Above the Law Releases Employment-Focused Law School Rankings

By William Peacock, Esq. on April 30, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justice Samuel Alito thinks the U.S. News and World Report's Law School rankings are crap, in large part because of the publication's reliance on LSAT scores. "Law schools put too much emphasis on this one multiple choice test," he told the American Spectator in an interview. "What in life is a multiple choice test? But those rankings are very heavily influenced by LSAT scores."

Maybe, then, he'll be more impressed with Above the Law's law school rankings, which focus more on outcomes (quality employment), rather than incoming measures (the LSAT).

Let's take a look, shall we?

The Rankings

Don't be alarmed if these look a bit familiar:

  1. Yale (U.S. News - 1)
  2. Harvard (U.S. News - 2)
  3. Stanford (U.S. News - 3)
  4. Columbia (U.S. News - 4)
  5. Chicago (U.S. News - 4)
  6. NYU (U.S. News - 6)
  7. Duke (U.S. News - 10)
  8. Penn (U.S. News - 7)
  9. Virginia (U.S. News - 8)
  10. Michigan (U.S. News - 10)

Not much of a shakeup, is it? The thing about the U.S. News rankings is that they are a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially for the top-15 schools. U.S. News ranks them highly, employers and the public generally are influenced by the rankings, and U.S. News continues to rank them highly.

And Above the Law, which focuses on employment, ends up with nearly the same results, at least for the top schools.

The Surprises

Ever heard of New Mexico's law school? It's ranked a distant 72nd in the U.S. News rankings, yet placed at 22nd in Above the Law's rankings. Also, is Iowa better than UCLA Law? The latter ranks eleven spots higher on U.S. News' list, but one spot lower on ATL. SMU also got quite the bump as well, from 42 to 25.

Another shocker: despite Washington and Lee's employment woes, which caused a 17-spot drop in the U.S. News rankings, my dear alma mater somehow only dropped a single spot in ATL's employment-focused rankings.

Cali Woes

The TaxProf Blog points out that California continues to flounder. The state's high unemployment rate, for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, means ATL's employment-focused rankings are less favorable for Cali schools than the U.S. News rankings.

  • UC Berkeley (ATL 12, U.S. News 9)
  • UCLA (ATL 19, U.S. News 16)
  • USC (ATL 35, U.S. News 20)
  • UC Davis (ATL 42, U.S. News 36)

We'll be taking a closer look at Golden State school woes on our California Case Law blog next week. For now, let's hear your thoughts on the ATL rankings -- yay, nay, or meh?

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