Rankings, U.S. News, Vanderbilt

We Have a Winner 14th Runner-Up!

Presumably, Tebow will continue to wear #15.

Much has been said about the baleful impact of the U.S. News hegemony over the law school rankings racket. Probably the most trivial of these effects has been the establishment — based on USN’s dubious methodology — of a static tier of 14 elite schools. And as “collective numerical names for elite groups” go, “T14” must be among the most inelegant and arbitrary-seeming. (By contrast, the exemplar of the genre must be “Sweet Sixteen / Elite Eight / Final Four.”)

As noted earlier this week, the composition, if not the precise order, of the T14 has been basically constant for more than a decade. All the “action” is at number 15, with UCLA, Texas, and Vanderbilt all claiming at least a piece of that spot since 2009.

So we asked you: which school should rightfully claim — and maintain — the 15th position? More than 1,100 of you responded. Quite a few felt that there simply is no other school worthy of inclusion in the top tier; the 14th position is simply where we have to draw the curtain between First Class and Coach, and that’s that. Many more respondents made a case for one of the three top contenders or a write-in candidate. (The three most common write-ins were, in descending order, USC, George Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis.)

After the jump, we’ll reveal the people’s choice for the 15th and final spot in legal academia’s most exclusive club, as well as arguments for and against each of the contenders….

First, let’s look at some arguments made for and against these three schools:


Arguments for:

  • “The T14 comprises exclusively schools with a national reach. UCLA and Texas are both state powerhouses — Texas keeps about 70% of its graduates in-state, while California retains nearly 90% of UCLA grads. Vandy, meanwhile, only keeps 18% of its grads in Tennessee and only 32% in the South Central states.”
  • “Harvard of the South, baby!”
  • “Nashville is the new L.A.”

Argument against:

  • “I have never met anyone who has graduated from Vanderbilt.”


Arguments for:

  • “The best law school in the second largest city in U.S.”
  • “Year-round great weather & the hottest girls you will find in a law school.”
  • “The Critical Race Studies Program and Public Interest Law Program make UCLA unique and more qualified for the higher ranking.”

Arguments against:

  • “Their bar passage rate and employment rates are pathetic.”
  • “It’s a little much to have two California state schools in the top 15.”


Arguments for:

  • “If you look at the number of Article III clerks they produce, the number of Supreme Court Clerks and the purchasing power of the people coming out who go to work in Texas firms, it seems relatively clear that Texas stands out above these other two institutions. It is rare to for a school to have so little competition in a state [with] the highest number of Fortune 500 companies in the country and one of the highest concentrations of energy companies in the world. Getting a high paying job in Texas out of UT is like shooting fish in a barrel.”
  • “Texas is cheap, places well, completely dominates one of the most important economic regions in the country, and isn’t already in the T10 because the law requires it to accept a bunch of stupid applicants to make 80% or the student body Texan. If you got rid of this one requirement, it would leapfrog Cornell and GULC and possibly Northwestern and Dookie overnight.”
  • “Can’t beat Austin’s social life, weather, women, and music.”

Argument against:

  • “UT doesn’t even come close to the competitive application process that UCLA has.”

And the winner? It was a competitive race, but in the end, Bruin > Longhorn > Commodore:

By the way, the ATL School & Firm Insiders Survey is still going strong. If you haven’t yet, please take 3-5 minutes to share your experiences with us HERE. Thank you.

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