Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses => Topic started by: HR6352 on December 30, 2009, 02:31:36 AM

Title: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: HR6352 on December 30, 2009, 02:31:36 AM
What's your alternative?  Everybody gets guaranteed a job after law school that pays the exact same amount?  Or how about instead of LSAT scores and GPAs everybody gets to spend a weekend fishing with every single admissions counselor?   :)
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: EarlCat on December 30, 2009, 11:52:51 AM
Good ideas.  Thanks!
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: nerfco on December 30, 2009, 12:43:41 PM
Good ideas.  Thanks!

Assuming this is sarcastic, I agree with Earl.

I'm unsure what this post is trying to suggest. Can you clarify?
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on February 26, 2010, 11:03:02 PM
They should do it more like the NCAA and rank the top 25 and make it more of an honor instead of trying to distinguish between the 73rd and 114th best school. How the hell can you really tell the difference outside of the top 20-25 schools the schools are respected only in their region.  Pepperdine is really well regarded in L.A., but on the East Coast nobody has even heard of it. Cardozo the same deal, nobody on the West Coast has heard of it.

I really don't see how it is possible to distinguish once you outside of the top 20 or so schools. Everybody knows the Ivy League schools and UCLA, USC, University of Michigan and so on. However, once you get outside of those nationally known schools tell me how you measure the difference between Willamette and Hamline, or Gonzaga and Texas Wesleyan. Really what makes the 100th best school better than the 122nd?  
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Contract2008 on February 28, 2010, 12:00:51 PM
They should do it more like the NCAA and rank the top 25 and make it more of an honor instead of trying to distinguish between the 73rd and 114th best school. How the hell can you really tell the difference outside of the top 20-25 schools the schools are respected only in their region.  Pepperdine is really well regarded in L.A., but on the East Coast nobody has even heard of it. Cardozo the same deal, nobody on the West Coast has heard of it.

I really don't see how it is possible to distinguish once you outside of the top 20 or so schools. Everybody knows the Ivy League schools and UCLA, USC, University of Michigan and so on. However, once you get outside of those nationally known schools tell me how you measure the difference between Willamette and Hamline, or Gonzaga and Texas Wesleyan. Really what makes the 100th best school better than the 122nd?  

Well, the incoming class of 100th best law school has an average undergrad GPA of 3.45 compare that to the 122nd best school's class of 3.14. 
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: StonewallJacksonFan on February 28, 2010, 12:02:58 PM
you can tell them apart by what top % of your class you need to be in order to get a biglaw job - there is direct correlation between top 100 school rank and percentage of students awarded biglaw job.  See link below.

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202443758843&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on February 28, 2010, 02:11:25 PM
I am not disputing Big Law and the rankings, I know it means something there.  However, if you are going to the 82nd or 122nd best school you are probably not going to Big Law.

There is more to it than the GPA this is how they rank schools as listed specifically in U.S. News, which to me seems almost purely subjective.

Purely Subjective Opinions, or Quality Assessment
Peer Assessment Score (.25)

Assessment Score by Lawyers/Judges (.15)

Who these lawyers and judges are that account for 40% of the rankings I do not know.  Obviously, they are alumni of one of the schools and therefore I would not surprised if they played favorites and took money.  U.S. News is a private company and the ABA and LSAC specifically state on their website to not take the rankings seriously. This "QUALITY ASSESSMENT" seems like a big reason why.

Selectivity
Median LSAT Scores (.125) (this is a legitimate statistic, the LSAT is a test that actually means something. This only makes up 12% of your ranking though.

Median Undergrad GPA (.10) Somewhat objective, but I have a hard time with undedrgrad GPA's. Obviously, depending on your major it will be far different. Had I taken molecular biology or physics I would not have over a 3.0 and I am assuming a lot of people in law school wouldn't either. However, they performed really in their history major or creative writing. Honestly, had I known I was going to law school during undergrad I would have majored in religious studies and gotten a 4.0. I really think they need to change this, because it is really is not fair to people that have hard majors. Please do not say that History is the same as Molecular Biology or Physics. Those two classes are far harder than History etc.

Acceptance Rate (.025) This makes up only 2%, but schools screw with this stat. Schools that were obviously going to reject me sent me fee waivers, solely to reject me to make their numbers look better. Penn State, Case Western,  and some other ones sent me fee waivers so I would apply then they would reject me and they could boost this stat to show they rejected people. Get this one out of here, because schools toy with this.  It makes up only 2% so it is not that big of a deal.

