The U.S. law school rankings are there, but has their credibility been affected?
But some things never change, including the takeover of Yale Law School in the first place. New Haven, Connecticut Law School once again claimed the top spot. In fact, there has been no movement among the top five schools this year. Stanford Law School remained at No. 2, followed by Harvard Law School at No. 3. Columbia Law School and the University of Chicago School of Law remained tied at No. 4.
There was, however, a movement among the top 20 schools. The Carey School of Law at the University of Pennsylvania nabbed a spot to tie with New York University School of Law at No.6. Duke Law School climbed two spots to No.10, while the University of Michigan Law School dropped one spot to tie with Duke at No.10. Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law saw the biggest change among the Top 15 schools, dropping three spots to No.12.
In a change that will likely be noted by current law students, Georgetown University Law Center swapped places with the University of California Los Angeles, which pushed it to No. 15 and out of the so-called T-14 – which refers to what have traditionally been the same top 14 schools in the US News rankings. This is not the first time Georgetown has fallen out of the T-14, however. The same thing happened in 2017, but in this case, it was the University of Texas Law School that beat Georgetown. (The Washington, DC school resumed its No.14 spot the following year and stayed there until this year.)
However, there have been some significant moves among the top 50 in this year’s rankings. The University of Wisconsin Law School moved up nine places to rank 29th, while the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law also moved up nine places, finishing 50th.
Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School nabbed eight spots for 29th place. The University of Alabama Law School climbed six spots to 25th, erasing an identical drop in last year’s rankings. The University of California, Irvine School of Law saw the biggest drop in the top 50 this year, dropping eight places to No.35.
The University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law and the University of Dayton School of Law had the largest year-over-year ranking gain, each scoring 22 places. (Missouri-Kansas City moved up to # 111, while Dayton moved up to # 119.)
“This year’s US News rankings reflect our successful efforts to improve results in bars and jobs, as well as the rise in degrees which is a testament to Dayton Law’s growing attractiveness to potential students,” said Andrew Strauss, dean of Dayton Law, noting that the school has made major institutional changes to its bar exams and employment programs. Applications have also grown over the past two years, he said, in part thanks to the school’s new hybrid JD offering.
The University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law’s ranking increase puts the school back in its historic position, after an unusual 25-point drop last year, Dean Barbara Glesner Fines said. The drop was the result of a weak regional labor market and a temporary drop in the school’s bar pass rate, she said.
“Over the past year, we’ve stepped up our career planning and job search services and added additional bar prep elements,” she said. “These efforts, combined with a recovery in the labor market, have brought things back to normal.”
Howard University Law School saw its rankings increase by 16 points, pushing the school to No.91 – the first time it has been ranked in the top 100. It appears to be the first time it has been placed in the top 100. a law school at a historic level Black College and University made its entry into the US News Top 100. Howard Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker said the school’s bar pass rate, placement rate and peer reputation score have all increased recently. Nominations have also increased significantly over the past three years, she added.
“I think this is due to the growing interest in racial justice issues, and also just more recognition of the Howard University name and the law school due to all of our outstanding graduates,” Holley said. -Walker. “A lot of times in the profession people say they can’t increase their numbers of diverse students – especially black and Latino students – because they don’t want to hurt their rankings. Howard is a clear example of how you can represent both excellence and incredible racial diversity. “
Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law saw the biggest drop this year, falling 23 spots to No.134. Chapman Dean Matthew Parlow did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the drop.
In all, there have been 22 double-digit moves up and down the leaderboard this year – one less than the year before. But the new rankings brought a lot more handwork and review than previous iterations. To begin with, US News has withdrawn and revised the first draft of rankings provided to law schools before their official publication on three occasions. The first revision consisted of correcting a data error on a metric, weighted at 0.25% of a school’s overall ranking, which measures the number of hours each school’s law library is open. The ranks of over 30 schools changed once this issue was resolved. The second revision was to include Asian students in a new stand-alone diversity ranking once they were initially left behind. (US News subsequently decided to postpone the exit of this diversity ranking after Deans of Law pointed out that the revised version still does not count students of more than one race as “under-represented.”)
The third review – which was done just two days before the rankings were officially released – removed another library metric that asked how many credit hours are taught by law librarians. Responses to this question, which was new this year, ranged from 10 to 300. This suggested that schools were counting credit hours in different ways. This metric was also weighted at 0.25% of a school’s overall ranking, so US News lowered the library’s overall metric weight from 2% to 1.75%, while the weight given to rate success at the helm increased from 2% to 2.25%. Once this was recalculated, the overall ranking of 35 schools changed.
The change in ranking has emboldened US News skeptics who say the ranking methodology is flawed and assigning numerical rankings to law schools does more harm than good, as it prompts law schools to make choices that might hurt students, such as running more finances. helps applicants with successful law school admission test results, rather than those who need it most. (Median LSAT and GRE scores account for 11.25% of a law school’s overall ranking.)
In another change this year, US News introduced a new measure of student debt that accounts for 5% in each school’s overall rankings. The average student debt level of recent graduates is 3% of the rank, while the percentage of graduates who leave law school with debt is the remaining 2%. A number of law academics have expressed concern about the new measure, saying it could encourage law schools to enroll wealthier students who do not need to take out loans and avoid those who do. need to borrow large sums to finance their law degrees. (The weight given to a law school’s selectivity and faculty resources has been reduced to add the new measures of student debt.)
New data from the US News ranking provides an interesting insight into student debt. According to figures reported by law schools, the 10 schools with the highest levels of debt for graduates are a mix of elite campuses and those that fall under the unranked level of US News. The University of Chicago Law School had the highest average debt level, at $ 191,117. It was followed by the unranked Southwestern Law School at $ 190,184 and Columbia Law School at $ 190,141.
On the other hand, the 10 law schools with the lowest average graduate debt were all in public universities, with the exception of J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. BYU had the lowest average debt, at $ 51,048, which likely contributed to the school’s eight-point gain. It is clear that the new debt measure has helped some law schools and hurt others. Seven of the 10 schools with the lowest average graduate debt climbed the rankings. Texas Tech University Law School, for example, saw its rankings increase nine places to No. 102. Lubbock Law School, Texas, had the fourth lowest average debt level, at $ 56,898.