Harvard Law Review, Rankings, U.S. News

Open Thread: 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 5)

The new U.S. News law school rankings are out. Now it’s time to allow students and alumni to weigh in on their law school and their brand new rank.

At the very top, the order remains unchanged. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford continue to be kings of the U.S. News world. If prospective students can get into one of these schools, they should probably go. Biglaw, legal academia, and Article III clerkships await graduates of these prestigious institutions.

We know the stereotypes of the east coast schools. Yale is the elite training ground for clerks and scholars — and Biglaw dollars are available to those students who want a slice of the pie. Harvard is the most prestigious J.D. diploma factory in the world. HLS is all about big numbers: lots of students, and lots of money for graduates who dive into Biglaw.

Is Stanford the Yale of the west or Harvard of the west? Or would Stanford be ranked even higher but for “east coast bias”? Aside from U.S. News prestige, what’s special about Stanford that Berkeley students wouldn’t understand?

The subtle differences between the top-3 are questions for only a few LSAT rockstars.

Next, let’s check in on Chicago’s march up the rankings…

New University of Chicago Law School Dean Michael Schill has certainly made a big impact at his new school. Schill left UCLA Law School at the end of last year. After just a few months on the job — bam — Schill has Chicago over the hump and into the top five. Coincidence?

Maybe not. Word on the street is that UofC overcame NYU Law School thanks to a subtle change in its reporting to U.S. News. We hear that Chicago changed how it reported its Expenditures Per Student. U.S. News defines the statistic like this:

The average expenditures per student for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. The average instruction, library, and supporting services (.0975) are measured, as are all other items, including financial aid.

Is it conceivable that Chicago’s math had been keeping it behind NYU for all this time?

In any event, the reaction from Chicago students and graduates about their new top five status has been surprisingly subdued. Chicago grads that have emailed in report that they always believed that UofC was a top five law school, so the new rankings are just finally catching up. You know, when you get to the endzone, act like you’ve been there.

The unabashed joy about Chicago’s new rank doesn’t come from UofC, it comes from Columbia Law School. Here’s a brief collection of emails, texts, and status updates from Columbia graduates:

* Elie, please forward the message “SUCK IT” to any NYU grad you know. Thanks.

* I wonder how the quality of life at NYU is today?

* I hope this ends [Elie’s] need to make it seem like there is a rivalry between Columbia and NYU. There is no “rivalry,” Columbia is just better.

In 2003, Aaron Boone hit a homerun for the Yankees in the bottom of the 11th to beat the Red Sox in the American League Championship that year. Watching the moment through the window of the Outback Steakhouse downstairs from my Debevoise office, I thought about the line later memorialized by Jack’s father from Lost: “That’s why the Red Sox will never win the World Series.”

In 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series. So I wouldn’t count out NYU Law just yet.

Earlier: New U.S. News Law School Rankings: They’re Official

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