Rankings

Scrooge McDuck must have attended the right law school.

Another day, another set of law school rankings. The world’s appetite for these things knows no bounds. Earlier this week, we covered U.S. News & World Report’s best law schools as ranked by law firm recruiters — and the reader interest and traffic were off the charts. Apparently there’s no such thing as “rankings fatigue.”

(Wait until we launch our list of law schools ranked by the quality of the toilet paper in their public restrooms. Because that’s something that actually matters to law students — probably more than, say, the number of volumes in the library, or even the square footage of the place.)

Today we bring you law school rankings by Forbes. The eye-catching title of Kurt Badenhausen’s post: “The Best Law Schools For Getting Rich.” Because you all went to law school in the hopes of becoming rich, right?

(If so, that was pretty dumb. According to some observers, a junior associate’s salary means you’re poor, and even a midlevel- to senior-associate salary doesn’t make you rich. Partner-level compensation is better, but even a million or two won’t get you access to the top slam pieces.)

Okay, let’s take a look at this list of law schools ranked by their graduates’ median compensation. Some of the schools on it may surprise you….

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Harvard Law is #1, according to law firm hiring partners.

We mentioned them briefly in Morning Docket but didn’t do more, figuring that perhaps you might have rankings fatigue. But we were wrong; apparently you can’t get enough of law school rankings. (This really shouldn’t surprise us, based on the traffic we got for this rankings post, and even this one.)

We’ve received several emails asking us for more coverage. And our friends at the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog devoted full posts to them.

So let’s get into them: the latest law school rankings generated by U.S. News & World Report, namely, law schools ranked by law firm recruiting personnel. Which schools made the top ten?

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Lindsay Lohan

* Obama has created an indefinite detention system for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Because he’s too soft on terrorism to make it definite. [Washington Post]

* Utah’s new immigration laws will create a legal storm. El Niño! Spanish for The… Niño! [USA Today]

* Lilo finally starred in another movie, and former wet poodle perm enthusiast Marcia Clark is here to break it down for you. [Entertainment Tonight News]

* Hiring partners have entered the U.S. News rankings fray. Number 1? Yep, Cooley. [U.S. News & World Report]

Charlie Sheen

* Some New Yorkers are suing over a bike lane in Brooklyn. Four wheels good, two wheels bad! [New York Times]

* “Pow! Appeals court upholds comic con’s guilty plea.” [New York Post]

* Charlie Sheen’s attorney isn’t wasting any time fighting Tiger Blood’s dismissal from that show he starred in with Duckie and the lumpy kid. [Hollywood Reporter; New York City Employment Lawyer]

* Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Congress may take works out of the public domain and slap a copyright on them. I’m never going to fill this Zune up if I can’t score some free Stravinsky. [Wired News]

Now this is an interesting list. Yesterday we wrote about how the National Law Journal ranked law schools based on how many graduates they send straight into large law firms. Even if you think law school is a “scam,” you have to at least acknowledge that it’s a pyramid scheme. There are some winners. There are some people who mortgage their financial futures but are then rewarded with $160,000-a-year jobs right out of school. (Yes, I’m suggesting that billing 2400 hours a year, locked in a windowless conference room, reviewing some stupid emails or lease agreements, is a “reward” — just go with it.)

As we discussed yesterday, you can look at the list in many different ways, and quibble with certain aspects of it. The ranking doesn’t account for schools who send people into Article III clerkships, for instance. And you should note that getting a Biglaw job isn’t the be all and end all of a successful law school experience.

Still, given the cost of law school, it’s a very useful list. And today the NLJ looks at its rankings through what is to my mind the most important lens: which schools will do the best job of getting you a Biglaw position, while charging you as little as possible for the opportunity. That’s the question more prospective law students should be asking.

The answers that the NLJ comes up with are simply awesome….

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Why is he smiling? He landed a job at a top law firm.

