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Legal Education Concept - Magnifying Glass.The 10 Most Underrated Law Schools


Just when you thought there couldn’t be another way of ranking law schools, Bloomberg Businessweek goes and publishes  another ranking. We can almost guarantee this one is a list of schools that you will not find atop many other rankings. The reason? This ranking is a list of the most underrated law schools based on some data crunching by a law professor and the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

University of North Carolina law professor, Alfred Brophy, published a newfangled set of rankings earlier this week that boiled the methodology down to three factors—employment outcomes, Law School Admissions Test results, and the “number of citations a law school receives.” Brophy told Bloomberg Businessweek his rankings measure a law school’s true worth—its ability to prepare its students for the legal profession.

“What this ranking does is reveal how careful students need to be, especially in looking at employment outcomes,” Brophy told Bloomberg Businessweek. “The job market is so incredibly competitive coming out of law school, you want to make sure you are going to the best school and getting the best value for your money.”

Brophy then compared his list to the U.S. News rankings and looked for the schools that had the largest positive differential. Bloomberg Businessweek published the results that were based solely on LSAT scores and employment rates (Brophy published a section that did not include citations).

At the top is the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is unranked by the U.S News, and had a plus 42 difference. In fact, only two schools ranked in the U.S. News top 100 are included in Brophy’s top 10 (Louisiana State University ranked 8th by Brophy and 94th by U.S. News and Villanova University ranked 10th by Brophy and 87th by U.S. News).

Rounding out the top five were Drexel University (plus 40), the University of Montana (plus 40), Mercer University (plus 37), and the University of South Dakota (plus 34), respectively. The employment outcomes Brophy used were from the 2014 reports but only included jobs that were full-time and required a J.D. and bar passage—excluding many university-funded jobs.

But what about the schools that do really well in U.S. News, but less-than-stellar in Brophy’s rankings? Or, the most overrated schools? Atop that list is Santa Clara University with a whopping negative 57 differential. American (negative 53), Michigan State (negative 44), Arkansas-Fayetteville (negative 39), Pepperdine (negative 39), and Marquette (negative 39) rounded out the top five most overrated schools.

The top 10 law schools based on 2014 employment numbers and median LSAT scores:

  1. Harvard
  2. Columbia
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Stanford
  5. Chicago
  6. NYU
  7. Duke
  8. Cornell
  9. Virginia
  10. UC-Berkeley

The 10 most underrated schools based on the two above factors:

  1. Campbell (plus 42)
  2. Drexel (plus 40)
  3. Montana (plus 40)
  4. Mercer (plus 37)
  5. South Dakota (plus 34)
  6. Albany (plus 30
  7. Idaho (plus 29
  8. Louisiana State (plus 29)
  9. Northern Illinois (plus 29)
  10. Villanova (plus 26)

The 10 most overrated schools based on the above two factors:

  1. Santa Clara (negative 57)
  2. American (negative 53)
  3. Michigan State (negative 44)
  4. Arkansas-Fayetteville (negative 39)
  5. Pepperdine (negative 39)
  6. Marquette (negative 39)
  7. Oregon (negative 36)
  8. UC-Hastings (negative 35)
  9. Connecticut (negative 34)
  10. San Francisco (negative 33)

Source: Businessweek