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America’s Next Top Law Review: New Rankings!

‘Congratulations. You’re still in the running towards becoming America’s next top law review.’

Replace the gorgeous, leggy models with bespectacled, Bluebook-wielding law students. Replace the photo shoots with cite checks. Replace Tyra Banks with a law librarian.

Voilà! You’ve replaced America’s Next Top Model with something far more fabulous: America’s Next Top Law Review.

And yes, there is a new top law review. Harvard Law Review, which has dominated the leading set of rankings for the past seven years, has been dethroned. To quote Dani from Cycle 6 of ANTM, “Shut yo mouth and say it ain’t true!”

Oh, but it is true. They’re all beautiful — or at least impeccably Bluebooked — but only one girl has what it takes. Who is the nation’s new #1 law journal?

The Harvard Law Review just got blown up. All hail the new number one!

Congratulations to the Stanford Law Review, which just took the top spot in the 2013 edition of the Washington and Lee Law Review Rankings, released on February 14. Fierce! Work it, girl! The camera Westlaw absolutely loves you!

Condolences to the Harvard Law Review. To quote CariDee (Cycle 7), “I smell what you’re stepping in.” Well, at least it’s not on fire.

The W&L rankings are the “U.S. News” of the law journal space: they aren’t the only rankings out there, but they are the most widely followed and influential. Just as the U.S. News rankings share the field with, say, the ATL Law School Rankings — which focus on things that actually matter, like employment outcomes and cost, not random factors like LSAT scores or library size — the W&L rankings share the field with the Google Scholar rankings, among others.

In terms of methodology, the Washington and Lee rankings are driven by citations to law journals that appear both in case law[1] and in secondary literature. Here are the top 10 law reviews, according to the latest W&L rankings for 2013 (based on “combined score”):

1. Stanford Law Review – 100
2. Harvard Law Review – 97.9
3. Columbia Law Review – 95.7
4. The Yale Law Journal – 91.8
5. University of Pennsylvania Law Review – 83.9
6. The Georgetown Law Journal – 82.9
7. UCLA Law Review – 81.9
8. Michigan Law Review – 76.3
9. California Law Review – 75.1
10. Virginia Law Review – 73.8

Some law reviews punch above their weight when you compare them to their school’s U.S. News rank. Here are the top 10 law reviews with the overall institution’s 2014 U.S. News rank noted parenthetically:

1. Stanford Law Review (2)
2. Harvard Law Review (2)
3. Columbia Law Review (4)
4. The Yale Law Journal (1)
5. University of Pennsylvania Law Review (7)
6. The Georgetown Law Journal (14)
7. UCLA Law Review (17)
8. Michigan Law Review (9)
9. California Law Review (9)
10. Virginia Law Review (7)

The big winners here are the Georgetown Law Journal, which ranks 8 spots higher than GULC, and the UCLA Law Review, which ranks 10 spots higher than UCLA Law. Beyond the top 10, other journals that fare well are the Minnesota Law Review, at #11, and the Fordham Law Review, at #14. In the U.S News rankings, Minnesota Law School and Fordham Law School are, respectively, #19 and #38.

As for the “T14″ schools from U.S. News whose flagship law reviews don’t make the top 10, here they are (with their main law review’s W&L rank noted parenthetically):

4. University of Chicago (23)
6. New York University (13)
11. Duke University (19)
12. Northwestern University (17)
13. Cornell University (15)

By the way, don’t accuse the Washington and Lee librarians of pulling a Cooley and favoring their home institution. The Washington and Lee Law Review appears all the way down at #50 in the rankings (below W&L’s overall U.S. News ranking of #26).

Of course, there is life beyond the W&L rankings of the flagship general-interest journals. What about specialized journals? Or other systems for ranking law reviews? Flip to the next page for more….

(hidden for your protection)

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