Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses => Topic started by: Katfid54 on October 21, 2008, 08:08:20 AM

Title: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: Katfid54 on October 21, 2008, 08:08:20 AM
There's been a lot of ink spilled on this board about ther prospects of Vanderbilt moving ahead of GULC in the rankings (especially considering the new PT considerations US News will be using).  My question is, if Vanderbilt does creep into the T14 (and GULC creeps out), how long ago did the last change in the schools that make up the T14 take place?
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: Ninja1 on October 21, 2008, 09:53:50 AM
Last time Cooley released their rankings.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on October 21, 2008, 10:19:37 AM
There was a USNWR ranking in 1987.  This is the first ranking, despite the common misconception that the first ranking was in 1990.  The first ANNUAL ranking was in 1990.  I could not find any ranking in the period between 1987 and 1990. 

In that initial ranking, Yale and Harvard were tied.  Michigan was 3rd.  UT Austin was in the T14 (#11), and Cornell was edged out at #15.  Since 1990, however, the 14 schools in the present T14 have remained in the T14.

Source: http://www.prelawhandbook.com/law_school_ranking__usn_history
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: observationalist on October 22, 2008, 11:03:53 AM
There's been a lot of ink spilled on this board about ther prospects of Vanderbilt moving ahead of GULC in the rankings (especially considering the new PT considerations US News will be using).  My question is, if Vanderbilt does creep into the T14 (and GULC creeps out), how long ago did the last change in the schools that make up the T14 take place?

I don't particularly see USNews wanting to upset the balance all that much, even though their methodologies favor smaller programs like Cornell and Vanderbilt over larger ones like GULC and UT.  What we're aiming for at Vandy is recognition that Vanderbilt has a truly national program that is now on par with schools that have traditionally been in the lower T-14.  This would effectively expand the top group of truly national schools (which IMO is what most people recognize by "T-14") to a T-15, with GULC, Vanderbilt or another school holding anchor.  I think UCLA and UT are right there as well, but the idea would be that rather than bumping GULC down the rankings we're identifying a larger number of truly national programs (whether there are 15, 17, whatever).

I do think the changing economy is going to hit some schools harder than others this year, and that the newest available data should be looked at to see how different programs are weathering the shrinking biglaw job prospects.  We'll know more by February but it seems like Vandy has been doing just fine... we're one of the smallest programs with one of the widest geographic dispersals and increasing recognition that our incoming gpa/LSAT numbers are on par w/ T-14 schools.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on October 22, 2008, 11:25:27 AM
I think that there is really a T10 that has truly national recognition/placement.  The 10-20 are all very good schools, with great numbers and great placement; however, they are in a somewhat separate league than the T10.  This isn't to say that they're not great, because they are.  Many are truly fantastic, proving to be some of the biggest feeders in their respective regions.  However, I think that the lower T14 has more in common with the lower teens than it does with the more upper T14.

Obviously there are exceptions to this general trend, but it seems as though you can speak of a T10 and a t11-20 as two distinct tiers.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: rhesusman on October 25, 2008, 05:39:42 PM
I think that the T14 has gotten into some kind of feedback loop.  Their US News ranking ensures that they keep getting the students with the best numbers who get the highest paying jobs which in turn fuels higher US News rankings.  I think that if a school enters or leaves it, it will have less to do with the merits of the school than US News's desire to do something dramatic.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: Ninja1 on October 25, 2008, 10:49:50 PM
I think that the T14 has gotten into some kind of feedback loop.  Their US News ranking ensures that they keep getting the students with the best numbers who get the highest paying jobs which in turn fuels higher US News rankings.  I think that if a school enters or leaves it, it will have less to do with the merits of the school than US News's desire to do something dramatic.

-Cosigned
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on October 27, 2008, 05:12:28 AM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: rhesusman on October 27, 2008, 06:14:38 PM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?

I'm sure it realizes it, but doesn't care.  I don't think that having a heavily-weighted reputation metric is necessarily a bad thing - sure, it's self-perpetuating, but reputations normally are self-perpetuating.  I have a bigger problem with the fact that the professionals/academics are asked about schools they know nothing about.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: observationalist on October 28, 2008, 12:10:14 PM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?

