Prospective law students, current law students, and law school alumni are eagerly awaiting the release of the 2024 U.S. News Law School Rankings, which usually occurs sometime in March. This time around, those rankings may be delayed due to the changes being made to the methodology; now, we only know that they’ll be “released in the spring.” Time moves slowly when a rankings shake-up may be afoot. So, what if we told you that we had an admissions-based “preview” of those rankings? Sounds great, right? Let us help you scratch that rankings itch.
Thanks to Yale and the dozens of other top law schools that decided to withdraw from the U.S. News law school rankings, big changes are finally coming to the methodology. Only publicly available data will be used, and six of the metrics used in last year’s rankings will not be included in this year’s rankings (all of which were weighted a combined 20%). Graduates with school-funded public interest jobs will now be counted the same as other employed graduates. U.S. News has not indicated how weights for other metrics will be affected, what bar passage data will be used, or whether if it will include peer evaluations — a major rankings component of the quality assessment category, last year weighted at 25% but slated to receive less weight in the 2024 rankings — from law schools that have chosen to withdraw from the rankings.
Given that there are many unknowns, let’s focus on what we do know. The current methodology used by U.S. News places a 21% weight on law school admissions in the overall ranking. That category is comprised of three separate components, each with a different weight: acceptance rate (1%); median undergraduate GPA (8.75%); and median LSAT (11.25%) (GRE scores omitted for lack of data). Which schools come out on top using this data?
Dean Paul Caron of Pepperdine University School of Law recently provided charts for all of the ABA data for those components, and now, he’s created two admissions rankings using that data. The first ranking is simple, while the second ranking better approximates the U.S. News rankings using Z scores.
Here are the Top 14 schools, using each of Caron’s rankings.
|Acceptance Rate Rank||UPGA Rank||LSAT Rank||Weighted Ranks|
|Acceptance Rate Rank||UPGA Rank||LSAT Rank||Weighted Z-Scores|
Click here to see the full rankings at TaxProf Blog.
We bet Washington University, UCLA, Vanderbilt, and Florida wish that the U.S. News rankings were based only on their admissions profiles right about now, while schools like UC-Berkeley, Michigan, Duke, and Georgetown are thanking their lucky stars that the rankings are based on more.
We’ll check back in sometime this spring to see how close to reality these partial rankings are. In the meantime, check out the Above the Law Top 50 Law School Rankings for a better, outcome-based methodology.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.