Rankings

For those of you who covet the intellectual and professional opportunities that come with clerking for a judge, choosing a law school that will enhance your prospects is pretty important. Make no mistake, no school is going to guarantee a clerkship. Nor will attending a school with historically low representation in clerkships automatically nuke your chances. But, a school with a high placement rate reflects the school’s reputation with judges, the influence of its professors, and the strength of its clerkship process advisors.

Bob Morse of U.S. News has released a breakdown of the schools securing the most clerkships. And more importantly, he breaks out the best schools for federal clerkships and state and local clerkships.

So which law school is the best represented? OK, it’s Yale. But who else is at the top of the list?

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Don Draper would be impressed with this one.

A law school that perennially gets the bottom-tier/unranked tag from U.S. News and has never been ranked by the ATL Top 50 — indeed, a strong contender in this year’s Worst Law School bracket — is billing itself to prospective students as a bona fide peer of schools like Duke, Northwestern, and even Yale.

You know what it takes to sell underachieving law schools? It takes brass balls.

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If you’re a frequent reader of this website, you know that we continuously talk about the effects of law school debt and the need for tuition decreases so young lawyers can go on to lead normal lives after graduation instead of wearing their debt around their necks like slowly tightening nooses.

As time goes by, more and more law schools are starting to listen and reform — though in some cases, we imagine it’s only because they’re now feeling the pain of a decrease in tuition dollars due to low enrollment and smaller classes.

Until all law schools get in gear with the way things work now, we’ve got a list of law schools where life could be good after graduation. At these law schools, the average graduate has a starting salary that outweighs his average debt load…

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* Dan Marino was suing the NFL over concussions, becoming the highest profile former player to level a suit against the league. Among his allegations, he claims concussions led him to hold that ball laces in for Ray Finkle. Why do I say “was,” you ask? Because he claims he filed suit accidentally. No greater proof of the dangers of concussions necessary. [Awful Announcing]

* The Supreme Court used to gather in the basement and watch porn together according to Larry Tribe (affiliate link). Best anecdote is Justice Marshall narrating porn to the nearly blind Justice Harlan. You can spoil the ending for Justice Harlan here. [Washington Post]

* It turns out the Brits have their own obsession with law school rankings. Here’s their “league table” for a legal education. [The Guardian]

* You know not to wear a bikini to the firm pool party, but what should you wear to the other summer events? [Corporette]

* An article ponders when firms are going to figure out that recent law school grads are perfect paralegals. Thanks for that kick in the gut. [New Geography]

* Following up on an older story, the Fifth Circuit has withdrawn a ruling made in 2007 upon revelations that one of the judges involved had a financial interest in one of the parties. [Center for Public Integrity]

* Do we need more reasons why Bitcoin is stupid? Ah, it’s used in messy divorces to hide assets. Perfect. [Digital Journal]

* Debt collectors are increasingly giving up on calling you all the time and just seeking default judgments. [Huffington Post]

* From the SUNY Buffalo commencement, Judge Thomas Franczyk and graduate Joey Nicastro took the stage to perform a song for the occasion. Francis Malofiy is already planning to sue them. Video below….

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School’s out and so is the sun, so what better time to discuss what is arguably one of the most important aspects of a legal education? Of course, we’re talking about whether or not a law student will be able to have a social life at his or her chosen law school for the next three years.

GraduatePrograms.com recently ranked the top 25 student-rated law schools, as well as the best law schools for career support, financial aid, and quality of network, but we’re focusing on the social life rankings. Why? At this point, it’s a given that you’re going to have some difficulty finding a job and paying down your loans. It’s the connections you make during law school that will help you get through the tough times you’ll face later on.

Let’s find where you can go to law school and party your face off like you’re still in college…

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Today, the American Lawyer released its Am Law 200 law firm rankings — a closely watched list of the law firms that are rich and prestigious, but not quite rich and prestigious enough to become a member of the elite and influential Am Law 100. If this were law school rankings, you could think of the “Second Hundred” as the institutions that came in just a step below the lauded T14.

As we noted when the Am Law 100 rankings came out in late April, the key takeaway was that the super rich were continuing to get richer. When it comes to the Am Law 200, flat performance is still very much the new up. There were some outstanding performances, though, and 20 firms out of the Second Hundred were designated as “super rich,” just like their Am Law 100 cousins.

While some firms came out on top, others were merely surviving. How did the Am Law 200 stack up?