Placement Success (weighted by .20) The first legit statistic. This is a completely legitimate statistic and should be given more weight than it is. You really want to know the placement of graduates, no question.

Bar Passage Rate (.02) It is shocking that bar passage rate makes up 2% of a schools rank. The only two things that should be measured in the rankings is placement and bar passage rate yet they make up only 22% of the rankings.

Ask the 1 or 2% of Harvard and Yale Grads that didn't pass the bar and ask them how much the fact that there schools are ranked #1 or #2 in the rankings means to them.

It is shocking to me that a formula like this means so much to schools and potential student, as you can see 40% of the rankings are based completely on subjective opinons. Quality assessment, who are these people measuring it???  Then the thing that REALLY MATTERS BAR PASSAGE AND PLACEMENT RATE MAKES UP ONLY 22% of the ranking that is ridiculous to me at least.

So that is my problem with the rankings, obviously Big Law cares about it and Big Law Firms and I know Harvard and Yale and the Ivy league schools great. I don't think that is a newsflash to anyone though. However, when you use these highly subjective rankings to distinguish between Chapman and Gonzaga or Williamette and Regent. I personally think it is ridiculous that U.S. News makes millions of dollars of this ridiculous ranking system and law students are dooped into making life altering decisions based on these rankings.  If you go to a Tier 3 or Tier 4 school or the 98th best the schools are pretty much regional and you shouldn't go the 87th best school in a place you have no desire to live in and pass up the 114th best school in the location you do want to live in. It is ridiculous to distinguish, between them. It just really aggravates me this whole system.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: StonewallJacksonFan on February 28, 2010, 02:31:03 PM
what do you suggest - group all the schools below T20 into officially termed Second Tier Toilet category?  It will never, happen because there are always differences between schools and somebody will always try to  make money by ranking these schools.

Whether there is difference University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University?  In terms of job opportunities, it might not be much, but in the end there are differences that may make one school better than the other.  The fact that "Public Respectability" or something of that sort playing a huge role in the rankings is another matter, because respect essentially feeds on itself, like religion.  Why is there God? Because we wrote it on a piece of paper and believe in this statement.  Same about HYS - at some point a belief was raised that these schools are the best and now this belief is simply there and I am not sure what will make it go away.
I mean if GGU and SU today exchanged its facilities and faculty do you think that their ranking positions would be exchanged?  No way, their rankings would barely budge.  It is an unfair world and you, as a future lawyer, should simply learn to understand these inequities and exploit them to your benefit.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on February 28, 2010, 03:17:02 PM
I would say that no ABA school is a toilet school and if you are not going to Harvard or Yale or the elite schools you will have to work harder to get employment, but you can still succeed and even be a better lawyer than someone who went to Harvard. In your opening statement a Harvard Grad can't say say your honor I went to Harvard opposing counsel went to Florida State, therefore I deserve summary judgment. No you will have to fight opposing counsel no matter what school they went to.

I think that U.S News is ridiculous and people should not alter their lives like I nearly did based on their subjective opinions of what is a tier 3 or 4.  

Law school is what you make of it and whether you went to Harvard or Cooley you can succeed. It is without question the Harvard Grad will have an easier start and probably 9 out of 10 times the Harvard Grad will have the tools to be a better lawyer than a  Cooley Grad I am not going to sit here and argue that. It is quite an accomplishment to get into Harvard I knew that when I was 5 years old, but even if you went to Harvard it doesn't mean you are going to just win every case. It is like being a number #1 draft pick in the NBA or NFL, the undrafted free agent that is on the field or court with you does not give a damn that you were number #1 pick and they will come at you with everything they got. Same thing a Cooley Grad in litigation with a Harvard Grad will come at them with everything they have, the Harvard Grad will probably win most of the time, but it's not certain. I am also sure there are some bad Harvard educated lawyers out there and some great Cooley ones.  Obviously, Harvard is winning this battle, 9 out of 10 times, but you still have to prove you are a good lawyer no matter what school you go to. Just like a number #1 draft pick has to prove it. See Kwame Brown, Michael Olowankandi, Jamarcus Russell and so on who were number #1 picks with all kinds of hype and advantage coming in, but they didn't back it up.  

