We’re in the midst of the first round of our annual bracket challenge. Law schools are sick and tired of USNWR ranking them so we’re just going to turn it over to the uncouth masses of the ATL readership to decide who has the best law school of them all.
The first half kicked off yesterday and you can still vote in that competition here.
Today we have the second half of the bracket. Voting for this half of the bracket is open now and will close Monday night at midnight Eastern.
(2) Stanford v. (31) Arizona State
Have you considered Arizona State? The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law is named after one of Stanford’s most illustrious graduates so that makes it sort of on par, right? Stanford occupies the second-rung in the law school rankings all by itself after Harvard’s tumble last year. Stanford’s been in the news lately after Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan threw a tantrum over being “shouted down” on campus, though a comparison of video clips and a review of witness accounts suggest that students kept asking thoughtful questions and the jeering followed his evasive non-answers. Of note, Judge Duncan’s alma mater did not make the bracket.
(15) UCLA v. (18) Texas
The other public law school showdown in this year’s competition. She-Hulk’s law school is already teaching a course on how to screw up businesses as badly as Elon Musk. That’s not the technical title, but close enough. Texas once asked students if Brown v. Board should be overturned, which sounds unnecessarily racially provocative, but given that it probably will be overturned before this Supreme Court is through, maybe Texas was just ahead of the curve.
(10) Michigan v. (23) BYU
This region is very public-heavy. Michigan is one of four public schools in this quadrant of the bracket. Remember when its dean had those problematic book covers? BYU (and Utah generally) have a reputation for a forward-thinking approach to legal technology. If robots are the future of law, one might be able to get ahead of it at BYU… or be the first to die in the robot apocalypse.
(7) NYU v. (26) Alabama
The Violets have taken a beating since peaking at the 4-slot back in the day. But the school continues to be the best bet for students focused on employment at the top of the Biglaw world. It doesn’t boast the best employment numbers overall, but sheer numbers plus the NYC pipeline arguably make it a better “professional” school than some of the higher seeds. Alabama has a former Biglaw partner working on the staff of the school that Holly Anderson of the Shutdown Fullcast once described as “Nick Saban’s School for Wayward Boys.” That doesn’t have much to do with the law school, but it’s a fun fact. The school also went through a lot of donor issues as the state spiraled into a Gilead-inspired reproductive rights regime.
(6) Penn v. (27) Notre Dame
A battle of problematic professors. Penn is trying to shed itself of Amy Wax after years of indulging her nonsense, the school conducted an internal investigation and decided that inviting white nationalists to campus wasn’t the business they wanted to be in. Wax has set up a defense fund to fight the faculty inquiry and claims that it’s a tax deductible entity for her sole personal benefit… though the IRS seems uninterested in looking into this. Penn does have the best employment numbers overall these days (along with Duke), which heavily contributes to its top honors in the ATL Top Law Schools ranking. Meanwhile, Amy Coney Barrett’s former home played host to an epic homophobic rant.
(11) Duke v. (22) Minnesota
As we just discussed, Duke has bonkers employment figures, which might be enough to overcome the annual stain of having to admit to your NCAA bracket pool that you have a Duke connection. Almost two-thirds of graduates end up working in Minnesota, so be prepared to enjoy snow.
(14) Georgetown v. (19) Vanderbilt
Georgetown remains the only T14 school to ever fall out of the T14 — though it jumped right back in — having dipped to 15 once. Its matchup with Vanderbilt highlights how arbitrary the T14 was as a marker of quality. The fact that only 14 schools occupied the top spots for so long morphed into the idea that there was therefore a significant gap between 14 and 15 that never really existed. This is a matchup of comparable law schools with one providing a leg up for working in DC and the other offering you a chance to use your transcript to get lucky.
(3) Chicago v. (30) William & Mary
Chicago is feeling its oats right now, having bested Columbia and NYU in the traditional “CCN” ranking and then blowing by Harvard to bust up the US News podium. In what is surely a coincidence, Chicago is also the only top school that made a point of saying it wouldn’t withdraw from the USNWR rankings. WEIRD! On the other side is the oldest extant law school in the United States.
Voting will close Monday night at midnight Eastern.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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