Rankings

Cooley law school logo.jpgThomas M. Cooley Law School’s tenth annual Judging the Law Schools rankings are available. (Hat tip: ATL commenters.)
I was not aware that this school list existed. But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t stay the same. The rationale behind this list is rigorous and powerful:

Imagine that college football teams are ranked each year by the quality of the freshman recruits and the pre-season polls of the press and the coaches. Games don’t count, only what people expect, based upon the potential of the high school players and the pre-season assessment of two groups with some involvement in football. Imagine as well that the rankings for the year are determined just once, before the season begins and those players are tested by competition.

Dude, totally. Keep talking, I’ll roll the next one:

That unimaginable scenario is pretty much what happens when law schools are ranked. The quality of the incoming class and the reputation of the schools according to the academics and lawyers control the rankings.

This is just like that time when we were on that thing, and we saw all those little dudes. And they were running man, remember? But where? Where were they going, man? So fast:

Legal education is one of the last places in America where ignorance is used as a basis of judgment (I never heard of it, so how good can it be?) and where subjectivity and bias are actually valued over objectivity and fair-mindedness (this or that school has a good or bad reputation).

I’m totally wigging out.
You will be shocked to learn that Cooley Law School’s “objective” and “fair-minded” list ranks Thomas M. Cooley Law School 12th best, among the 197 ABA-accredited law schools.
See the top 20, plus some notes on Cooley’s methodology, after the jump.


Here are the top 20 law schools in the nation, according to Cooley:

1. Harvard University
2. Georgetown University
3. New York University
4. University of Virginia
5. University of Texas
6. University of Michigan
7. Northwestern University
8. Columbia University
9. Yale Law School
10. George Washington University
11. University of Minnesota
12. Thomas M. Cooley Law School
13. Fordham University
14. University of California-Los Angeles
15. American University
16. University of Pennsylvania
17. University of California-Hastings
18. Stanford University
19. University of Maryland
20. University of California-Berkeley

I’m all for breaking the monolithic power of U.S. News. There’s a lot more to law school than prestige. But a law school ranking that rates Cooley at 12 and Stanford at 18 has zero credibility. I mean, if you’re going to tell me that gravity doesn’t exist in the way we perceive it, you better drop some M-Theory on me instead of a collection of Superman comics.
If you scroll through Cooley’s methodology, you’ll notice that the size of a school’s law library is really important. Nine of their factors involve the school library. This causes one to wonder if the people at Cooley have ever heard of “the internet.”
But, since UT Law ranks fifth on the list, I expect to hear some inspired defense of this list in the comments.
Judging the Law Schools – Overall Rankings 2008 [Thomas M. Cooley Law School]

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