See Tom Brady 6th Round Pick nobody expected anything from him and he could be the greatest quarterback of all time. Brett Favre another example. My whole point is that going to one of these allegedly Top Schools is great, but you still have to make a name for yourself once your out there in practice.  

To continue this analogy and how unimpressed I am by the takings I will use the five professors I have this semester at GGU three of my professors went to Harvard, one went to NYU, and the other went to Williamette. The best professor went to Williamete he is everyone's favorite and is one of the best lawyers in the Bay Area and he has Stanford Grads working under him. The NYU Grad is the worst professor I have ever had. I truly think I know more than her after 1 semester, she has been corrected in class twice for getting defamation wrong I am not impressed that she went to NYU I do not think she is smart in fact it is embarrassing how bad she is. The other three Harvard people are great professors also, but far and away the Williamette one is the best and I don't care that he went to Williamette and neither have the numerous juries and judges who have giving him victories.

I am just trying to say that rankings are idiotic and I already knew that Harvard was a better school than Cooley I didn't need a magazine to tell me that. Furthermore, even if you go to Harvard or Yale you have to prove yourself, law school and practice are two different things. As I said already Harvard and Yale students are in general more motivated and just brilliant standardized test takers and are for the most part smarter. However, if you want to be a lawyer don't get up in these idiotic rankings common sense will tell you what to do. If you have a 157 and 3.4 or something your probably not going to Harvard and probably not going to work in Big Law, which is the main place rankings matter. So sure if you are 170 LSAT 4.0 student then get caught up in the rankings it means something to Big Law firms. However, if you are deciding between Chapman and Gonzaga or Marquette and Florida State. BIG LAW is probably not in your future realistically and you will probably get a job near where you went to school
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: nerfco on March 01, 2010, 04:12:06 PM
Then the thing that REALLY MATTERS BAR PASSAGE AND PLACEMENT RATE MAKES UP ONLY 22% of the ranking that is ridiculous to me at least.

I hope you can see the flaws in merely measuring bar passage rate.

First, some states have far higher bar passage rates than others. This would give an edge to School A which is in an "easy" state over School B, which is in a "hard" state. You could normalize for this by comparing the school's rate to the average passage rate, but even that might skew things. (Could skew it because, for example, more unqualified applicants take the California bar than other bars, due to allowing a wider range of people to take the bar.)

Second, law school is not a bar prep course. Or, at least, top law schools are not bar prep courses. I suppose you can argue that it should be a bar prep course, but I'm not really sure that is true or how many people would agree with that.

As far as "placement rate"--it is hard to say what that means. A lot of placement could be self-selection. (E.g. a law school in a state without any biglaw may place terribly in biglaw, but perhaps many of the students chose that school because they wanted to work in that state rather than work in biglaw.) How do you weigh biglaw against a clerkship or a public interest job? I guess you could survey students and ask how many are happy with their jobs, but that doesn't really tell you a lot, given that students will adjust their expectations to where they attend school. (ie. Someone at HLS may be a bit disappointed they work at a V20 instead of a V5, while someone at UofC will be really happy they managed to secure a paying job at all.)
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: TheCause on March 01, 2010, 04:41:36 PM
The rankings should include at least some factors that aren't directly tied to the intelligence of the incoming class and the student created "prestige" of the university.

Think about it, if you took the smartest kids in the Nation and put them in a school ranked around 80, eventually, more employers would start interviewing on that campus.  I guess it's a bit of a chicken/egg debate, but I think the intelligence of students creates future prestige, not vice versa.

Take a look at http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-graduate-schools/2008/03/26/law-methodology.html
The US news bases their rankings primarily on:

The Opinions of Peers (other law schools and professors) 25%
Employment Placement: 18%
The Opinions of Lawyers and Judges 15%
The LSAT scores of the incoming class. 12.5 %
The GPA of the incoming class 10%

Those categories make up 80.5% of the rankings.  
Professors, lawyers, and judges don't really know whether the quality of education is high at a certain institution unless they attended or taught there, and then their judgments are biased.  They understand that these schools are prestigious and kids with crazy high LSATs and GPAs go there.
Employers interview at the schools with the most competitive classes and the highest scores.  Does anyone honestly think Harvard placement would stay consistent if they only admitted students with LSAT scores between 150 and 160?  Their ranking would drop overnight.

All of those things, including prestige, have to do with how smart/hard working the students are.  Smart Kids choose to go to the schools with the highest prestige and best career prospects, so it's just a perpetual cycle.

