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Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Reworked Rankings

There has been a bit of nervousness and a few worried discussion about MULS dropping out of the top 100 in the US News and World Report law school rankings. I've never put much stock in the rankings to begin with, so I'm not feverishly trying to transfer or anything. Via the ELS blog, Marquette Law Professor J. Gordon Hylton has used the same data to rework the list in this, "The US News and World Report Rankings Without the Clutter." Professor Hylton thinks that many of the categories used by US News are ambiguous and unhelpful when trying to determine the quality of a law school.
Grade point average depends on undergraduate institution and major; assessment by lawyers and judges is usually just blind guessing; acceptance rates are a function of the applicant pool and subject to manipulation; employment statistics are affected by local and regional market conditions; and bar passage rates are a function of how rigorously the exam is graded and the composition of the pool of bar takers.
The revised list makes the best use of the available data, but even the helpful data like the peer assessment could be improved upon.

I will never understand the reliance on the US News list anyway. Once you get beyond the top schools, there is very little difference in the overall quality. The differences are in the distinct programs and areas of specialization that the schools have. The updated composite scores in Professor Hylton's list show that there is quite a plateau once you get to the second quartile.

As an aside, Professor Hylton also knows more about baseball history than any other human being on the planet. The guy is a walking almanac.

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