The end is in sight for our long national nightmare. Starting in 2014, the NCAA will institute a four-team playoff to crown the national college football champion. The 14-year reign of the BCS will be looked back upon as a time of national unity: everyone thought the system was horrible. Even President Obama decried the system on the campaign trail . The BCS has been described as anything from a “horrible Jenga tower of bad arguments” to a “broken, failed, even corrupt enterprise.” Oh wait, that second quote is from a blurb for Brian Tamanaha’s recent book Failing Law Schools. But of course there is an important parallel between the BCS and the legal education industry: they have few defenders outside their own walls. The soon-to-be obsolete BCS system is only considered successful by those with a financial stake in the status quo. As for our current model of legal education, efforts to defend its value from the inside have not been well received, to put it mildly. But there’s an important difference between the BCS and legal academia. The BCS has shown a willingness to adapt and transform itself in the face of widespread and well-founded criticism.

Anyway, as even casual football fans know, a college team’s prospects are highly correlated with how the students at its affiliated law school rate their experiences. (Ed. note: this is untrue). So, after the jump, let’s have a look at how the law schools for the BCS bowl schools match up.

To date, we’ve received nearly 9,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey, from which we’ve created firm and school profiles for our ATL Career Center. Below are side by side comparisons of the student ratings (maximum score is 4) of the “BCS law schools,” along with some representative quotes from respondents.

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville

Representative Florida quote:

A lot of people don’t have jobs. Work around the clock 1L year to make sure you rank at the top of your class.

Representative Louisville quote:

Surprisingly diverse student body and the school is a decent value for a law school, which admittedly isn’t saying much.

Student Ratings:

Florida Category Louisville
3.25 Academics 3.15
3.43 Practical/clinical training 2.35
3.38 Career counseling 3.40
3.63 Social Life 3.30
3.63 Financial Aid Advising 3.22


WINNER: Florida, with an average student rating of 3.46 to Louisville’s 3.08

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois

Florida State wins by by forfeit — we haven’t received enough of a response to our survey from NIU students to generate any ratings. So come on NIU students, take our survey , crash our career center party, and make students at UGA Law hate you even more.

Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Wisconsin

Stanford quote:

Stanford really is as great as everyone says it is. There are a few things that could be improved (more generous LRAP, better advising) but these are really first-world problems. Academics are great; faculty are ridiculously accessible and doing research or advocacy work with faculty is standard. Professors have you over to dinner–it’s really a nice, small community.

Wisconsin quote:

[I]n terms of social life, UW is extremely hard to beat … The people both in the school and the community are all very friendly and there is a pretty strong ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality throughout the school. We also have successful and active sports programs, and our student union even runs a beer hall.

Student Ratings:

Stanford Category Wisconsin
3.25 Academics 2.87
3.29 Practical/clinical training 3.17
3.67 Career counseling 2.83
3.81 Social Life 3.33
3.44 Financial Aid Advising 3.50


WINNER: Stanford, with an average student rating of 3.49 to Wisconsin’s 3.14

Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon

Oregon wins by forfeit. Amazingly, Kansas State does not have a law school. But if Bill Synder wants to start one, we’re sure it’ll end up in the top tier in just a few years.

BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

ND quote:

ND Law has such a wide-spread (geographically speaking) alumni network and I would rate, in the top 4 after Harvard, Yale, USC. Even ND undergrads who went to law school elsewhere will help you, so get started ASAP.

Alabama quote:

Very congenial environment where people seem to genuinely care about each other. While we do realize that we are in direct competition with one another, people are pretty laid back about it and aren’t snarky (openly, anyway) … true Southern hospitality at its finest. Also, you get student tickets to Alabama football games.

Student Ratings:

Notre Dame Category Alabama
3.64 Academics 3.50
2.82 Practical/clinical training 2.80
2.36 Career counseling 2.65
3.09 Social Life 3.23
2.73 Financial Aid Advising 2.25


NATIONAL CHAMPION: Notre Dame, with an average student rating of 2.92 to Alabama’s 2.88. Congratulations to the Irish. Please note however, that in a bracket format, Stanford would emerge as national champion as it has the highest student rating of any BCS team.

Finally, if you haven’t yet done so, please take a few minutes and take our ATL Insider Survey.


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