Rankings

Yeah absolutely, and I think that, you know, that’s definitely the data point that, uh, I think we’ve gotten the most criticism about.

– Jack Crittenden, Editor-in-Chief of National Jurist Magazine, explaining how Rate My Professor scores ended up in his magazine’s latest law school rankings.

(Continue reading for video of Crittenden’s interview with Bloomberg Law.)

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* Antonin Scalia thinks the State of the Union is a “childish spectacle.” I mean, if it was so important, the Founders would have put it in the Constitution, right? [New York Daily News]

* Does your son or daughter want to be Barack Obama when they grow up? Here are complete instructions to building your own play drone! [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Snickers bars are not tax deductible? Damn you H&R Block!!! [Tax Prof Blog]

* Yesterday I mused about needing a ranking for the rankings. PrawfsBlawg points out that there is such a ranking. My dreams of glory are dashed yet again. [PrawfsBlawg]

* It turns out recruiters are just as unimpressed with your legal research skills as your non-law friends. [Monster]

* Allegedly, Nestle’s does not play well with others. [Courthouse News Service]

* Is it just me or is giving the Republican response like being named the Madden cover athlete? Now let’s all watch Marco Rubio realize he needs water in super slow motion. [Deadspin]

* BREAKING: Law enforcement appears to have cornered Chris Dorner in Big Bear. Two injured in a shootout. [NBC News]

* Ranking the rankings? Who’s a bigger joke: National Jurist or Cooley? If only we had a ranking system for rankings. Hmm, that gives me an idea… [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]

* A 2009 Harvard Law grad and Proskauer associate Megha Parekh just took over as the General Counsel of the Jacksonville Jaguars. She’s a much better hire than Blaine Gabbert. [Big Cat Country]

* Looking for a clerkship in the present state of anarchy in the post-Clerkship Scramble world? This new website can help. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Call 911 for a sexy emergency! [Legal Juice]

* Papal resignation is a little more complex than you’d think. But what’s all this stuff about Benedict XVI having to “take the Black” and move somewhere called “The Wall?” [Volokh Conspiracy]

* When is a blogger a journalist? This question becomes pretty important when a state boasts a shield law for journalists. [Simple Justice]

* The profiled study here asks whether judges prefer plain language or legalese? Unfortunately, it doesn’t consider the fact that some judges prefer neither. [Associate's Mind]

* After the jump, watch some video of what happened when hackers hit the Montana emergency alert system and said zombies were taking over….

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These days, it seems like every media outlet that has any remote connection to the law is making an effort to dispel the allure of the esteemed U.S. News law school rankings. U.S. News encourages law school administrators to attempt to game the rankings, they say. The U.S. News rankings are too focused on the test scores of incoming students, they say. And while we agree that some of the U.S. News methodology could be changed for the better, others have only offered up absurdities in their alternative ranking systems.

National Jurist recently came out with its own set of rankings which measure much lauded criteria like the number of Super Lawyers each law school produces, and the quality of each law school’s faculty, as measured by the oft revered website, RateMyProfessors.com. And as with the glorious Cooley rankings, any traction that the new National Jurist rankings might have received went totally out the window when the powers that be at the magazine decided to rank Alabama higher than both Harvard and Yale. Come on, everyone knows that the only place ‘Bama should be ranked ahead of Harvard is on a football field!

As far as we’re concerned, this serves only as an exercise in how not to make a new rankings system….

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Could this be a hint?

When it comes to all-important law school rankings, law schools follow the juvenile, Cosmo-esque dating advice of pretending they don’t care while secretly making every decision, consciously or unconsciously, with an eye toward maximizing their appeal.

And that’s not the worst thing in the world. The rankings are there because we generally agree that they measure stuff we want law schools to maximize. But if the rankings counted, say, “employment X months after graduation,” in a down market, the urge for law schools to manipulate that figure is on par with scoring another heroin fix.

Even if it means hiring the students directly to boost the numbers. Schools around the country have been doing this for quite some time.

At one prominent law school, the number of students in school-funded jobs is climbing. Is this a sign that the job market for recent law school graduates has yet to bottom out?

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Wooooo, law school!

It’s about that time: law school tuition deposits are due in a few weeks, and the class of 2016 will soon be bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for questionable promises of an improving entry-level job market. So obviously this is a great time for rolling out the latest set of dubious law school rankings.

