U.S. News Law School Rankings for 2012

U.S. NewsReady for more rankings obsession? Today we dig into the latest law school rankings, which U.S. News & World Report released last week. We have a rule here at Veritas Prep headquarters to caution applicants against reading too much into rankings when making decisions on where to apply and attend, but there is no denying the fact that the material is interesting. Our society loves rankings. Put anything on a list — grad schools, rock albums, baseball players — and people will sit up and take note.

And, in research graduate schools, the rankings certainly are useful in terms of helping you get a feel for the lay of the land. Have a 170+ LSAT score and a sterling GPA? maybe you have a shot at a T14 law school after all. Having a hard time getting above 155 on the LSAT? Then maybe you need to look a little lower in the rankings. In this regard, it certainly makes sense to at least eyeball the rankings before going too far into the admissions process.
Continue reading “U.S. News Law School Rankings for 2012”

American Bar Association May Drop LSAT Requirement

Law School Admissions
"All in favor of killing the LSAT requirement say 'aye.'"
Last week Inside Higher Ed reported that the American Bar Association is considering ending a rule that law schools require the LSAT in order to receive ABA accreditation. Right now this is just an idea being kicked around by an ABA panel charged with reviewing the associations accreditation rules, but if the panel recommends the change (which many believe it will), ABA approval may not be far behind.

Why the proposed change? Many schools claim that the LSAT requirement takes away flexibility in the admissions process, because they have no choice but to report those scores to the magazines that that publish annual rankings (ahh, the rankings again). Since each school needs to keep up with the Joneses and keep their mean LSAT scores high (lest they risk dropping in those hated rankings), they end up turning away some students they really do want.
Continue reading “American Bar Association May Drop LSAT Requirement”

A New Wrinkle in the Law School Rankings Game

Law School AdmissionsEveryone who operates in the graduate school admissions space knows that rankings are both important and also to be taken with a grain of salt. Any summation of programs presented in list form purports to be an objective analysis, but is always filled with subjective factors, opinion, and incomplete data.

The most famous, of course, is the “peer assessment” score that plays such a huge role and completely stems from opinion — and often uninformed opinion at that. With numbers — average test scores and GPAs, acceptance rates, job placement, and so on — we assume a bit of gaming (using a huge waitlist to improve yield rate is a favorite), but for the most part, trust that we can believe the stats.

Well, as the old expression goes, there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And in the case of the U.S. News Law School Rankings, there are some very interesting statistics indeed.

Yesterday, on his popular blog TaxProf Blog, Paul Caron wrote a spicy piece that wondered aloud whether 16 law schools committed some form of malpractice last year by reporting employment numbers that were lower than the “plug-in” stat that U.S. News uses when there are no numbers at all. It’s kind of a strong word to attach to the actions of these schools, but Caron’s idea is that these programs harmed their various constituents (students, faculty, alumni, and so on) by reporting numbers that unnecessarily weakened their overall ranking.

Why was this reporting unnecessary? Well, the simple answer is that U.S. News has a default number it uses when schools do not report their “employed at graduation” numbers in time for the new set of rankings. Last year, according to Caron, 74 schools did not supply this information, and so each of them got the default stat (created by taking the “employed after nine month” number and subtracting 30 percentage points). The prevailing opinion is that all 74 schools had actual placement numbers that were lower than the x-30% stat, creating an incentive to accept the default number rather than present the real version.

Caron goes on to discuss the 16 schools that did report numbers below x-30%. The accusation of malpractice is a little strong and probably unique to this setting (hard to imagine a blog focusing on MBA rankings going there), but the premise is logical: these schools gave more info than they had to and would have done a better service to their constituents by falling back on the default stat.

But what does that do to the intended audience (prospective students, employers, and so on)? Picking and choosing between actual stats and default formulas does nothing but obfuscate the actual state of the program. It can’t possibly be a good thing when schools are strategically withholding data, or when truth-telling programs are ridiculed for sharing information with the public. Can it?

I don’t blame U.S. News for its formula (after all, it can’t very well just exclude that column of data, or — worse — exclude all the schools that miss a reporting statistic), but it definitely serves as a reminder that we have to keep the machinery in mind when we look a the tidy list of schools, ranked in numerical order. We have long encouraged our clients to take the rankings with a grain of salt, but when you see stories like this, it makes you want to recommend taking the rankings with a whole barrel of the stuff.

