Wednesday, December 22, 2010

USNWR: Don't Overemphasize Ranking When Choosing Law School

Kaplan did a study to determine what dumb lemmings use to choose a law school.  The report revealed:
30 percent of test takers say that a law school's ranking is the most critical factor, followed by geographic location at 24 percent; academic programming at 19 percent; and affordability at 12 percent. Only 8 percent of respondents consider a law school's job placement statistics to be the most important factor.
USNWR isn't happy with the overemphasis on their rankings stating:
The U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings spotlight the country's academically excellent law school programs in many areas. However, they should be used by prospective students as just one tool in the process for picking the best school for them. Many other factors that cannot be measured need to go into such an important decision, including the overall cost, location, course offerings, school culture, job prospects, advising or mentoring opportunities, and campus life.

I read this tidbit as follows:  give all law schools a chance!

Yah right.  Ranking is the only thing that matters to Big Law--arguably the ultimate end result for many law students.  Let's go through the factors that USNWR focuses on:

overall cost: important.  But one must note that the cost has no correlation whatsoever of cost with quality of education.  So you could pay out the ass for a TTTT education and pay less for a T25 education.  Or you could pay very little for an unaccredited school, which is definitely worse than paying for Harvard or Yale.

location: important, but no so much if you go to a T14.  A T14 degree will travel all over the United States.  However, a TTTT education is arguably a regional degree--if that.  Case in point, New York Law School.  Probably not worth it in New York, and worth less outside of New York.

course offerings: Not important at all.  Law school is boring and bland, whatever class you take.  Furthermore, many of the classes listed in the catalog are not offered EVER.  Or they are offered so infrequently, that you will never get into the class.  Also, although your GPA is supremely important--employers don't give two shits what classes you take.  If you take many classes on entertainment law or labor law, that does not equate a job in entertainment law or labor law--because no one cares.

school culture:  Who cares and how are you to figure that out without going?  My Tier One school advertises itself as being a small and intimate law school environment with friendly professors.  I even spoke to hired guns (students) that lied about the school's culture.  It was small, but that's where the description ended.  I never met so many snobby students and professors in my life.

job prospects:  Once again, with law schools lying through their teeth about employment stats, how are you to know.  The only way you can be certain that you have job prospects is by going to a T14 or, arguably, a T8 school.

advising or mentoring opportunities:  Once again, who the hell cares.  Even the shittiest of the shit law schools will claim to have mentoring opportunities.  After all, there is no shortage of graduates.  It's dumb to make a decision based on this.  If you go to a T14, it may be unnecessary--because you'll have something better, a well-connected alumnae base.

campus life:  You already went to college.  Grow the fuck up.  I don't care if Harvard or Yale have the lamest student life out there--that is the appropriate law school to go to.  This should not be the basis of any adult decision.

Maybe USNWR is trying to take the heat off of their roll in the demise of tens of thousands of people every year.  Maybe they feel badly that TTTT schools get the shaft.  This is a load of bull honky and is to be disregarded.

Yale of fail.

What the hell is this snake thing?


  1. Angel --

    I know who is in the T14. But your blog has been making arguments repeatedly about the T8. What schools are those? The US News ratings are not the same as the Vault ratings, which are not the same as the NLJ ratings. As a law school applicant, I'd like to know who you mean by the T8.

  2. Angel, the editors as US News are disingenuous snakes, i.e. "Don't put so much emphasis on our rankings - but we will continue to publish them."

    If the schools and ABA had ANY integrity, they would no longer participate in such rankings schemes. Look at how the ADA how it prohibits publications from ranking American dental schools.

    Of course, Yale and Harvard LOVE the current system. "Professor" David C. Yamada noted that the elite schools have not changed since the early 20th century. Reputation is still key.

    Many TTTs and TTTTs try to put more volumes in their libraries, construct new law school buildings, or hire Ivy grads as "professors." Yet, other TTTs do the same thing. Hence, these schools are spending more money to end up in the same place.