These assumptions are supported by the fact that the rankings are relatively stagnant.  Sure, schools move around all the time, but there are very few "new" schools in the top 25.  What if a good state school, like the University of Arizona (Ranked at the bottom of T2) came up with a brilliant way of educating and preparing prospective lawyers?  Would their ranking shoot up to the top ten?  It's doubtful, and I'm pretty sure it's never happened.  I assume that is because Law Schools consider themselves to be academic temples, not vocational schools.  "Our purpose as guardians of the holy legal tradition is to bring together the best and the brightest young minds, and carry out amazing intellectual discussions thereby combining our knowledge and creating a type of idealistic pedagogical kingdom."
If a school's slogan was "Our purpose is to train you to be successful practitioners," U.S. news would just save them a place at the Tier Three Table (Or Toilet)

The cycle needs to be broken.
In reality, the US news rankings are only meaningful because students use them to make decisions.  
Why can't the US news implement other factors?

-Quality of Life  (Based on student surveys, weather, crime rate, entertainment, market size of surrounding city.)
-Satisfaction with Professors  (Based on student reviews, and the real-world experience of professors)
-Tuition Amount.  I know the US news considers financial aid (a whopping 1.5%), but why isn't tuition a factor?
-Average salary ten years out of law school.
-Percentage of Students still in the legal industry after 10 years.

My point is that student's should choose their law school based on criteria other than prestige, but that won't happen until employers start hiring from schools with less prestige, which won't happen until smarter students go to schools with less prestige..

Wait... I guess we're screwed.




 


Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Thane Messinger on March 02, 2010, 02:58:03 PM
The rankings should include at least some factors that aren't directly tied to the intelligence of the incoming class and the student created "prestige" of the university.

Think about it, if you took the smartest kids in the Nation and put them in a school ranked around 80, eventually, more employers would start interviewing on that campus.  I guess it's a bit of a chicken/egg debate, but I think the intelligence of students creates future prestige, not vice versa.



The paradox now is that prestige is based, in large measure, not on faculty but on students.  Nearly all law faculty are now cut from the same cloth: Top 5 law school, top clerkship, perhaps a year or two in a national firm. 

As to employers, it's unclear why this is wrong.  Aren't employers entitled to select their employees? 

[The legal hiring game is horribly mis-done, but it makes sense if one looks at it from the employers' perspective.  The real problem is that, as law school is now "done," most law students simply do not learn the law in the way that employers need it, or, at the very least, they do not prove that they have learned the law in the way that employers need it.  As a result, legal employers are very much going to use rankings--but only coincidentally.  The real story is a bit more nuanced.  Employers will seek that which they need.  Among those needs are prestige (vis-a-vis clients) and raw talent.  Until law schools and law students alter the way they teach and learn, there is zero incentive for employers to change.]

Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on March 02, 2010, 06:07:30 PM
The rankings are ridiculous, the formula makes absolutely no sense as I pointed out earlier in this thread. Certainly Harvard is higher ranked and employers will go the HIGH ranked schools first, because clients will be much more impressed to have a Harvard Grad then a California Western Grad. That is the average Joe's way of thinking and honestly the Harvard grad will probably be the better attorney 9 out of 10 times.   

However, once you get outside of the top 25 or so law schools the rankings become pretty irrelevant. I really think they should do it more as an honor like the NCAA does and rank the top 25 instead of making the ludicrous distinction between the 94th and the 132nd best school. Especially seeing how they measure it makes even less since to distinguish between these schools.

I will just make this final comment to anyone considering law school. If you are not going to an elite school Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Yale, just schools of that elk.  Do not get caught up in the rankings, go to a school in the location you want to live.  Do not go to the 89th best school in Timbuktu and turn down the 117th best school in the area you want to live in. If you go outside of the elite schools for the most part you are going to end up in the location you go to school.  Obviously, there are exceptions, but you are going to create some big hurdles for yourself and no employer is going to go out of their way to recruit across country from the 89th best law school if they have the 102nd best school in the same city. 


Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Thane Messinger on March 02, 2010, 06:39:31 PM

* * *

I will just make this final comment to anyone considering law school. If you are not going to an elite school Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Yale, just schools of that elk.  Do not get caught up in the rankings, go to a school in the location you want to live.  Do not go to the 89th best school in Timbuktu and turn down the 117th best school in the area you want to live in. If you go outside of the elite schools for the most part you are going to end up in the location you go to school.  Obviously, there are exceptions, but you are going to create some big hurdles for yourself and no employer is going to go out of their way to recruit across country from the 89th best law school if they have the 102nd best school in the same city.  



