If there’s one thing that lawyers love more than arguing, it’s law school rankings. Whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, or a law school alumnus, you’re likely obsessed with the U.S. News law school rankings, the most well-known of all national law school rankings.
But come on, let’s be real with ourselves: members of the legal profession are unhealthily obsessed with rankings in general. From the rankings that seem to defy logic and common sense to the rankings that seem nonsensical at best, if they’re out there, we know that our loyal readers are going to salivate over them.
One major criticism of the U.S. News rankings of late is that prospective law students still place a far greater weight on these rankings than any other metric — which is quite foolish. That’s why we were excited to see that Law School Transparency recently released an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings, based on factors that ought to be important to would-be law students: cost and employment outcomes.
Let’s check out the LST rankings alternative, and see what they’ve got to offer….
Instead of ranking law schools based on stereotypical factors used by U.S. News, LST created “Score Reports” that provide users with the ability to compare schools in terms of admissions standards, costs, and employment outcomes. Kyle McEntee, LST’s executive director, notes that the organization’s resource for researching law schools isn’t a rankings system per se, but instead provides users with more nuanced information than that of U.S. News. Here’s more on LST’s new metric from the National Law Journal:
The U.S. News rankings rely heavily on schools’ median Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grade-point averages, as well as their reputation among legal educators. Most prospective law students care more about their ability to land a job and the price they will pay to attend, McEntee said. Using a one-size-fits all metric isn’t the best way for applicants to choose a school, he said.
Perhaps the best part of the LST Score Reports is that they measure job outcomes on both a regional and national level. For example, if a prospective law student wants to work in California (or work at all, for that matter), then he probably shouldn’t enroll at New York Law School.
But what if the prospective law student was limited to schools located in the New York City area, wanted to work in the state after graduation, and wondered which school would give him the best job prospects? Here’s a chart we compiled using LST’s Destination Report for New York. From there, we singled out schools in the NYC area with the best employment outcomes, and the most graduates working in New York state (click to enlarge):
This is the kind of apples-to-apples comparison that would be extremely useful to prospective law students in their decisionmaking process when choosing a school. While the order of this list of schools virtually tracks the U.S. News rankings (with the notable exception of Touro), LST’s report allows applicants to compare the projected cost for three years of legal education with employment outcomes at each school.
For example, let’s take a look at the differences between Brooklyn Law (U.S. News No. 65) and St. John’s Law (U.S. News No. 79). They may be separated by 14 places in the U.S. News rankings, but their employment scores differ by only 0.6%, and Brooklyn’s overall cost is greater. A prospective student might want to consider whether the additional debt is worth the difference in possible employment prospects.
We hope prospective law students will begin to use the latest resource in the (often disregarded) trove of “information readily available for those who bother to look.” Because at this point, it’s your own damn fault if you enroll at a school where the majority of post-graduate employment opportunities involve stocking shelves.
LST Score Reports [Law School Transparency]
New Alternative to U.S. News Law School Rankings [Law School Transparency]
Tool designed to help students choose the right law school for them [National Law Journal]