Given the legal economy, prospective students should clearly be shooting for law schools in the top-15. But, not everybody can rock the all powerful LSAT. Going to a law school in this group can still result in Biglaw jobs for graduates who want them — especially if the school is located in the market where you ultimately want to practice.

To refresh your memory, here are the law schools ranked #17 to #28 according to the latest U.S. News law school rankings:

17. Vanderbilt
18. USC (Gould)
19. Washington University in St. Louis
20. George Washington
21. Illinois
22. Boston University
22. Emory
22. University of Minnesota
22. Notre Dame
26. Iowa
27. Indiana University
28. Boston College
28. William and Mary
28. U.C. – Davis
28. Georgia
28. UNC
28. Wisconsin

Thoughts on these schools? I’ve got some thoughts on this particular group of rankings as a whole…

U.S. News has six schools tied for 28th place. That’s on top of the four schools that are tied for #22. As my testicles would say: “Weak, U.S. News. Très weak.” Since you guys chose to give each of these schools a numerical rank, you have to actually rank them. Are we in Europe? Are we playing soccer? There is no “tie” in America, only sudden death.

I’m sure new “top-30″ schools like UC-Davis, Georgia, and Wisconsin appreciate U.S. News’s inability to differentiate between the programs. The rest of us do not. You watch, there’s going to be some 22-year-old in Atlanta that applies to all the top 30 law schools and ends up freezing to death in Madison. I hope U.S. News editors can sleep at night knowing that they are to blame for 1L hypothermia.

In any event, this year sees a nice rebound for George Washington Law. The school slipped to #28 last year after U.S. News started counting every school’s part-time program. GW changed its program, and it has been rewarded by U.S. News. I’m sure George Washington himself would be happy to know how much power a for-profit magazine has over American legal education.

Other notes from this group are similar to last year. Vanderbilt remains outside of the traditional top-14, but doesn’t bitch about it as much as UCLA or Texas. Boston University continues to pwn Boston College. Emory can still claim to be the best law school in the deep south as it once again fends of the challenge from the University of Georgia.

But I think we should give a special shout-out to the Big Ten schools on this list. Sure, 9th ranked Michigan tends to outshine these schools in terms of being a national law school. But when you look at schools like Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, IU, and Wisconsin (and Notre Dame if the football program would ever get off its “we have big games against Navy” horse and join the Big Ten), you’ll see a wide range of options if you want to practice anywhere in the Midwest. But which school gives you the best regional options? Is it Illinois, because of its closeness to the Chicago market? Or maybe Minnesota which has a reach throughout the upper Midwest? Surely these Midwestern powerhouses aren’t all interchangeable…

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Earlier: Open Thread: 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 5)
Open Thread: 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings (6 – 15)


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