Tipping the Scales

Our Debut Ranking Of Law Schools — Stanford Comes Out On Top

by Maya Itah on

TippingTheScales Top 50 Law Schools

 

Rank & School        Index USN 
LSATAccept RateJobs At GradPrivate SalaryPublic Salary
  1. Stanford100.021709.7%93.2%$160,000$62,401
  2. Yale99.911738.3%90.7%$160,000$60,000
  3. Harvard98.4217316.1%90.9%$160,000$57,408
  4. UPenn97.3717015.5%83.6%$160,000$58,376
  5. Columbia97.2417218.4%93.2%$160,000$55,000
  6. Duke95.11116919.1%72.9%$160,000$57,000
  7. Northwestern94.81217023.7%77.4%$160,000$60,000
  8. Berkeley94.7916711.6%72.6%$160,000$55,000
  9. Virginia93.8717015.2%97.3%$160,000$36,000
10, Michigan93.7916924.5%70.7%$160,000$61,245
11. Chicago92.9417120.1%90.6%$160,000$47,657
12. New York92.6617127.9%93.1%$160,000$53,500
13. GW91.22116729.7%81.7%$160,000$62,467
14. Cornell90.51316729.1%69.7%$160,000$62,467
15. Georgetown90.11416928.4%63.7%$160,000$61,245
16. Alabama89.52116525.2%66.5%$90,000$57,000
17. UT-Austin88.31516727.2%62.0%$155,000$55,017
18. Minnesota87.71916723.2%64.0%$110,000$50,000
19. USC87.21816729.0%54.6%$160,000$61,350
20. Vanderbilt86.81516930.2%65.2%$125,000$56,000
21. UCLA86.21716823.7%45.9%$145,000$60,000
22. Wash U.85.21916628.5%52.7%$105,000$58,000
23. Washington84.52616421.8%54.9%$100,000$50,000
24. Georgia State83.85415926.8%64.5%$67,838$54,268
25. George Mason83.04116327.8%49.4%$75,000$62,467

 Source: TippingTheScales

1 2 3 4
  • Guest

    Virginia is out of order based on the Index value. The index value of 96.7 should have it #6 in the list.

  • lol

    ” Georgia State has an acceptance rate of 26.8%, which means it’s harder to get into than NYU, ”

    LOL

    • NYU grad

      Dipshit response from a dipshit from NY that thinks LS in the south aren’t worthy. I didn’t see how 54 was friggin tops. Every GSU law grad I know runs circles around ivy leaguers in a courtroom. Well, maybe not against Reese Witherspoon.

      • Umadbro

        Are mad because NYLS made the list but NYU didn’t?

        • ReadingIsFundamental

          NYLS (#12) is NYU in the ranking.

      • Question #24

        Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the above poster’s argument?

        A: The fact that a 171 LSAT median is better than a 159
        B: The fact that NYU grants more fee-waivers than GSU
        C: GSU grads CAN run circles around Reese WItherspoon
        D: Some people don’t apply to law schools
        E: They don’t like what it is, but it do

        • Nice One Wembley

          The answer is clearly C.

    • kelliayne Potomac

      Reminds me of the CIA in the 80’s. They found out that all these Ivy Leaguers they were hiring didn’t mix well and had no street smarts. They then decided to hire future ‘spies’ from Midwestern and Southern universities with much better luck. The best spies, believe it or not, came from Texas universities according to my ex who worked in CIA personnel.

      • monster55

        Well we’ll definitely all just believe your ex who worked in CIA personnel about a program from 30 years ago.

      • monster55

        Well we’ll definitely all just believe your ex who worked in CIA personnel about a program from 30 years ago.

      • 333sturm

        And who says the internet isn’t a great source of reliable, fact-checked information?

      • Mark B

        and yet the OSS was started by the Ivy League and the CIA is still managed by the Ivy League, but sure it makes perfect sense to have a blond southerner trying to run agents in the middle east and south america

  • kelliayne Potomac

    John Grisham’s lawyers are the best and he’s from MNS>

  • Raven

    I didn’t read the article, so perhaps this is somehow(?) corrected for, but why do acceptance rates have such weight? Obviously, these are skewed by the quality of the applicants. Georgia State, for example, has a lower acceptance rate than many schools, but if their quality of applications are lower how does this at all index strength of the law school? (The comparison was made between NYU and GSU, but the LSAT was 171 for the former vs. 159 for GSU, it seems clear that those applicants are not comparable, and thus the acceptance rate is rather meaningless.