    These survey results show that lemmings apparently do not care much about affordability/cost or job prospects. These idiots do need to grow up. You went to law school to become an attorney, after all. Employment "placement" and starting salary info *might* be important to someone who is serious about this pursuit.

  3. Thurston Wendell Breckinridge IVDecember 23, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    "Yale or fail."

  4. Thurston Wendell Breckinridge IVDecember 23, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    US News and World Report is the "Yale of fail" when speaking of weekly news magazines.

  5. Yale or fail bitches!


    And Mars!

  6. Nando: How does the ADA prohibit anyone from ranking schools? As far as I know, a private publication isn't governed by the ADA.

    Now, getting to the ranking criteria.

    You're incorrect that a T14 degree will travel anywhere. It will travel to any major market, and most secondary markets, but after that, a lower ranked regional school will be better. If you plan to go back home to work in Little Rock, a degree from Yale might be an impediment.

    While you're correct that course offerings probably don't reflect the reality of what students can get in to, they're still important. They're simply not measured well. If you're picking a school because of a specific class, ask the school to guarantee you a seat in it. I'm sure admissions offices will balk at the idea, but tell them they're asking you to spend $100k+ in tuition. It's not unreasonable to get to choose your own classes.

    As for campus life, I think you undervalue this. If I'm deciding between NYU with a minimal scholarship, or a full ride at Alabama, the prospect of living in Tuscaloosa another three years should be a big factor. Unless of course, you're a robot.

  7. BL1Y,

    The ADA does not allow its member schools to participate in any rankings scheme. The ADA boycotted the US News' scheme around 1994. Obviously, a private publication can come up with a rating system for dental schools. There appear to be some who claim to list the top ten dental schools. But there are no official rankings, due to the ADA's smart actions.

    How does it look to prospective students - and to the public - when a magazine publishes this disclaimer: "No dental schools participated in this survey." That pretty much makes the effort pointless. Plus, the ADA makes it known that their schools do not participate in ranking surveys.

    The fact is all of the dental schools teach practical, clinical skills. The entering classes have similar academic backgrounds. What is the point in ranking schools that provide the same technical training? I do not give one damn that my dentist went to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Dentistry. I care that he and his staff can clean my teeth, treat any cavities, etc.

    It is also worth noting that there are only 57 ADA-accredited dental schools. These schools also limit their class sizes. You must excel on the DAT, also. Contrast this with law schools, who take in students with 2.95 UGPAs in History, coupled with a 154 LSAT.

    I agree with your assessment that a law degree from a top 14 law school does not necessarily travel. Furthermore, going to a top law school does not guarantee that one will find a job. For instance, you went to NYU Law and now live in your parents' Alabama basement.

    "Campus life" is for 18 year old kids who want to exerience the world of ideas, i.e. partying. Sadly, there are too many law students who act like they are in high school. In the end, these people are immature. These 23-25 year olds should be over that "beer is my life" stage.

    BRAND NAME of school matters far more than campus life. Do you think young people choose to live in New Haven, CT for any reason other than to attend Yale?!

  8. Nando. Why do you even exist? Please go copy and paste another lame photo into your assessments of the various schools. All one has to do is copy and paste each law school into it. You don't change the format, nor do you add anything remotely genuine or even funny. We get it. You hate your life. Please stop posting on genuine websites such as this that are actually helping the cause. You are only doing a disservice to the rest of us.

  9. @Anonymous, 11:42:

    Who are you and who is "the rest of us?"

  10. Why is USN&WR not happy with the overemphasis on rankings?

  11. 11:42 could be another scamblogger that is mad that his is the most popular blog. there might be a lesson in there somewhere.

  12. December 23, 2010 11:42 AM

    What, are you remotely practicing psychoanalysis? How do YOU know the guy hates his life? Looks like he is having quite a bit of fun with it, especially by exposing overpriced, crappy "schools" which put unsuspecting children into a lifetime of unmanageable debt. What is YOUR problem with that? Do you teach at one of these dumpsters?

