Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
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 ¶  Brian Leiter's Law Schools Ranked by Student (Numerical) Quality, 2007
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Writing Essays

Posted April 5, 2007; updated June 26, 2007

No feasible measure of student quality is particularly ideal, but LSAT scores are the best, crude proxy we have available. GPAs can be 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 are two rankings of the top 40 schools in terms of student quality as measured by, first, the 75th percentile LSAT (the top quarter) and, second, the 25th percentile (bottom quarter) for the class that entered in fall 2006. 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.” (How schools fare in placing their graduates in Supreme Court and appellate clerkships and law teaching jobs is also a good proxy for how strong the high end of the class is.) On the other hand, some believe the “bottom” of the class matters more.

Class size (rounded to the nearest 50) served as a tie breaker: the larger school with the same LSAT credentials was ranked higher. (Class size is for the day class only; schools with evening programs, usually have lower numerical admissions standards for those programs.) For Harvard to boast a 75th percentile LSAT of 175, higher than other top schools half its size, requires Harvard to recruit two to three times as many students as other top schools with those outstanding 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 half 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.

In both rankings, we have listed the corresponding percentile GPA. Since it is clear that some schools sacrifice GPA in order to boost LSAT, we have factored in GPA this year as follows: where schools are within 50 in class size, and have the same LSAT, a school with a GPA .1 or more higher than its peers is ranked first in that cluster. (Differences of .1 or more are probably significant, though one would still need to know more about the undergraduate schools and the student majors to make a fully informed comparison.) This was important for, among others, Stanford, which clearly weights GPA heavily in admissions.

Since some schools have much better (or much weaker) relative scores at the high end or the bottom end of the class, the first chart below reports just "the top 30" schools in terms of overall numerical student quality, based on an average of the school's performance in the second two charts.

I.  Top 30 in Terms of "Overall" Student Numerical Quality

Rank School Avg. Rank Based on 75th
and 25th Percentile Scores
1 Yale University 1
2 Harvard University 2
3 Columbia University 3
4 New York University 4.5
5 University of Chicago 5.5
6 Stanford University 6.5
7 Georgetown University (day class only) 7
8 University of Virginia 8
9 Northwestern University 9
10 University of Pennsylvania 9.5
11 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 10.5
12 Cornell University 13.5
  Duke University 13.5
14 University of California, Berkeley 15.5
15 Vanderbilt University 16.5
16 University of Southern California 17
17 University of California, Los Angeles 17.5
18 Fordham University 18.5
  University of Notre Dame 18.5
  University of Texas, Austin 18.5
21 University of Minnesota, Twin  Cities 20
22 George Washington University 21
23 Boston University 22.5
24 Boston College 25.5
  Washington University, St. Louis 25.5
26 Washington & Lee University 27
27 College of William & Mary 27.5
28 Emory University 28.5
29 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 29
30 Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University 30

II. Rank by 75th Percentile LSAT

Rank

School

LSAT

GPA

Approx. Class Size

1

Yale University

176

3.97

200

2

Harvard University

175

3.95

550

3

Columbia University

174

3.82

400

4

New York University

172

3.89

450

5

Stanford University

172

3.96

200

6

Northwestern University

172

3.80

250

7

University of Chicago

172

3.77

200

8

Georgetown University

171

3.82

450

9

University of Virginia

171

3.82

350

10

University of Pennsylvania

171

3.84

250

11

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

170

3.80

350

12

University of California, Los Angeles

169

3.80

300

13

University of California, Berkeley

169

3.89

250

14

Duke University

169

3.85

200

15

University of Texas, Austin

168

3.80

450

16

Cornell University

168

3.80

200

17

Fordham University

167

3.74

300

18

Vanderbilt University

167

3.88

200

19

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

167

3.74

250

20

University of Southern California

167

3.75

200

21

University of Notre Dame

167

3.84

150

22

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

167

3.71

200

23

Washington University, St. Louis

167

3.70

200

24

Washington & Lee University

167

3.73

150

25

George Washington University

166

3.81

500

26

Boston University

166

3.83

300

27

Boston College

166

3.76

300

28

College of William & Mary

166

3.84

200

 

University of Washington, Seattle

166

3.84

200

30

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

166

3.72

250

31

Emory University

166

3.69

250

32

Brigham Young University

166

3.80

150

33

George Mason University

166

3.78

150

34

University of Maryland

165

3.77

250

35

University of Alabama

165

3.83

150

36

University of Colorado, Boulder

165

3.75

150

37

Lewis & Clark College

165

3.63

200

38

University of California, Hastings

164

3.74

400

39

Chicago-Kent College of Law/Illinois
Institute of Technology

164

3.77

250

 

Indiana University, Bloomington

164

3.78

250

  University of Georgia 164 3.85 250

 

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

164

3.77

250

Runners-up: Brooklyn Law School (164 LSAT, 3.62 GPA, 300 students); University of San Diego (164 LSAT, 3.56 GPA, 250 students).

III. Rank by 25th Percentile LSAT

Rank

School

LSAT

GPA

Approx. class size

1

Yale University

170

3.83

200

2

Harvard University

169

3.72

550

3

Columbia University

169

3.51

400

4

University of Chicago

169

3.51

200

5

New York University

168

3.58

450

6

Georgetown University

167

3.49

450

7

University of Virginia

167

3.49

350

8

Stanford University

167

3.77

200

9

University of Pennsylvania

167

3.47

250

10

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

166

3.53

350

11

Cornell University

166

3.50

200

12

Northwestern University

166

3.40

250

13

Duke University

165

3.66

200

14

University of Southern California

165

3.47

200

15

Vanderbilt University

164

3.49

200

16

University of Notre Dame

164

3.28

150

17

George Washington University

163

3.45

500

18

University of California, Berkeley

163

3.65

250

19

Boston University

163

3.52

300

20

Fordham University

163

3.41

300

21

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

163

3.25

250

22

University of Texas, Austin

162

3.33

450

23

University of California, Los Angeles

162

3.44

300

24

Boston College

162

3.41

300

25

Brooklyn Law School

162

3.22

300

26

Emory University

162

3.30

250

27

College of William & Mary

162

3.33

200

28

Washington University, St. Louis

162

3.20

200

29

Washington & Lee University

162

3.28

150

30

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

161

3.23

250

31

Brigham Young University

161

3.40

150

32

Wake Forest University

161

3.19

150

33

University of Maryland

160

3.40

250

34

Villanova University

160

3.27

250

35

University of California, Davis

160

3.35

200

36 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 160 3.15
200

37

Loyola University, Chicago

160

3.21

150

38

George Mason University

160

3.10

150

39

Rutgers University, Camden

160

3.00

150

40

University of California, Hastings

159

3.41

400

Runners-up: Tulane University, (159 LSAT, 3.35 GPA, 300 students); Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (159 LSAT, 3.15 GPA, 350 students); Temple University (159 LSAT, 3.23 GPA, 250 students); University of San Diego (159 LSAT, 3.06 GPA, 250 students).

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