Law schools are falling all over themselves to get out of the U.S. News and World Report rankings.
Some might suggest using the ATL Top 50 Law Schools ranking as an alternative, but it’s also based on data and numbers… and who needs that? If the law schools don’t want a data-driven ranking, let’s not give them one!
We’ll structure this as a bracket pitting the top 32 schools against each other using last year’s USNWR numbers for seeding. At the end, we’ll break the ties created at each level by defaulting to seed.
Does this make any sense as an objective guide to law school quality? NOPE! Is it better than the existing USNWR rankings? MAYBE.
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that the U.S. News rankings has a five-way tie at 30th place, which means two schools aren’t able to make their way into the 32-team field. So, by virtue of random lot-drawing, Ohio State and Emory were the unlucky (lucky?) schools spared the judgment of the Above the Law audience.
Voting for this first half of the bracket is open now and will close Sunday night at midnight Eastern.
(1) Yale v. (32) ASS Law
In a storybook matchup, the perennial best law school in the land takes America’s ASS law school — as in the Antonin Scalia School of Law. Technically, George Mason University has tried to change its name to the Antonin Scalia Law School after universal ridicule, but post-Dobbs we refuse to recognize its abortive rebranding effort. Life begins at announcement! Conservative judges make noise about boycotting Yale, while the movement has bolstered George Mason to the point of securing Supreme Court clerkships these days. Perhaps ASS Law is a future top-tier law school? (Psst: It’s not.)
(16) Wash U. v. (17) Boston
The alma mater of Above the Law editor Chris Williams finds itself in a squeaker of a battle, though to be honest they’re just excited to be seeded ahead of Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, Boston is looking for the minor upset as a feather in their cap before returning to a lifetime of having to answer every question about their degree with “no, not Harvard, the other law school in Boston.”
(9) Berkeley v. (24) North Carolina
One of only two matchups of public law schools in the whole bracket. Berkeley managed to ditch its racist name and the world indeed kept spinning despite the unhinged whining of “cancel culture” complainers. By contrast, North Carolina last made big news when it banned its civil rights center from protecting civil rights.
(8) UVA v. (25) George Washington
Are we still making jokes about popped collars? Those were fun a decade ago. Virginia, the top-seeded public school in the land, claims to have universally happy graduates. That seems a little suspect, but whatever. They’re taking on the George Washington “Fightin’ Turleys.” While the school is probably desperate to distance itself from Turley’s increasingly desperate bids for attention, his ubiquity makes him the public face of the institution whether they like it or not.
(5) Harvard v. (28) Iowa
Harvard is as shocked as you are to find itself at the 5-seed. It’s supposed to be “HYS” after all. The heavily favored Crimson might earn a measure of redemption against the Hawkeyes. As a state, Iowa has a noted dearth of attorneys creating a bottleneck of legal work. The school doesn’t solve all those problems, with many grads decamping for hubs like Chicago, but it does its part. Meanwhile, Harvard remains a proving ground for the next generation of Biglaw partners.
(12) Cornell v. (21) Florida
Florida remains narrowly ahead of the triumvirate of the SEC’s public law schools (until Texas shows up), though recent reforms passed by the state legislature and Harvard Law’s Ron DeSantis might impact its reputation when Con Law courses start to jump from Lochner directly to Dobbs. Cornell… has gorges? I guess. And internet trolls.
(13) Northwestern v. (20) USC
A showdown of Big Ten law schools — which is a disturbing series of words to write —pits Northwestern against Southern Cal. Technically, USC isn’t heading to the B1G for another year, but the die is cast. Both “little brother/sister” schools in their respective cities have chips on their shoulders in this matchup. There’s upset potential if the West Coast ATL audience shows up in force.
(4) Columbia v. (29) Georgia
Columbia… is still Columbia. The last time we checked in on Georgia, the school was in the midst of some epic buck passing over pass/fail grading during the early lockdown as the school became a political football. But there’s no way an overbearing state government in the South would use its influence over the law school to even more damaging effect.
Polls are open until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Get voting.
Earlier: The 2022 ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings Are Here
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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