U.S. News

We told you this day would come. Way back in July 2009, we reported that the rankings behemoth, U.S. News & World Report, would soon be ranking law firms. In February 2010, we reported that the American Bar Association — so toothless in the face of U.S. News’s law school rankings — was worried about how this new U.S. News product would affect the profession.

Well, for better or for worse, the day has finally arrived. As of midnight (give or take a few minutes), U.S. News went live with rankings of 8,782 firms across 81 different practice areas. From their press release:

These inaugural rankings, which are presented in tiers both nationally and by metropolitan area or by state, showcase 8,782 different law firms ranked in one or more of 81 major practice areas. Full data is available online for the law firms that received rankings, from the largest firms in the country to hundreds of one-person and two-person law firms, providing a comprehensive view of the U.S. legal profession that is unprecedented both in the range of firms represented and in the range of qualitative and quantitative data used to develop the rankings.

It’s like Christmas morning — if only Santa were a jolly red prestige whore. Let’s get to it…

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In July, we profiled the efforts of a group of Vanderbilt law students who are trying to bring more accuracy and transparency to the employment statistics provided by law schools. Their group, Law School Transparency, has requested all ABA-accredited schools to provide useful information to prospective law students — information that neither the ABA nor U.S. News currently collects.

Without the regulatory hammer of ABA (which the organization inexplicably refuses to wield), or the public shaming of U.S News (a for-profit magazine, not an industry watchdog), LST is up against some long odds. They’re trying their best, but their interim report indicates that thus far, 188 law schools have completely ignored their efforts to report simple facts on the employment prospects of law school graduates.

In fact, to this point no school (not even Vanderbilt Law) has agreed to provide the information LST is requesting. Poor Zenovia Evans would have starved to death by now.

But 11 schools did find the time to send out a courtesy letter citing the reasons these schools cooked up to justify keeping people in the dark about employment prospects for law school graduates…

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* We know you love rankings. Here are the top 25 national universities and liberal arts colleges, according to the 2011 U.S. News college rankings. [TaxProf Blog]

* CHECK YOU ETHICS? In the seemingly endless Barbie/Bratz litigation, lawyers from Orrick, which now represents Bratz maker MGA, have accused Mattel lawyers from Quinn Emanuel of participating in an elaborate corporate espionage scheme. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Give her a gold-plated gavel: Wisconsin Law professor Victoria Nourse, nominated to the Seventh Circuit, has a net worth of almost $20 million. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Do you hate parking boots? So does this guy — and his taking a stand against them might bring about legal change in the U.K. [AltTransport]

* That one count of conviction against Blagojevich? Give the credit for it to Justice Scalia. [American Spectator]

* Corporette asks her readers: What is your best interview advice? [Corporette]

* Danielle Chiesi, a central figure in the Galleon Group insider trading case, knows how to get what she wants. [Dealbreaker]

In a time of rising tuition prices and declining job prospects, looking at the value proposition of going to law school is more important than ever. For the second year in a row, the National Jurist has named the 60 best value law schools in its preLaw magazine. From these 60 schools, it has further honored the top 20 value schools (unranked for now, but to be ranked, one through twenty, in October).

For the second year in a row, the methodology used to formulate these rankings needs to be much better if anybody is going to pay attention. The National Jurist recognized law schools as “best value” schools if they met four criteria:

1) their bar pass rate is higher than the state average;

2) their average indebtedness is below $100,000;

3) their employment rate nine months after graduation is 85 percent or higher; and

4) tuition is less than $35,000 a year for in-state residents.

We’ll get to naming the top 20 in a minute. First, we need to break down these inputs — inputs that could have been so much better and more relevant…

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Late last month, we posed a question: Can Stanford overtake Harvard and Yale and become the #1 law school? We consulted our Magic 8 Ball, which gave this answer: “Outlook Not So Good.”

And it’s not just the Magic 8 Ball. Professor Bill Henderson, one of the leading academics studying the legal profession, constructed a simulation model of the U.S. News rankings. He used this model to figure out what Stanford Law School would have to do to top the list.

For starters, it would need to get its hands on at least $350 million dollars….

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Back in April, we reported on an admirable organization called Law School Transparency. The goal of LST: “encouraging and facilitating the transparent flow of law school employment information.”

Given what’s typically at stake — three years of your life, and six figures of cash (or student loans) — the decision to attend law school is an important one. There’s a case to be made in favor of law school, and there’s a case to be made against it. (For the case against, see pretty much any post about law school by my colleague, Elie Mystal, or any of the bloggers on this blogroll.)

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the decision should be made based on accurate and complete information. And that information should include data about employment outcomes for graduates of a given law school. If I get a J.D. from law school X, what kind of job can I expect to obtain?

This is where Law School Transparency (LST) comes in. What is LST doing to advance the ball in reporting employment data from law schools?

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Over the past few days we’ve seen an outpouring of support for the proposition that people should go to law school. It’s clear that there are many students in law school or heading to law school who believe that they’ve made the right decision (and it is the right decision, for some people). Moreover, we’ve learned that a lot of people seem to think that ATL — or, more specifically, me — have some kind of vested interest in crushing dreams and making law students feel bad.

Duly noted. I probably should stick my vuvuzela up my butt and let you guys enjoy the excitement of starting out on a new career.

But as Gandalf once said: “I’m not trying to rob you, I’m trying to help you.”

So fine, don’t take my word for it. Maybe you’ll listen to your friend, your God, the U.S. News & World Report

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From the files of “things that will never freaking happen,” the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is telling law schools to discontinue divulging LSAT scores to U.S. News for the publication’s annual rankings. SALT should duck before that flying pig smacks it upside its head. The National Law Journal reports:

[SALT] has urged law schools to stop providing U.S. News with their incoming students’ LSAT scores on the theory that the immense pressure to snag incoming students with high scores is making it harder to admit diverse classes. The median LSAT scores of the entering class accounts for 12.5% of each law school’s U.S. News score — a greater weight than the magazine gives to average grade point average or acceptance rate.

Not only is this something that will never happen, it’s also an idea that is beyond dumb. Quite an exacta there from the law teachers…

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This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

We’ve come to the end of the U.S. News Law School Rankings. The Fourth Tier. The schools that are friends to those who will do anything in order to go to law school. Here is an open thread to discuss these schools, collectively or individually, and to compare and contrast.

Are any of these schools worth the price of admission? Well maybe for the Lulz. Check out how even high-achieving students get treated at 4th tier Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

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It was only a matter of time.

SMU Dedman School of Law is now officially willing to pay law firms to hire its graduates. The school is calling its new program “Test Drive,” which adds a nice layer of hilarity: Toyota wouldn’t pay me to test drive a Camry.

Even the logo for this program screams sadness:

Let’s look at the blast email from SMU career services…

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