Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings

 ¶  How Students Should Use This Information
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The scholarly quality of the faculty is obviously only one factor for prospective students to consider.  It is certainly a very important factor for anyone who takes the education part of "legal education" at all seriously, and it may be the decisive factor for those interested in pursuing careers in law teaching.

— Brian Leiter  

Other important factors for students to consider certainly include: 

  1. Teaching quality of the faculty.  This, alas, is far harder to measure.  Princeton Review surveys of student satisfaction with teaching consistently give fairly high marks to some schools:  University of Chicago; University of Texas, Austin; University of Virginia; Cornell University; Boston University; Emory University; Washington & Lee University; University of Notre Dame; among others.  But these surveys can hardly be considered authoritative, and students are well-advised to talk to students at any schools they are considering.  Do keep in mind that while some first-rate legal minds are not good teachers, it is impossible, at least in the more demanding subjects, for a weak intellect to be a genuinely good teacher.  The intellectual quality of the faculty is a necessary, but plainly not sufficient, condition for good teaching.

  2. The quality of the student body.  Much learning in law school takes place from your peers.  LSATs and GPAs provide one rough measure of student quality, though 75th and 25th percentile measures may not give an accurate picture of how strong the top end of a very large school is, or how weak their bottom end is.  A ranking of schools based on numerical credentials can be found on this site.

    This ranking is slightly dated, but changes in the interim are only slight.  This data will be updated, in any case, in the near future.

  3. Job placement and professional opportunities.  The data on employment reported to U.S. News & World Report by law schools should be viewed as basically self-serving fiction.  Of course, like most fiction, it has elements of truth.  But since U.S. News has no way to verify the accuracy of the data, and since the schools have huge incentives to inflate it, you should approach that data with caution.  Two better sources of information on job placement and professional opportunities are:

    1. A list of the employers who interview on-campus, which most schools should provide upon request.  Dramatic differences between schools-especially between those that are really national and those that claim to be-will turn up here.  National schools will have major legal employers from legal markets around the country recruiting on campus.  Less national schools will have on-campus interview lists dominated by local or regional legal employers.

    2. All law school report data on employment to the National Association of Law Placement (NALP).  Ask to see the NALP data.  Schools that may "exaggerate" with U.S. News are less likely to mislead NALP.  NALP collects and organizes the data somewhat differently than U.S. News, but read carefully, it still provides much useful information.

  4. Curriculum and special programs.  If you have particular intellectual interests or particular professional goals, make sure the schools you're considering will meet them.  In some cases, the rankings by faculty quality in the specialty areas will provide useful information on this score.  A school with a strong faculty in, e.g., international and comparative law, will undoubtedly have good offerings in those areas.
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