Law Schools

National Jurist rankings conflict with US News’ top choices; law prof blasts methodology

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Updated: Law school rankings put together by National Jurist (sub. req.) are quite different than the law school rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

In first, second and third place on the National Jurist list are the law schools at Stanford University, the University of Virginia and the University of California-Berkeley, notes Paul Caron on a TaxProf Blog post Tuesday.

Harvard University is ranked sixth, topped by the University of Alabama, in fifth place, and Yale University is listed in 13th place.

Caron’s blog post gives a complete list of the top 50 rankings, and details the National Jurist methodology. What the magazine terms post-graduate success counts for half of the formula, including the employment rate for graduates, which comprises 22.5 percent of the overall ranking. Student satisfaction counts for 35 percent and affordability and diversity is another 15 percent.

While the latest U.S. News rankings also list Stanford, Virginia and Berkeley in the top 10, and another three law schools also make both lists, the top five National Jurist and U.S. News rankings, except for Stanford, are completely different.

And perhaps that’s understandable, given the “somewhat more baroque methodology” National Jurist used, University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter wrote at Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports.

The number of Super Lawyers alumni accounted for 12.5 percent of a school’s score, Leiter wrote, and 20 percent of a school’s score is based on Rate My Professors, which Leiter says is mainly used by undergraduates, not law students. Leiter looked at the University of Chicago Law School’s listings on the site and discovered a low response rate and a slew of inaccuracies. He himself is listed as a member of the philosophy department rather than the law school. “In short, 20 percent of the overall score is fraudulent on its face. And it’s that 20 percent that explains all the variance.”

Bloomberg Law interviewed National Jurist editor Jack Crittenden, who said that Rate My Professors metrics were not included for every school on the list. “A number of schools simply don’t get a grade for that, because there weren’t enough responses,” he said. “And the others that we felt, however, there was enough response, we felt that the value outweighed the questionability of the data. And, more important, we feel that the studies show that the data on there is fairly close to what schools are getting on their own internal evaluations.”

Related coverage: “Do You Think Your Law School’s Name and Reputation Affected Your Career Path? For Better or Worse?”

Subsequent coverage: “National Jurist to correct law school rankings that left U of Chicago out of the top 50”

Last updated Feb. 19 to include subsequent coverage. Also updated on Feb. 14 to include Bloomberg Law’s interview with Crittenden.

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