Sunday, October 20, 2013

Prestige Never Dies: Business Insider's Top Law Schools

As I've said previously, every new ranking that comes out is good for law schools, because it increases the odds that any given crap school will wind up on at least one list which it can use to pimp to prospectives and current students trying to rationalize the terrible, terrible decision they've made.  I mean, enough bogus rankings come out and eventually someone will put Cooley no. 2 or American at 23rd.

Here's Business Insider's methodology:
We asked more than 400 American legal professionals to select the 10 law schools that would best serve a legal career.
Objection to foundation OVERRULED.  Obviously, if you're going to try and figure out what would be best for a student facing law school today, you don't need to figure out employment projections from actual data or look at tuition/debt levels, or look at current opportunities at various schools, or pay attention to how saturated the local legal markets are for new graduates in various areas.

Nope, just ask a random bunch of busy working professionals to comment via SurveyMonkey on conjecture.

Select results:

5.   Georgetown University
10.  University of Chicago
12.  University of Pennsylvania
23.  American University
29.  Pepperdine University
36.  Yeshiva University (Cardozo)
39.  Loyola Marymount University
Not listed in top 50:  Alabama, Maryland, Arizona State, Houston, etc.

I'm astounded.  I've been trying to figure out a way to credibly claim that Georgetown is still a top 5 law school.  Jesus all you have to do is ask a bunch of people an unscientific survey that has no interest in actually getting students good information.

Sometimes, the easiest way to scam is just be dumb.

Loyola-Marymount is a better school than Alabama to best serve a legal career.  Take it from "Business Insider" (which, it seems, is deliberately doubly ironic).


  1. That's a fine post about a pathetic survey.

    I notice that Penn State is way up there at No. 24. The obvious reason is that it's often confused with Penn State. On the other hand, Penn is way down there at No. 12, because it's often confused with Penn State.

  2. Sorry, Penn State is often confused with Penn, not with Penn State. My comment above shows how often that confusion does occur.

  3. To be fair to every other institution, I'm not sure that 'bama is very good. I think it's way overranked by US News. Its student inputs are impressive, but its job outputs are mediocre at best.

    1. Most law schools outside the top 15 or so have mediocre-at-best job results.

      When you look at debt and career prospects, you would be take-away-the-knives insane to go to a 2nd-tier private school over a decent flagship state program for a variety of reasons. With schools like Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, etc, you're looking at equal or better BigLaw prospects as a 2nd-rate private school with likely lower tuition (Alabama is 20k in-state per year) AND the alumni network/in-state loyalty of these places knocks the living piss out of anything American or Loyola can offer.

      If you look at the list, public schools other than Penn State and the U of Cal. system got systematically downgraded, and it appears their rankings may be a result of confusion or defaulting to undergraduate rankings/impressions.

      Between the public schools getting systematically downgraded (seriously, if you go to Cardozo over OSU or Florida all other things being equal, you have no business in the bar) and the fact that BYU is only ranked 44th is a dead give-away that the people who made this ranking and who voted in their survey have absolutely no interest in helping prospective students make wise choices.

      And if that is your goal, I think Alabama, Maryland, ASU, Arizona, South Dakota, West Virginia, Kentucky, and a slew of others make the list long, long before you even *think* of listing a crap factory like American or Cardozo.

    2. Arizona that's another huge overranking by US News. Arizona offers much better job outcomes and much better tuition discounts, and ASU has to emphasize its scrawny PI programs, and even its "prestigious" name (Sandra Day O'Connor) in order to divert attention from the jobs issue.

    3. 2:47pm must be a delusional University of Arizona student. ASU alumni have a vice-like grip of control over the Phoenix legal market. All the top managing partners of biglaw offices and midlaw firms are ASU graduates, as are the leadership corps of all government agencies, and the judicial branch. The Arizona Supreme Court is ordinarily dominated by ASU grads for example, but currently it's a 2-2 tie with UA and 1 Harvard grad. The UA is in Tucson, which has a pitiful share of the state's legal market (not even proportional to population), in addition to which every single desirable government job is in Phoenix. UA grads interviewing for jobs at Phoenix law firms have a massive disadvantage for numerous reasons, including the hatred of Tucson most Phoenix lawyers have (caused by rude treatment of Phx lawyers by Tucson judges and lawyers by the way), and the anti-UA bias ASU grads obviously have.

    4. My point was that ASU is overranked by US News. Not that Arizona is great, but it's ranked 10 or 15 spots behind ASU with far better job opportunities per capita in 101+ firms. That's 12.1% versus 8.0%, according to the Transparency website.

      For some reason, I'm not too impressed by ASU's iron grip on Arizona State government. That doesn't justify attending the ASU scamfest, since those jobs don't pay market rates. Nor does it justify ASU's stated intention to increase its number of entering students.

      I don't advocate attending either ASU or Arizona at sticker price, even the magnanimous in-state sticker price that impresses you so much. I do advocate trying to get discounts, which I mentioned. Both ASU and Arizona require extreme caution from prospective students. Neither degree is worth incurring much debt, Arizona does have some advantages, and no ranking of ASU ahead of Arizona makes any sense.

