New 2019 USNews Law School Rankings

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The ever-influential US News and World Report’s ranking of top US law schools are out!

Here is a full list of the 2019 rankings compared to the 2018 rankings:

Law School 2019 +/- 2018
Yale University 1 1
Stanford University 2 2
Harvard University 3 3
University of Chicago 4 4
Columbia University 5 5
New York University 6 6
University of Pennsylvania 7 7
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 8 8
University of California—Berkeley 9 +3 12
University of Virginia 9 -1 8
Duke University 11 -1 10
Northwestern University 11 -1 10
Cornell University 13 13
Georgetown University 14 +1 15
University of Texas—Austin 15 -1 14
University of California—Los Angeles 16 -1 15
Vanderbilt University 17 17
Washington University in St. Louis 18 18
University of Southern California (Gould) 19 19
University of Minnesota 20 +3 23
University of California— Irvine 21 +7 28
Boston University 22 +1 23
Emory University 22 22
George Washington University 24 +6 30
University of Notre Dame 24 -4 20
Washington and Lee University 26 +2 28
Arizona State University (O’Connor) 27 -2 25
Boston College 27 -1 26
University of Alabama 27 -1 26
University of Iowa 27 -7 20
University of Wisconsin— Madison 27 +3 30
Indiana University— Bloomington (Maurer) 32 -2 30
Ohio State University (Moritz) 32 -2 30
University of Georgia 32 -2 30
University of Washington 32 -2 30
Wake Forest University 32 +4 36
Fordham University 37 -1 36
University of California— Davis 37 +2 39
University of Illinois— Urbana- Champaign 37 +7 44
William & Mary Law School 37 +4 41
Brigham Young University (Clark) 41 +5 46
George Mason University 41 41
University of Arizona (Rogers) 41 +7 48
University of Florida (Levin) 41 41
University of North Carolina— Chapel Hill 45 -6 39
University of Colorado— Boulder 46 -10 36
Florida State University 47 +1 48
Temple University (Beasley) 47 +6 53
University of Maryland (Carey) 49 -1 48
Baylor University 50 +1 51
Southern Methodist University (Dedman) 50 -4 46
University of Connecticut 50 +4 54
University of Richmond 50 +7 57
Tulane University 54 -3 51
University of Utah (Quinney) 54 -10 44
University of Houston 56 -2 54
Yeshiva University (Cardozo) 56 +9 65
University of California (Hastings) 58 -4 54
Pennsylvania State University— Carlisle (Dickinson) 59 +6 65
Seton Hall University 59 -2 57
University of Nevada— Las Vegas 59 +3 62
University of Denver (Sturm) 63 +13 76
University of Oklahoma 63 +9 72
Case Western Reserve University 65 -3 62
Georgia State University 65 65
Loyola Marymount University 65 65
University of Cincinnati 65 +7 72
University of Kentucky 65 -8 57
University of Miami 65 +12 77
University of Missouri 65 65
University of Tennessee— Knoxville 65 -8 57
Villanova University 65 +12 77
Loyola University Chicago 74 +8 82
Northeastern University 74 -9 65
Pennsylvania State University— University Park 74 +8 82
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 74 -12 62
University of Kansas 74 -9 65
University of Pittsburgh 74 +8 82
American University (Washington) 80 +6 86
Texas A&M University 80 +12 92
University of Nebraska— Lincoln 80 -23 57
Brooklyn Law School 83 +5 88
St. John’s University 83 -11 72
Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago- Kent) 85 +7 92
University of New Hampshire School of Law 85 +15 100
University of Oregon 85 +1 86
Louisiana State University— Baton Rouge (Hebert) 88 +8 96
Michigan State University 88 +8 96
St. Louis University 88 88
Syracuse University 88 +4 92
University of Arkansas— Fayetteville 88 -11 77
University of New Mexico 88 -11 77
University of South Carolina 88 88
Lewis & Clark College (Northwestern) 95 +5 100
Marquette University 95 +5 100
University of San Diego 95 -18 77
Indiana University— Indianapolis (McKinney) 98 -10 88
Stetson University 98 -2 96
Wayne State University 98 +2 100
Drexel University (Kline) 101 +11 112
Florida International University 101 -1 100
University of Hawaii— Manoa (Richardson) 101 -1 100
University of Mississippi 101 +8 109
University of Tulsa 101 -19 82
Albany Law School 106 +3 109
University at Buffalo— SUNY 106 106
University of Maine 106 +33 139
West Virginia University 106 -10 96
Hofstra University (Deane) 110 +8 118
New York Law School 110 +2 112
The Catholic University of America 110 -4 106
Cleveland State University (Cleveland- Marshall) 113 +14 127
Gonzaga University 113 -1 112
Santa Clara University 113 +19 132
Texas Tech University 113 +5 118
University of Louisville (Brandeis) 113 -21 92
University of St. Thomas 113 +7 120
Duquesne University 119 +8 127
University of Baltimore 119 -7 112
University of Idaho 119 -10 109
University of Missouri— Kansas City 119 -7 112
University of Montana 119 +1 120
Washburn University 119 +8 127
Creighton University 125 -5 120
CUNY 125 +2 127
Pace University 125 -5 120
DePaul University 128 -8 120
Howard University 128 -8 120
Mercer University (George) 128 +6 134
Seattle University 128 -8 120
University of South Dakota 128 +14 142
Drake University 133 -27 106
Quinnipiac University 133 -6 127
University of Wyoming 133 -21 112
Vermont Law School 133 +1 134
University of Memphis (Humphreys) 137 +3 140
University of Toledo 137 -5 132
Belmont University 139 +12 151
Chapman University (Fowler) 139 -5 134
University of Arkansas— Little Rock (Bowen) 141 -7 134
University of Dayton 141 +10 151
Widener University (Commonwealth) 143 +5 148
Northern Illinois University 144 +4 148
Suffolk University 144 -4 140
University of Akron 144 -10 134