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* Human Rights Watch wants to “stop killer robots” from being used as cops. In case that was really weighing on your mind. [PC World]

* A profile and Q&A with Twitter’s foremost jurist, Justice Don Willett of Texas. He indulges us with answers longer than 140 characters. [Coverage Opinions]

* The Berkeley bird beheader gets four years probation and service to an animal shelter. And you just know some bird is going to try and start something with him on the first day. [Associated Press via San Diego Union-Times]

* Instead of announcing a new dean, Louisville has given a three-year extension to its interim dean to keep holding the “interim” title. What’s going on? Could one of the commenters be right: that the school doesn’t want to take on a new salary because they expect the school to fold? [The Faculty Lounge]

* The Drake Law service dog lawsuit is over. [Des Moines Register]

* Today is the last day to enter the New York’s Funniest Professional Competition! [Manhattan Comedy School / Gotham Comedy Club]

* Internet collegiality alert: Internet Tax Lawyers blog blatantly rips off another blogger. For shame. [Law and More]

* Comparing the U.S. News peer ranking with which faculty’s academic writing really gets read. [Tax Prof Blog]

* When you think of professions likely to be menaced by armed maniacs, you don’t think of veterinarians. You’d be wrong. [Legal Juice]

* Robert Ambrogi talks with Bryan Garner about the latest edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, including the fact that three new terms coined by David Lat made this edition. Let’s start the campaign for Appellageddon and SCOTocaplypse for next time around! [Robert Ambrogi's LawSites]

* The ABA has appointed an all-star panel to study law school financing. By “all-star” they mean “all the people responsible for the status quo.” That’s how you do “reform,” guys. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* A photo essay of people breaking the stupid laws on the books in various states. [The Phoblographer]

* Law professors making a difference in the real world. Specifically, pushing the anti-smoking message. [PR Log]

* A Seattle attorney pleads to 5 counts of third-degree rape to avoid trial over attacks on a series of massage therapists. He says he’s just a sex addict. The government says he was “kicking in doors, and pulling knives on them.” That sounds pretty extreme for a sex addiction. [Seattle Times]

* Check out Elie talking about the ATL Top 50 Rankings, after the jump… [Mimesis Law]

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Since we released the ATL Top 50 Law Schools last week, we’ve received a fair amount of feedback and criticism regarding our approach to ranking schools. As noted (again and again), our methodology considers “outcomes” only — the idea being that, in this dismal legal job market, that’s all that truly matters. Our rankings formula weighs six outcomes; these three below were the most disputed:

Supreme Court Clerks. This is simply the number of SCOTUS clerks produced by the school over the last five years, adjusted for the schools’ size. By far, this is the most heavily criticized aspect of our methodology. “Preposterous!” “Irrelevant!” “Reflective of some weird fetish on the part of one of your editors!” And so on. To which we say, sure, SCOTUS clerkships are irrelevant in assessing the vast majority of schools. Properly considered, this component is a sort of “extra credit question” that helps make fine distinctions among a few top schools.

Federal Judgeships. The number of sitting Article III judges who are alumni of the school, adjusted for size. Some complain that this is a lagging indicator that tells us something about graduates from 25 years ago but little about today’s students’ prospects. Besides, aren’t these appointments just a function of the appointees’ connections? True enough, but this is certainly an indicator of the enduring strength and scope of a school’s graduate network — surely a worthwhile consideration. Connections matter.

Quality Jobs Score. The percentage of students securing jobs at the nation’s largest law firms combined with those landing federal clerkships. The principal criticism with this metric is that it fails to include some categories of desirable job outcomes, including so-called “JD Advantage” jobs and certain public interest/government positions. However, parsing out the “good” jobs from the rest is the problem. Whenever we could, we used the most straightforward, obtainable, and well-defined data points, with the goal of a “quality jobs score” as a reasonable proxy for quality jobs generally.

Read on for a look at which schools rated best in each of the above categories, as well as on Employment Score and Lowest Cost. We’ll also look at some of the biggest gainers and losers in the ATL 50, plus significant differences between our rankings and U.S. News….

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The arrival last week of the latest Am Law 100 rankings brought a hot-button subject back to the headlines: vereins.

As The Economist concisely explains, a verein is “a Swiss partnership that lets [law firms] maintain separate national or regional profit pools under a single brand.” For purposes of preparing its influential Am Law 100 rankings, the American Lawyer treats a verein as a single firm — a decision that some at non-verein firms object to.

Let’s hear some of the complaints — and then, interestingly enough, a defense of the vereins’ financial performance in 2013, which might have been better than Am Law suggested….

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