How Lawyers Rank Law Schools

by Jeff Schmitt on

2014 Overall Ranking

2015 Overall  Ranking

School

2014 Assessment Score – Lawyers and Judges

2015 Assessment Score – Lawyers and Judges

2015 Assessment Score Ranking

2015 Assessment Score Ranking Difference

1

1

Yale University

4.7

4.7

3

2

2

2

Harvard University

4.8

4.8

1

-1

2

2

Stanford University

4.7

4.8

1

-1

4

4

Columbia University

4.6

4.7

3

-1

4

4

University of Chicago

4.7

4.7

3

-1

6

6

New York University

4.6

4.5

6

0

7

7

University of Pennsylvania

4.6

4.4

11

4

7

8

University of Virginia

4.6

4.5

6

-2

9

9

University of California-Berkeley

4.4

4.5

6

-3

9

10

University of Michigan

4.7

4.6

6

-4

11

10

Duke University

4.5

4.5

6

-4

12

12

Northwestern University

4.4

4.4

11

-1

13

13

Cornell University

4.5

4.4

11

-2

14

13

Georgetown University

4.5

4.4

11

-2

15

15

University of Texas-Austin

4.3

4.1

15

0

15

16

Vanderbilt University

4.2

4.1

15

-1

17

16

UCLA

4.1

4.1

15

-1

19

18

Washington University (MO)

4.0

3.8

19

1

23

19

Emory University

3.9

3.8

19

0

18

20

USC

4.1

3.8

19

-1

19

20

University of Minnesota

4.0

3.7

24

4

21

20

George Washington University

3.9

3.7

24

4

Source: Tipping the Scales analysis based on U.S. News & World Report 2015 law school ranking

If you believe the lawyers and judges surveyed, Yale isn’t the top school after all, despite spending nearly a quarter century as U.S. News’ #1. That honor is shared by Harvard and Stanford, which scored a 4.8 median score against Yale’s 4.7. What’s more, Columbia University and the University of Chicago also notched a 4.7 average to tie them with Yale. However, Yale remained ranked higher than everyone (except Harvard) when it comes to the opinions of academics.

Among top 20 schools, only Stanford, Columbia and the University of California-Berkeley earned higher marks from the legal professions than the previous year. In fact, 13 of the 22 schools listed in the top 20 (there was a three-way tie at #20) saw their assessment score drop in the 2015 rankings. Overall, 61 of the schools in the top 100 (104 total due to a four-way tie at #100) received lower median scores than the previous year. This even included schools like Georgetown University, Washington University (MO), and Emory University, which moved up in the rankings.

For some schools, this may be just an anomaly. For example, Emory jumped four spots overall, despite experiencing a 0.1 point dip in its assessment score from legal professionals. In fact, Emory has climbed 11 spots since 2012, along with posting an above average 78.6% placement rate. And George Washington rose one spot, despite a 0.2 decline over the previous year.

Conversely, the University of Pennsylvania witnessed its ranking drop 4 places when it comes to lawyer assessments and 2 spots from academic assessments. Although the school maintained its #7 ranking, the market is definitely sending Penn a message from both ends.

Overall, the top schools didn’t see a drastic drop between their overall rank and how legal professionals score them.

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  • Order_of_the_Coitus

    Avoid law school like the plague!!! That is, unless $200,000+ of non-dischargeable student loan debt, no job, and living in your parents’ basement is your idea of fun. Law school is a scam.

    • Billunc84

      your name says it all.

  • T

    No Fordham? Odd.

    • Jeff-Schmitt

      Hi, T. Thanks for writing. Good question. I didn’t include Fordham as its overall rank (#36) was nearly identical to its survey rank (#37). Fordham received a 3.5 score from legal professionals, down from a 3.6 score it received in last year’s U.S. News survey.

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