U.S. News 2012 Law School Rankings

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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Big deans don't cry?

Yesterday we talked about a couple of schools that fell in this year’s U.S. News law school rankings, whose deans promptly devoted school-wide emails making excuses for their programs dropping. Predictably, they criticized U.S. News’s latest methodology, even though this year’s formula did a better job of focusing on factors law students actually care about (like jobs, not donuts).

We asked you to send us other responses from law school administrations regarding this year’s rankings. And, ye Gods, foot soldiers with no clear mission or exit strategy in Afghanistan aren’t bitching and moaning as much as law school deans are just because U.S. News prefers schools that get their students jobs. If these crybaby deans could care about the employment outcomes of their students half as much as they care about the U.S. News rankings, then going to law school wouldn’t be such a financially dangerous option and their schools would do better in the rankings.

We were overwhelmed by the responses. Keep ‘em coming! But we’ll have to deal with many of them when we get to the appropriate point in our series of open threads on law schools.

Today I just want to focus on a few schools that did better in the rankings this year, yet still found the time to bitch about U.S. News. You expect schools that drop to be dismissive of the rankings, but when schools that are bathed in rankings glory are unsatisfied, that’s a little bit more interesting….

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