This Doesn't Do Much for the U.S. News Law School Rankings' Credibility:

Professor Theodore Seto:

Indeed, as I began playing with a spreadsheet I had written to replicate the 2006 U.S. News computations, I discovered that even if Harvard had reported a perfect median LSAT of 180, it still would have been ranked third. And even if Yale had reported a median LSAT of just 153 (placing it in the "fourth tier" of law schools ranked by LSAT), it still would have been ranked first. Indeed, Yale would have been ranked higher than Harvard even if both had been true -- if Harvard had reported a perfect median LSAT and Yale a 153.

Of course, I've never thought that U.S. News rankings had much credibility to begin with. As I've suggested before, the best way to judge the "rank" of a law school from the perspective of students is by looking at the quality of its student body, primarily through the most objective factor available, LSAT scores. Looking at a school's LSATs scores tells you how desirable a law school is to students at large, taking into account, via the "wisdom of crowds," all relevant considerations, including job prospects, tuition, locational advantage, teaching quality, job placement, faculty prestige, and so forth. Such data reveal, for example, that relatively new urban law schools with strong faculties in desireable locations, such as Cardozo and George Mason, are preferred by students over many more "prestigious" (and higher-ranked in U.S. News), and venerable, Big Ten Midwestern state law schools (judged by 25th or 75th percentile LSATs, Iowa and Wisconsin aren't even in the top 50!).

For an individual student making a decision, this test would need to be heavily modified by individual circumstance: who cares if students generally prefer to live in New York, D.C., or L.A., if you'd prefer to live in Lexington, Virginia, or St. Louis, Mo.? Who cares about job placement if you know you are taking over your father's practice? And so on.

UPDATE: There are lots more great statistics in the same Seto article. Here's one more: "Harvard gets a 0.4 bonus for its four-point edge in median LSATs (173 as opposed to 169), while losing 0.7 overall score points for a .06 deficit in median UGPAs (3.81 as opposed to 3.87)."