The rankings are not ridiculous.  Neither are they more than a substantially subjective assessment of quality/prestige/promise.  

In any event, Big offers good advice:  One should not make a determination of where to go to law school based solely on rank.  Nor should one put too much emphasis on this.  Nor should one put too much faith the farther below the top tier one is.  Nor should one think of rankings as a fine distinction; they're anything but.  (The point made above would have been stronger had the nominal comparison been between 94 and 112; 38 spaces is pushing the boundaries of the point.)

Rankings do reflect common perceptions, fair or otherwise, and these will make a difference, in ways large and small.  The key is to use rankings, rather than being used by them.  Consider your own situation, scores, and preferences.  Rankings are a part of the stew, and should be taken seriously . . . but not as "the answer" to any law school question.

One way to think of rankings is not to think of them as a linear scale.  Rather, they are three dimensional, above and across the nation.  In this way, it makes much more sense how to compare a variety of dissimilar schools.  
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on March 02, 2010, 11:55:55 PM
You are right rankings have some merit, certainly Hastings is more respected than GGU in the Bay Area and University of San Diego is more respected than California Western in San Diego. The rankings mean something, but once you get concerned about rankings and attending a slightly higher ranked school outside of the location you want to work in you get in trouble.

If you take my situation last year I nearly made a HORRENDOUS decision based on U.S. News rankings. I have always wanted to live and work in San Francisco and for some idiotic reason I thought going to Michigan State would give me a better chance of accomplishing that than going to Golden Gate. Michigan State was t-3 and GGU was a t-4 so the ranking was technically higher. However, had I gone to MSU I would have created a massive hurdle for myself and nobody in San Francisco would be that impressed at the distinction between 110 and 132 or whatever the difference between a t-3 and t-4 might be.

I do want to say I am shocked at how ridiculous the formula for the rankings is. To have 40% based on completely subjective opinions of unidentified agents of a private company is shocking. In reality the only two objective ranking things that are measured in the ranking formula are LSAT score and Bar Passage and they only make up only 12% of the schools rankings, which is baffling to me. The other factors can be toyed with and manipulated and it really does surprise me that such a horrendous formula carries so much weight in student's decisions to attend law school.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Thane Messinger on March 03, 2010, 11:46:15 AM
You are right rankings have some merit, certainly Hastings is more respected than GGU in the Bay Area and University of San Diego is more respected than California Western in San Diego. The rankings mean something, but once you get concerned about rankings and attending a slightly higher ranked school outside of the location you want to work in you get in trouble.

If you take my situation last year I nearly made a HORRENDOUS decision based on U.S. News rankings. I have always wanted to live and work in San Francisco and for some idiotic reason I thought going to Michigan State would give me a better chance of accomplishing that than going to Golden Gate. Michigan State was t-3 and GGU was a t-4 so the ranking was technically higher. However, had I gone to MSU I would have created a massive hurdle for myself and nobody in San Francisco would be that impressed at the distinction between 110 and 132 or whatever the difference between a t-3 and t-4 might be.

I do want to say I am shocked at how ridiculous the formula for the rankings is. To have 40% based on completely subjective opinions of unidentified agents of a private company is shocking. In reality the only two objective ranking things that are measured in the ranking formula are LSAT score and Bar Passage and they only make up only 12% of the schools rankings, which is baffling to me. The other factors can be toyed with and manipulated and it really does surprise me that such a horrendous formula carries so much weight in student's decisions to attend law school.


This is a good example of how rankings can be misused, and you're quite right about both the intra-regional prestige of various schools, and also the very different calculus that applies across regions.  The more different these factors are, the more one's personal circumstances should be considered, even over a raw rank.  

This is why it's useful NOT to think of rankings as linear--as we tend to do (T14, etc...).  Were you looking at, say, Golden Gate and the University of Michigan, there the difference would be obvious.  (Not a terribly fair comparison, of course, but this is what makes the point.)  Anyone from the University of Michigan is likely to have a better time finding a job in California than anyone in California in a significantly lesser-ranked law school.  Narrow that gap, and other factors (should) start to weigh more heavily.  Within any tier, a difference of a half-dozen is all-but-irrelevant.  Within the top two tiers and within a few dozen places, other factors are more important.  And below that, the range gets even wider, as you state.  The reason, however, is that we're talking about the lower two tiers.  Were this between a T14 and low-T1 school, or mid-T1 and mid-T2, the answer might change.