    • Happy GSU Law Grad

      The LSAT score is just one of the criteria. Acceptance rates are a more objective measure of factors such as reputation, value, and demand than, IE, the biased opinions of deans and practitioners used by U.S. News. No ranking system will be perfect, but if you read the article, it explains how this system is a more pragmatic approach than that used by U.S. News.

    • JohnAByrne

      Here’s why we think acceptance rates are important: 1) The lower the acceptance rate, the more selective a school can be with its applicant pool which means it has far greater ability to craft the best possible class of students of the highest quality, 2) The more people who want to go to a specific school says a lot about its reputation and image. 3) There’s no doubt it’s a quality measurement. Just look at the acceptance rate stats which strongly correlate with our conventional thinking about which law schools are best.

      • Raven

        I think there is clear doubt that it is a quality measurement. The same people are not applying to NYU and GSU, so to say that the latter is “harder to get into” than the former is based on flawed reasoning and is obviously false (based on for example, the LSAT’s for the two schools). I would argue that acceptance rate are highly dubious measure of quality without controlling for the quality of the applicants.

        • GSU Undergrad

          I’m applying to law schools now and I went to GSU undergrad. As much as I love GSU, this is incredibly suspect to me. You can’t have a median LSAT that low and pretend like you have access to the same applicant pool that a place like NYU does. The same people that are applying to GSU are applying to John Marshall.

          • GSU Law

            First off, GSU undergrad is completely different than GSU Law. You simply cannot compare the two. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

            Additionally, I do not know anyone at GSU Law that applied to John Marshall – a lot of them chose GSU over Emory & Georgia because of the benefits (value, access to law resources in Atlanta, etc). It just simply made more sense to go to a law school that wasn’t obscenely expensive but still provided quality education.

            But please, if you don’t want to go to a school with a “median LSAT that low” and have such a poor opinion of GSU Law, I advise you to attend law school elsewhere. Clearly you are too good for GSU Law (but not GSU undergrad…?).

          • Panther Grad 2013

            ..??? Were you responding to ‘GSU Undergrad’ or was this some kind of mis-click? If it was a joke, I apologize in advance. However, and assuming you were being serious, aside from his/her misconception about those students applying to John Marshall, you really didn’t address a single point he/she made.
            It’s obviously not that hard to get into GSU Law if you have really good undergrad grades, a 160+, and care about your essays/recs. I graduated in 2013 and I feel it was a damn good value. Primarily, based on my job search as well as that of friends who attended Emory Law/UGA Law, I feel I was on a level playing field with students from these perceived better schools in Georgia when it came time to find a real law job (which is ALL that matters). You simply cannot put a value on GSU’s geographical proximity to firms in Atlanta. I walked downtown many times just to have meetings with absolute strangers so I could “get my foot in the door.” In this market (which still sucks), networking is equally as powerful as prestige/grades. If you have the money, Emory is simply a better choice (still close to atlanta, which is again very important). However, I got a buddy (emory law grad) who is $200k in the hole who is in pretty bad shape right now a year out with no job. Many of those students won’t admit it, but likely feel conned as they were “supposed” to get hooked up from being at the ivy league of the south..that’s just not the case.

          • GSU Undergrad

            Seriously? I never said I was “too good” for GSU. They gave me a full scholarship, paid for my housing for 4 years, and I got a fantastic education. I’m an alumni association member, I donate every year, and I buy season tickets to watch our crappy football team. I love GSU and I’m grateful to them. I’m just saying that different people are applying to GSU than are applying to NYU. You can’t argue that It’s an extremely different applicant pool. GSU Law is a tier 2 law school (barely, but it’s still not in the top 50), while Georgia and Emory are tier 1. NYU is T14. Also the gap between UGA and GSU in terms of price is not huge, and considering the COL in Atlanta vs. Athens, it would be crazy not to give yourself that huge advantage.