I'm sure it realizes it, but doesn't care.  I don't think that having a heavily-weighted reputation metric is necessarily a bad thing - sure, it's self-perpetuating, but reputations normally are self-perpetuating.  I have a bigger problem with the fact that the professionals/academics are asked about schools they know nothing about.

At least with the academics, a lot of them keep on top of what's going on at other schools and are familiar with new developments. The Deans of Stanford, NYU, GULC, Vanderbilt, CUNY and a few others have been working together the last couple of years with the Carnegie Foundation to revise law school curriculums, with the hopes that most academics at those schools are more aware of other programs.  And within specialty areas, most academics know who's on top in their respective field and definitely note movement from one program to another. I don't know how much that plays into overall reputations, but it's definitely helped boost our Environmental and Regulatory Law Programs.  Once you have a reputation for a strong area, more scholars are going to look at your faculty as a place they'd like to end up... it's at least feasible that a school can break the cyclical nature of reputation by pulling in top talent from other institutions that have traditionally been top-10 programs.  Unfortunately a lot of this goes on outside the view of  the student body, and I hear very little about it except what trickles down from the faculty members I work with. Professionals are a different matter, though.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: Ninja1 on October 29, 2008, 08:03:09 AM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?

I think that's kind of an unstated goal of theirs though. If they shake things up too much, then what do their rankings matter at all? You saw how much changing their formula this last year made some folks question the whole thing.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on October 29, 2008, 08:40:31 AM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?

I think that's kind of an unstated goal of theirs though. If they shake things up too much, then what do their rankings matter at all? You saw how much changing their formula this last year made some folks question the whole thing.

True enough.  I hope that most applicants are wise to the flaws in the methodology however.  There is truth to the notion that one should go to a T14 school if they want national options.  However, the USNWR rankings don't really reflect the idiosyncracies of specific markets.  If you want to work in Boston, BC will go farther than Vanderbilt.  If you want to work in NY, Fordham is the best move you can make outside the T14.  I'm not too familiar with the west coast, but I would be willing to bet that UCLA grads have a huge advantage over even Cornell or GULC grads. 

The thing that I find hilarious is when someone freaks out that Chicago moves down two places in the rankings or gets excited when Berkely moves up a couple places.  There are few substantive changes in these schools and practically no fewer/greater opportunites that resulted in or result from these changes.  Those slight fluctuations occur because the differences in rank often hinge on one or two points.  The rank of a school can change based on the enrollment decisions of a few applicants in a particular year. 

If someone makes the decision to go a certain school solely based on its ranking, or movement in the ranks, that person needs help.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: observationalist on November 02, 2008, 02:34:13 PM
This certainly is the case.  Doesn't USNWR realize that, by making 'reputation reviews' of professionals/academics worth 40% of the total ranking score, schools are bound to stay relatively concentrated in their spot, especially at the upper end of the scale?

I think that's kind of an unstated goal of theirs though. If they shake things up too much, then what do their rankings matter at all? You saw how much changing their formula this last year made some folks question the whole thing.

True enough.  I hope that most applicants are wise to the flaws in the methodology however.  There is truth to the notion that one should go to a T14 school if they want national options.  However, the USNWR rankings don't really reflect the idiosyncracies of specific markets.  If you want to work in Boston, BC will go farther than Vanderbilt.  If you want to work in NY, Fordham is the best move you can make outside the T14.  I'm not too familiar with the west coast, but I would be willing to bet that UCLA grads have a huge advantage over even Cornell or GULC grads. 

The thing that I find hilarious is when someone freaks out that Chicago moves down two places in the rankings or gets excited when Berkely moves up a couple places.  There are few substantive changes in these schools and practically no fewer/greater opportunites that resulted in or result from these changes.  Those slight fluctuations occur because the differences in rank often hinge on one or two points.  The rank of a school can change based on the enrollment decisions of a few applicants in a particular year. 

If someone makes the decision to go a certain school solely based on its ranking, or movement in the ranks, that person needs help.