If you’re getting ready to apply to law school, our law school admissions consultants can help you get in. Call us at (800) 925-7737 to speak with an expert about your candidacy today. And, as always, remember to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter

U.S. News Law School Rankings for 2011

Law School RankingsReady to geek out on the newest U.S. News law school rankings? Good, because we are going to break down the 2011 edition, which has been officially posted on the website and available for public consumption (and obsession). While we make it a policy here at Veritas Prep to caution applicants against reading too much into rankings when making decisions on where to apply and attend, there is no denying the fact that the material is interesting.

Our society loves rankings, law schools (and grad schools in general) are part of a fairly hierarchical world, and rankings have a way of making that world go round. Click through to get our take on some of the changes and trends that can be found within this year’s list.

First, for those who hate navigating links, we’ll go ahead and list out the 2011 top 20. We’ll even provide the service of including comparative numbers (something U.S. News doesn’t do):

Law School Rankings for 2011
Current rank [Previous rank] School Name (Rating) [Previous Rating]
1 [1] Yale (100) [100]
2 [2] Harvard (97) [95]
3 [3] Stanford (93) [93]
4 [4] Columbia (91) [88]
5 [6] Chicago (88) [87]
6 [5] NYU (87) [87]
7 [6] Berkeley (85) [84]
7 [7] Penn (85) [82]
9 [9] Michigan (84) [81]
10 [10] Virginia (83) [80]
11 [10] Duke (82) [80]
11 [10] Northwestern (82) [80]
13 [13] Cornell (78) [78]
14 [14] Georgetown (77) [75]
15 [15] UCLA (76) [74]
15 [15] Texas (76) [74]
17 [17] Vanderbilt (75) [73]
18 [18] USC (72) [71]
19 [19] Washington U. (70) [69]
20 [28] George Washington (69) [63]

Now, for some commentary:

The “T14” remains unchanged
Sure, there was some movement within the top 14 law schools, but for the umpteenth year, the schools making up that top tier remained unchanged. Here at the Veritas Prep compound, we joked that this list will never change in our lifetimes. (And yes, we felt very much like the TMZ guys as we hung around the office this morning, riffing about academic rankings. Oddly, we are not remotely embarrassed by this.)

15-19 remains identical, big news at #20
Usually there is some movement among schools 15-through-19, but not this year. Each school saw its raw score go up a bit (more on this below), but the ranking order remained exactly the same. But prized spot #20 features some excitement. You may recall the controversy surrounding George Washington’s awful drop from 20 to 28 last year (okay, maybe you don’t, but luckily the second bullet of this post will refresh your memory), which allowed Boston, Emory, and Minnesota to come crashing into the top 20. This year, those schools are out and GW is back in. Whether it was the placement numbers or the inclusion of part-time data that did George Washington in last year, everything seems to have course-corrected a year later. Cut to: GW law grads taking their fingers off the panic button.

Harvard continues to hold off Stanford for #2
One of the rankings races we watch most closely is the joust for #2 between Harvard and Stanford. Not only did HLS hold off Stanford yet again, they widened the gap and saw their score go up again (from 91 to 95 last year and from 95 to 97 this year). Clearly the momentum of former dean Elena Kagan (the current Solicitor General and a leading contender for appointment to the Supreme Court) is still alive and well in Cambridge. Yale is and probably always will be king, but one could argue that HLS is the hottest property on the law school market.

The U Chicago comeback continues
Two years ago, I wrote a plea to my alma mater Chicago to turn up the heat on their rankings efforts. Whether it is sheer coincidence or the school really has changed its view of the rankings games, the U of C Law School continues to turn things around. After a steady drop through the middle and end of the last decade, Chicago has moved back up in each of the past two years and has now passed NYU and sits at #5 in the current rankings. Again, there’s no need to obsess over this type of stuff (Chicago and NYU are very different schools and whether one is #5 or #6 is no reason to choose one school over the other), but in the case of Chicago it is interesting, because it represents a continued reversal from years of sliding down this list. Chicago grads everywhere (including your author) can breathe a sigh of relief.