To all, Big's point is quite right: rankings should not make the decision, usually, and especially not if other factors (such as a clear desire to live in a certain place) are more relevant to YOU.  "You" is in caps because this really should be a personal decision, based on factors unique to your own preferences, circumstances, and finances.

However, rankings ARE important.  This might ruffle feathers, and it's certainly an uncomfortable truth.  But, depending upon what one intends to do, be very, very wary about the tendency to dismiss rankings.  Even if based entirely on fluff (which they're not, not even as to the 40% quasi-subjective component mentioned), they are still important, because they're taken as important.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: nerfco on March 03, 2010, 01:55:39 PM
I do want to say I am shocked at how ridiculous the formula for the rankings is. To have 40% based on completely subjective opinions of unidentified agents of a private company is shocking.

It is a bit less shocking if you consider that many people get jobs by sending resumes for open positions. Going to a school that lawyers consider great is likely to get you more interviews than going to a school lawyers think is poor. Of course, US News doesn't take into account regional reputations, which is problematic. If you only want to work in San Diego, it really doesn't matter if lawyers in NYC have a low opinion of your school (or have never heard of it), if people in San Diego think it is a good school.

But, it's hard to correct for that factor in these lists, unless you want separate reputation rankings for each different city/region... but that is more difficult.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: nerfco on March 03, 2010, 01:59:06 PM
This is why it's useful NOT to think of rankings as linear--as we tend to do (T14, etc...).

Strongly agree with this point. The difference between the #1 school and the #6 school is substantial and real--YLS students have better opportunities than UofC students.

But as you go down the list, a ranking difference of 5 becomes meaningless. No one cares if you attend, for example, the #91 school instead of the #96 school. They are likely very comparable schools, and the rankings difference doesn't tell you anything useful. (Schools in these rankings can also jump around a lot more--it wouldn't be shocking if #91 and #96 swapped places next year, but it would be shocking if YLS and UofC moved up or down even a couple spots, much less swapped places.)
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on March 03, 2010, 05:30:04 PM
They do switch without at any real reason. Look at University of San Francisco they were #72 or so in 2007 then moved to a tier 3 in 2008 and then in 2009 they moved back into the 70's. I am sure nothing of consequence changed at all during those three years the professors, library, alumni, location etc all stayed the same.  However, this drop in the ranking probably scared some applicants away from attending based on the superficial ranking formula. I think that is my problem with U.S. news it just has so much power, but it is not regulated  at all. A school is good just based on what U.S. News says, Honestly, if U.S. news put Golden Gate in the top 25 in 2010 applications would skyrocket and that just doesn't make sense to me. Nothing here would have changed the professors, alumni, dean, and so on would be exactly the same. However, U.S. news all the sudden said we were good so we are, that just doesn't make sense at all. They could drop University of Michigan down to 35 and their applications would dwindle and the school would suffer terribly, but everything there would be the same.  It just does not seem right that a private unregulated company has this much power. The ABA specifically says to ignore it, but it obviously is taken very seriously.  

  
U.S. News is brilliant for coming up with this scheme it is a great one. I am sure they get wined and dined at every school they visit, possibly getting some type of bribes along the way just so U.S. news will give them a good rank in the ranking system they made up out of thin air. It is brilliant, I might just make a San Francisco restaurant top 100 list up and come up with some formula that everyone will have to take seriously, because I say they do. U.S. news basically did that and created the rankings out of thin air and makes millions of dollars off of it. However, the reality is that U.S. news formula for measuring rankings makes nearly as much sense as the formula Cooley uses to generate their own rankings.

It could be valuable if they went more in depth then I would respect it. Some changes they could do is see how many science undergrad majors there are, because then the UGPA would make a lot more since to measure. The way it is currently set up is not fair at all. Someone could get a 2.8 in molecular biology from Harvard and then another applicant gets a 4.0 in religious studies from Timbuktu State and that is counted equally. That does not make sense, getting a high G.P.A. in a liberal arts degree is far easier than in a intense science degree so they could do some tweaking as to G.P.A. reporting. Then instead of something as broad as placement rate, which could mean working at McDonald's or being partner in a big firm, could also use some tweaking. Possilby reporting MEAN salaries not median salaries of the entire class. They could go into so much more depth than they do and it would make a lot more sense. However, the way it currently is U.S. news has as much power as a dictator. Schools have to satisfy this private company that took it upon themselves to make up a ranking system, because applicants take it seriously and I just think it is wrong.

