Rankings

The new U.S. News law school rankings, which we’ve been covering extensively in these pages, contain all sorts of interesting tidbits about the ranked schools. For example, in each school profile there is an “employed at graduation” figure, which “represents the percentage of all graduates who had a full-time job lasting at least a year for which bar passage was required or a J.D. degree was an advantage.”

That seems like an important and useful piece of information to know if you’re going to pay or borrow a six-figure sum to attend law school. Comparing the employment rates of different schools would be an important part of one’s due diligence when selecting a school.

Among the top 14 or so-called “T14″ law schools, which one had the highest “employed at graduation” rate? The answer might surprise you….

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Here’s a fun way of looking at the new U.S. News law school rankings that arrived last night: are the top-tier law schools getting dumber?

We’ve reported a lot on the declining number of applications to law school. And we’ve also talked about how the people who do better on the LSAT are more likely to not apply to law school (most likely because they have better options), while poor LSAT scorers are still eager to go to law school.

Maybe the LSAT really is an accurate test of logical reasoning skills.

Fewer applications overall but a higher share of them from people with poor LSAT scores should lead to a drop in the median LSAT score at top schools. As the smart people flee law school (“smart” as a measure of LSAT score, for whatever that’s worth), it should mean that better law schools have to grab more low-hanging LSAT fruit.

And that is what has in fact happened….

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* If you hate the government and you hate lawyers more, then you’ll love this. In the past five years, the feds have awarded $3.3 billion to more than 4,700 vendors for legal work. [National Law Journal]

* A year and a half after he was nominated for a Federal Circuit judgeship, and more than a year after his hearing, the Senate finally decided to confirm Richard Taranto. How kind. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Pretty pretty please? Zvi Goffer and Michael Kimmelman would really really like it if the Second Circuit could overturn their insider trading convictions due to unfairness. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The U.S. News law school rankings are often criticized, and here’s why: if survey respondents “were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear in the top 20. But it doesn’t exist.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Nevermind the fact that law school applications are down, but Northwestern Law is doing the “responsible thing” and reducing the size of its incoming class — and raising tuition by 3% to boot. [Wall Street Journal]

* Jason Rapert, the Arkansas senator who passed a fetal-heartbeat abortion ban in his state, says he “has no time” for anyone who says it’s unconstitutional. To paraphrase, ain’t nobody got time for that. [New York Times]


Law school deans, are you ready for your report card?

The U.S. News law school rankings are due out in a couple of hours. But Above the Law sources have given us a sneak peek at the Top 25, this time in order. And not just from anonymous sources. Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group claims he’s laid eyes on the list, confirmed what our tipsters reported, and has been tweeting about the thing for the past few hours.

Every year, law school deans and professors tells us how the rankings are flawed, and every year, we find out that prospective law students care more about the U.S. News law school rankings than any other factor.

But this year, U.S. News claims it will be taking into account the employment figures of recent graduates nine months after graduation. Is that going to be a big substantive change, or have law schools already mastered the art of self-reporting their own employment outcomes in a way that hides the truth?

Let’s take a look. These notes will be UNOFFICIAL until U.S. News confirms the news with their midnight publication, but we’re confident this is the new top 25.

UPDATE (10:10 p.m.): U.S. News just confirmed our report by moving up their publication schedule. These rankings are now OFFICIAL….

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We hope that you’re ready, because it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year for law schools. That’s right, the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings will be published next week, on March 12.

Law school deans are cowering in fear right now, because some of them may be ousted from their positions if their schools slip by even a few slots. Law students, on the other hand, are at the ready to lord their law school’s potentially new ranking over their friends’ heads on Facebook. As for incoming law students, all bets are off — they’ll either be happy their school maintained its place or rose in the rankings, or be devastated if their school of choice had a subpar performance.

