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Which Law Schools Outrank the Undergraduate Institutions With Which They're Affiliated?

Paul Caron has the data, based on the U.S. News rankings.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Which Law Schools Rank Below the Undergraduate Institutions with Which They're Affiliated?
  2. Which Law Schools Outrank the Undergraduate Institutions With Which They're Affiliated?
justwonderingby:
Come on EV, do we really need anymore talk of the US Rankings?
11.15.2007 8:20am
Hoosier:
McGeorge isn't on the list?

Surprises me.
11.15.2007 8:33am
Ted Frank (www):
Given that many top universities--e.g., MIT, Cal Tech, Princeton--do not have law schools, it is not especially notable that a law school outranks the undergraduate institution with which it is affiliated. It is far more notable if the law school doesn't outrank its affiliated undergraduate institution.
11.15.2007 9:16am
not a tax lawyer (mail):
Ted, that's just brilliant logic.
11.15.2007 9:57am
OrinKerr:
Come on EV, do we really need anymore talk of the US Rankings?

Actually, I found those numbers really interesting, as well as Ted Frank's comment about them. Justwonderingby, did you not find them interesting, or is it just that anything on the general topic of U.S. News rankings is objectionable to you?
11.15.2007 10:45am
PLR:
Georgia State's law school (?) is apparently ranked a little better than DePaul's. Congrats to the Panthers!
11.15.2007 10:49am
JosephSlater (mail):
Ah, I knew I had something in common with some of the Conspirators.
11.15.2007 11:05am
frankcross (mail):
Well, I would presume that many lower ranked colleges also lack law schools, which would counteract the MIT, etc. effect. To know the effect, you would have to know the relative distribution. My guess is that universities without law schools would tend to show up both at the top and at the bottom, and less so in the middle. But that's just a guess

The potentially uneven distribution of colleges without law schools would inevitably distort the percentages in some way. To really understand this phenomenon, you would first have to exclude all schools without law schools, and then do the relative comparison.
11.15.2007 11:31am
Wahoowa:
Ted:

He did the ranking based on percentiles, not actual numerical ranking. That should do address what you think is a flaw in the comparison, at least to some extent (although, perhaps not entirely if there is some reason to believe the ratio of national universities w/o law schools to ones w/ is disproportionately higher in the higher ranks)
11.15.2007 11:33am
Randy R. (mail):
Ranking large universities on their undergrad programs doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Where I went to school. the English department was tops on the country, as was the geography school, yet others were quite middling. So do they just average that out?

What would be surprising is if you look at all the difference departments of a school, both grad and undergrad and find all of them strangely ranked the same. THAT would be fishy!
11.15.2007 11:50am
uh clem (mail):

This is about as useful as a list of restaurants whose steak is more highly rated than it's seafood. Who cares? If you want steak, go to a place that makes good steak. If you want seafood, go where the fish is good. If you want both, pick a place where they do both well.

"Their steak is mediocre, but it's a lot better than their fish." is a terrible reason to choose a steakhouse.
11.15.2007 12:22pm
Sean M:
One comment to note is that the two Rutgers -- Rutgers - Newark and Rutgers - Camden, may have law schools ranked higher than their "associated" undergraduate campuses, but that's not quite the right measure for those two schools. Rutgers - New Brunswick, which is the "premier" undergraduate campus in the Rutgers system has no law school, while Rutgers - Camden and Rutgers - Newark are not as well regarded.

The more appropriate comparison is between Rutgers - Newark and Camden Law Schools and Rutgers - New Brunswick undergraduate.
11.15.2007 12:46pm
Hoosier:
"Ranking large universities on their undergrad programs doesn't seem to make a lot of sense."

Randy: Uh-oh! You've raised an issue that gets me going.

I am a Notre Dame alumnus. ND ranks in the bottom of the "USNWR Top Twenty" for national universities. We are in a forver-rotating dance with Rice, Vandy, and Emory for #s 17-20.

So the ND admin makes a big deal of the Top-Twenty status. (I'll give them some slack: Anyone would do so in the current climate of academia.) But we are not a large state university. So we have a couple advantageson the undergrad-ranking level: First, we can reject large numbers of applicants, and demand high SATs from those who want admission; second, we can charnge BIG BUCKS to attend.

The first of those bumps us way up in the rankings, since we are "most selective." The second allows us to SPEND much more per pupil than most other universitties. This, too, boosts us in the rankings.

As a result, USNWR ranks us ABOVE Michigan, Berkeley, UVa, and UNC. Does this make any sense to anyone? The faculty are incredibly smug about the status of the institution. But our programs in science would rank third IN THE STATE OF INDIANA, if anyone judged things that way. And who would want to compare our English, Music, Languages, History, etc. Departments to IU's? Let alone U of M's?

Lots of people complain about the rankings, attacking the selection criteria and so forth. And the response tends to be: Ha, you just don't like your alma mater's low rank. Well, you heard it here first: My university is really, really good at some things. And quite strong at many. But it ain't Michigan or Berkeley; or even Wisconsin--one of the most under-rated research universities in the US. And any ranking system that says it's BETTER than the great public institutions is showing itself to be a less-interesting version of People Magazine.

