Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
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 ¶  2010 Ranking of Student Bodies By Numerical Quality
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Writing Essays

Ranking of Top 40 Law Schools by Student (Numerical) Quality 2010

June 1, 2010

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 full-time class that entered in fall 2009.  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.  (For estimating class size, both full-time and part-time student enrollment were counted.)  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 both rankings, 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 (or are only .5 apart in LSAT), the school with a GPA 0.1 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.)   

It bears repeating that it would be a mistake to take small ordinal differences as meaning anything at all:  there are too many variables unrelated to strength of the student body  that could easily explain them.  No doubt the student body is stronger on average at #3 than #23, and at #23 than at #39, but a student would be foolish to choose between #3 and #6 on the basis of their ordinal placement here (or between  #23 and #28, and so on).

 

Rank by Average of 75th/25th LSAT (with some adjustment for GPA and class size)

Rank

School

Avg. LSAT

Avg. of the 75th/25th GPA

Approx Class Size

1

Harvard University

173.5

3.86

550

2

Yale University

173.0

3.89

200

3

Columbia University

172.5

3.71

400

4

New York University

171.0

3.72

450

5

University of Chicago

171.0

3.74

200

6

Stanford University

169.5

3.87

150

7

Duke University

169.0

3.72

200

8

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

168.5

3.71

350

9

University of Pennsylvania

168.5

3.74

250

10

Georgetown University

169.0

3.61

450

11

Northwestern University

169.0

3.61

250

12

University of Virginia

168.0

3.73

350

13

University of California, Berkeley

167.5

3.82

250

14

University of California, Los Angeles

166.5

3.73

300

15

Cornell University

166.5

3.65

200

 

Vanderbilt University

166.5

3.68

200

17

University of Texas, Austin

166.0

3.71

450

18

University of Southern California

166.0

3.59

200

19

George Washington University

165.5

3.64

400

20

Boston University

165.5

3.67

300

21

Emory University

166.0

3.53

250

22

Boston College

165.0

3.55

300

23

University of Notre Dame

165.0

3.55

150

24

Fordham University

164.5

3.56

300

25

Washington University, St. Louis

164.5

3.55

200

26

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

164.0

3.58

250

27

College of William & Mary

163.5

3.60

200

 

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

163.5

3.55

200

29

University of California, Hastings

163.0

3.60

400

30

University of Georgia

163.0

3.60

250

31

University of Washington, Seattle

163.0

3.64

200

32

Washington & Lee University

163.5

3.53

150

33

Brigham Young University

162.5

3.71

150

34

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

162.5

3.55

300

35

University of Maryland, Baltimore

162.5

3.44

300

36

University of Colorado, Boulder

162.5

3.60

150

37

University of California, Davis

162.5

3.48

200

38

Tulane University

162.0

3.56

250

39

University of Alabama

162.0

3.61

150

40

Pepperdine University

161.5

3.61

250

 

Runner-up for the top 40

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Law School

161.5

3.44

300

 

Wake Forest University

162.0

3.45

150

 

Villanova University

161.5

3.40

250

 

 


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