Rankings

The people over a Thomas M. Cooley Law School have a long and illustrious history of inventing ridiculous law school rankings that magically show Cooley Law at or near the top. It’s pretty pathetic to make up your own ranking and rank yourself.

But now a third party has put together a ranking where Cooley has risen to the top. A Georgetown professor has ranked all the websites from ABA-accredited law schools, and Cooley’s website ranks eighth. Hey, they know how to sell themselves.

The top of the list isn’t only about law schools that are trying dazzle students into making a ruinous financial decision. The rankings mainly seem to reflect whether or not law schools care about their website at all….

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We like to talk a lot about prestige around here, but at Cravath, associates are learning that you can’t spend “prestige points” on your student debt repayments.

Branding is a little easier to take to the bank. It’s something that firm managers and leaders work hard to develop and maintain that can directly lead to business opportunities. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Am Law Daily published an Acritas report on firm branding. The results will surprise the prestige conscious among you.

This list of firms with a stronger brand than the erstwhile bonus setters at CSM is astounding….

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Each year in January, Fortune releases its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. As in years past, a few law firms have managed to sneak their way onto a list that includes companies like Google, DreamWorks Animation, and Goldman Sachs. With companies like that on the list, you’ve got to wonder (Elie did last year) — do the people at Fortune who make this list have any idea what they’re talking about?

We cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007). Like last year, only four firms made the list for 2012.

But which four firms? Which four firms had pay that was high enough, perks that were good enough, and environments that were nurturing enough to make the cut?

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It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but here we are. It’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The weather is turning cold, the Republican presidential contest is heating up, and it’s time to review this year’s biggest stories on Above the Law.

Consistent with past practice, we will refrain from offering our subjective judgments on the most important stories of the year. Instead, just as we did back in 2010 and 2009, we’ll identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of our friends at Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2011, based on traffic.

In terms of overall topics, the most popular category page for the year was Law Schools, for the second year in a row. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the year was an eventful one for the legal academy. It would be fair to describe 2011 as an annus horribilis for the law school world, with various forces laying siege to the ivory tower. The attackers include not just unemployed lawyers turned scambloggers, but the mainstream media, led by David Segal of the New York Times; plaintiffs’ lawyers, who have already sued several law schools (and have announced plans to sue at least 15 more in 2012); and even a tenured law professor calling for reform (Paul Campos, currently in the lead for 2011 Lawyer of the Year).

The second most-popular category at ATL: Biglaw. Although we’ve expanded our small-firm and in-house coverage dramatically here at Above the Law, adding multiple columnists in each space, our coverage of large law firms still draws major traffic and drives discussions.

Now, on to the ten most popular individual posts on Above the Law in 2011….

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[A] law school could literally burn a huge sum of money and, as long as the flames were meant to teach something to the students — the craziness of the U.S. News algorithm, perhaps? — the school would benefit in the rankings.

New York Times journalist David Segal, responding to a reader’s question in relation to his series of articles about the economics of law schools. Segal’s latest article, For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way (our coverage here), concluded the series.

(Additional excerpts from Segal’s responses, after the jump.)

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A 'best place to work': outside, when the weather's nice.

Since 2008, Crain’s has been producing a list of the 50 Best Places to Work in New York City. Each year, a few law firms manage to sneak their way onto the list, much like what we’ve seen thus far with Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

This year, seven law firms made Crain’s list, and as we told you back in January, only four made Fortune’s. Three firms are new to Crain’s list, while the other four moved up or down in the rankings. Just two of those firms overlap between Crain’s and Fortune’s lists.

It appears that congratulations and condolences are both in order. So, which law firms are considered the cream of the crop in New York City?

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Back in August, we reported on National Jurist’s fifth annual list of the 60 Best Value law schools. The Best Value ranking system takes into account the following criteria: in-state tuition, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

Two months ago, the list was unranked, but the final tallies for the honor roll have now arrived. As in years past, in addition to the rankings, National Jurist has given letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F. Wouldn’t you hate to be a student or an alumnus of a law school with a failing grade?

Check and see if your school made the grade, after the jump….

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Some J.D. holders are swimming in money.

For some holders of the Juris Doctor degree, “J.D.” has depressing meanings: Just Debt, Job Disabled, Justifiably Depressed.

But for others, “J.D.” stands for something happier: Just Dollars. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Partners at large law firms do quite well for themselves. So do general counsel at major corporations.

But they are pikers compared to members of the Forbes 400, the annual list of the 400 richest Americans prepared by Forbes magazine. The 2011 list has been issued — and it contains a number of lawyers and law school graduates….

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Being a summer associate isn't a day at the beach, but it's still pretty awesome.

A summer associate program at a top law firm is like sex or pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

That seems to be the conclusion of the American Lawyer’s 2011 summer associate survey. Am Law polled 3,656 students at 138 law firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 108 summer programs. The lowest-ranked program — that of Chadbourne & Parke, in case you’re wondering — still emerged with a healthy overall satisfaction score of 4.142 (on a 5.0 scale).

If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: Which law firms came out with the highest scores?

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Say hello to the Global 100 for 2011. This is the American Lawyer’s list of the world’s 100 largest law firms, ranked by total revenue.

There’s a lot of economic anxiety these days, with fears of a double-dip recession running rampant. But looking back — the list is compiled based on 2010 revenue numbers — the legal business seems to be hanging in there. As noted by Am Law, total revenue for the Global 100 increased by 3 percent last year.

Lawyers are a competitive lot. So you’re probably less interested in the overall figures than in how different firms fared in the rankings….

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