Also Sprach Hoosier
11.15.2007 1:01pm
Hoosier:
Oh, and GO IRISH!
11.15.2007 1:06pm
neurodoc:
This is about as useful as a list of restaurants whose steak is more highly rated than it's seafood.
Right. I want to see law school ranking versus national ranking of the school's football and/or basketball teams. (Perhaps too much year-to-year variability in football/basketball rankings, whereas law school rankings change much more gradually. So, how about a comparision of 5- or 10-year average ranking of law school versus sports teams?) I'm sure some insights would come from such a comparison, though I have no idea what they would be. But give us the data and with a bit of time, we will find meaning in it somewhere/somehow.
11.15.2007 1:26pm
loki13 (mail):
neurodoc,

I am guessing that in your proposal, UF wouldn't do so well.

Last year:
Football #1
BBall #1
UnderGrad: #49
Law: #47

...uhhh, I blame USNWR systematic gatorism. And Joakim Noah.
11.15.2007 1:51pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think I'd like to see each school's law school ranking alongside its football team ranking, and some kind of mathematical formula deriving some useful information about the significance of large divergences versus small divergences between a school's ranking on these two scales.
11.15.2007 2:42pm
Waldensian (mail):

As a result, USNWR ranks us ABOVE Michigan, Berkeley, UVa, and UNC. Does this make any sense to anyone?

Not to me. Although it's hardly a bad school of course.
11.15.2007 3:07pm
justwonderingby:
Orin: The numbers were somewhat interesting, but I find the obsession among law profs with rankings to be... silly. When law school X ranks 10 places higher than Y, there's a false sense that those incremental placements between the two have much meaning. But they don't. Is there really much difference between Cornell and C after all?
11.15.2007 3:16pm
justwonderingby:
Sorry, that should be "BC"
11.15.2007 3:26pm
Cornellian (mail):
Is there really much difference between Cornell and BC after all?

There is a world of difference!
11.15.2007 3:46pm
wooga:
I think list serves a very useful purpose. Assume that law schools make a HUGE exception in their admissions criteria for their associated undergrads who are "sub-par" (which I only have anecdotal evidence and rumors for). Also assume that you don't necessarily want to go to the highest ranked undergrad you get into because you are worried about being over challenged during your "party years" (meaning you place way too much stock in the validity of the rankings to begin with).

In order to maximize the benefit of these assumptions, you would want to consider a school near the top of Prof Caron's list.
11.15.2007 4:44pm
Brice Timmons (mail) (www):
I've been confused about US News rankings since I first began shopping for law schools. There are three in my state, one highly ranked, one in the middle, one on the lower end. The lowest ranked school outperforms the other two in bar passage rate and job placement rate by so much that one wonders what's wrong with the other two schools. Granted, there are less quantifiable factors, but it would seem to me that if you can't pass the bar when you get out of law school there are serious problems. If you can't find work, then it doesn't matter how wonderful the law review (that you probably weren't involved with) is. I could have gone to any school in my state and several 2nd tier schools in neighboring states. I picked the low-ranked "trade school" because I want to actually practice law. Should I be looking at transfer applications?
11.15.2007 5:00pm
wooga:
Brice,
If you plan on practicing locally, there is no need to transfer. However, if you want to practice in LA, DC, New York, etc., it is extremely difficult to get a job without having a nationally known school on your resume.
11.15.2007 5:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
I echo the advice of a great book for prospective law students, "Law School Confidential." Your realistic choices are 1) top 14 law school 2) top 50 (but not top 14) law school, located in and well regarded in the market in which you want to work or 3) don't go to law school. Of course, this assumes you don't have an exceptional circumstance like rich parents who are paying for law school and you don't want to practice law or some such thing.

Picking the bottom-ranked "trade school" because you "want to actually practice law" is counter-intuitive, to put it mildly. Other things being equal, the higher ranked the law school, the better the chances its graduates have of getting a job that involves practicing law. If your bottom-ranked trade school is outperforming much higher ranked schools at job placement, there's probably something hidden or incomplete about the statistics at that school or the comparator schools.

I'd suggest looking at the websites of the firms where you think you might like to practice and see where their attorneys come from.
11.15.2007 6:22pm
Litigator:
The employment figures aren't fraudulent, but they're quite close. Basing any important decisions on them is insane. There are many, many ways that career services massages the numbers. To whit:

1) 'Encouraging' students who aren't 'actively searching' for a job to self-identify as 'not searching'.
2) Giving unemployed students mickey mouse jobs for the sole purpose of beefing up the rankings. Mysteriously, the projects are short-term and dry up once those students no longer count in the rankings.
3) Listing only one student as studying the bar, instead of the real number [This is how UTexas had its ranking debacle last year].
4) Steering people into one year fellowships
5) Encouraging students to inflate their salary by counting salary + benefits.
11.15.2007 8:00pm
Hoosier:
Cornellian: I think you may be right as a general rule. But there are some localized exceptions in significant legal markets. For example, I don't know much about the "tiers." But the two bottom-ranked law schools in Chicago are vastly over-represented in judgeships in Cook County, law firms with revolving-door relationships with city government, and so forth. Wayne State plays a similar role in eastern Michigan. Etc.

