Last week Jim talked a little about Dave Hoffman's post over at co-op, which ranked the top fifty law schools in terms of SSRN downloads. Very interesting stuff. So that led me to look a little more at his data. What, for instance, is the relationship between the top fifty law schools in terms of SSRN downloads and the US News rankings?
All but four schools in Hoffman’s list of the 50 US law schools with the most SSRN downloads are in the USNews top 100. The exceptions are Hofstra, Marquette, Michigan State, and Northern Kentucky.
Of the 50 U.S. law schools with the most SSRN downloads:
11 are in the USNews top 10 (or 8)
22 are in the USNews top 20 (or 19)
25 are in the USNews top 25 (or 22)
14 have USNews ranks below 50 (including the 4 schools in Tiers 3 and 4).
How, you might ask, can there be 11 schools in the US News top 10? Because three schools are tied at 8 (Berkeley, Michigan, and Virginia). Same general story for the top 20--three schools tied at 19 (George Washington; Minnesota; Washington University).
The Spearman rank-order correlation between SSRN rank and USNews rank for the 46 schools in the US News top 100 is .64. (I excluded Hofstra, Marquette, Michigan State, and Northern Kentucky from the analysis.)
You may recall, however, that the correlation between the US News top 100 law schools and recent citations to their main law reviews is higher: .89. So amidst all this talk about SSRN rankings, I think we should be focusing on other factors--like citations to a law school's main journal--to measure a law school's quality. (I know that a lot of talk of SSRN is about its utility for evaluating individual scholars rather than entire faculties, but obviously this post relates SSRN as a measure of an entire faculty.)
Soon I'll have some notes from the front line--the entry-level hiring committee.
Alfred L. Brophy