I was wondering if anyone had ever taken the USNWR data, removed the reputation scores, and then recalculated the rankings. What schools would rise? What schools coast on their reputations and would plummet like a rock without them?
What would happen is that the rankings would mean even less then they do now, as reputation is the most important factor in placement, and most of the other categories (placement percentage, etc.) are heaviy gamed by the schools themselves. It would ultimtely inflate the importance of LSAT/GPA even further, which would presumably bother many on this board. For what it's worth, though, Stanford would probably drop below NYU.
But the "reputation" scores come from a very limited number of people: some judges, a couple biglaw hiring partners, and some deans of law schools who might not know much about other law schools.
This doesn't say much about a school's reputation outside of those limited groups.
I don't see why people consider LSAT and GPA to be bad factors. I think that the LSAT is a pretty pointless test, but it is *some* indication of how well people do on canned, standardized exams. It might have some probative value on how likely a person is to pass a bar exam. GPA is pretty manipulable, but higher GPA *generally* means harder worker.
Maybe a better way to 'rank' schools is to measure the quality of students it takes (GPA/LSAT) and measure the quality of its output (Bar Pass rates, placement rate, salary). I think most of this data is available through the ABA. I think (and hope) that law schools would not lie to the ABA.