Law Schools

Librarians Use People-Under-Trees Metric to Rank Law School Websites; Illinois Wins


The University of Illinois has the best law school home page, and the school can attribute its success partly to a lack of students-under-trees photos.

In an article for the Green Bag, Yale emerging technologies librarian Jason Eiseman and Georgetown electronic resources librarian Roger Skalbeck ranked the home pages of 200 ABA-accredited law schools. Coming in second was Wayne State. Tied for third were Chicago, Michigan State and Nebraska. TaxProf blog has the top 10 and the bottom 10.

The librarians’ rankings were based on 20 elements. Points were awarded for such things as recognizable RSS feeds, links to social media sites, display of an address and phone number, and clickable news headlines about the school. There was a three-point deduction for photos of people under trees, filler that is often ignored by Web users, according to the article.

Eiseman and Skalbeck note that 34 law schools had no physical address on the home page, and 55 had no telephone number. Sixty-five pictured students under, near or around trees.

“Had we expanded the photo metric to include such clichés as United States Supreme Court justices, moot court trial teams, or students in class, we may likely find filler images on the majority of home pages,” they write. “Again while thought to give potential students a taste of law school life, these photos usually do not add any content, context, nor important information for visitors to a site.”

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