Honestly, the only piece of the formula that is objective in their entire formula the LSAT and bar passage rate make up only 12% of it and the rest is nearly entirely subjective and gives U.S. news way to much power in my opinion. Maybe someone out there loves the rankings and thinks it is great, but I think it is really wrong.

As an example of why it is wrong one of my friends at GGU majored in molecular biology at UCSB and got a 2.8 or something he is really smart, but molecular biology is a tough subject and had he taken history I am sure he would have gotten a 4.0. Or he could have been an athlete like me and gotten a hundred free b.s. A's. Playing basketball I got A's in the following classes varsity basketball, theory of basketball, principles of basketball, weightlifting, advanced basketball, my transcript goes on with a ton of B.S. A's for every different way you can say basketball and one of those A's is the equivalent of one my friend's A's in advanced chemistry or something.  As a result of these B.S. A's I get a 16,000 scholarship and he does not. I think anyone can see that getting an A in chemistry is a lot harder than getting one in basketball. Honestly, had I known I was going to law school when I was college I would have taken a lot more B.S. classes and gotten a bigger scholarship by getting free B.S. A's in undergrad. That is not fair though, because it discourages people from taking intellectually challenging classes in undergrad and it is all done to satisfy the U.S. News ridiculous ranking system. I think examples like this are bad for the legal profession, but that is my opinion. As a sidenote my friend with the 2.8 in molecular biology finished in the top 3% of the class last semester, but he still won't get scholarship money, because he challenged himself in undergrad. I just think that is ridiculous. The End.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Thane Messinger on March 12, 2010, 12:30:47 AM
Honestly, the only piece of the formula that is objective in their entire formula the LSAT and bar passage rate make up only 12% of it and the rest is nearly entirely subjective and gives U.S. news way to much power in my opinion. Maybe someone out there loves the rankings and thinks it is great, but I think it is really wrong. \


Bigs & All -

This might be one of the most frustrating aspects of the application process, but the truth is that objectivity is not the sole truth.

I'm reviewing one of Morten Lund's new Jagged Rocks books, and it struck me that many lawyers make the same mistake.  Just because something is subjective does not make it less relevant.  Sometimes, it is all the more so.  So, if we accept that, say, professors' collective evaluations of each other are subjective (which, prima facie, cannot be completely true), that still doesn't take us very far.  This is the essence of repuation, which is the essence of how the law (and world) work.  If everyone believes that x law school is "the best," then it is.  If no one does, then it's not.  The number of books in its library, the brilliance of its professors, students, and staff . . . all lovely, and all beside the point.  The essence of reputation is that, to a large degree, it creates its own reality. 

To further complicate things, these are very much dynamic.  Having many fine law books and professors and students and staff . . . over time those things will begin to seep into the consciousness of the professoriate, which will then be reflected in, yes, the rankings.

So, just because it's subjective "don't make it wrong."  The real key is the legitimacy of that subjectivity.  Arguably, the U.S. News rankings are about as legitimate as any; one can quibble here and there, but it's doubtful any better system will arrive--and it's exceedingly doubtful that we will grow beyond the petty need for rankings.  (Hey, it's your species too.)

See?  This is fun!   = :  )
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on March 14, 2010, 04:14:01 AM
Yes subjectivity is important and it does have merit at times. Even in the legal world subjectivity, makes a difference most of the law is in of itself subjective and that's why Supreme Court decisions go 5-4 all the time, because the law is in a large part subjective opinion.

However, the rankings subjective opinion really screws with applicants and students. Harvard, Yale etc are great schools I knew that before U.S. news put them in a ranking.

My problem and concern for potential and current students is that people at the 99th best school will think they are really entitled to something more than a student at the 122nd best school, but that is not the case. I know 3 student's that transferred from GGU to USF or Santa Clara thinking it would open all kinds of doors that GGU wouldn't I mean USF and Santa Clara are tier 2's employers must be jumping through hoops to get a tier 2 grad right? Actually truth is not really those people were in the same boat trying to find internships with nobody tracking them down and they got basically the same thing they would have been doing at GGU, but they just lost 70,000 in scholarship money they would have gotten at GGU. Otherwise everything else essentially the same. Now had they transferred into Stanford that would be a whole other story, because that does open doors and U.S. news subjective opinion is right on there. Harvard, Yale, Stanford are pretty f'ing good schools and some VERY SMART people go there.

