U.S. News

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (The Second Tier)”

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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As some of you may have heard, U.S. News & World Report, which used to be a magazine found in dentists’ offices, released its annual law school rankings last week. This event sparked even more than the usual amount of angst and hysteria among law deans and students. Well, then again, this is already the 9th post on ATL concerning this set of rankings, so maybe we’re not helping. Some deans’ heads have rolled already, and angry student petitions are calling for more blood. (Do these reactions among law students run one way though? The anger sparked by a drop in rankings does not necessarily mean an inverse spike in happiness when a school climbs up, as this great pairing of gifs from someone at Chicago Law illustrates.)

Anyway, much of the heightened attention is due to the revisions U.S. News made to their rankings methodology, which now applies different weights to different employment outcomes, giving full weight only to full-time jobs where “bar passage is required or a J.D. gives them an advantage.” Whatever that last bit means. And they won’t tell us exactly how “part-time” and other categories of employment outcomes factor in. But it is at least an acknowledgement on their part of the perception that, as Staci said yesterday, “all anyone cares about are employment statistics.” (We’ll get back to whether that’s strictly true.) Then again, if employment outcomes make up only 14% of your ranking formula for a professional school, you’re doing it wrong. What would a better, more relevant rankings methodology even look like?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Would a More Relevant Law School Ranking Look Like? You Tell Us”

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 top half of the traditional second tier. And when we say the “traditional second tier,” we’re harkening back to a time when not all law schools with numerical rankings were classified as “first tier” educational institutions — a time when not all law deans could defend their law school’s rank by telling students and alumni that the school was still in the “first tier.” It’s not an elitist thing, we promise. It’s just much, much easier this way.

That being said, today we’ll take a look at the schools ranked #76 through #98 (where there’s a four-way tie). What does it take to be recognized as a Top 100 law school by U.S. News these days? Apparently your graduates need to be employed….

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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 third of the traditional first tier. Alas, thanks to the way employment statistics are now weighed in the U.S. News methodology, some law schools were knocked off of their prestigious pedestals, and law students are calling for their deans’ heads now that they’ve descended downwards into previously uncharted territory: the traditional second tier.

Today, we’ll take a look at those law schools, as well as their new rankings rivals — the schools that have traditionally been known to dwell in this part of the U.S. News list. You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. Your next stop, the Second Tier Zone….

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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 schools that filled out the middle of the traditional first tier (ahh, the good old days when there were more than two). There were some rather significant moves worth noting in that group, like Alabama and Washington. Also worth noting are the schools that disappeared from that list, and now we’ll get to talk about them.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at the law schools at the bottom of the top 50, the schools that some would argue belong in the traditional “second tier” (no, not the dreaded “rank not published” or “RNP” tier).

These schools might not be at the top, but some of them charge like they’re the cream of the crop….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (33 – 48)”

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 ascended to the tippy-top of the rankings — the top 14 law schools. With the Harvard/Stanford tie, UC Berkeley’s dip, and the Georgetown v. Cornell switch-up, there was certainly a lot to talk about.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at some additional top-tier law schools that sit just below the coveted “T14.” And much like the rousing game of musical chairs we saw play out among our nation’s most elite law schools, there were some pretty significant moves worth noting in this segment of the rankings as well….

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