Last week, we asked if there was any value to getting an LL.M. The upshot seems to be that law schools have no idea whether or not their LL.M programs are any good.

In lieu of information from the schools or the ABA, we turn to where we always turn: a magazine. The New York Law Journal has stepped into the rankings fray to rank New York-based LL.M programs.

The results are somewhat surprising. NYU Law has long been considered, by U.S. News and others, to have the best tax LL.M program in the land. But that’s not how the NYLJ sees it.

Of course, there’s a big flaw in the NYLJ’s methodology. Let’s take a closer look — and also find out the winners in the other LL.M. categories….

Instead of NYU, the New York Law Journal ranks New York Law School as having the best tax LL.M. program in New York. NYLS, not NYU. Kind of shocking, no?

Well, here’s the catch. Here’s the “methodology” used to come up with these rankings:

The Rankings are not a scientific survey of the marketplace but rather purely democratic. We asked you to vote for your favorites – and did you ever. With over 2,000 votes, the response exceeded our expectations.

The voting was conducted via online ballot, compiled by the sales and marketing teams of the New York Law Journal. Readers were notified of the ballot through direct emails and online advertisements linking to the ballot across ALM’s network of websites. The ballot consisted of 42 categories encompassing the areas of Technology, Research, Accounting, Insurance, Financial Services, Litigation Support, Education Recruiting and Staffing. In total, over 350 firms were listed on the official online ballot and voters were also given the option of writing in any firms not see listed; almost 400 firms received votes via the write-in option. Ultimately, our goal was to make the voting as inclusive as possible.

As Stan Marsh might say, “Goddamn it.” I don’t care what “the voters” think about the best tax LL.M program. I especially don’t care what just over 2,000 voters think. I could get 2,000 people to “vote” for me to be president of the American Bar Association. It doesn’t mean I have a single qualification for the post.

I’ve said this before when it comes to new rankings: if you are going to tell us something that flies in the face of what we already think we know, you’ve got to give us a really good reason to believe you. “Purely democratic” isn’t a reason; it’s a process. “Purely democratic” doesn’t explain why you have NYLS ranked higher than NYU. “Purely democratic” tells me nothing.

Sigh.

In any event, Paul Caron on TaxProf Blog has the other “winners.”

* Bankruptcy Law – St. John’s
* Corporate Law – NYU
* International Law – NYU
* Comparative Law – Cardozo

Do with these what you will. But when you receive a brochure from NYLS talking about its “best taxation LL.M in New York,” consider the source.

Best of 2010 [New York Law Journal]
NYLS (Not NYU) Named New York’s Best Graduate Tax Program [TaxProf Blog]

Earlier: What Is the Value of an LLM Degree?


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