You’ve seen the prized U.S. News rankings. You’ve seen the somewhat-ridiculous Princeton Review rankings. You’ve even seen the “What is this? I don’t even…” Cooley Law School rankings. But today, for your viewing pleasure, we present you with the GraduatePrograms.com rankings, because that’s apparently a thing now.

While GradPrograms ranked the top 25 student-rated law schools, as well as the best law schools for financial aid, we’ve decided to focus on one of the most important parts of the law school experience: your social life. Now let’s be perfectly clear, if these were colleges, they’d be called “party schools.” But because they’re law schools, there needs to be an air of highbrow prestige — hence these “social life” rankings.

Let’s find where you can go to law school and still party your face off….

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If you show us the ability to be an attorney, we’ll give you the opportunity to be an attorney. It’s not like we let anybody in the door. We don’t. But we’re much more inclusive in our admissions policy than most law schools are.

Jeffrey L. Martlew, associate dean of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s brand spanking new Florida campus, commenting on the school’s admissions policy of inclusion, rather than elitism.

(Want to learn more about this bastion of legal education’s unique approach to law schools admissions? Come on, you know you do, so keep reading!)

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Paul Cravath does not approve of this post.

Light years away and in the distant future, perhaps some alien grad student in Defunct Planet Studies will stumble onto the ATL archives. He’ll conclude, not unreasonably, that the legal industry was a sort of oligopoly. That there were only a handful of firms: Skadden, Cravath, Latham, Quinn Emanuel, Tannebaum Weiss, and those few others that get such a disproportionate amount of our attention. And of course, there were only 14 real law schools.

This singular obsession with “prestige,” this mindset that the most elite firms and schools are the only worthy ones, is detached from the experiences of the vast majority of lawyers practicing at the 50,000 other firms and the students at the 180+ other law schools. Back in December, we had a little debate about the effect of prestige in the legal industry. In the spirit of the “prestige obsession is bad” side of that argument, we thought it would be worthwhile to see which firms and schools outside of the very top tiers are, according to insiders, great places to work or learn.

Over the course of 2012, we received close to 10,000 responses to our ATL Insider Survey, where lawyers rate their firms based on compensation, culture, morale, training, and culture, and students and alumni rate their schools based on academics, social life, clinical training, career services, and financial aid advising. Based on our survey, the most highly rated firms and schools also happened to among the most prestigious (e.g., Stanford, Davis Polk), but there is certainly not a correlation between prestige and insider rating.

After the jump, we’ll see which schools outside of the T14 and which firms outside the Vault 50 were rated the highest by their own people….

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Here at Above the Law, we’ve been writing about the “Biglaw boys’ club” for quite some time. According to the latest report compiled by the National Association of Women Lawyers, when it comes to firm life in the fast lane, women continue to have difficulty ascending to the ranks of firm leadership. In fact, that study concluded that in the Am Law 200, women hold only 20 percent of the positions on firm governance committees. What’s worse is that only four percent of Am Law 200 firms have a firmwide managing partner who’s a woman. So much for girl power.

But when it comes to Am Law 100 firms, the American Lawyer recently conducted a similar study, and the results were less than awe-inspiring — in their discussion of the results, the editorial staff go so far as to refer to it as “the law of small numbers.” Lovely. Apparently the glass ceiling is still strong in Biglaw.

So what does the leadership hierarchy look like for women in the Am Law 100? Let’s find out….

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Lawyers are obsessed with rankings and prestige, especially those that have to do with emerging markets in the eastern hemisphere. It’s a new year, so the folks at Asian Lawyer decided to start it off with a new rankings system for Biglaw firms, both American-based and those indigenous to the Asia-Pacific region.

Although Asian Lawyer evaluated firms using several different metrics (total attorney headcount of firms based in the Asia-Pacific region, biggest American firms with lawyers in the region, biggest European firms with lawyers in the region, and most attorneys by headcount of any firm in the region), we only really care about two of them.

The most some Americans know about the region is that they’re fans of the delectable cuisine, but can U.S. law firms hang with the Asiatic big boys? No matter how many firms tell you it’s the motion of the ocean that counts, size does matter for the purposes of these rankings….

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