U.S. News

Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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Raise your hand if you like prestige. Alright, you can all put your hands down, because we’re about to drop some news on you about one of the most prestigious career paths available in the legal profession. Of course, we’re talking about federal clerkships, which are great opportunities to pursue if you’re lucky enough to be given the chance — not to mention the fact that if you happen to be clerking for a feeder judge, you might just have it made (the going rate for a SCOTUS clerkship bonus is $280K!!!).

In our coverage of career placement statistics from the most recent graduating law school class, we’ve tackled a wide range of career options, from professional couch-sitters to “elite” Biglaw associates. Today, we’re bringing you news on clerkships from the God of Rankings himself, Bob Morse of the U.S. News law school rankings.

So are you ready to see the law schools that had the highest percentages of graduates move on to become federal clerks? Let’s check out the list….

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Some people love the U.S. News law school rankings, and some people (read: law school deans who fear for the safety of their jobs) hate them. Those that love them often perform well and rise to the top of the list every year, while those who hate them manage to find a new way to nitpick the rankings methodology every year.

Considering the state of the legal economy for entry-level lawyers, some would argue that the most relevant factors an ideal law school ranking should look at are employment outcomes. Others, however, still cling to the days of yore, where the quality of both students and faculty took top billing in the hearts and minds of those in the legal profession.

Today, we’ve got a ranking for those of you who still believe inputs are more important than outputs when it comes to ranking law schools. We’re going to be taking a look at the most overrated and underrated law schools in terms of median LSAT scores and peer assessment scores. Let’s have a gander….

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When wearing a tie, don’t pop the collar.

Legal education is a hot-button topic these days. Elie Mystal and I have taken our debate on the future of legal education to UNLV and Cardozo Law, in appearances co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society, and our roadshow hit Georgetown Law earlier today. (If you’d like to invite us to your school, most likely for the fall semester at this point, drop us a line.)

Despite disagreements over proposed solutions, folks generally agree on what needs to be improved. In an ideal world, law school would be less expensive, and legal jobs would be more plentiful. In an ideal world, more than 55 percent of recent law school graduates would wind up with full-time, long-term legal jobs.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, which is imperfect and messy and depressing. Law schools and their graduates have to make the best of a challenging situation.

Which takes me to the practice of law schools employing their own graduates. In an ideal world, law schools wouldn’t have to resort to this. But in the real world, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, at least when it’s done right.

So pop your collars in celebration. UVA, I’m looking at you….

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Yesterday, we brought you some news you can use when it comes to law schools and the employment data that went into the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings. The Top 10 lists we provided you with contained some pretty vital information, including which law schools best know how to put the “bar” in “barista.” (N.B. As we noted, the sample size here was small, but still, perhaps you should’ve considered enrolling at ITT Tech.)

We thought that our readers had gotten enough of their rankings crack, but it seems like you’re addicted to it. Don’t worry, you’ll be okay, because we’re here to give you another much-needed hit.

Would you like to know which law schools are the most likely to lead to “elite” employment outcomes?

Let’s get ready to dig into the details….

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Another day, another post about the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. It’s been a while since we last wrote about them, and we figured you might be experiencing some sort of withdrawal, so we’re here to deliver you another much-needed dose of rankings crack. Perhaps you can consider this our Curtis Mayfield moment — we’re your pushers.

Given that our readers think employment outcomes are the most relevant factor for a law school ranking system, today we’re going to be delving into all of the employment statistics that were used in the most recent rankings, with the assistance of a Pepperdine law professor.

Which law schools had the most graduates employed as lawyers? How about the law schools where the closest graduates have come to being employed at the bar are working as baristas and bartenders?

We’re about to find out….

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Last week, we asked for your thoughts on what an improved, more relevant approach to law school rankings would look like. This request was of course prompted by U.S. News’s revisions to its rankings methodology, which now applies different weights to different employment outcomes, giving full credit only to full-time jobs where “bar passage is required or a J.D. gives them an advantage.” U.S. News is of course bowing to the realities of the horrific legal job market and the spreading realization that, for many if not most, pursuing a J.D. makes little economic sense.

Yet U.S. News’s revamped methodology feels like a half-measure at best, as employment outcomes make up less than 20% of the rankings formula. Compare this to the 40% of the score based on “quality assessment” surveys of practicing lawyers, judges, and law school faculty and administrators. Shouldn’t those numbers be reversed?

In any event, last week about 500 of you weighed in with your opinions on which criteria should matter and which should not when it comes to ranking law schools. The results are after the jump….

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With LSAT takers down to a 30-year low, and with law school applications dwindling by the day, law schools are hoping that only the best and brightest will choose their institutions. Schools will do anything to protect their coveted yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who actually choose to enroll.

Last week, we shared a story with our readers that had to with with the lengths that law schools will allegedly go to to protect their yield rates. A tipster notified us that UVA Law withdrew his wife’s application after she informed them that she’d be attending another school. That sounds shady, but UVA calls it “standard practice,” and we’re sure other schools have resorted to similar measures given the sad state of the current field of applicants.

We mentioned in Morning Docket: U.S. News recently released a list of the schools that had the highest yield rates in 2012, referring to them as the “most popular law schools.” Chalk it up to schadenfreude on our part, but it figures UVA didn’t make the top 10 on this list — even though a fair share of surprising schools did….

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Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that traditionally made up what used to be the alphabetically listed third tier. It was only very recently that the law schools that once constituted the “third tier” received the gift that keeps on giving (no, not herpes): numerical rankings.

Today, we’ll be talking about the schools that used to comprise the fourth tier, but now have a new name. These days, this segment of the U.S. News list is referred to as the “second tier,” and although they’re all ranked, those rankings aren’t published (presumably because no one wants to brag about going to the worst law school in the nation — as if being tied for 144th place is better).

Let’s use this post to discuss these schools, collectively or individually, and to compare and contrast….

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Welcome back to our series of open threads on the latest batch of U.S. News law school rankings. Last time, readers weighed in on the law schools that made up the bottom half of the traditional second tier (no, not the U.S. News second tier). This time, we’ll be taking a look at what was once known as the “third tier” — a group of law schools that was previously unranked.

Two years ago, these law schools were visited by Bob Morse, the U.S. News rankings fairy, who left a now-treasured numerical rank under each of their pillows. Now the deans at these schools can proudly boast that even if they dropped in rank, they’re “in the first tier,” an accomplishment that only the most gullible of prospective law students could be impressed by. Sigh.

Anyway, let’s see if there were any movers and shakers this year in this section of the list….

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