These are not the prestigious jobs that my friends from undergrad wanted to land. But if I wanted political power in Chicago--which can be a very, um, 'rewarding' career path--I would NOT go to Yale for law school.
11.15.2007 9:04pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

As a result, USNWR ranks [Notre Dame] ABOVE Michigan, Berkeley, UVa, and UNC. Does this make any sense to anyone? The faculty are incredibly smug about the status of the institution. But our programs in science would rank third IN THE STATE OF INDIANA, if anyone judged things that way. And who would want to compare our English, Music, Languages, History, etc. Departments to IU's? Let alone U of M's?


Makes sense to me. I think undergraduate education is a joke in general, and almost everyone would get a better education at a small liberal arts school. However, absent a compelling argument to the contrary, selectivity and cost seem to be the best measures of a school's merit to me. If it costs a lot, but people still really want to go there, it must be good, right?

As for U of M vs. ND...

As an in-state applicant, U of M seemed relatively unselective. Top 25% or more of my high school class could have gotten in. As for ND, probably closer to 10%. In state students account for around 1/3 of Michigan's class, I believe, and there's a significant disparity between the requirements for in-state and out-of-state students. But, still...

I'm shocked to discover that you'd consider ND's programs inferior to IU's, especially when it comes to undergraduate education. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that IU had more significant research, or was competitive in the sciences, but English? Really?
11.15.2007 11:15pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

I think undergraduate education is a joke in general...


I should clarify. I think that the educational value of the typical state-school undergraduate program could be had for the cost of the books, and in some cases, lab fees.

The signaling value is much higher.
11.15.2007 11:17pm
Bretzky (mail):
This information does have value if law schools give preference, however slight, to graduates of its parent institution's undergraduate programs. If your high school stats are not good enough to get you into a top 20 nationally ranked university and you know that you want to go to law school after graduating from college, then perhaps attending one of the undergraduate institutions that are high on this list may help you get into a fairly decent law school. And, if you do manage to become valedictorian of your college class, then maybe you can get into an even better law school.

Of course, most law schools will tell you that they do not give preference to graduates of their parent institution's undergraduate programs. However, who really knows what goes on in the minds of the members of the application committees. Some amount of homerism may seep into their decisions whether they want it to or not.
11.16.2007 8:22am
Hoosier:
Deez--I can't agree with you on the state colleges. The academic job market is so tight in most fields, that even third-tier state institutions can field high-quality faculties.

A friend of mine just received tenure at Wayne State U. in (shiver) Detroit. So I had a look at the websites of a few departments. Again, as a frame of reference, the faculty publication records were every bit as good, on average, as those of ND. So the price differential may not be completely justified.
11.16.2007 1:40pm
3L:
Bretsky-- I'm way too late for anybody to read this, most likely, but there's another benefit: If you attend the undergraduate institution, you may be considered a resident for tuition purposes, admission purposes, or both. I went to the U of AZ, and the law school treated everybody who attended undergrad their as a resident. While I ultimately went to U Texas, that's a great little loophole for people who had the U of AZ as a target.
11.16.2007 4:32pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
People have a lot of things to say, but none of it gets around the fact the rankings as presently formulated violate the anti-discrimination mandates of the ADA.
11.17.2007 12:54am
neurodoc:
loki13, yes, UF is an excellent one to look at. Now, what do you think it would take to turn it around at UF, so the law school would rival the school's sport teams in national ranking?
11.17.2007 4:03am
neurodoc:
I think I read recently that T. Boone Pickens has given his alma mater some obscene amount of money ($300M?) for its teams, especially football, and heavily influences, if not controls the athletic program (e.g., hiring Saban away from LSU for something like $5M). If someone were to give a law school like UF's an obscene amount of money, how quickly could the school be made over into a top tier one? Can it be bought the same way athletic pre-eminence can be?
11.17.2007 4:07am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"If someone were to give a law school like UF's an obscene amount of money, how quickly could the school be made over into a top tier one?"

That would depend on how quickly the law school/bar admission became ADA compliant.

"Can it be bought the same way athletic pre-eminence can be?"

No, lack of ADA compliance cannot be 'bought-off.' The disabled people will sue.
11.17.2007 11:31am
JosephSlater (mail):
Hoosier:

In all seriousness, Detroit is an under-rated town. It's got its bad parts, but there are some wonderfully cool things there.
11.17.2007 5:32pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
T. Boone Pickens gave money to Oklahoma State, not Alabama.

And Hoosier, man do we have different ideas of what constitutes a quality education, especially undergraduate education. I don't view the quality or quantity of publications by faculty as an important factor. I mean, what differentiates the Introduction to Macroeconomic Theory classes at Michigan and Wayne St. Probably nothing, except for the ability of your classmates.
11.18.2007 7:10pm