I don't think this is the conventional wisdom.  Keep in mind firms in both cities will still go deeper into a class at higher-ranked schools where they do OCI at, not just the T-14. There are threads if you go back to last cycle comparing Fordham (and possibly BC) to more national programs where people linked to employment statistics... those of you looking at these schools should contact their career services offices and ask about viewing their actual job placement stats.  BC currently claims a median private-sector salary of 160K but that doesn't tell you how many people reported their starting salaries, and there's a strong argument that they're misleading prospective students by making it seem like everyone who wants it is finding the best work out there.  Transparency is even more important this year with the way the job market has shrunk... you'll want to be checking with all the schools you're looking at to see how their 2Ls have weathered the change. I think we're going to see smaller schools faring better than larger ones.

For my sake I'm leaning on our CSO to do what they did last March... send out a list of where every '07 grad found work (both firm and city). Some prospectives then cross-referenced the list w/ starting salaries and then created a spreadsheet to share with others. Only Duke and Vandy sent out that information last year but I would expect more schools will follow suit this cycle.  It was a huge boost in showing people that Vanderbilt is very strong in netting private-sector jobs around the country... my class has definitely benefited from being so geographically diverse in where we want to work, and we're already one of the smallest law schools to start with.
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on November 02, 2008, 04:33:43 PM
Fordham has an incredibly well-represented alumni base in biglaw in NYC.  According to Leiter's rankings, Fordham is #15 for job placement in V100 firms.

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008job_biglaw.shtml
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: observationalist on November 02, 2008, 05:31:59 PM
Fordham has an incredibly well-represented alumni base in biglaw in NYC.  According to Leiter's rankings, Fordham is #15 for job placement in V100 firms.

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008job_biglaw.shtml

It's true that Fordham grads can get the top jobs in NYC, but I'm looking at how well schools place their entire graduating class in biglaw.  Leiter's most recent study doesn't purport to look at job placement in V100 firms... he actually prefaces those charts by stating "Note that this is not a study of national placement power of law schools, since the super elite firms are overwhelmingly clustered in the Northeast corridor and in California; earlier studies are a better measure of the ‘national’ reach of a degree." The earlier study he links to is a better starting point (here's the results page: http://www.calvin.edu/admin/csr/students/sullivan/law/results.htm), but it still doesn't achieve what I think is a much better indicator of employment prospects: where each graduate of the most recent classes from different schools are finding work. And for that, all you need to do is ask the schools for the data (probably once you have acceptances in hand so you have more bargaining power) and then post.  Schools have this information but have traditionally chosen not to make it public. And if they refuse you can try and obtain their recruitment handbooks which should show summer employment for all 1Ls/2Ls.

Also, Leiter's study is historical; it's looking at the total number of associates from different schools.  That is as problematic as gauging your odds of acceptance by using hourmd.com... it doesn't reflect the current market.  We went through last spring's recruitment handbook to see how the current Vanderbilt 3Ls did with firm placement last summer... out of approximately 195 students (don't know how many transfers they have in their class), I have data for 182 of them.  152 worked as SAs... At least 119 of them (approx 61% of the class, or 78% of all the SAs) summered at NLJ250 firms. Most of them (at least 79, or approx 41% of the entire class) were in the V100.  26 summered in NY offices.  20 were in V24 firms, and 14 were with one of the firms Leiter looked at in his study. If all 14 returned to their firms (either straight out or after clerking), that would give us 0.57 for '09 grads... which would be higher than Fordham's historical placement in those same firms.

Obviously, this comparison is unfair; what you actually need is someone from Fordham to get you that same information for recent classes, and even then it won't show you everything. My point is just to be careful in reading through different studies and rankings... Leiter puts out some great stuff that's significantly more valuable than USNews or Vault rankings, but it still won't compare to the raw data each school you're looking at can offer. I'm going to double-check my numbers now and will edit this post with a link to the spreadsheet in a bit.

[Edited for correct numbers using the '09 V100 list... haven't figured out the best way to publish the spreadsheet yet, but I've got a web guru/1L who should be able to help me out this week assuming he's not too busy stalking our classmates on these discussion boards.]
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: CTL on November 03, 2008, 05:16:14 AM
Great post :)
Title: Re: When was the last time the schools in the T14 changed?
Post by: Tetris on November 17, 2008, 09:50:19 PM
n00b.