Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pants Down

I guess I did not see it when it came out but now I have come across the Leiter ranking (or is an effort to allow others to rank) of the top 40 law schools. As I understand it, 331 respondents ranked 57 law school that are arguably in the top 40. The eventual ranking was then determined by taking each school and seeing how it did in head to head combat with each other school. The most wins gets you number 1 and so on. Yale is overall the winner and Harvard second.

Whether or not I have described the methodology exactly accurately, the most interesting part of the effort is the rankings of each respondent. Leiter picks on FSU a bit for its strategic voting. Rightfully so since FSU is ranked ahead of Yale on 35 ballots. Plus FSU has about 20 votes for the top law school in the land and most of the voters taking that view ranked all other schools as tied for last of 57. Remember, this gets FSU 20 x 56 wins in head to head competition. I can understand the FSU frustration. It is an excellent law school and overlooked but, sadly, their pants are down.

Plus, there are plenty of others with their pants around their ankles. Yale gets about 35 last place votes. In fact, Yale's high ranking is mostly the result last place votes (yes, worse of 57 schools) combining with many very high votes. It goes the other way too. A number of those voting for Yale as number one also rated every other school last. Think about it! You are a Yale grad and so worried about Yale's ranking, that you feel compelled to rank every other school as tied for worst. Harvard has a number of these as well. These voters, far more than FSUs, should look into therapy. There must be a limit to insecurity or a craving for status. Is it a sense of entitlement or are they just girlie men or women who did not get hugged enough? Well, here is a big internet hug so you can do your best not to create the same pathetic behavior in our own kids.

Even this way understates those with their butts hanging out. Miami gets a first place vote, also by someone ranking every other school last. So do Michigan, San Diego and others.

In fact, although I did not count, it appears that the most common ranking given was 57. How does that come about? It happens when someone votes the school he or she teaches at or the school he or she attended first and all other schools tied for last or 57th.

As I said, 331 people voted. I deeply appreciate those instances in which an obviously outside the top 15 school did not get a first place vote. I have no idea what percentage of those voting voted strategically. I did do this. I selected Boston College. I doubt any reasonable person thinks BC is the best or the worse law school of the 57 selected. Thus, I counted the number of last place or first place votes BC got as a rough and very very conservative estimate of the percentage of strategic voters. I get 79+ strategic votes out of 331. Twelve of them are from those who ranked FSU first.

Well, gotta go. I've got many hugs to deliver and my work is just beginning.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Dawson said...

Who in the world would credit any "ranking" of over 50 institutions when there are only 331 observations? This is not statistic; it's anecdote (and that's charitable.) Oops, sorry. I forgot about USNews.

1/17/2011 11:19 AM  
Blogger Mikethelawstudent said...

Ranking systems always seem a little suspect. I just hope that I can find a job with my middle ranked little known midwestern lawschool.

Sigh.

Mike

KANSAS LAWYER

1/27/2011 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should include a link to Leiter's explanation of the FSU votes, which are apparently due to some students in a class at FSU getting wind of the anonymous survey, which Leiter himself said he created for fun (inviting playful participation). FSU may stand out but is certainly not the only school with a dozen or more votes ahread of Yale. It seems a stretch to blame this on FSU's administration or faculty, and anyone who considers this a serious ranking of law schools needs to have their head checked.

2/15/2011 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should include a link to Leiter's explanation of the FSU votes, which are apparently due to some students in a class at FSU getting wind of the anonymous survey, which Leiter himself said he created for fun (inviting playful participation). FSU may stand out but is certainly not the only school with a dozen or more votes ahread of Yale. It seems a stretch to blame this on FSU's administration or faculty, and anyone who considers this a serious ranking of law schools needs to have their head checked.

2/15/2011 6:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home