            There are very very few GSU grads that wind up at the top. If you don’t want BigLaw and aren’t worried about going to a tier 2 law school, great, but you can’t pretend like GSU is going to give you the same advantage that Emory or UGA would.

      • Objection!

        There’s no relationship between the size of the applicant pool and the quality of the candidates. Schools like Cooley put out ads, but these ads don’t convince any 4.0/180 students to apply. They just get more 3.0/150 students.

        Also, some schools send out more fee waivers than others. If Harvard started sending out fee waivers, its # of applications would increase, its acceptance rate would go down, and it would climb to the #1 spot in your rankings. But this would not make it a better school in any way…

      • WolfLarsen

        This just shows such a lack of ability to employ critical thinking. You have no business publishing law school rankings with this logic.

        Accepting 50% of a pool of smart highly qualified applicants =//= as accepting 50% of a pool of stupid applicants with low qualifications.

        You are viewing quantity without consideration for quality, and then taking a step further in attempting to equate quantity to quality.

  • Evan

    This is Evan Jones, blogger at lawschooli.com. Your ranking system is super fucked up. Median salaries are a really dumb way to look at employment outcomes, esp. given that all the salary data that distinguish the top schools will come from looking at the bottom 50th percentile of salaries with SOME LEVEL OF GRANULARITY. Your ‘simple’ approach

    Not doing that is a big part of why you have schools with 72% employed at graduation ranking better than schools with better than 90% employment.

    Median public interest salary doesn’t tell you anything for several reasons which I’ll let you puzzle out.

    Acceptance rate is silly to weight heavily because it tends to be a function of the schools historical placement in the USNWR more than anything else. Schools that bring up the tail end of a peer group have to have a higher acceptance rate than less desirable schools below that lead their lower peer group.

    Yes I’m pissed that you made my Alma Mater, U Chicago rank low. That doesn’t make your rankings any less stupid. Better luck with them next year.

    • JohnAByrne

      Evan,

      Thanks for writing in. Appreciate your views, even though I disagree with them. And I do really like the University of Chicago.

      • Evan

        Well think about my views a little harder and you’ll come around. I ‘like’ Northwestern a lot too. Some of my best friends went there. That doesn’t change the fact that we own them in every possible metric that matters, none of which you measured in a meaningful way.

    • NotAUChicagoLawGrad

      So you really didn’t support your positions with any authority (Do they still teach that at U Chicago) it sounds simply like your opinions, and possibly some sour grapes.

      Also, it seems like perhaps someone in the marketing field would be better served with a marketing degree rather than a U of C law degree. But at least you have a blog. Those are hard to get.

      I place a lot more value in an article that states what they did, and why, as opposed to a 2012 law grad who, “did a stint in public interest work in the area of housing discrimination” before getting out of the practice of law.

      Just my thoughts as to who I would trust more….

      • Evan

        Well, yes, I probably shouldn’t have gone to law school though I don’t regret it. It turns out I didn’t like being a lawyer. I switched to a field where the skills I do have and enjoy using can make me a lot of money.

        As to the blog, that too makes a lot of money with out a lot of effort. It does
        this in part by ranking much higher than the blog I’m posting on now.
        Compare Alexa rankings if you wish. I doubt tipping the scales is ranked
        actually.

        What’s more, I did state some support for my position. Surely you can see as well that ranking by median private sector salary isn’t a very useful tool (it’s very similar at many schools).

        I didn’t support my position at all as to why public interest median salary shouldn’t matter, but the main reason is that the sample size is often too small to be meaningful. Very few people go into public interest from the top schools, and they aren’t overly motivated by salary when they select a position. Public interest jobs tend to pay more or less depending on where they are in the country. It’s not tied to prestige.

        I said enough about acceptance rate, but to illustrate how silly it is to use it as these rankings did, consider that UChicago could easily jump in these
        rankings by lowering its admissions standards. Say UChicago took
        students of the quality that higher Virginia did (much lower quality, especially when you measure more than JUST THE LSAT MEDIAN). Then it could
        considerably lower its acceptance rate (the only metric that it’s lagging behind in in these rankings) and jump ahead easily to where is should be were there not a ridiculously high weight placed on acceptance rate.

