We’re still a few months out from seeing the latest edition of the U.S. News law school rankings — and the Above the Law Top 50 law school rankings — so in the meantime, we thought we’d have a little chat about the (sometimes extreme) mismatches some law schools have between their reputation and rank.
U.S. News measures reputation through peer assessment from law deans and tenured faculty on a scale from marginal to outstanding, and this score accounts for 25 percent of a law school’s overall ranking. It’s nice to know that what other people think about your law school is still more important than its job placement success (currently weighted at 20 percent).
So which law schools are doing better than their reputations suggest, and which ones aren’t living up to the hype? We’ve got the details on some of the best hidden gems and worst secret offenders for you…
Professor Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog produced these lists of overperforming and underperforming law schools based on methodology used by U.S. News in assessing undergraduate schools where reputation and rank didn’t match (i.e., he subtracted the peer ranking from the overall ranking, or vice versa).
Without any further ado, here’s the list of the top 11 overperformers, i.e., “schools with an overall numerical rank in the U.S. News Law School Rankings that is better than the school’s academic peer assessment rank by the largest number of places” (you can see the full list here):
We turned this list up to 11 to show you Alabama’s peer assessment score. The school almost cracked the top 20 law schools nationwide in the U.S. News rankings (and came in at #27 in the ATL rankings), and yet law deans and law professors think that it would be better placed just inside the top 50. To be frank, they’re lucky other Alabama fans don’t murder them for not being good enough Alabama fans.
Moving right along, here’s the list of the top 10 underperformers, i.e., “schools with an overall numerical rank in the U.S. News Law School Rankings that is lower than the school’s academic peer assessment rank by the largest number of places” (you can see the full list here):
The top underperformers hail from the lower echelons of the U.S. News rankings, and much like the college edition of this list, “some flagship public universities may not be serving students as well as their reputations would suggest.” Oregon fans seem to be rallying hard for the law school, but no matter how highly their peers rate it, the Ducks will still be silenced by the Stanfords of the legal academy.
So readers, what do you think? Are any of these law schools truly overrated or underrated outside of their overall rank and peer assessment scores? We’re interested in what you’ve got to say.