U.S. News & World Report Rankings 2012 Released For Law Schools

The new rankings for law schools are now out for 2012. Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, Berkeley, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Michigan round out the top ten schools this year. That is basically the same group from last year but there are changes. Stanford passed Harvard to take the second position. Berkeley moved from 9th to pass Michigan and tie for 7th place. Michigan had the biggest hit — falling from to 10th. George Washington is again at 20th. (GW is also ranked again as having the second best part-time legal program in the country after some other school named George-something)

With new pressure for accurate reporting as well as a tougher year in recruiting, academics were watching this year’s rankings closely. The biggest change from last year was the University of Washington which rocketed from 30th to 20th in a single year. University of Washington has always been an undervalued school with a terrific faculty. However, a jump of this magnitude is likely to have professorial tongues wagging today.

Emory was able to regain ground after its sharp fall last year — moving up to 24th from 30th. That almost returns the school to its prior position of 22nd the prior year. Boston University fell from 22nd to 26th.

State schools appeared to have a harder time this year, such as Michigan. This year William & Mary took a bit of a hit and fell from 27th to 35th. Indiana (Bloomington) also took a bit of a hit and fell from 23rd to 26th. Likewise, UC Davis fell from 23rd to 29th.

One school with a remarkable rise was Arizona State University which moved from 40th to 26th. In 2009, they were ranked as 55th. Our new dean, Paul Berman, just came over from ASU and can take obvious pride in that remarkable rise.

Here is the top 25

#1 Yale University
#2 Stanford University
#3 Harvard University
#4 Columbia University
#5 University of Chicago
#6 New York University
#7 University of California–Berkeley
#7 University of Pennsylvania
#7 University of Virginia
#10 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
#11 Duke University
#12 Northwestern University
#13 Georgetown University
#14 Cornell University
#15 University of California–Los Angeles
#16 University of Texas–Austin
#16 Vanderbilt University
#18 University of Southern California (Gould)
#19 University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
#20 George Washington University
#20 University of Washington
#22 University of Notre Dame
#23 Washington University in St. Louis
#24 Emory University
#24 Washington and Lee University

While professors generally condemn or dismiss the rankings, I have always found them a useful addition for applicants and largely reflective of the general view of these schools.

Congratulations to all of the schools.

20 thoughts on “U.S. News & World Report Rankings 2012 Released For Law Schools”

  1. Last year, the University of Texas School of Law broke into hallowed “top 14″ in the U.S. News Law School Rankings. Amazingly, instead of canonizing their law dean, Larry Sager, the UT faculty turned on him and forced him out. The U.S. News gods were not pleased by this perversion, and this year, Texas has been cast back down with the sodomites (tied at #16).

  2. DonS, currently in Istanbul, Class of 19. . late 60’s.

    Re “mike in DC”, good questions.

    I’ve never worked strictly in a position that required the degree or bar. But, overall it’s been helpful. Used to be, lots of JD graduates didn’t practice anyway.

    Stay flexible.

  3. While I’m appreciative that my alma mater stayed in the top 20, and agree that the current employment reporting is more accurate than the old methodology, there is frankly still a long way to go before the employment stats tell prospective applicants what they really need to know:
    1) percentage of graduates with a paying, permanent, full-time job requiring a JD and bar admission, at graduation and 9 months after.
    2) average salary for all students in category 1(not just a tiny sample extrapolated out).

    If #1 is less than 50%, do not apply to that school, period. If #2 is less than 80,000(meaning less than half are employed in Big Law), think carefully before applying to that school.

    (still no perm, paying, FT lawyer job, 10 months out from graduation, 3 months out from bar admission)

  4. Mike Appleton Thanks, and the good this is she does not have any debt and she is very happy with her situation.

  5. Sw mom:

    I believe you made a wise move. Georgetown and UT Austin are both considered national law schools. And there is no statistical difference between 13 and 16.

  6. When I got my Masters I attended the number one ranked social work school in the country. Friends in SW schools in other parts of NYC had coursework ad programs that made me envy them. All Columbia did for me was give me an impressive resume item, not a particularly good SW education. As our system is devised though, the prestige did more for my career than the better education would have done. This is sadly true in all aspects of American career culture.

  7. The rise of ASU is frankly unbelieveable. Year to year changes of that magnitude suggest that either there are few differences among the middle to upper-middle ranked schools or the effect of things like reputation or figuring out how to game the numeric criteria.With all due respect to Prof Turley’s faculty, these list always include howlers that are obvious to people working in afield, usually lackluster departments riding on the rep and productivity of faculty who’ve turned to deadwood or riding the prestige of their parent university.

  8. Must represent:

    “Rutgers is widely recognized as among the top public research universities in the United States. It is the only public university in New Jersey to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, an organization comprising the 61 leading universities in North America. The Newark Campus is consistently ranked the most diverse in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, while numerous academic departments are considered among the top 10 in their discipline.”

    “U.S. News & World Report: Ten Law Degrees With Most Financial Value at Graduation
    # 3 in the nation, Rutgers School of Law–Camden”


  9. So what this says is that most of the Sct of the US went to a number 3 school…… It can be summarized as follows they can do a number 2 on the US while doing a number 1 on the constitution…… Nice….

  10. Found myself looking at the medical school rankings for my niece this morning……………….

  11. Frankly, They use LSAT scores, grades, number of applicants, percentages that take the offers, job placement and more. Now fourEL is right while there is no mass hysteria I am thinking maybe we should have paid for Georgetown rather than take the scholarship at the University of Texas. The University of Texas fired their dean and that could have knocked them down a place or two. The prospects are much better for law school graduates than they were two years ago.

  12. How do they come up with these numbers? Its not like pairwise rankings – lawyers from two schools face off & you compare goals scored vs goals allowed against common opponents . . .

    On a related note, do the prospects for LLD’s look like they are going to get better any time soon?

  13. Georgetown isn’t 14 anymore?!? Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

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