        At U Chicago we value quality thought. What does having a methodology matter if it’s crap?

        • Evan

          Well, I just realized this blog is brand new, so I can’t insult them for ranking poorly. We’ll see how it shakes out. Welcome to the law school business tippingthescales!

      • Math

        The methodology used in this ranking system is absurd. Use your head.

        For example: 100k people apply to X school because X school waives application fees to everyone who asks. X school has 100 spots to fill. That means their acceptance rate could be 0.1%. Their LSAT median is 132. According to this methodology, X school would be in the middle of the pack.

        Using the median private salary to compare the t14 is just dumb. The median is 160k for everyone, but what’s important is what percentage of the students (who want biglaw) actually get biglaw. It’s easier to get biglaw as a Chicago grad than a NW grad, but this methodology ignores that with its’ ham-handed “median salary” metric.

        • CABchi

          Not. NU has a much bigger representation at big law -especially at the partner level – than Chicago. But in the real world, it makes no difference which of the top 15 or 16 law schools you went to. I’ve been hiring lawyers for decades; the quality of graduates from these schools is indistinguishable.

      • Matt Poulsen

        You don’t need to use an authority when the conclusions are based on a basic understanding of mathematics and statistics.

  • Evan

    This is Evan Jones, blogger at lawschooli.com.
    Your ranking system is super fucked up. Median salaries are a really
    dumb way to look at employment outcomes, esp. given that all the salary
    data that distinguish the top schools will come from looking at the
    bottom 50th percentile of salaries with SOME LEVEL OF GRANULARITY. Your
    ‘simple’ approach is actually just meaningless.

    Not ranking salary data intelligently is a big part of why you have schools with 72%
    employed at graduation ranking better than schools with better than 90%
    employment.

    Median public interest salary doesn’t tell you anything for several reasons which I’ll let you puzzle out.

    Acceptance rate is silly to weight heavily because it tends to be a
    function of the schools historical placement in the USNWR more than
    anything else. Schools that bring up the tail end of a peer group have
    to have a higher acceptance rate than less desirable schools below that
    lead their lower peer group.

    Yes, I’m pissed that you made my Alma Mater, U Chicago, rank low. That
    doesn’t make your rankings any less stupid. Better luck with them next
    year.

  • Clerkships?

    One flaw. The reason Stanford has a higher Public sector salary starting point is that Yale puts TONS of students into prestigious clerkships, with 1 year of low pay, followed by a move to high paying private or public sector jobs.

    • Brian

      actually, a lot of Yale folks don’t work for firms, they go into academia or government.

    • Brian

      actually, a lot of Yale folks don’t work for firms, they go into academia or government.

  • WolfLarsen

    This just shows such a lack of ability to employ critical thinking. You have no business publishing law school rankings with this logic.

    Accepting 50% of a pool of smart highly qualified applicants =//= as accepting 50% of a pool of stupid applicants with low qualifications.

    You are viewing quantity without consideration for quality, and then taking a step further in attempting to equate quantity to quality.

  • Sally

    John,

    I am not sure if you are behind this kooky ranking but seriously have you nothing better to do? You know nothing about law schools and spin MBA programs ( your BW background adds some legitimacy). Frankly you have an obsession with top ten MBA’s and the rest are irrelevant to you. UNLV is the program that seriously flaws this ( the LSAT is far too high for them as is admits), as well the author is going to an unheard of law school. Do not attempt to add any legitimacy to this silly ranking !

    Why not man up and write an expose of how fraudulent the whole MBA world is, from Hult ( which has only been around 10 years, risen from the bankrupt Arthur Little program), they manipulate everything about themselves to programs gaming all the rankings. Frankly programs are enticing students to do the degree with less than best intentions, rather it is a revenue pig. Then there are the seriously flawed ranking folks who are simply journalists latching onto a job with no business background or business degree. Ex, the guy doing the Forbes ranking covers sports usually, BW has a deluge of puppy reporters with no clue of data or relevance as to what constitutes a real survey. The FT has Della Bradshaw who is clueless to the fact that programs game the salary aspect of the ranking which is where the weight is ( plus she plugs all the UK program which are pay to play).