 

For those trying to sort out what this all means, here are our answers to some FAQs about the Best Law Schools Rankings.

What do the USNWR rankings measure?

The bulk of the weight (40%) in these rankings come from “peer-assessment scores,” evaluations from professors, judges, firm hiring partners, and other eminent members of the legal field. These peer-assessment scores are a relatively good measure of a school’s prestige and the perception of the quality of its graduates.

The next most significant component is the school’s selectivity (25%) as measured predominately by incoming students median LSAT and GPA scores. A tiny bit of this part of ranking comes from a school’s acceptance rate, although this has been deemphasized, perhaps because it is easy for schools to game. Measuring median LSAT and GPA scores is a good proxy for determining which schools can attract the most desirable applicants.

The next part (20%) is placement success, which measures a school’s ability to place students into desirable full-time legal positions. Luckily, a lot more data has become available on this for the USNWR to measure, and rankings changes in recent years likely reflect that. In addition to job placement numbers, a small portion of placement success is determined by the school’s bar passage rates.

Faculty Resources (weighted at 15%) includes data such as how much a school spends per student and that school’s student-to-faculty ratio. Many have been critical of these criteria for helping to drive the rising cost of legal education.

Despite criticisms, the USNWR rankings do a reasonably good job of measuring the broader perception in the legal world regarding the relative prestige of law schools. In a prestige profession, that matters a lot. All things being equal, schools that rank higher on this list tend to provide better opportunities overall.

But How Much Do The Rankings Really Matter?

A lot, frankly, but there are limitations. Closely-ranked schools tend not to be significantly different in terms of objective measures, so small changes in ranking year-to-year don’t necessarily tell you anything about the underlying quality of a school.

It is also worth noting that the further you get outside of the T14, schools have more of a regional reputation than a national one, so it gets harder to compare schools. Peer assessment scores, in particular, might tell us less and less about schools as you move down the rankings ladder. Whereas there is a huge difference between Yale and Georgetown, there may not be, for example, too much of a difference between the quality of a school ranked 65, and one ranked 80.

What is the T14?

The Top 14 Law Schools (commonly known as the T14) are the fourteen schools, each with a very strong national reputation, that have historically held the top fourteen spots in nearly every year since the US News began making these rankings.

While Georgetown Law was edged out of the T14 last year, it regained its position as the historical gatekeeper of the T14. While there are small shifts within the T14 from year to year, six schools have consistently held the top six spots for most of the last several decades: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, Columbia University and New York University.

Once you leave the top fourteen, you tend to get schools that are more regarded as regional powerhouses, although some still have significant national pull.

How Should I Use The Rankings?

If you are a prospective student, you should always only use the rankings as a baseline in your evaluations. They are helpful for introducing students to the hierarchy in the legal world, which for better or for worse is very real. They do not, however, give you much granular information as to what kind of jobs you can obtain from various schools. We recommend Law School Transparency as a great place to start your closer analysis of the kinds of job placement schools can provide.

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University of Chicago, J.D., 2012 Ready to Kickstart your LSAT Prep? Join the LSAT Mastermind Study Group

1 Comment

  1. ChrisGregoryMMA on

    Yeah, he”ll have a lot of influence over them. This megalomaniac needs to run face first into a solid wall before he realizes who he is and how he rates. For most kids, the UC rejections would be the wall. Not for him. 4.1 GPA? What the he is that? A kiss @$$ as far as I can tell. Let me know his SATs and his ACTs and I”ll let you know whether he is worthy. Lot a stupid people getting high grades these days. In my day, 4.1 GPA was unheard of, because we didn”t inflate grades. I graduated Valedictorian from my high school with less than 4.0, but the best SAT in my class. I was accepted to an Ivy League school, but turned them down. I graduated from a prestigious in-state university with a 3.81, after taking a heavy, academically demanding course load. I graduated from a top three law school with top third grades, after submitting a perfect LSAT upon application. I”ll admit I didn”t try that hard. Thirty some years out, I”m still grinding it out as a lawyer. Who does this pr!ck think he is? Life is about to teach him some hard lessons.

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