Much has been said about the baleful impact of the U.S. News hegemony over the law school rankings racket. Probably the most trivial of these effects has been the establishment — based on USN’s dubious methodology — of a static tier of 14 elite schools. And as “collective numerical names for elite groups” go, “T14” must be among the most inelegant and arbitrary-seeming. (By contrast, the exemplar of the genre must be “Sweet Sixteen / Elite Eight / Final Four.”)
As noted earlier this week, the composition, if not the precise order, of the T14 has been basically constant for more than a decade. All the “action” is at number 15, with UCLA, Texas, and Vanderbilt all claiming at least a piece of that spot since 2009.
So we asked you: which school should rightfully claim — and maintain — the 15th position? More than 1,100 of you responded. Quite a few felt that there simply is no other school worthy of inclusion in the top tier; the 14th position is simply where we have to draw the curtain between First Class and Coach, and that’s that. Many more respondents made a case for one of the three top contenders or a write-in candidate. (The three most common write-ins were, in descending order, USC, George Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis.)
After the jump, we’ll reveal the people’s choice for the 15th and final spot in legal academia’s most exclusive club, as well as arguments for and against each of the contenders….
Last week, we received our 4,000th response to the ATL School & Firm Insider Survey. (Please take it here, if you haven’t yet). Approximately half of our respondents are current law students, and in the wake of the U.S. News rankings release and the resultant hullabaloo, we thought it would be interesting to compare how the vaunted T14 stack up based on our own survey feedback.
The ATL survey asks students to rate their schools in five different categories:
Quality of faculty and academic instruction;
Practical / clinical training for the practice of law;
Career counseling and job search help;
Financial aid advising; and
After the jump, we’ll look at how the elite schools compare….
The U.S. News law school rankings are out, which means it’s open season on law school deans. Nothing puts a law school dean’s job in jeopardy like a fall in the law school rankings. Nothing. The law school deans can lie, dissemble, raise tuition to backbreaking levels, and still keep their jobs. But when law schools drop spots in the U.S. News rankings, law school deans start updating their résumés.
If you want proof, just look at how deans from schools that dropped are falling all over themselves to explain their results. The deans will say anything; their explanations don’t even have to make sense.
While deans from schools that dropped are trying to save themselves, deans from schools that went up in the rankings are crowing from the rooftops.
Let’s start with a school that we left out of our Most Honest Law School bracket that is now a rankings darling…
With some of the truly horrible stuff going on in law these days — law students allegedly trying to kill each other, managing partners having affairs with their subordinates’ wives — it’s almost reassuring to know that people can still afford to get crazily worked up about good old-fashioned nothing.
Some behaviors are the equivalent of anger comfort food. Crappy parking jobs, really annoying commercials, and school lunch theft.
One of the top law schools in California is embroiled in a lunch thievery epidemic. The situation has gotten so out of hand that the Student Bar Association has sent an email to the entire school about the problem.
Any guesses as to which university needs to bump up its cafeteria security?
The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.
California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.
Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.
But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….
According to a new study by UCLA law professor Richard Sander, discussed in an article in the Denver University Law Review, “the vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES [socioeconomic status] is in the bottom half of the national distribution.”
In other breaking news, studies show that the vast majority of people who get into water emerge wet.
It’s beyond obvious that American law schools favor the elite. Talent will take you far, but having a financially sound family will take you farther. Professor Sander — whose prior research on law school prestige generated lots of buzz last year — argues that schools should use socioeconomic factors as a partial substitute for racial preferences.
Well, that’s a false choice if I ever heard one. Why can’t we have both socioeconomic and race-based affirmative action? Look, you can accuse me of playing the “race card” if you want to, but I’m just trying to figure out a way to help white people get into law school….
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong to brag about receiving an offer in front of your friends, family, and total strangers. I personally subscribe to the Major League theory that you don’t want to be dancing in front of somebody who just died, but I understand that most of the kids these days have never even seen the movie I just referenced.
For the millennials, bragging comes so naturally they don’t even realize when they’re doing it. It’s like their biological imperatives are to survive, reproduce, and post evidence of it on Facebook.
Which is fine. I mean, just because somebody is bragging doesn’t mean you have to care. For instance, today we’ve got a kid bragging about getting an offer from a particular Biglaw firm. Some people will be envious; other people are going to make jokes about coat hangers. To each his own….
Lowell Milken: Would you accept $10 million from this man?
Ah, California. Your weather is amazing, but I don’t think I could deal with your earthquakes. The tremor we just experienced here on the East Coast has turned me into a nervous wreck.
Over at UCLA Law School, they’re experiencing some earth-shaking controversy of their own. An ultra-wealthy alumnus made it rain, with a $10 million gift to the school — but now some professors want to rain on his parade, and their objections have hit the national news media. (Apologies for the mixed precipitation metaphors.)
As we mentioned last week, UCLA law alumnus Lowell Milken made a $10 million gift to his alma mater — the largest single donation in the law school’s history. The money will be used to establish the Lowell Milken Institute for Business and Law.
If you took the bar exam last month, you might be trying hard to forget the experience, or you might be flying far, far away on an exotic vacation. Maybe you are counting the days until results come out in November, or maybe you’re frantically searching for employment before those organ bill collectors startknocking.
This is the final installment of the Bar Review Diaries. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of three recent law school graduates as they prepared for the bar.
Let’s check in one last time with Mariah, Christopher and Mike, to see where they are headed next.
And if anyone has cool bar trips coming up or strange end-of-summer plans, please share them with us in the comments….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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