The 2023 edition of the Black Guide to Law School is out and this year’s rankings took the unusual turn of… not existing. Or at least there isn’t a single, comprehensive ranking. Lawyers of Color traditionally puts out an annual law school ranking with an eye toward assisting Black prospective law students in choosing a school, but instead of a ranking foisting a subjective methodology on top of the data, LoC took the most relevant information from the mandatory 509 reports filed with the ABA and published it.
Empower students to use the numbers to develop the ranking that works for their needs and interests. As LoC put it, “We are marking this as the end of the rankings era. Of course, ‘rankings’ have their place, but it is alongside transparency and equity. Any data that is objective and verifiable is appropriate to report. Its significance should be left to the students to decide.”
If students are looking for an environment currently producing the most Black lawyers, consult the ranking of Black JDs awarded — which Howard tops at 75 percent. But if students are seeking schools with a long track record of success placing Black graduates in a position to succeed, there’s a ranking based on LoC honorees among alumni — which Harvard tops.
Biglaw bound? A ranking of graduates placed in firms of 251 attorneys or more:
Students hoping for a smaller, more regional practice might place more weight on the 50-250 lawyer firms — where Detroit Mercy comes out on top. For the civic-minded, the government and public interest rankings unsurprisingly place CUNY up top:
The guide also runs through federal and state clerkships and breaks down grants and scholarships showing which schools have the most students getting more than tuition, full tuition, half-to-full tuition, and less than half covered.
Taking the data directly from the reports also shows clearly why Yale was so determined to blow up the US News rankings to give better treatment to school-funded jobs:
Yes, I’m sure every one of those schools is using the school-funded jobs category to offer valuable long-term experiences and not as a band-aid to gloss over subpar actual employment. Yes, indeedy, we definitely need to make sure schools are incentivized to count extended teaching assistant jobs on par with full-time lawyer positions!
There’s a wealth of information in here and it’s not hard to create a personalized ranking based on this data. Prospective law students are a smart bunch — they can pick and choose which variables really matter to them.
Black Guide to Law School 2023 [Lawyers of Color]
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.