    On dentistry. Dentistry is a tough gig. I have two brothers-in-law who are dentists. It is both academically tough, even grueling in its practical aspects, and a pretty tough job much of the time. you're digging around in people's mouths, of course, people whose concept of regular hygiene may differ substantially from the ideal.

  13. Nando says: "there are no official rankings, due to the ADA's smart actions."

    There is also no official law school ranking. There is only the US News ranking. Do you understand what "official" means? An "official" ranking only makes sense if the rank has direct control over something. For instance, the BCS ranking is an official ranking, and strictly controls who will compete in the BCS championship. NCAA basketball rankings control seed positions.

    What would an official law school ranking do? Give Harvard the first round pick at drafting students? Give their students a right of first refusal on Skadden jobs?

    US News is no more official than the IMDB list, which has as much input from film makers as ADA rankings get from dental schools.

    You could easily rank law schools without their participation, just use data the schools publish on their websites, and what they have to report to the ABA, and then external factors, like reputation among law firms.

  14. T14 schools are generally considered safe. However, T8 is what we throw around as the only real sure fire bet schools. So, I usually recommend people aim for T8.
    Nando kicks ass and you all know it.
    BL1Y--ADA prohibits dental schools from participating with the USNWR in the rankings. Whereas the ABA encourages the ranking system. I have friends who are dentists and they refuse to say how dental schools are ranked. They have different reasons why a certain dental school may or may not be better... but it's not hard and fast, like law schools.

  15. Nando, Angel,'re dealing with nothing less than fools your breath for real arguments with substantive heft and depth....let these fools continue on to debt helldom at their own peril....

  16. I can't do that. I want to cry every time I talk to a nice, young and otherwise smart person who wants to go to law school. I need to keep talking like a broken record until everyone knows what they're in for.

  17. BL1Y: you can play semantic games as to whose rankings are offical, but the fact that law schools provide information and dental schools don't gets about as close to official as you're going to get. if it makes you feel better to say that the USN&WR's rankings aren't official, then you can strut around like a rooster if you want.

    I disagree with Nando that the rankings make any difference at all. the simple point is that the production of dentists is aligned in their favor to the number of potential patients. the opposite is true of lawyers. who cares who ranks whom or where they come out. at the end of the day, there are just too many lawyers.

  18. I don't get this post to be honest. Law school ranking matters and connections within the law matters as well. Mentors are key to a succesful law career so not sure why this factor is tossed aside. Also location is key. A law school student who is going to school close to where they want to practice will have an advantage during the school year of taking on extra work assignments. Also having a longer period of time (such as beyond a summer session) in which to network with the law firm or corporate legal staff is also a bonus.

  19. The snake with it's tail in it's mouth is a symbol of auto-fellatio. I won't go further but it certainly is appropriate, don't you think?

  20. Well, it's now obvious that Yale or Harvard lawyers don't stop financial predation, but instead facilitate it. So they are worth much less than nothing. Generally speaking, of course. Why encourage people to apply to these schools?

  21. Does the T8 include Berkeley, Virginia, or Penn? How about Duke? Can you clarify, Angel?

  22. 1 1 Yale U (CT) 3 1 3.82-3.96 170-176 7.3
    2 2 Harvard U (MA) 1 2* 3.76-3.96 171-176 11.0
    3 3 Stanford U (CA) 6 4 3.77-3.97 167-172 8.0
    4 4 Columbia U (NY) 7 5 3.60-3.81 170-175 10.1
    5 6* U Chicago 4 2* 3.63-3.84 169-173 9.5
    6 5 New York U 11 6 3.57-3.86 169-173 9.4
    7* 6* UC Berkeley (Boalt) 5 7 3.68-3.95 165-170 11.4
    7* 8 U Pennsylvania 9 11 3.57-3.90 166-171 10.7
    There they are. No VA, no Duke. Yes to Berkley and Penn. I don't encourage people to go to any law school. But if you must, then these are the ones that you should focus on.



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