if you go to law school or are a lawyer and do not live under a rock, you heard that new rankings came out this week. they made a major change this year by expanding the rankings from just the top 100 to the top 75%, with the remaining schools unranked and listed alphabetically.
rankings are determined by:
- academic reputation: 25% of the score. determined by a survey of ~ 700 law school deans and faculty.
- practitioner reputation: 15%. survey of biglaw lawyers and federal/state judges.
- median LSAT score: 12.5%.
- employment rate 9 months after graduation: 12%
- median GPA: 10%
- money: 9.75%. this number includes per capita expenditures on instruction, library, and supporting services.
- employment rate at graduation: 6%.
- student-teacher ratio: 3%.
- acceptance rate: 2.5%. hint: lower acceptance rate, higher rank.
- bar pass rate: 2%.
- other money: 1.5%. money spent by the school that is not captured in the 9.75% above (eg: utilities, financial aid)
- books: 0.75%. physical copies in the lawbrary. yes, it is 2011.
the other factors–particularly LSAT, GPA, and employment rates–make perfect sense to me. that should be how you judge a school. how employed (or employable) are the students once they leave? what does the market think of the people that school has produced? if students aren’t getting jobs, isn’t that a more damning indictment of a school than what a professor in california thinks of a school in south carolina?
i was an economics major in undergrad–my appreciation for legitimate statistics is probably a bit higher than most. but holy batman, kids! ranking a school based on how many damn books are in their library? i’m pretty sure we all have full access to lexis and westlaw; why does it matter whether we can grab the hardbound version?
to be fair, i understand that rankings can be very helpful, particularly to prospective students weighing their options, particularly in this economy. preparing to spend up to $200k (plus opportunity costs of three years) demands fully educating oneself. but creating a ranking system that is so malleable is absurd. i’m all for visibility and helping people understand what they’re getting themselves into; i think it’s absolutely ridiculous how law schools deceive everyone through lying and shell games. but hell, address it with a real solution with real statistics and a real methodology.