U.S. News and World Report Rankings For Law Schools Released

This year’s ranking of law schools by U.S. News & World Report have been released for 2011. The rankings have become increasingly important for law schools in steering applicants and encouraging alumni support. Most professors are highly critical of the rankings. For example, in responding to the drop of Missouri law school again in the ranking,Dean Larry Dessem stated “This is magazine marketing masquerading as social science.” I certainly understand such frustration but I have always viewed these ratings in a more positive way. While flawed in some respects, this is a far better resource that I had in applying to law schools. Back then, you had to ask your undergraduate advisers about the best law schools — a highly imperfect source of such information. GW is ranked 20th. The rankings of the top twenty-five schools and their tuition rates are below:

#1 Yale University: $50,750 per year

#2 Harvard University: $45,450 per year

#3 Stanford University: $46,581 per year

#4 Columbia University: $50,428

#5 University of Chicago: $45,405

#6 New York University: $46,840

#7 University of Michigan: $44,840 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $47,840

#7 University of Pennsylvania: $48,362

#9 University of California–Berkeley: $44,244 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $52,245

#9 University of Virginia: $42,500 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $47,500

#11 Duke University: $47,722

#12 Northwestern University: $49,714

#13 Cornell University: $51,150

#14 Georgetown University: $45,105

#14 University of Texas–Austin: $28,669 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $44,638

#16 University of California–Los Angeles: $40,616 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $50,639

#16 Vanderbilt University: $45,286

#18 University of Southern California (Gould): $48,434

#18 Washington University in St. Louis: $44,125

#20 George Washington University: $43,999

#20 University of Minnesota–Twin Cities: $31,882 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $40,388

#22 Boston University: $40,838

#23 Indiana University–Bloomington (Maurer): $26,904 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $43,704

#23 University of California–Davis: $41,763 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $50,595

#23 University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign: $36,420 per year, Out-of-state, full-time: $43,420

The biggest story appears to be Davis, which has continued an impressive rise in the rankings:

2008-09 Rankings: 44
2009-10 Rankings: 35
2010-11 Rankings: 28
2011-12 Rankings: 23

University of Texas also deserves congratulations. It went up on slot to break into the long unbroken T14 — the top fourteen law schools.

University of Maryland also climbed six spots — an impressive rise from 48th place to 42nd while the University of California at Davis went from 28th place to 23rd. Congratulations to their faculties and students on a very impressive showing.

George Washington remains in the top 20 (just so). It is also ranked as the third best intellectual property school. As the longest serving teacher in the evening program (I also teach in the day section), I am most proud of the ranking as the third best part-time program. However, I honestly believe that our part-time program is second to none, particularly after the addition of a legal theory course for the first-year evening students.

Jonathan Turley

36 thoughts on “U.S. News and World Report Rankings For Law Schools Released”

  1. Professor Turley,

    Don’t really follow the law-school rankings as my educational focus is elsewhere, but I do follow professor reviews by students for an inside glimpse.

    Congratulations. Yours are among the most glistening reviews I’ve ever seen.

  2. Along this line, how does one go about choosing a law school? Assume a soon to be graduated kid with a 3.6something GPA at a Midwestern State college, student senate, Phi Alpha Theta and Order of Omega member. Would the type of law they were interested in affect the choice? Does it ultimately matter if the degree comes from #20 UofMN verses #14 GW verses #5 UofChi?

    Suggestions? Thanks

  3. Stamford Liberal
    1, March 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

    “No Liberty University?”

    Dammit! You beat me to it! But, I will register my disappointment with Liberty’s exclusion


    I join rcampbell and Stamford Liberal in utter shock at the absence of Liberty Univ. from the list. Aren’t the list compilers aware that almost the entire DOJ was staffed by Liberty lawyers? Shameful

  4. Prof, My daughter sent me that video a few weeks ago. I hope no one finds it offensive.

  5. Echoing Mike S., to most folks the best law school as the one that produces the lawyer who wins their case. Anything else is basically arguing about how many angels fit on the head of a pin. While many brilliant people attend the Ivys, to conclude that the Ivy League excels because it produces most of the leaders in the profession ignores the fact that a lot of these folks have the right combination of family connections and wealth to insure their position. Starting at second and scoring on a base hit is not the same as putting the ball over the fence on your own.

    When we become a meritocracy, I’ll do more than glance over this list.

    1. Swarthmore Mom:

      Thanks for posting. I have been debating posting this and I have decided to do so to make it more generally available.


  6. I got my MSW from Ivy League Columbia, always considered the queen of social work. Friends attended CUNY’s Hunter and Fordham. I envied them their education and the interesting and more pertinent classwork they had. To me rankings such as this are in the main bogus, simply because the research entailed in investigating the gamut of schools thoroughly would take longer than a year.

    However, where they become meaningful is the credit future employers give to a persons scholastic background. However, I once worked for a commissioner whose only reason for his prestigious job was a Yale degree and family connections. He was an impeccable preppy dresser and good looking to boot. The man was certifiably schizoid (though of the higher functioning variety) and fired later for spending his afternoons in porno theaters and harassing junior female employees.

  7. “I see Rutgers came in at #84 along with a few other colleges.”

    They also have a very nice law center in Newark,N.J

  8. I am pulling a Brian….

    We used to have a liberty tree in Austin….but it is not there anymore…some paramour…..spurned… poisoned the tree…

    Then we had a Judge in West Texas known as Roy Bean…You have heard of him….

  9. rcampbell,

    “No Liberty University?”

    Dammit! You beat me to it! But, I will register my disappointment with Liberty’s exclusion

  10. No. 7, No. 2, No. 1. No. 14. They are all the same…You just have a bunch of mini quiz’s to take until the real test….think about it…

  11. No Liberty University? Graduates from Liberty virtually controlled our government and nearly all its legal affairs for the first several years of this decade. In some respects they still do. How can this ranking system leave out such an imaginative source of creative interpretations and implementation of our laws?

  12. These grad/professional surveys seem to be driven by pubs and reputation, which often hinge on small numbers of faculty and have little to do with teaching. It’s also a matter of where people will practice. A friend of mine worked for a large professional org where the economists came from places like U of Chicago, but the lawyers came from lesser known places, including night school law schools, that turned out courtroom litigators.

  13. University of Texas made it into the top 14. For some reason that is a benchmark.

  14. Ah ha….but still not enough brain mass to make one zygote…..more like Conjunctivitis for life….

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