Law School Rankings

Welcome to LearnLawBetter. Wondering how to use law school rankings? Want to use them wisely? Stay to the end as I cover the 4 criteria
used in law school rankings, and some advice on how to leverage the rankings so you can get into the right law school. Don’t forget to hit the like button if you
enjoy this episode, and click the subscribe button and bell if you don’t want to miss
any future episodes. Hi, this is Beau Baez, and today I want to
discuss law school rankings in the United States. The ranking relied on by most law students
is published by the U.S. News and World Report. First, I will go through their criteria, and
then provide you with some advice on how to use this data in making a decision. #1: Quality Assessment. Forty percent of the ranking is based on a
law school’s perceived quality. Each year, surveys are sent to law school
deans, associate deans, professors, practicing attorneys, and judges. They rate a law school on a five point scale,
ranging from marginal to outstanding. Raters can choose not to rank every law school,
but even then it would be nearly impossible to know what is going on in even a few law
schools. Also, is a rater basing their score on the law school’s scholarship, their teaching, bar passage, job placement. Or worse, a recent basketball championship, or a past negative interaction with an alumnus. Ultimately, this criteria is nothing more
than a perception assessment. The elite law schools—Harvard, Yale, Georgetown,
etc…–remain on the top, because they are perceived to be top programs. Lower ranked schools can’t move higher because
they are perceived as weak, even when they make significant changes to their programs. And the schools in the middle can move wildly
each year, depending on who rated them. #2: Selectivity. Twenty five percent of the ranking is based
on LSAT or GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, and acceptance rate. This measurement is less subjective, but fails
to take into account undergraduate institution or major. For example, a 3.0 GPA from an MIT engineering
major should probably be weighted higher than the 3.96 I received with a social science’s
major. Next, there is acceptance rate manipulation. Law schools will request students with lower
LSAT scores to apply, only to deny them. This increases their ranking, but by giving these students false hope. #3: Placement success. Twenty percent of the score is based on job
placement and bar passage. This is the least subjective measure, though
there is still some room for some manipulation. #4: Faculty resources: Fifteen percent of
the score is based on the student to faculty ratio, expenditures per student, and library resources. Unfortunately, these figures are misleading
or irrelevant. For example, a law school might have a 6 to
1 student to faculty ratio. But at large law schools, you might never
have a class with less than 75 students. The reason many law schools can report smaller
ratios is because they offer many boutique courses, which very few students ever take. As to library resources, who cares about the
number of volumes in the library? Most older volumes have been digitized by
Google and then there is inter-library loan. So this measure helps older law schools with
many older books. And student expenditures is practically irrelevant,
since its costs more to hire staff in cities like New York. Now, let’s discuss how to use the Rankings. I suggest that you look at the rankings in three different ways. Elite law schools. These are the top 14 national law schools,
with Georgetown rounding out the bottom. If you can attend one of these schools, you
will have opportunities all over the country. Clusters. Once outside the elite law schools, cluster
the rankings. Treat law schools within a certain range as equivalent. As you know, rank varies from year to year, often
wildly outside the elite law schools. The reality is that most law schools offer
a very similar program of legal education. For schools in the 15 to 50 range, cluster them in groups
of 20. For schools 50 to 100, use clusters of 30. For schools below a 100, clusters of 50. For example, treat schools 25 to 45 as equivalent,
or schools 102 to 150 as equivalent. Regional schools. These are the law schools that are strong
in a particular market. For example, if you are going to practice
in North Dakota, you would likely find the University of North Dakota to be a better
choice than a school that is ranked 40 spots higher. Now let’s work through an example, using numbers
I made up and not tied to any law school. You get accepted to law school #36, where you pay full tuition. You also get accepted into a regional law school, which is ranked #56, which offers you a 50% tuition discount and is in the market where you want to practice. Now, I know that 20 spots seems like a significant
jump to you, but it’s not. When you start practicing, almost no one will
perceive that these two law schools are different, other than alumni. You’re probably better off going with the
tuition discount. If you enjoyed this material, hit the like
button. Also, to avoid missing any future episodes,
hit the subscribe and bell buttons. For more resources to help you get ahead,
including my blog and newsletter, check out Thanks for watching.

16 Replies to “Law School Rankings

  1. I found this to be helpful and accurate. Law school ranking tends to be more important if your goal is to get hired by a prestigious law firm in a large market, or if you want to secure an upper-end government job such as a federal appellate clerkship or DOJ position. Otherwise, it's best to aim for a law school that has a solid reputation and a broad alumni network in the region where you want to practice. Also, if you know you want to practice law in a subject area that will not pay out large dividends right away (such as starting your own practice, working as a local prosecutor or public defender, or practicing public interest law), you would be better served by attending a lower-ranked low school that is less expensive or offers more scholarships/financial aid.

  2. Thank you so much for this video. I once saw another law school youtube channel that said you should not even consider going to law school if you will be attending a school ranked outside the top 100. I think that is utterly absurd. My law school is ranked outside 100 but that is probably because it is smaller and not as well known as larger schools, but that doesn't mean its education is any less valuable or worthwhile. I am very glad you posted this video to break down rankings and how exactly they are calculated. It really gave me a lot of insight.

  3. I am looking at Harvard, University of Virginia, Berkeley, and UCLA Law Schools. I get a free ride to UCLA and Berkeley. I will have considerable resources to pay off tuition in a few years so I am not worried about the cost of tuition… I live in California. I would enjoy getting a Harvard Education. I have (2) masters and am a licensed architect. I appreciate your thoughts.

  4. I'm about to start my LLM program, choosing between Georgetown, Cornell and NYU was really hard; at the end I decided GULC, and was a little hesitant because of the ranking spot, I know is a Tier14 but is on the bottom of it and NYU is ranked number 5-6…. after watching this video I understand that even though NYU is ranked higher, in my personal background GULC will be better (I have worked for the judiciary and I intend to keep working on public affairs), like you said "x spots seems like a significant jump to you, but it's not"

  5. Currently have a 3.984 GPA with 63 hours (government major at UT Austin). I am about to enter my junior year. What schools do you think I could get into with the following LSAT scores accompanied by mediocre extracurriculars:


  6. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been following your channel since the last few weeks and it’s helped me loads. I was hoping you could help with a few questions. The Rankings you mentioned also have a component for subject rankings. I was looking at the Top Schools for Environmental Law and I couldn’t help but notice that the top 3 schools rated highly in this instance had a very low overall score in general. So while Vermont and Lewis & Clark rate highly for environmental law, they are pretty much at the back of the pack when it comes to overall rankings. So my question is, how does one make a selection in this case?

  7. What about schools that are ranked between 15-20? Are they in a elite category or are they grouped with 20-40?

  8. Hello sir. Thanks for the video. I've been accepted by Richmond and Tulane (waiting for other schools as well.) It does appear to me that the ranking of law schools around 40~50 fluctuate. I've came to the conclusion that the small ranking differences between schools around that range doesn't really matter(like you said in the vid), but things like location/my future goals matter much more. However I do wish to attend a school within the 50th rank (the clusters you mentioned.) Is there really a difference between graduating a 49th school and a 52nd?

  9. What would you say about the large university mergers with low ranked schools. Example: John Marshall Law School currently merging with UIC. I got a 75% scholarship but I'm hoping the ranking would go up. If not I would attend Loyola ranked in the 70s with a lot of loans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *