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.