If your goal in life, or at least your near-term career objective, is to land a job at a large law firm, which law schools would best suit your needs? When it comes to minting Biglaw associates and partners, not all law schools are created equal.

The National Law Journal has just come out with its annual survey of which schools the NLJ 250 law firms relied on most heavily when filling their first-year associate classes. The results are interesting — and also a little depressing.

We’ll start with the depressing part: hiring of top law school graduates continued to decline. As noted by Leigh Jones of the NLJ, “Hiring of graduates of the top law schools by the nation’s largest law firms slid by 10% during 2010 compared with 2009…. In 2010, the top 50 schools sent 3,822, or 27.3%, of their juris doctor graduates to NLJ 250 firms, compared with 30.3% of their 2009 graduating classes. The top 50 schools produced 13,989 graduates during 2010.”

Let’s look at the top 10 law schools, ranked by the percentage of their 2010 graduates who landed jobs at NLJ 250 firms (i.e., “Biglaw”)….

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Please tell me you're not using that thing to actually take notes.

Here at Above the Law we do market research, just like everybody else. Some numbers just came across my desk that I thought some of you might find interesting.

Who needs the Cooley law school rankings? I have a listing of America’s top law schools based on a metric far more important than the number of books in the library: the number of visits to Above the Law….

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It’s Christmas morning here at Above the Law. Thomas M. Cooley Law School has released a new set of law school rankings designed to make Thomas M. Cooley Law School look good. Back in 2009, Cooley incredibly ranked itself the 12th-best law school in the country.

Now the farce reaches new and glorious heights. In this latest edition of Cooley’s own Judging the Law Schools rankings, Cooley has rated itself — wait for it, wait for it — the SECOND BEST law school in all that land. That’s right, #2! Harvard is #1, so according to Cooley, if you can’t get into HLS, you’d be making a wise career decision to go to Cooley instead of, oh, I don’t know — YALE. Click over to the Cooley website if you want to see the full list; I don’t want to befoul ATL’s pages with a breakout of Cooley’s top ten.

This, my friends, is funny. But it’s also serious. Because there are real people studying at Cooley right now, and I don’t think they understand how horrible it makes the school look when the administration publishes things like this….

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This Villanova scandal is going to get uglier before it finishes. On Friday, we reported that John Y. Gotanda, the dean of Villanova Law School, sent a letter to students and alumni in which he revealed that the school reported inaccurate admissions information to the American Bar Association.

The letter was light on specifics. According to comments made by a Villanova spokesperson to the ABA Journal, the problem involved Villanova providing the ABA with incorrect LSAT and GPA numbers.

The Villanova administration has not yet disclosed exactly what data was inaccurate, who was responsible, and what the school is doing to make sure that this kind of thing won’t happen again. That could be because the school is still investigating the full scope of the problem.

But Villanova students and faculty members are talking. Here’s what we’ve heard so far…

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U.S. News & World Report issues rankings of law schools. The most prestigious law firms recruit from only the top-ranked schools. I am not endorsing this; it is just a fact of life. If you are good enough to get admitted to one of the schools ranked in the Top 50, and you are in the top 15-25 percent of your class, you stand a chance of getting one of those $160,000-a-year jobs with a big law firm. If you don’t fall into these categories, the chances are that you won’t get one of these jobs.

Bill Hebert, president of the State Bar of California, in an essay entitled “What is the value of a law degree?”

Last week we told you that The Conglomerate was crowdsourcing a set of law school rankings. It called upon participants to make head-to-head comparisons between different law schools, then crunched the numbers to produce overall rankings.

We covered the early returns, in which Stanford was leading, with Yale in second place. Then came the University of Michigan, followed by Harvard.

But those were just preliminary tallies. Now the final results are in, and you can check them out here. Professor Gordon Smith of The Conglomerate reports that 6,100 people cast over 300,000 votes.

At the top, there are not many differences from the U.S. News law school rankings….

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