Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rankings: What is the Problem

Too many blogs to name here and operated by law professors are devoted to law school and law review rankings. All of the writers play off the US News and World Report annual rankings. These professors obsess over rankings. In concede that I agree with them in a sense. The USNWR rankings are way to complicated and consider a number of irrelevant factors. For example what do LSAT scores, employment, bar passage have to do with the quality of a law school?

The quality of a law school depends on one factor -- the faculty. The quality of the faculty, in turn, depends on the quality of their education. I suggest a simple ranking system: Divide the number of faculty who graduated from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, or Penn by the total number of faculty. The higher the number you get, the better the law school. Really, why make it any more complicated than that?


Maximillian said...


Your proposed ranking system has great merit and really does get to the heart of the matter. I must, however, suggest a nuance that I fear you have overlooked: Stanford and Duke are only nouveau elite, having become ivy peers only recently. In view of that, I'd suggest including in your numerator along with the ivy-educated faculty only those Stanford and Duke alums who earned their degrees in 1970 or later. Not having done any work on this myself (needless to say), I don't know whether this will have a substantial impact on your results. But that's the sort of thing that a number-crunching, working class type like Jeff Harrison could figure out for you--perhaps in exchange for your willingness to lend your exalted name to him as a not-otherwise-contributing co-author on some work he's done.


Anonymous said...

The only problem I see with your approach is the fact that it doesn't take into account the large number of complete idiots that manage to graduate from yale, harvard, stanford, and columbia. Having attended a top 3 school, I can say that I would not trust a large number of the graduates of my school to be professors. I'd take someone that graduated first in their class from Cornell over someone at the bottom of the Harvard class. Coupon Coupon