Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
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 ¶  Ranking of Top 40 Law Schools by Student (Numerical) Quality 2008
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Writing Essays

Posted April 6, 2008

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 is a ranking of the top 40 schools in terms of student quality as measured by the average of the 75th and 25th percentile LSAT scores for the class that entered in fall 2007. Many academics and admissions officers, to be sure, favor 75th percentile rankings only, 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 an average LSAT higher than schools half its size, like Stanford and Chicago, 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. There are, to be sure, 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 the ranking, we have listed the corresponding average 75th/25th GPA. Since it is clear that some schools sacrifice GPA in order to boost LSAT, we have factored in GPA as follows: where schools are within 100 in class size, and have the same LSAT, a school with a GPA 0.1 or more higher than its peers is ranked first in that cluster. (Differences of 0.1 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.

Rank by Average of 75th/25th LSAT

Rank

School

Avg. of the 75th/25th
LSAT

Avg. of the 75th/25th GPA

Approx.
Class Size

1

Yale University

173.5

3.870

200

2

Harvard University

172.5

3.850

550

3

Columbia University

171.5

3.685

400

4

New York University

171.0

3.700

450

5 University of Chicago 171.0 3.625 200

6

Stanford University

169.5

3.845

200

7

Georgetown University

169.0

3.630

450
(day class only)

8

University of Virginia

169.0

3.690

350

9

Northwestern University

169.0

3.600

250

10

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

168.5

3.640

350

11

University of Pennsylvania

168.5

3.690

250

12

Duke University

168.5

3.715

200

13

Cornell University

167.0

3.660

200

14

University of California, Berkeley

166.5

3.770

250

15

University of California, Los Angeles

166.0

3.695

300

16

Vanderbilt University

166.0

3.685

200

17

University of Southern California

166.0

3.590

200

18

George Washington University

165.5

3.630

500

19

University of Texas, Austin

165.5

3.590

450

20

University of Notre Dame

165.5

3.580

150

21

Boston University

165.0

3.660

300

 

Fordham University

165.0

3.575

300
(day class only)

23

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

165.0

3.530

250

24

Washington University, St. Louis

165.0

3.500

200

25

Brigham Young University

164.5

3.690

150

26

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

164.0

3.500

250

 

Emory University

164.0

3.550

250

28

Washington & Lee University

164.0

3.530

150

29

Boston College

163.5

3.590

300

30 Brooklyn Law School 163.5 3.400 300

 

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

163.5

3.490

200

32

University of Maryland, Baltimore

163.0

3.655

250

33

University of California, Hastings

162.5

3.550

400

34

College of William & Mary

162.5

3.630

200

35

George Mason University

162.5

3.495

150

 

University of Alabama

162.5

3.575

150

 

University of Colorado, Boulder

162.5

3.580

150

38 Wake Forest University 162.5 3.425 150
39 Temple University 162.0 3.560 250
  University of Georgia 162.0 3.640 250
  Runners-Up for the Top 40
(listed alphabetically)

 

American University

162.0

3.395

350

 

University of California, Davis

162.0

3.565

200

  University of Connecticut, Hartford 162.0 3.440 150
  University of San Diego 162.0 3.315 250
 

University of Washington, Seattle

162.0

3.545

200

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