The rankings, controversial as they are, are still a pretty huge deal to everyone in the legal profession. Just like in years past, the rankings will inevitably be published online in the wee hours of the morning on March 11, but because rankings guru Bob Morse knows that the anticipation is killing us, he likely instructed the staff at U.S. News to give his adoring public a little teaser.

Are you ready to take a look at the new, top 10 highest-ranking law schools in the nation?

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Aside from the daily challenges associated with sustaining or exceeding gross revenue year after year, Biglaw partners are probably most worried about their firm’s brand. After all, a brand is something that will keep clients coming back, and usher in new and exciting business opportunities.

But with so many firms to choose from, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which one is on top when it comes to being the most well-known of the bunch, regardless of what their Am Law or Vault 100 ranks might tell you. What matters most is obviously what the clients think.

Of course, there’s now a ranking to determine which firm has the strongest brand in the business….

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Jump for joy if you landed a Biglaw job!

For the past few years, the National Law Journal has been publishing a list of the best law schools to go to if you want to work in Biglaw after graduation. But through the lens of this annual report, we can see some of the changes that have happened in a profession that’s been in transition ever since the Great Recession. From layoffs to law firm collapses, Biglaw has faced many difficulties, and these challenges have been passed on to would-be associates when it comes to hiring.

Take, for example, the hiring scene in 2008, when the law school that earned the highest honors on the NLJ’s report could brag about sending 70.5 percent of its graduates to top law firms. Although we’ve started paving the road to recovery after several sluggish years, the employment picture for law students hasn’t rebounded to those levels.

Slowly but surely, it’s been getting better. In fact, this year, the future for law students seeking Biglaw jobs looks “marginally brighter.” But how much better? Let’s find out….

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Say what you will about the Cooley Law School Rankings, but at least they are internally consistent and objectively applied.

We’ve written before about the ridiculous National Jurist Best Law School Rankings. Many law bloggers have written about this list that looks like it was put together by getting the Sorting Hat drunk on goblets of fire water and forcing it to name law schools until it passed out.

We’ve all tried to reason with the National Jurist, but it turns out that effort was not unlike trying to convince an infant not to poop while you’re eating. We’d have been better off just ignoring it and cleaning it up later.

The publication came out with an “edit” yesterday, and while its revisions did a good job of highlighting how stupid these rankings were in the first place, I’m compelled to write about them just so nobody is fooled into thinking their “updates” have actually fixed anything….

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He’s smiling because he has long forgotten that night at the printers.

Folks often overlook the value of a good 401k plan. But in Biglaw, a good 401k plan is essential because lost in the cocktail of a good salary, crippling debt, and 5-Hour-Energy-fueled document reviews is the fact that you need to start planning for retirement now. Look, there’s a couple ways this legal career is going to go: you can become rich and not even need to care, or more likely you’ll eventually end up as a permanent associate, government lawyer, low-level in-house functionary, academic, temp attorney, or worse, blogger.

The point is you need to set up your road to retirement while you’re still rolling in Benjamins and ordering Seamless at 3 a.m.

Thankfully, someone has gone to the trouble of ranking 401k plans offered by law firms. Without further ado, let’s see those rankings!

Well… I guess the further ado of clicking through to see the full story….

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* In the wake of the Montana zombie scare, the Canadians have decided to begin preparing for a zombie invasion from the United States. I just hope zombies are vulnerable to hockey sticks. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Some savvy law students from Indiana looked at the job market and said, “Let’s brew beer instead!” And then they named the beer Black Acre. [The Indiana Lawyer]

* National Jurist is going to “correct” its rankings. But don’t worry, it’s going to keep the Rate My Professors score. That doesn’t bode well for Columbia Law. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The price of litigation is too damn high! [What About Paris?]

* It’s legal, under some circumstances, to rig a sports game? Guys, I’m beginning to think the Washington Generals have been taking a dive all these years. [The Atlantic]

* More on the bipartisan panel on voting rights reform. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this commission as one side punts on recommending anything. [New York Times]

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