However, when they get into distinguishing between 111 and 89 I think applicants like me get concerned and nearly horrendous life altering decisions, by moving to a location they have no desire to live in or transferring up for no apparent purpose like going from GGU to USF.  That is my real issue with the rankings is that law students particularly applicants are naive and put so much emphasis on the rankings when it doesn't matter for the most part. Tell me the difference between Williamette, Franklin Pierce, Florida International, Georgia State, Faulkner, McGeorge, Gonzaga, University of North Dakota, California Western, Mercer, Texas Wesleyan, Barry, Southwestern, Suffolk I mean the list goes on and the truth is none of those schools are going to have employers knocking your door down, but you can get a career going from any of them.  I think Gonzaga is 99 or something while Suffolk is 121 I don't know what the actual rankings are, but if the person wants to live in Boston he should NOT go to Gonzaga despite it being ranked 22 spots higher in my hypo. That is because 99 or 121 is not going to have people dropping their jaws. Long rant again, but the rankings really piss me off you are right that subjectivity plays a part in the law, in school, and basically everything in life. However, I just have a problem when they are making these subjective statements regarding schools outside of the top 25 or so and almost passing them off as fact that law school applicants take very seriously.

Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: nerfco on March 14, 2010, 12:58:19 PM
So, in short, your problem is that students are putting too much weight on rankings?

Having rankings simply provides people more information than they would have otherwise. If they misuse that information, it is their own fault, not the rankings' fault.

I agree that some people make poor decisions based on rankings. But rankings also let other people use the information wisely in making an informed decision.
Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: bigs5068 on March 14, 2010, 11:03:39 PM
I will agree with that, if you make bad decisions based on the rankings it is your own fault.

The main point of this post was to let potential students know not to get to caught up in the rankings, unless of course you are deciding between an elite school. I think the rankings have some merit if they are distinguishing between NYU and Penn or schools of that nature, but when you are trying to make a distinction between St. Mary's and Hamline is where I get upset and think applicant's make bad decisions.

 I was browsing through law school numbers the other day and saw people being thrilled to be accepted into tier 3 schools and willing to move across country for based on rankings alone and that will likely lead to a bad result. I mean for a New York City applicant to go to Gonzaga instead of New York Law School based on Gonzaga being Tier 2 and NYLS being tier 3 is a terrible decision, unless Washington is where they want to end up, but assuming the applicant likes NY that will be a horrendous decision. However, I see people on LSN potentially making that mistake a lot and I nearly did myself last year going to Michigan State instead of GGU, when I wanted to live in San Francisco.

You are right it is not U.S. News rankings fault for creating the rankings, nobody is forcing you to even look at them yet alone take them seriously. So you are 100% right U.S. News didn't do anything wrong they are just a business with a niche that people are willing to pay for.  Honestly, my post is more of a word of caution to potential applicants rather than a knock against the rankings.



Title: Re: For those who don't like rankings...
Post by: Thane Messinger on March 15, 2010, 12:00:12 AM
I was browsing through law school numbers the other day and saw people being thrilled to be accepted into tier 3 schools and willing to move across country for based on rankings alone and that will likely lead to a bad result. I mean for a New York City applicant to go to Gonzaga instead of New York Law School based on Gonzaga being Tier 2 and NYLS being tier 3 is a terrible decision, unless Washington is where they want to end up, but assuming the applicant likes NY that will be a horrendous decision. However, I see people on LSN potentially making that mistake a lot and I nearly did myself last year going to Michigan State instead of GGU, when I wanted to live in San Francisco.


This point is quite right, and it's equally true that many use the rankings badly, or give too much weight to the wrong factors.

To anyone in the process of applying to law school, rankings ARE important, but there are other factors, and there are nuances within rankings that can make a difference to an individual applicant.

It's easy to see a singular ranking as part of a linear rank.  No.  Rankings should be seen as a three-dimensional, non-linear guide extending above and across the U.S.  They should also be seen, in most cases, as only the crudest of approximations.  Among the many factors are considerations unique to the individual, such as area preferences.  

In sum, rankings are valuable, if considered properly.  It's important to put them into a context useful to a specific person: you.