    The degree used to be somewhat credible back in the day, once every Tom Dick and Harry school recognized that it is a money machine they turned it into Vegas without the Nevada Gaming Commission ! Now there are one year programs cause schools realize that oh it is a hassle for students to hang around for two years, you can get a master of science in pretty much anything. The AACSB frankly is a serious joke, they are just a body pimping the degree with standards so low that pretty much if a program is willing to pay they are in ( look at the list of accredited programs). The AACSB gig is membership and five year audit which members have to pay for to be ” accredited” by them, the audit is a joke. Write a book on the MBA, frankly I think someone like 60 minutes needs to do an investigation of the degree !

  • TWolff

    With all due respect to Stanford, which is a fantastic school, its acceptance rate is lower in part because it has much less competition on the west coast. Yale, Harvard, etc. all compete with schools in the same area. Stanford is much more isolated and gets a higher share of west coast applicants.

  • TWolff

    With all due respect to Stanford, which is a fantastic school, its acceptance rate is lower in part because it has much less competition on the west coast. Yale, Harvard, etc. all compete with schools in the same area. Stanford is much more isolated and gets a higher share of west coast applicants.

  • Xochimilco

    The ranking criteria w.r.t. acceptance rate seems a bit silly. Acceptance rate isn’t just a function of how good the law school is. It also reflects how many places there are in a class, the quality of the applicant pool to that school, how expensive the school is, etc. For example, a mediocre school w/very low tuition may be flooded with applications and have a low acceptance rate. That doesn’t make it a good school – it just means lots of people will apply to it b/c it’s cheap.

  • Alex

    GW 13? Alabama 16? Are you kidding???

  • Alex

    If GW were at 20 and Alabama around 22, the list of top 25 would make a lot more sense.

  • Alex

    The other problem is that 2013 admissions date being used for some schools (e.g., Minnesota, Cornell, NYU), while older 2012 data being used for other schools (like Alabama and GW, Georgia State). 2012 was a more competitive year for law school admission. Fundamentally flawed!

  • Alex

    Also Washington – they still have not officially released their numbers for 2013 entering class.

  • Logic Should Rule

    As others have stated, considering the acceptance rate is totally and absolutely bogus and is a variable that is absolutely irrelevant to the student’s experience at or after law school. In other words, remove it as a factor if you want this list to actually mean something.

  • D.W.

    Overall rankings are laden with value judgments. Just list objective numbers and let people sort according to what is most important to them. If people want to ID the best schools with respect to average LSAT, fine. If they prefer average salary or average salary versus average debt, fine. If they prefer bar passage rate, fine. If they prefer employment stats, fine. If they prefer racial diversity or library square footage, fine. Overall rankings are based on the premise that there is an objective measure of greatness that everyone agrees on. Of course, good luck getting fully truthful responses from the law schools as to the objective numbers.

  • NotTooBad

    Although I do think Georgia State is a fine law school, I understand that the quality of applicants, for the most part, at GSU are not the same as those who are applying to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc.

    That being said, I think that this misses the point. To compare Yale law to Georgia State law is not exactly comparing apples to apples, but I would argue that comparing Harvard las to Stanford Law is a bit the same.

    But I think the methodology is being overlooked. Nobody is saying Georgia State is a ‘better’ law school than Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, or NYU (not surprisingly, GSU is not ranked higher than any of those schools overall). But each school attracts a certain caliber of applicant. I highly doubt anybody (or very few) who applied to Harvard, Stanford and Yale also considered GSU.

    That being said… out of the pool of likely applicants to any school…. meaning students of the caliber that school is likely to have… Georgia State can be a little more selective. They may have a different tier of applicant than NYU does, but in THAT tier, GSU has a higher slice of general candidate.

    I think that does count for something. Ranking law schools is easy to do if you were just to lump them into 4 or maybe 5 large groups, (and in that system, i doubt anybody would put GSU in the same general group as Harvard, Yale or the other traditional top 15 schools) but to try to rank them so that one is 17 and one is 18… well, it is a little ridiculous.