      Arizona JD grads get more high-paying jobs than ASU grads, and more crap-paying jobs too, most of them within Arizona. They do get fewer jobs in CA. That fact, however, doesn't support the "iron grip" hypothesis. I doubt there are any facts that do support it.

    5. And I'm sure that Tucson judges and attorneys are rude. I don't want to question that.

    6. Not sure what your source is for the income disparity, but my guess is that it's minuscule and statistically meaningless. Also not sure why you're writing off government jobs when those are frankly the best you can hope for with a law degree, whether it's 2013 or 1973. If you don't even want a cushy, intellectually stimulating government job with 5 weeks of vacation and a six figure salary, you were foolish to attend law school even without considering the debt load.

      And yes, there are plenty of six figure government jobs once you work your way into them, at every level of government (city, county, state, federal, and our numerous Phoenix-area Indian tribes). These are all reasons why ASU grads tend to stay in state after graduating, since Phoenix (not Tucson) is the fastest growing major city in the country even after the recession. And again, the top law firms with Phoenix offices are all staffed with numerous ASU grads who've made partner. UA grads do fine, and I think the UA is an excellent law school. But they don't have the regional reach that, say, a UCLA or Iowa grad would have, and they're at a slight disadvantage in their own state.

      Both schools have relatively low tuition for instate students, though I still think it's far too high.

    7. I just searched for the tuition rates, and I agree, they're far too high.

      And the death grip ASU exercises on government hiring doesn't mean much when there's not much government hiring going on. Which further diminishes the worth of both degrees, but more so the ASU degree.

  4. The same American University Washington Commode of Law that has expanded enrollment in a time of overall declining law school applications, by becoming much less selective in its admi$$ion$ process.

    This the ABA-accredited trash pit that is located in DC, where federal agencies and corporate pig law firms will hire from UVA and Georgetown before they even look at American grads. This explains why Third Tier Drake - which did not make Business Insider's list - and many other TTTs have higher legal job placement figures than this supposed 23rd best law school in the country.

    Looking back, publications - for over a decade - have been rating univer$itie$ and college$ on perception, which can be influenced by aggressive campaigning and advertisements to those same magazines and journals. The editors and staff are human, after all. Why else do you see tiny, little liberal arts colleges - each year - receive such recognition from US "News" & World Report and other garbage journals?!?!

    It's the same concept as preseason rankings in college football or basketball, i.e. "This is a name school. And we've heard that they had a great recruiting class. The coaches have been singing the praises of the incoming players. They MUST be a top 20 program this year."

    1. I agree, American at 23 is the worst distortion in the entire survey.

      Pretentious, unprepared, prestige-seeking students, indifferent professors and administrators, pathetic job prospects, incessant overcrowding, sky-high tuition...the misery never ends at this career destination.

    2. "Mr. Gorbachev...tear down this outhouse!"

  5. I agree: Enough bullshit rankings based on bullshit surveys, and just about every miserable scam school will fall in the top tier in some ranking, specialty ranking, or subcategory of ranking.

    And another thing: Imagine something that does not exist: a ranking that gave overwhelming weight to placement success, salary, and long-term job stability, based on verifiable data. I believe that even that ranking would be useful only in corroborating what we already basically know: that there are about 20-25 schools that have outcomes significantly better than the dismal national average, and about 50 that have significantly worse outcomes. The rest are mostly bunched together.

    So whether the student attends the 30th best school or the 130th, he or she would be facing roughly the same prospects: a significant chance of completely ruining his or her life, an overwhelming chance of digging him or herself into a financial pit that will take two decades to climb out of, and maybe an outside chance of a relatively soft landing, such as a cushy public sector job.

  6. Whenever I speak to law students and prospective law students, one thing that always amazes me is that they have either spent zero thought into where they want to practice or they have a complete disconnect between where they want to practice and are applying to law school. For christsakes, if you want to practice in your home state, go to the flagship state university if possible. Attending some private school, even a T14 will not be as helpful to you. The T14 are a good investment only if you want to practice in one of the ten extremely urban markets. If you want to practice in Little Rock, go to U of Arkansas. In such case, NYU is a bad investment, even at the same price.

    1. I agree, but most of these students are still clueless and naive kids. I know an undergrad who was asking me for advice about which law school to attend, between a TTT in a cool city, and a respected instate school (with low, instate tuition for him) in a city he didn't like. Against my advice the idiot chose the TTT. Part of his rationale, which left me breathless, was that he'd just pay off the extra debt by getting a job in biglaw for a few years even though he had no interest whatsoever in biglaw areas of practice, and only later pursue his true interest in an area of law you only get through government work. Since he'd already made up his mind, I didn't bother telling him that up his odds of landing a job in biglaw was about 0.04%. Immature people ultimately just do what they want to do, to hell with facts. I call this Darwinism.

    2. That's a very sad story. That kind of thinking prefigures a tortuous and frustrating job search three years from now. For that type of dreamy young person, there's not much chance of either bigfirm work or a government job.

    3. 9:05, let me guess, was he choosing between Charleston Law and the University of South Carolina?

    4. My turn to guess:

      St. John's vs. Ohio State?
      USF vs. Houston?
      Northeastern vs. Tennessee?

    5. Lol... None of you have guessed correctly but does it really matter? This scenario probably plays out often. He's a clueless 22-year old.