Further down the list, we start to see some volatility. Now, every year there needs to be some change in the rankings; how else is U.S. News going to get people to buy new magazines? When you cede control of your legal education system to the list-making skills of a for-profit magazine, those are the kinds of realities you just have to live with.
But the way U.S. News tweaked its methodology this year is special. This year, U.S. News tweaked things ever so slightly to make their rankings just a little bit more output-oriented. While the rankings are still unabashedly focused on the qualifications of students on the way in than what those kids end up doing on their way out, this year’s list pays more lip service to the employment outcomes of recent graduates. We recently quoted this section of a letter U.S. News editor Brian Kelly sent to law school deans: “[E]mployment after graduation is relevant data that prospective students and other consumers should be entitled to. Many graduate business schools are meticulous about collecting such data, even having it audited. The entire law school sector is perceived to be less than candid because it does not pursue a similar, disciplined approach to data collection and reporting.”
U.S. News placed a little more emphasis on employment after graduation this year, and some schools took a significant hit because of it.
And now? Well, my friends, now we get to hear a couple of law schools squeal — just like their graduates have for the past three years….
The U.S. News law school rankings for 2012 are here, y’all. Time to pay tribute to that which is more important to legal educators in this country than anything else.
As is customary here at Above the Law, we will be posting a series of open threads, running through at least the top 100 law schools. These open threads offer you a chance to compare and contrast different schools, praise (or condemn) your alma mater, and talk trash about rival law schools.
We’re not sure what we’ll do with the formerly “tier 3″ schools that have now been graced with numerical rankings by U.S. News. And we have no clue how we’ll handle the formerly “tier 4″ schools, which are now being classified as “tier 2″ schools — but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle before I quietly accept U.S. News’s misleading attempt to recharacterize these schools as “second tier”….
Santa Claus — aka Bob Morse, rankings czar at U.S. News & World Report — is letting us open our presents early (or at least before midnight). The U.S. News law school rankings were supposed to come out on Tuesday, March 15, but Morse and his colleagues at U.S. News kindly posted them sometime around 10 p.m. Eastern time tonight. Yay!
(You’ll recall the same thing happened last year, too. The rankings were supposed to come out on April 15, 2010, but they were made available online by April 14 at 10:30 p.m., when we wrote about them.)
Now, on to the latest rankings — technically the 2012 law school rankings, but “ranked in 2011,” as noted on the U.S. News website.
We’ll start at the top, with a look at the top 14, or so-called “T14,” law schools. For the first time in ages, there’s a newcomer among their ranks. Guess who?
An editor at Above the Law suggested some months back that I do a piece on the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. For whatever reason, this stodgy old weekly news magazine — which someone must still read — has created a sideline business publishing rankings of schools, including law schools. I’m not sure what the criteria are, but at least in theory, it’s a big deal for lawyers when the list comes out each year.
The list seems designed to make official what everyone knows anyway, i.e., that there are “prestige” schools that are harder to get into. But like any good opinion piece, they throw in a few twists — familiar names in unexpected places. It boils down to dissing one of the big places, or unexpectedly anointing a second-rank outfit. That way everyone can get riled up over the respective rankings of my school versus your school.
It sounded kind of boring, so I filed the idea away.
Then it started to gnaw at me. The U.S. News list seemed like a good example of the amazing lengths lawyers go to in order to distinguish themselves from one another. The entire profession splits hairs like this because the career path is so conservative there isn’t much to distinguish one attorney from another. Every lawyer lines up to take the LSAT, then get processed and distributed to law schools based on hairline distinctions. In class you sit through identical lectures, take identical exams, and head off — for the most part — to identical firms to do nearly identical work.
We reported on the leaked U.S. News law school rankings on Tuesday afternoon. That leak was correct, and the 2011 rankings are officially up on the U.S. News website, right now.
That’s bad news for NYU kids. They should try asking Berkeley students how transparent it looks to say that you go to a “top 6″ law school.
There was some movement within the top 14, but no school fell out of the so-called “T14.” This seems like a logical time to remind people why the T14 are referenced in this manner. The top 14 schools have been the top 14 schools for as long as most people can remember. Sure, they’ll change their positions relative to each other from year to year; but none of the schools that are in the T14 have been ranked lower than 14th in quite some time.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this year’s version of the T14….
We anticipated that the new U.S. News Law School Rankings would come out this week. That means we anticipated that the new rankings would be leaked beforehand. It happened last year; apparently U.S. News has more moles than Jack Bauer’s office at CTU.
We reached out directly to U.S. News rankings guru Bob Morse, but have not gotten confirmation yet of the authenticity of the leaked rankings. Again, the same thing happened last year; Morse didn’t confirm the leak until two days after we ran the leak on Above the Law.
But it’s not just bloggers and other internet junkies that think they are getting a sneak peak at the rankings. The faculty at Hofstra Law School is apparently very excited. A tipster reports:
Rumor has it the new US News rankings are leaked…at least enough that my law school has made it official. They’ve sent an email to professors, placed it on a TV screen in the law school, and a few profs. have announced it in class.
Hofstra has gone up to 86, from 100…
Well, if it’s good enough for Hofstra, I guess it’s good enough for ATL readers.
But if you are an NYU student, you better hope that these new rankings are some kind of hoax, or that Dean Van Zandt is wrong about the value of rankings…
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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