1.Bar passage (LSSSE adds a whole new layer of variables), including factors that reduce or eliminate any minority passage gap
2. Employment at graduation / Employed at 9 months (regressions published here)
3. Credentials of incoming students (regressions published here)
4. Annual giving (rate, average amount)
5. Career satisfaction of graduates
6. Satisfaction of major employers of graduates
7. Faculty participation in law reform / participation in successful law reform
8. Pro bono commitment of graduates
To me, Bill's list is somewhat weighted in the direction of the "rich get richer." Since there is no World Series to name a winner, we are all fishing around a bit for a measure of success but I worry about middle of the road state law schools with average LSATs of 162 or so, dedicated faculty, modest giving rates, and which struggle to place their students. Are they irrelevant? Here is why they are not.
1. When it comes to state law schools, one has to think in terms of the return to public investment. Items 7 and 8 pick up some of this and it is not clear how to measure it. Still, unless state law schools operate as perverse delivery systems for welfare payments to the middle class students and faculty, somewhere in the equation should be a consideration of how the graduates and faculty pay back those who pay the bills. Placement rates and starting salaries do not capture this factor.
2. A MoneyLaw school is an efficiency school -- getting the most out of what it has. Thus, factors like expenditure per student and credentials of entering students must be compared with what is ultimately produced. A small budget school with students who are unable to get into elite schools and which has a modest placement rate may be out-performing schools others regard as "top" schools. Unlike item 1, this one could be put to an empirical test.
As I have noted earlier, the search for a meaningful test of what a MoneyLaw school does probably has little to do with focusing on output measures alone. This strikes me as revising the USN&WR methodology. Instead it is best assessed by observing what takes place on a day to day basis.
The best law school may be one somewhere in the South, the Midwest or an urban area, spending modest amounts per student; and where faculty simply work hard, help each other, gossip little, and for whom national recognition is a secondary consideration.
(No music link but join me in humming The Band's "The Weight")