« on: July 27, 2005, 04:47:46 PM »
This is just meant to follow up the first Michigan v. Georgetown thread, but with additional supporting information. Most of the rankings below can be found in the upper right-hand corner at JD2b.com. Others can be found in current and prior USNews issues. Note that this is not meant to disparage Georgetown, which is in fact an excellent program, as are all schools in the top 15. However, there are in fact reputational and placement differentials between these programs, and students should be aware of these when choosing between potential schools.
This doesn't mean personal fit and scholarship money shouldn't also affect one's decision, it simply means they are all factors to consider.
Average USNews rank over the last 10 years:
(Note that this is significantly greater than the average ranking difference between Harvard  and Michigan.)
Average Rank by Lawyers and Judges, last 5 years:
(Again, this is greater than the average ranking difference between Harvard and Michigan. As recently as 1997, Michigan was actually tied for first in this category. It should be noted, of course, that lawyers and judges are the ones who do the actual hiring.)
Average Rank by Academics, last 5 years:
(Note that lawyers, judges, and academics all rank Michigan closer to Harvard and Yale than to Georgetown.)
National Elite-firm Placement, per-capita (Leiter):
(This ranking examines how national each school's placement is at top firms. Again, Michigan is much closer to Harvard here [2nd] than it is to Georgetown.)
National Elite-firm placement (Ciolli Study):
(This ranking also examines how well each school does in national elite-firm placement. Again, Michigan places much closer to Harvard [2nd] than to Georgetown.)
Academic Placement (Leiter study):
Michigan: 4th (tied with Chicago)
Georgetown: 10th (tied with Cornell, Duke, and Texas).
(This survey notes how well each school does in placing graduates as law professors. Note that class size is not taken into account, which would probably widen the gap between the two schools. However, again, Michigan is ranked closer to Harvard in this category than to Georgetown.)
Supreme Court Clerkships:
(Michigan placed over 3 times as many SCOTUS clerks in a recent ten-year span. When adjusted for class size, Michigan did 5 times better on a per-capita basis in this area.)
Michigan also has a significantly higher average faculty quality rating in Leiter's survey than Georgetown.
Looking at all the above, we can discern several basic facts: 1) Michigan has a significantly better reputation than Georgetown (or most top 15 schools). 2) Michigan has significantly better placement, in pretty much all areas, then Georgetown. (Including national elite-firm placement, clerkships, and academic placement.) 3) Michigan is clearly more prestigious than Georgetown, as can be viewed by examining placement in the most selective jobs -- Academia and Supreme Court Clerkships.
(The only area where Georgetown is comparable to Michigan (or most other top-10 schools) is in terms of student numbers, particularly LSAT's. However, all this really means is that things will be more competitive at Georgetown, with less opportunities to show for it upon graduation. Reputation and placement involve more than just LSAT scores, which is why Stanford consistently outplaces NYU, despite NYU's higher ranges.)
The bottom line is that while most students at top 15 programs have great numbers, some programs have stronger reputations than others, and place better. HYS all place better than the other top programs, Chicago and Columbia place somewhat better than Michigan, and Michigan places somewhat better than other top 15 schools, particularly those ranked in the 10-15 range.
All schools in the top 15 place very well, of course. But when comparing these programs, it should be noted that Michigan is generally ranked closer to Harvard than to Georgetown in pretty much every placement category, while Georgetown is generally ranked closer to Texas than to Michigan. Again, all these programs are excellent programs, but there are in fact variations between them.