    As a further note, I don’t think there is anything wrong with selecting a school based upon what you want to do. If you want to practice in a DA’s office in Atlanta, spending upwards of $200,000 to get a Columbia Law education MAY not be worth it…..you certainly don’t need a Columbia degree to get a job in an Atlanta DA’s office, and it would probably take you a couple of careers to pay off those loans. Obviously if you want to land a job in a New York City office of a top firm, GSU ain’t gonna help you (in most cases).

    So while it may not be perfect, the US News system isn’t either and this offers something. I guess the question really is…. outside of the most prestigious schools, and we all know which those are….. what is going on that is of value in different parts of the country?

    So, thanks for trying to address this in a different way…

    • Cogsys

      This explanation matches both my belief and my experience. People are rational, they go to the Law School that best meets their qualifications, history and targets.

      I was married with children, so I selected a school that had an evening program in the geographic area I wanted. Although my LSAT was good, my undergraduate history was….. ‘less than a Stanford, Yale, Harvard level’. Finally, I never expected to be GC of a Forbes 100 (at last an expectation I have fully met), but despite all this, I have had a very full and comfortable legal life.

      The problem with rankings is that students may go to a higher ranked school that is actually less appropriate for their personal goals than a lesser ranked school. I would encourage applicants to ‘think outside the box’ of our current ranking systems.

  • john

    This is the same asshat who posts stalkerish garbage on poetsandquants. seriously, you need a real job John.

  • john

    terrible

  • http://thpoe.com JT Orlando

    My law school alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, ranks 22 here and 19 in USN. Actually, that sounds about right. At least I can still say “top-25″ legitimately.

    • Sam Pryor

      I was so impressed when I visited it years ago and was told it was the Anheuser Busch School of Law…Great building I thought, but I doubted I’d use that name in interviews. Guess others agree?

  • Liam

    Law school is a VERY bad investment these days. Don’t attend if you have to finance your legal education through debt. Also, realize that law schools blatantly lie and mislead about their graduates’ employment prospects. How else would you get law students to sign up for $100-250,000 in loans than by promising $100-160,000 salaries?

    • Guest

      This is a very generic statement. Understanding how much debt one needs to borrow and what is required to be in a position to service that debt is critical. For example, being accepted to a top 25 program, finish in the top half of your class, and have good communication skills. Accomplish that and you will have no problem finding a position that will allow you to service the debt you accumulate during law school.

  • FStratford

    So this is a money ranking. I guess it has a value. Thing is there are still a ton of people out there who go to law school to make it big in the courts – as judges, not as corporate litigators. Plus, the prestige is still in clerkships.

  • disqus_391Rxz2RVq

    WHAT A JOKE!! I am a lawyer in Texas practicing law since 2002 grad. Back then after the DOT COM bubble, I went from a job being a lock to sending 200 resumes to find my first job. Now its so much worse. Most firms here are hiring students from top 50 schools for $50k to $80k to start. If that sounds like good money, imagine $200k in student loans, a car payment, no partnership track, $2,000 in yearly attorney taxes and CLE courses, often paying for 20k miles in gas expense on your own, parking expenses, and working 70 to 100 hours a week with ZERO chance to make partner since there are 4X more attorneys graduating than there are jobs.

  • Jim

    When I saw UNLV ranked #27 i knew not to take this seriously. Fordham with an average private practice salary of $138k at # 38 is also an outlier.

  • Peter Daines

    The acceptance rate shouldn’t count for 25%! A lot of people aren’t going to spend $100 and an hour or two applying to a school that they believe is too good for them, so the schools that people believe are harder to get into may have artificially higher acceptance rates when they are actually being MORE PICKY. Acceptance rates are somewhat random and haphazardly distributed through the law schools. They should count for very little if any of the ranking!

  • Pingback: Rankings Matter More Than Cost Of A JD | Tipping the Scales()

  • Pingback: The Good and Bad of Law School Rankings | Tipping the Scales()

Partner Sites: C-Change Media | Poets & Quants | Poets & Quants for Execs | | Poets & Quants for Undergrads