Raw scores still going up
Whether law schools really are getting better and better (entirely possible, given the new emphasis on clinical opportunities, seminar instruction, and interdisciplinary learning) or we are just seeing the rankings version of “grade inflation,” the trend of improved scores across the board that we we saw last year continues for the 2011 edition. For instance, Columbia improved three points (from 88 to 91) but stayed at #4, while Michigan and Virginia also went up three points (81 to 84 for UM and 80 to 83 for UVA) but couldn’t make up any ground from a rankings standpoint (#9 and #10, respectively). NYU held steady at 87, but dropped a spot, Berkeley went up a point (84 to 85) but still dropped from #6 to #7, and Duke and Northwestern both went up two full points but dropped from a tie for #10 to a tie for #11.

Has Penn officially arrived?
Quietly, PennLaw keeps giving rise to the idea that it’s a truly elite program, on par with Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Berkeley. For many, Penn has been viewed for years as the “start of the next tier,” and while that may remain the case for some, it is hard to argue that with a straight face anymore. The U.S. News raw score trend bears that out, as Penn has gone from 80 to 82 to 85 over the past three years and has improved in all of the key “profile” elements (acceptance rate, LSAT, GPA). This has largely gone unnoticed even by rankings junkies because Penn has gone from 7th to 8th back to 7th over the past three years, which obscures just how rapidly the school has closed the raw score gap on the competition.

Northwestern doesn’t climb, despite placement success
There was a lot of attention paid to a recent National Law Journal ranking that listed Northwestern as the top law school for placement of grads within the NALP top 250 firms. We threw some cold water on that excitement and if the U.S. News rankings are to be trusted, it looks like we might have been right. There are just too many factors excluded from a BigLaw placement ranking to establish any larger trends connected to a law school.

Please stop by to check out our website for more on Veritas Prep’s law school admissions consulting services. And, as always, remember to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter

Northwestern Law is Ranked #1, but Does it Matter?

Law School Admissions
By at least one measure, Northwestern University’s School of Law is the best law school in America. But what is that measure? And what does it mean? Should would-be Harvard, Columbia, and Chicago students suddenly reverse course?

You may have already heard the “Northwestern ranked as best law school” sound bite in the last week and scratched your head. “Really?” Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the National Law Journal is a highly respected publication that put out a legitimate ranking that had Northwestern had the top of the heap. No, in the sense that this ranking measures one thing — and one thing only — and has nothing to do with academic excellence, peer reputation, class profile, or any other metric that we’re used to analyzing. And no in the sense that the one thing it does measure might be a pretty misleading statistic.

The NLJ survey focuses purely on the number of graduates from each school that land jobs at “NLJ top 250” law firms. That’s it. The school with the highest percentage wins and for Northwestern, that percentage (55.9%) is enough to edge out the likes of Columbia (54.4%), Stanford (54.1%), and Chicago (53.1%). Since the NLJ is very good at determining what the top firms are, this is surely a pretty credible finding, right?

Again, yes and no.

Northwestern has rightly taken advantage of this ranking and used the news as a way to advertise the practical, hands-on training provided by their law school model. I’ve visited Northwestern Law, studied there, interacted with students there, worked at a large firm with graduates from the program and I can say that this is absolutely true. Northwestern does indeed do a great job of turning the esoteric study of law into something more practical. It’s a progressive, innovative, interesting law school and all the things they say in their own student newspaper are completely true.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the data is skewed by certain realities. Such as: if every graduate from U. of Chicago chose to work at a top law firm rather than a prestigious clerkship, then that school would probably beat Northwestern like a drum in this kind of ranking. Such as: If Berkeley students stopped caring about public interest and went “all in” on top 250 firms, they would soar right past Northwestern. If Yale students no longer pursued academia first and foremost, not only would the legal heavyweight get back into the top 10 of this list, it would probably go right to the top. If Harvard Law went back to being the “law firm mill” it was before Elena Kagan became the dean and it students stopped pursuing all of the above (clerkships, public interest, and academia), surely Northwestern would have to take a back seat.

In other words, Northwestern may be placing such a robust percentage of students into top 250 firms in large part because its graduates don’t have the same alternative elite options as some of its more prestigious brethren. If you revised this survey to include graduates who go into: “NLJ top 250 firms, federal clerkships, and academic fellowship programs” (i.e., the three most prestigious paths, probably in reverse order), I promise you the list would look much different.

