Law Schools, Rankings, U.S. News

Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (1 – 14)

The latest U.S. News law school rankings are out, and you know what that means. It’s time to allow students and alumni to weigh in on their law schools and their brand new ranks.

As is customary at Above the Law, we’ll be posting a series of open threads, running through at least the top 100 law schools. These posts offer you a chance to compare and contrast different schools, praise (or condemn) your alma mater, and talk trash about rival law schools.

Last year, there was a bit of a rankings shake-up among the nation’s top law schools, but this year, it was more of a musical chairs scenario than anything else. And here you thought the inclusion of employment statistics was going to make a difference, but that’s certainly not the case when it comes to the top 14 law schools.

Well, actually, jobs data may have had an effect on at least one highly ranked school….

Here are the top 14 law schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. For your convenience, we’ve noted the difference between last year’s ranking and this year’s ranking parenthetically:

1. Yale University (no change)
2. Harvard University (up 1)
2. Stanford University (no change)
4. Columbia University (no change)
4. University of Chicago (up 1)
6. New York University (no change)
7. University of Pennsylvania (no change)
7. University of Virginia (no change)
9. University of California-Berkeley (down 2)
9. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (up 1)
11. Duke University (no change)
12. Northwestern University (no change)
13. Cornell University (up 1)
14. Georgetown University (down 1)

The “HYS” (Harvard, Yale, Stanford) group still received top billing from the rankings gurus at U.S. News, and the “CCN” cluster (Columbia, Chicago, and NYU) remained intact. As usual, and as we noted previously, the rest of the T14 played musical chairs, but there was one big upset this year.

But first, let’s chat about Harvard’s rise in the rankings. Last year, everyone was up in arms about Harvard’s fall from grace — after all, Harvard hadn’t been ranked lower than Stanford since 2007. Perhaps it was the HLS students’ and alumni base’s Batman-esque chants of “Deshi! Deshi! Basara! Basara!” that inspired the school to climb out of its hole to ascend to the No. 2 slot (as the school did in 2008 and 2009).

As to this year’s T14 upset, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall “plummeted” from being tied at No. 7 to being tied at No. 9. In fairness to the school, it was ranked in the No. 9 slot in the 2012 U.S. News rankings, but perhaps it would’ve been able to stick it out at the No. 7 slot had its “employed at graduation” rate (72.6%) not been weighted differently. Boalt’s employment rate was the fourth-worst of all of the nation’s best law schools.

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about UVA. Its rank remained the same, but that may have been bolstered by its “employed at graduation” rate, which was the best overall among peer law schools. U.S. News, of course, doesn’t delve into the fact that some UVA students are unable to obtain employment at or before graduation because they’d rather save the world than give in to corporate greed. U.S. News also glosses over the fact that UVA has been known to employ about 17% of its own graduates. Those details, they sure are pesky!

Last, but not least, it looks like Georgetown and Cornell traded places… again. Last year, when the Hoyas managed to oust an Ivy League school from its No. 13 spot, a commenter sarcastically mused, “How do you like being GULCed?” This year, now that Georgetown is once again putting the “14” in “T14,” we’ve got to wonder whether U.S. News added another category to its methodology: number of libraries masturbated in.

So readers, what do you think? Did U.S. News get it right this year? Are these new rankings fair? Your thoughts on these fine institutions are welcome in the comments to this open thread.

Earlier: The 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings

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