Friday, April 16, 2010

Running Around Like Chickens Without Heads: MU School of Law

Today is the big day.  U.S. News and World Report  released law school rankings for 2011.  My alma mater has slipped 5 spots since I've graduated.  At least I went to a T1 school (and according to me, that means #1 through #50)--but some schools have dropped quite a bit more.  Take University of Missouri University School of Law, for example.  Apparently, that school has slipped from 65 to 93.  Woah!!! That is quite a dive.  To me, it's still a second tier toilet, but it's a big deal to MU Law Students.  I'm just wondering why this happened:

According to the magazine's Web site, the law school ranking methodology is based on a weighted average of 12 factors in four categories: quality assessment, selectivity, placement success and faculty resources. After the factors are weighted, the top school is given a score of 100, after which the rest of the scores are calculated as a percentage of that. The rankings derive from the scores, but sometimes programs tie.

A program's reputation, which is based on expert surveys, accounts for 40 percent of the score. Although placement success is only 20 percent of the score, the refrain at the meeting was that it is a significant weakness for MU, and students worry the slide will continue.

I'm thinking that MU was actually honest about its employment stats.  USNWR states that only 50.7% of 2008 graduates were employed at graduation.  If that's not an honest number, I don't know what is.  I actually feel bad for calling it a toilet, because toilet schools lie and deceive students into attending law school.   If the rankings weren't based on self-reported employment statistics, all of the schools would have suffered similarly and MU would likely be at it's prized #65 spot.  But honesty is not rewarded.  USNWR is a joke.  They have analysts that look at law programs like a science to come up with these stats, but it's a failed experiment.  There's no constant and no quality control.

Don't worry, MU Grads.  All lawyers are suffering across the board equally.  Law firms that traditionally hire MU Grads will continue to do so, unless they don't plan on hiring at all--which is highly likely.  It's a state school and state schools are usually well-received by local employers.  So, maybe the chances of landing a job in Chicago are not as high--but at least you may be able to land a job in Columbia.

So, do not freak.  You're no more screwed than any other law school--whatever their ranking may be.


  1. Angel, thank you for pointing this school out. I generally do not go after state schools or truly affordable private law schools - UNLESS they have shown themselves to lie about employment and salary figures, such as the University of Utah S.J. Quinneu College of Law.

    You can see where the school admitted to an "error" on its data. (Funny how these "errors" are always in favor of the house, isn't it?!)

    Anyway, to your main point: honesty is not rewarded, but punished. I remember the backlash when UT-Austin put out accurate numbers, and when Colorado-Boulder did the same thing. These rankings truly are subjective - as reputation counts for so much of USNWR's formula.

    As for other factors, many of these can be easily manipulated or distorted by the schools themselves. There are no audits of the numbers.

    Look at this link. The "professors" are aware that placement figures are often made up - even by the elite schools, such as Cal-Berkeley and Columbia.

  2. Unfortunately, jobs in Columbia and the surrounding area are pretty scarce. It is a relatively small city surrounded by even smaller towns.

    As a current 3L at Mizzou, I bristle at the term "toilet" being used for a school that's been around since 1872. It's not one of the nameless schools that have cropped up in recent years. I feel that the professors are intelligent and that I'm as well equipped for the practice of law as any other law student, if I ever find gainful employment. But I suppose most law students feel the same way about their own schools, too.


    "Drake Law School ranks among the nation's best in intellectual property, legal writing
    Drake University Law School's programs in intellectual property and legal writing are ranked among the top programs in the nation in the 2011 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools," published by US News & World Report magazine.

    The magazine has ranked Drake's intellectual property program 25th and its legal writing program 26th among the more than 180 law schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association."

    Guess what?! You are still ranked in the third tier!!

  4. Sorry. Everything outside of T14 is a toilet to me.



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