Monday, April 02, 2007

Biggest Moves in the 2008 U.S. News Law School Rankings

Us_news_2In my post last week on the new 2008 U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, I tracked the biggest moves (up and down) in the overall ranking among the Top 100 law schools. Over on TaxProf Blog, I have expanded list to include the biggest moves among all 184 accredited law schools. Here are the Top 10 moves (up and down):



Blogger Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Paul--this is very useful info. I think that there are two next steps that someone should do: first, see if there's some way of figuring out the various clusters of schools (the "selectives"--I hate the word "elites"--then the "really goods," the "goods," and the ones with real problems with bar passage and placement)to see if there are any patterns or if there are movements from one cluster to another; and second, to figure out what's going on with the schools that USNWR placed in Tiers 3 and 4 to see if there are any patterns in the survey that tend to keep those schools in those groupings. For example, is it their placement statistics? Their bar passage? Their academic reputation? Something else?

In any ordinal grouping of schools, there are going to be more false distinctions than real ones, and it's important to parse what the numbers do mean and what they don't mean. If schools are just rearranging themselves within their natural grouping, that fact means something very different (and much less important) from the fact that a school has moved from one grouping to another. The longitudinal trend (up or down over, say, a decade or so).

I haven't spent time studying Houston this year (focusing on Boyd instead, of course), but my guess is that Dean Rhonda Beassie's work in Houston's Office of Career Development is responsible for a lot of the increase. Houston hired one more good person last year (Aaron Bruhl), but he's too new to add to the academic reputation score yet. Other relatively recent hires, as well as some stalwarts, certainly helped on the reputation scores, although I don't recall whether Brian Leiter included Houston in his rankings this year.

As for Boyd, what I find most interesting is that the school's not yet 10 years old. That gives us a chance to study a school with little to no halo effect.

4/03/2007 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Thad Anderson said...

As a St. John's (Queens, NY) grad, it's good to see the school move up to 70, although the rankings of the schools in the second tier (50-100) range seem to fluctuate like crazy every year, so it is unclear what this move up reflects.

If you look at the number of major firms which hold on-campus interviews at St. John's, compared to other schools in the second tier, it is almost surprising the school isn't ranked higher. I have a lot of friends I graduated with who are working at major NYC firms. And the school is doing all the right things in terms of expanding its course offerings. For example, I took National Security and the Law (with Prof. Borgen, who I recommend highly) during 3L, and we had a drill in which we role-played as Defense Department employees in the aftermath of a hypothetical terror attack.

So while I would say that the rankings are kind of unpredictable, and shouldn't be used as your main factor in choosing a school, it wouldn't surprise me to see St. John's move up to somewhere in the 60's during the next few years.

4/24/2007 2:31 PM  

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