This isn’t to knock Northwestern. Again, they are doing a fine job of training good lawyers and firms recognize that fact. But this ranking is just as much about the jobs that Northwestern students aren’t getting as the ones they are. And, more importantly for potential law school students, it’s one more reminder that rankings — particularly those that measure just one thing — are never the be-all, end-all scorecard for the quality of a school.

(And yes, I went to U of C, so feel free to start lobbing tomatoes at me in the comments section!)

If you need help with your law school applications, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an admissions expert today.

Law School Admissions – News You Can Use

We’re trying a new format today, which is to include a series of noteworthy links from the world of law school admissions and the legal market. There have been a lot of interesting takes on two topics in particular: deferred law firm jobs and the new U.S. News & World Report rankings. We’ll offer up a few links in those areas, as well as a couple of this blog’s favorite law school topics, including faculty hiring.

Here are some of the hot topics in the law school community:

  • In the wake of the new law school rankings, U.S. News & World comes right out and addresses concerns and feedback, via Bob Morse’ “Morse Code” blog. The publication’s recent movement toward transparency and dialogue about the all-important rankings has given the list even more credibility.

  • Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the more extensive responses to the rankings came from The GW Hatchet, where the George Washington student paper tries to work through law school’s drop from 20 to 28 in the latest rankings. In particular, the article focuses on the disagreement between the school and the aforementioned Morse – the former claiming that the addition of part-time programs in the rankings is what dropped GW down the list, while the latter insists that “weak placement” data is responsible. Worth a read, if only to understand how seriously everyone takes this ranking business.
  • Third-tier program New York Law School rates well behind fellow Manhattan schools such as NYU, Columbia, and Fordham, but its new building appears to be second to none. (Note also the swanky location. You could do worse.)
  • The Wall Street Journal is the latest entity to run a story on the increase in job deferments for new law firm associates. You can follow our analysis of this trend here and here.
  • The Kansas City Star also focused on the difficult legal job market, and extended the analysis to include a reduction in federal clerkship positions.
  • The Chicago Tribune ran a story speculating that President Obama’s pick to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court is likely to have significant ties to the University of Chicago Law School.
  • Legal writer and attorney Ursula Furi-Perry has published Law School Revealed and this article provides a solid checklist for analyzing which schools might be a good fit.
  • Stanford shook off a discouraging drop to #3 in the rankings and the loss of constitutional law scholar Lawrence Lessig to Harvard by hiring 10th Circuit Judge Michael McConnell to direct the Stanford Constitutional Law Center.
  • Stanford can also take solace in the fact that its Law School is at the top of the heap in the TaxProf Blog’s ranking of employment success. The ABA’s blog reports that Stanford rates first (followed by Duke, NYC, UCLA, and Penn) in a study based on U.S. News & World employment statistics and conducted by respected law professor Paul Caron, of the University of Cincinnati.

For more on the law school admissions process, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

U.S. News Law School Rankings for 2010

Back in October, we linked to an important announcement made by U.S. News & World Report that the magazine would be ranking part-time law schools for the first time in 2009. We endorsed the decision, noting that it would affirm both part-time programs and the ranking system itself. Less clear was whether U.S. News would be folding part-time matriculation numbers (mainly average GPA and LSAT) into its general rankings, which was another topic of discussion on this blog. Well, the magazine has gone all the way, adding part-time numbers to its rankings, which is big news indeed.

Part-Time Programs

The whole “part-time stats” situation is important because the fact that such numbers were not included in the law school rankings in the past presented an ongoing scenario whereby schools could game the numbers to soar up the charts. By admitting students with substandard academic profiles into the part-time program, schools could keep enrollment up while protecting the class profile that was used for purposes of ranking the various institutions.

Robert Morse of U.S. News was up front about the reasons for adding part-time numbers then and he and co-author Sam Flanigan shoot from the hip again in yesterday’s announcement.

In the article, Morse and Flanigan write:

This year, we modified our main law school rankings methodology. We used the combined fall 2008 class admissions data for both full-time and part-time entering students for the median LSAT scores, median undergraduate grade-point averages, and the acceptance rate in calculating the school’s overall ranking. U.S. News’s previous law school ranking methodology used only the full-time entering student data for those three admissions variables. This change improves the methodology because U.S. News is now comparing each law school’s entering class against every other’s based on the entire student body, which produces the most complete comparisons

“Part-time program” is about to become a very buzz-worthy phrase in the law school space over the next several days and weeks, as the change to the rankings elevates the profile of part-time programs. In fact, U.S. News ran an accompanying article today by Nikki Schwab that highlights some of the virtues of part-time law school and you can be sure that some of the highest ranking part-time schools will take full advantage of their suddenly official place at the top of a list. That list is likely to be DC-heavy, as the nation’s capital placed four of the top five part-time programs: Georgetown (1), George Washington (2), American (4), and George Mason (5).

