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The Best Law Schools In The World

It was really only a matter of time. Considering how obsessive some media and lawyers can be about rankings, it was bound to happen. And now we have it. The best law schools in the world have been ranked. QS Top Universities, a service that ranks schools worldwide, did the rankings.
Before examining the methodologies, let’s go ahead and get to the results. The top law school in the world, according to QS Top Universities is Harvard Law School. The second best is Cambridge, followed by Oxford. The United States has the next three schools with Yale, New York University and Stanford in the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Rounding out the top ten are London School of Economics and Political Science, Melbourne, UC-Berkeley and Columbia.
Amazingly, the United States has six universities represented in the top 10—three of which come from the Ivy League. Two other American schools made the top 25 as Chicago came in 12th and Georgetown came in 24th.
Interestingly, Harvard beat both Yale and Stanford in this ranking. This is likely because of Harvard’s brand name and the methodology of the rankings.
So, how were these rankings put together? It was based on three broad categories. They are academic reputation, employer reputation and research citations per paper.
For academic reputation, 85,062 academics from around the world were asked to specify their area of expertise and country and then list up to 10 domestic and 30 international schools they thought were the best (excluding their own). QS then filtered the results into subject areas.
The employer reputation was used in the same way. There were 41,910 employers worldwide who ranked the top 10 schools in their country and top 30 international, again in their area of expertise. The universities with greater recognition attached to their names will naturally float to the top (see Harvard).
The final category, research citations for paper, is a little more convoluted and questionable. The premise seems like a good idea. However, it might just be too much. QS used research citations database, Scopus to find papers published from the different schools and then finds how many times they have been cited to measure “impact.”
They give a broad explanation here: “A minimum publication threshold has been set for each subject to avoid potential anomalies stemming from small numbers of highly cited papers. Both the minimum publications threshold and the weighting applied to the citations indicator are adapted in order to best reflect prevalent publication and citation patterns in a given discipline.”
Obviously, there are some questions on data points used. Does it really matter what academics from half way around the world feel about your school? The same goes with employers. And while publishing is important for some disciplines, some have argued the focus on publishing instead of practical and experiential learning is one of the issues currently in legal education.
The top ten law schools in the world according to QS:

  1. Harvard
  2. Cambridge
  3. Oxford
  4. Yale
  5. New York University
  6. Stanford
  7. London School of Economics and Political Science
  8. Melbourne
  9. UC-Berkeley
  10. Columbia

Other top performing American law schools:

  • Chicago (12)
  • Georgetown (24)
  • Michigan (28)
  • Pennsylvania (29)
  • Cornell (31)
  • UCLA (32)
  • Duke (39)
  • Virginia (47)

Source: Above the Law and World University