November 04, 2005
The List
Posted by geoffrey manne

For all five of you following the fascinating dicsussion in the comments to this post, here's my list of the "top 30" general law reviews.  The list represents some combination (I can't remember the precise weighting) of the W&L Citation Study, Leiter's ranking, and the US News ranking, with Indiana and W&L thrown in by fiat (bringing the total to 32):

  1. Harvard
  2. Yale
  3. Columbia
  4. Stanford
  5. Michigan
  6. NYU
  7. Chicago
  8. Georgetown
  9. California
  10. Virginia
  11. Penn
  12. Texas
  13. Cornell
  14. Northwestern
  15. UCLA
  16. Duke
  17. Vanderbilt
  18. Minnesota
  19. Notre Dame
  20. Fordham
  21. Southern Cal.
  22. North Carolina
  23. Wm & Mary
  24. Emory
  25. Iowa
  26. Wash U.
  27. Boston U.
  28. Illinois
  29. Wisconsin
  30. George Wash.
  31. Indiana
  32. Washington & Lee

I don't necessarily vouch for the ordinal numbers -- I think Chicago is manifestly a higher status law review than NYU or Columbia, for example -- but this seems like a good stab at the totality of the top 30, and a pretty decent ordinal list, as well.  Doubtless one of the three of you still following this will disagree.  For kicks, here's the unadulterated W&L Citation Study list:

  1. Harvard
  2. Yale
  3. Columbia
  4. Stanford
  5. Michigan
  6. Fordham
  7. NYU
  8. Georgetown
  9. California
  10. Virginia
  11. Texas
  12. Cornell
  13. Chicago
  14. UCLA
  15. Vanderbilt
  16. Penn
  17. Minnesota
  18. Northwestern
  19. Wm & Mary
  20. Notre Dame
  21. North Carolina
  22. Duke
  23. Southern Cal.
  24. Indiana
  25. Cardozo
  26. Ohio State
  27. Arizona
  28. Colorado
  29. Tulane
  30. Emory
  31. Connecticut
  32. Wisconsin

I think this list really botches it at the bottom end. And, as Gordon points out, its ordinal numbering is also screwier (Chicago is 13? On what planet?).

So -- have at it.

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Comments (4)

1. Posted by David Zaring on November 4, 2005 @ 16:19 | Permalink

Okay, I'll start. I'm proud of my school, and the librarians who put this together. Seems like number of issues makes a big difference on number of citations.

2. Posted by geoff manne on November 4, 2005 @ 17:46 | Permalink

Me, too. When I said this list "botched it," I didn't mean to impugn the Citation Study in the slightest -- I'm sure it's accurate for what it is, and I find it very interesting. I meant only that as a guide to journal status, I don't think it's as suitable as my list (although it's obviously an important constituent part).

3. Posted by Gordon Smith on November 4, 2005 @ 21:21 | Permalink

I like your list, Geoff, probably because it tracks my priors very closely. Of course, my priors are importantly influenced by the inputs to your list, so it's not very surprising that I feel comfortable with it.

4. Posted by ms on January 2, 2006 @ 21:04 | Permalink

I think the top-ten on this list of 30 does not represent the revealed preferences of most professors. Those preferences are most accurately tracked by the expedite process in which professors "trade up" offers from one law review to the next. The pecking order in that process is surprisingly clear and stable over time. Harvard and Yale are at the top and there is little distinction between them in terms of placement prestige. Chicago, Stanford, and Columbia follow next. Virginia follows those three, with Michigan next (and perhaps tied, except that Michigan frequently fails to publish on time), and California and NYU a step down. I have never heard of a professor bargaining for a placement at NYU, California (or Georgetown) over Virginia.

What this top-30 ranking misses is that journals have reputations shaped by factors other than school affiliation and citation rankings. They are known for heavy or light editing, for publishing on time, for working well with authors (or not), etc. This helps to explain why journal rankings differ, sometimes significantly, from the school/citation proxies.

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