May 01, 2013
ATL's Law School Ranking
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

A perspicacious reader tipped me off that Above the Law has a new top law school list out.  A few miscellaneous thoughts.

1. Does the world really need another law school ranking system?  ATL says what differentiates its methodology is an emphasis on outputs, not inputs. It has a nifty graphic rejecting traditional inputs like entering students' LSAT scores and GPAs in favor of "real law jobs, quality full time positions, school costs, and alumni satisfaction."  OK, I kind of get that.  Measuring outputs in general is the holy grail for law schools, something everyone wants to do but no one quite knows how to do.  

 2. How exactly do those outputs get measured and weighted? Here's the breakdown (again, go to ATL for the graphic)

  • 7.5% SCOTUS Clerks (adjusted for the size of the school)
  • 7.5% Active Federal Judges (currently sitting article III, adjusted for the size of the school)
  • 10% ATL Alumni Rating (nonpublic, a product of the ATL insider survey)
  • 15% Education Cost (total cost, adjusting the score in some cases for cost of living)
  • 30% Employment Score (counting full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage, excluding solo practitioners and school-funded positions)
  • 30% Quality Jobs score (placement with NLJ 250 firm plus federal clerkships) 

3. How did my school do?  Well, Georgia Law does well--many of you might think remarkably well.  I'm less surprised for two reasons.  First, Georgia looks pretty good according to these output measures:

  • We are cheap.  Georgia residents pay $16,506.  (Non-residents pay more than twice that, but qualify for resident status after a year.)
  • We have sent 6 graduates to the Supreme Court in the past 9 years.
  • Although this market has been brutal, I think our students have fared relatively well, especially because their relatively low debt burden gives them more flexibility in choice of job.
  • Our alumni have an almost cult-like love of the school.  

And second, just as most CEOs will tell you their stock is undervalued, probably most professors probably think their schools are undervalued.  Admittedly I bring some bias to the table!

Here are the top 20 (see here for the full 50):

1 Yale Law
2 Stanford Law
3 Harvard Law School
4 University of Chicago Law
5 University of Pennsylvania Law
6 Duke Law
7 University of Virginia Law
8 Columbia Law
9 University of California, Berkeley
10 New York University
11 Cornell Law School
12 University of Michigan
13 Northwestern Law
14 University of Texas at Austin
15 Vanderbilt Law
16 Georgetown Law
17 University of California, Los Angeles
18 University of Notre Dame Law
19 University of Georgia Law
20 University of Southern California, Gould

 h/t Haskell Murray

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