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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chronicle Article on U.S. News Law Rankings

There is an article in today's Chronicle of Higher Education on a recently released study of the U.S. News law rankings in the American Journal of Sociology (which Paul Caron blogged about here).  Among the most amusing parts of the Chronicle's story is the following quote from an anonymous law school administrator (and U.S. News voter):

Well, hell, I get the rankings, and I get 184 schools to rank. I know about [this school], something about [that school], I know about [my school] obviously, and I've got some buddies here and there so I feel like I know something more about some of those schools. But beyond that, guess what, I'm basing these decisions on the rankings; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anonymous administrator, please identify yourself!

Posted by Geoffrey Rapp on September 6, 2007 at 11:10 AM | Permalink


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What kind of a dingbat would work for Wachtell or Cravath?

Posted by: ataslat | Sep 10, 2007 9:14:31 PM

I couldn't believe the audacity of Anonymous who posted at 1:13:53 pm. What do you mean by "GOOD job"? Get out of the kiddie pool.....

Posted by: Nona | Sep 10, 2007 12:46:20 AM

I've never seen a blog post where I have disagreed so strongly with so many commenters. To Anon: That's great, but just take a glance at the median salary chart posted here a few days ago and you can see that most of your classmates are missing out. Education at a Tier 1 school is not inherently better than at a Tier 4, but they are certainly different. To Anonymous: Congrats to you too, but don't be so quick to pat you and your classmates on the back. The Tier 1 grads at Kirkland are among the least likely to be happy in their jobs and make partner at their firm. To Anon (the second): Of course you do, one of those schools is called Yale. Also, you're hiring incoming 2Ls. 2Ls are practically embryonic lawyers. You'd be a fool to base your hiring decisions on grades. BTW...why is it that every elite law school attendee I meet insists on how he only associates with "salt of the earth" types. How many of those are there at Yale anyway?

Posted by: ANONYMOUS | Sep 9, 2007 8:56:21 PM

^^^^ That's garbage. I'm at biglaw and we don't look anywhere near the bottom 75% of any school. I also attended a perennial Top 10 school and never heard anyone suggest ignoring my grades in favor of learning for the intellectual pursuit itself. Of course, I sought out pragmatists and ignored silver spooners with false senses of entitlement.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 9, 2007 7:07:57 PM

Congratulations on being there at a Tier 4 school with "one of those elusive 160K/year big firm jobs" -- however, the only reason it's so elusive for you is precisely because you're at a Tier 4 school. Chances are you also had to work your ass off to get to the top of your class at that Tier 4 school. At Tier 1 schools, we are explicitly told not to worry about our grades, and to learn for the intellectual pursuit itself. And frankly, it's true. Even those at the bottom of my class have jobs lined up at the Wachtells and Cravaths.

Don't be amazed by the number of students who think that no one else in the country besides themselves will ever find a decent job, because you've clearly misinterpreted what they "think." They simply think that nobody can find a GOOD job as easily as they can. Don't be bitter.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 9, 2007 1:13:53 PM

People who rely on those rankings make a self-fulfilling prophecy out of their own careers also. I'm amazed at the number of students on law discussion boards who attend Tier 1 schools and think that no one else in the country besides themselves will ever find a decent job. Yet here I am at a Tier 4 school with one of those elusive 160K/year big firm jobs waiting for me when I graduate. Rankings reflect nothing more than what some people "think" of the school; it has nothing to do with the actual value of the education a student receives there. Why are we told in every other area of life that what other people think doesn't matter, but when it comes to law school, we're supposed to let this list make our decisions for us?

Posted by: Anon | Sep 8, 2007 11:16:29 PM

I've never voted, but I think someone faced with such a poll may think: "I have no idea about how the schools really rate, but I should at least help out places where I have a friend" (or who have done me a favor, invited me to speak, etc.) So perhaps the best way of gaining in reputation is to have a gregarious faculty that befriends the raters, or invites them to speak.

I suppose the rankings people would defend the system with the idea that the large number of rankers makes errors or biases cancel out. But I have little faith in Condorcet's Theorem, and even less faith in its plausible application here, since we have so little independent measure of what a "correct outcome" should be.

Posted by: Frank | Sep 7, 2007 11:14:01 PM

The direct bribes won't come until after the law school moves to Florida. T$M isn't sinking any more money into Michigan, but Florida is his baby, so hang on another coupla years. You know what I'm talkin' about.

Posted by: Boko Fittleworth | Sep 7, 2007 5:39:25 PM

In all honesty, that quote could come from pretty much any voter. This will be my third straight year getting two votes in the faculty "reputation" poll (because I'm chair of appointments and most recently tenured at my school). While I initially tried to think of some way to do a responsible job assigning even 1-5 rankings to 184 schools, I couldn't come up with any way to do it (without turning the process into a full-time job in and of itself).

So, in the disappointing absence of direct bribes, I'm left esssentially doing what the anonymous administrator says s/he does. And I'm quite sure I'm not the only one.

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Sep 7, 2007 9:14:30 AM

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