Legal Education

Shake-up in US News' 2024 law school rankings

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US News top law school rankings

Updated: The 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Law Schools rankings is riddled with ties, including three ties in the top tier, and a few unusual jumps.

As predicted by rankings watchers, Stanford Law School and Yale Law School came out on top—but in a tie for first that those experts didn’t expect.

While the University of Chicago Law School remains in third place, much of the top 14 (or the T14, as it is called) shifted. There’s a four-way tie for fourth place—with the University of Virginia School of Law jumping up four places to join the Duke University School of Law and Harvard Law School, which each moved up one slot to meet the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Columbia Law School held firm at eighth place.

Meanwhile, the New York University School of Law slid down four places to ninth place, tied with the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor, which each moved up one spot. A spokesman for the NYU School of Law said the school had no comment on the rankings change.

The much-watched list’s methodology has shifted in recent years after many law schools started taking a pass at participating in U.S. News & World Report’s survey.

Of the current ABA-accredited law schools, 144 responded to this year’s survey, according to U.S. News & World Report, with 60% of the formula gleaned from the schools’ successful placement of graduates. The rest of the score included academic metrics about faculty resources; achievements of entering students; and opinions by other law schools, lawyers and judges on overall program quality, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Those changes have made predicting the much-touted rankings nearly a sport, with predictions starting weeks ahead. Last week, law school consultant Mike Spivey released an embargoed list of the 2024-2025 top 25 schools on his blog.

“Just last year, U.S. News published their top 14 in advance of the full rankings release, and those top 14 turned out to include errors,” he wrote in his April 3 blog post. “This year, over 50 law schools opted not to participate in U.S. News’ survey, and given that fact plus the immense scrutiny on the rankings and their trustworthiness, we think it’s worthwhile for everyone to be aware of this initially released top 25.”

This 2024-2025 embargoed rankings first were delayed a day, until April 3, and then updated the next day impacting 80 rankings, according to the TaxProf Blog written by Paul Caron, dean at the Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law.

Also on the T14, two University of California entrants moved, with the University of California at Berkeley School of Law moved down two spots to 12th place, and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law moved up one spot to 13th place. The top tier is rounded out another tie—with Cornell Law School down one place and the Georgetown University Law Center up one.

Notre Dame Law School jumped up seven spots to land at 20th place, and it is now tied with the University of Southern California Gould School of Law—which was down four places—along with the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill—which was up two spots—and the University of Georgia School of Law, which held firm.

Wake Forest Law School ranks 25, down three spots from last year’s ranking.

Yale Law and Stanford Law, with acceptance rates of about 6% and about 7%, respectively, are ranked the hardest law schools to get into, followed by Harvard Law, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and the Duke University School of Law, each with about 10% acceptance rates. The numbers are based on students who started in fall 2023.

Meanwhile, the top three part-time law schools—those with at least 20 part-time students enrolled in fall 2022 and fall 2023—stayed the same. The Georgetown University Law Center comes in first place. However, the George Washington University Law School, now at No. 3, flipped places with the Fordham University School of Law, which is now in second place.

The rankings were once seen as the Bible to help aspiring lawyers determine where to apply. In a survey of law school admissions officers from 86 accredited law schools by test prep company Kaplan, it shows that 51% of law schools think that U.S. News & World Report’s rankings “have lost some of their prestige over the last couple of years;” 18% disagree, and the remaining 31% don’t take a position, according to an April 9 press release.

A separate Kaplan survey of nearly 400 prelaw students, who often base their application decision on the rankings, found that 37% said it would be a “positive development for both law schools and applicants to no longer have rankings at all;” 53% disagreed, and 10% were unsure, according to the press release.

Updated April 11 at 9:54 a.m. to correct the rankings of Cornell Law School and the Georgetown University Law Center.

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