Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
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 ¶  Brian Leiter's Rankings of Law Schools by Student Quality, 2006
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No feasible measure of student quality is particularly ideal, but LSAT scores are the best, crude proxy we have available. GPAs are hard to compare, without knowing about the undergraduate institutions the students are coming from, and the courses of study they pursued. It would be useful to know about students in the incoming class with advanced degrees, or high quality work experience, but such data is not available, nor is it easily comparable. Class size is a further factor complicating comparisons, since the midpoint of 500 is not like the midpoint of 200, though each provides pertinent information.

Below is a ranking of the top 40 schools in terms of student quality as measured by the 75th percentile LSAT (the top quarter) for the class that entered in fall 2005. When the ABA publishes the official median LSAT data, this ranking will be updated to include that as well. Many academics and admissions officers, to be sure, favor 75th percentile rankings, because they do not penalize schools for “alternative admissions” procedures which may drag down the numerical credentials of the bottom end of the class. Others point out that the number of “top students” is more important than the “average.” On the other hand, some believe the average or median matters more.

In the ranking by 75th percentile LSAT, we have also listed the 75th percentile GPA, though it was not factored into the ranking. But dramatic differences in GPA between schools with comparable 75th percentile LSATs are probably significant—certainly one can infer pretty clearly from the data, below, which schools are fishing for high LSAT scores, at the expense of GPA (cf. Illinois, Emory, Wake Forest, and San Diego).

Class size (rounded to the nearest 50) served as a tie breaker: the larger school with the same LSAT credentials was ranked higher. For Harvard to boast a 75th percentile LSAT of 176, higher even than Yale, requires Harvard to recruit nearly three times as many students as Yale with those credentials. That speaks both to Harvard’s attractiveness, and to the existence at Harvard of an enormous pool of highly credentialed students, a fact, needless to say, that prospective employers register. The Fordham student body, with a 75th percentile LSAT of 167, is clearly a stronger student body than Washington & Lee, with the same 75th percentile LSAT, but one third as many students. There are more complicated statistical techniques for making comparisons between fractions of differently sized groupings, but the tie-breaker device is, we thought, the easiest to understand and involves the least intrusive manipulation of the data.

Ranking by 75th Percentile LSAT for 2006

Rank

School

75th
Percentile
LSAT

75th
Percentile
GPA

Class Size

1

Harvard University

176

3.92

550

2

Yale University

175

3.95

200

3

Columbia University

173

3.80

400

4

New York University

172

3.89

400

5

University of Chicago

172

3.80

200

6 Stanford University 172 3.96 150

7

University of Virginia

171

3.83

350

8

University of Pennsylvania

171

3.85

250

9

Northwestern University

171

3.78

200

10

Georgetown University

170

3.80

450

11

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

169

3.78

350

12

University of California, Berkeley

169

3.90

250

 

University of California, Los Angeles

169

3.82

250

14

Duke University

169

3.86

200

15

University of Texas, Austin

168

3.83

450

16

Cornell University

168

3.80

200

17

Fordham University

167

3.76

300

18

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

167

3.70

250

 

Washington University, St. Louis

167

3.78

250

20

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

167

3.66

200

 

University of Southern California

167

3.78

200

 

Vanderbilt University

167

3.85

200

23

University of Notre Dame

167

3.78

150

24

Washington & Lee University

167

3.79

100

25

George Washington University

166

3.80

400

26

Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University

166

3.72

300

27

Boston College

166

3.79

250

 

Boston University

166

3.77

250

29

Brigham Young University

166

3.86

150

 

Wake Forest University

166

3.62

150

31

George Mason University

166

3.83

100

32

Emory University

165

3.63

250

33

College of William & Mary

165

3.80

200

34 University of Washington, Seattle 165 3.84 150

35

Baylor University

165

3.92

100

36

University of California, Hastings 164 3.69 350

37

Brooklyn Law School

164

3.64

300

38

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

164

3.84

250

 

University of San Diego

164

3.54

250

40

Indiana University, Bloomington

164

3.72

200

 

Lewis & Clark College / Northwestern School of Law

164

3.65

200

 

Ohio State University

164

3.72

200

 

Southern Methodist University

164

3.86

200

 

University of California, Davis

164

3.79

200

  University of Florida 164 3.86 200
 

University of Georgia

164

3.80

200

 

University of Maryland

164

3.76

200

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