New Rankings

Of course, all of the talk of part-time programs was just an undercard for the main event, which is the new rankings, including the top 20 schools for 2009:

Current rank [Previous rank] School Name (Rating) [Previous Rating]
1 [1] Yale (100) [100]
2 [2] Harvard (95) [91]
3 [2] Stanford (93) [91]
4 [4] Columbia (88) [88]
5 [5] NYU (87) [85]
6 [7] Chicago (84) [80]
6 [6] Berkeley (84) [81]
8 [7] Penn (82) [80]
9 [9] Michigan (81) [79]
10 [12] Duke (80) [77]
10 [9] Northwestern (80) [79]
10 [9] Virginia (80) [79]
13 [12] Cornell (78) [77]
14 [14] Georgetown (75) [74]
15 [16] UCLA (74) [71]
15 [16] Texas (74) [71]
17 [15] Vanderbilt (73) [72]
18 [18] USC (72) [68]
19 [19] Washington U. (69) [67]
20 [21] Boston (66) [64]
20 [22] Emory (66) [63]
20 [23] Minnesota (66) [63]

There isn

Law School Rankings – Exploring Ethics

Should ethics be part of the U.S. News law school rankings? That was the question posed recently at a conference of the magazine’s editors, and the subject of a recent blog post by Bob Morse, of Morse Code.

Ethics has obviously become a hot topic in recent months, given the financial crisis causes by the negligent, if not clearly unethical, behavior of many of America’s most trusted institutions. This topic certainly surfaced during the scandals of Enron and WorldCom, but it seems to have new life, as the subject of ethical training was featured recently in a New York Times article pondering the need for reform in MBA programs.

However, the fact that U.S. News is considering adding an ethical component to its ranking system is probably the most radical thing I’ve heard yet regarding a sea change in how our professional education systems handle the subject of ethical behavior in both academia and in the workforce. Most, if not all, law schools already require a course on professional responsibility, which doubles as preparation for the MPRE (multi-state professional responsibility) exam, which is part of the bar admissions process in all states. Adding an additional layer of measurement (no doubt both objective and subjective, which is indicative of the rankings system as a whole), puts the notion of ethics in a whole new light. Morse grapples with many of the issues (or at least relays what they dealt with at the conference) in the blog post, but this approach gives rise to many questions: will schools begin to promote workshops and speaking series on ethics to game the rankings rather than for the good of the students (or are the two mutually inclusive?). Will ethics courses start to replace elective options? Will they become mandatory courses? Which schools will rise or fall based on this new element … or will it make a dent at all?

It is hard to say what kind of impact this change in approach would have, but it would certainly make things interesting. And as “ethics” becomes more and more of a buzzword in politics, the media, and in academia, we can only expect the attempts to measure it in quantifiable ways to increase. On balance, that would seem to be a good thing. Time will tell.

For more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

More U.S. News Law School Rankings Info

U.S. News & World has made another important announcement regarding their law school rankings. Starting next year, in the 2009 rankings set to be released in March, U.S. News & World will be ranking part-time law programs in an effort to provide more information to students looking for these educational opportunities. Less clear is whether the preeminent rankings service will begin folding part time numbers into the full time rankings, as was discussed here.

Until such time that U.S. News & World decides to fold part time programs in, this story won’t affect the general rankings much. That said, it is still an important bit of information for a couple of reasons:

1. It affirms part time programs. There is definitely a need for part time J.D. programs, as they provide opportunities for people who can’t afford to stop working and they also create admission spaces for those candidates who may not be able to put forward the traditionally rewarded academic profile. By ranking these programs, it validates them as options, while also drawing attention to those law schools who specialize in this type of legal education.

2. It validates the rankings. This is a topic for a stand-alone post, but there are many critics of rankings and how they are used. However, the introduction of these part time rankings really validates why we have rankings in the first place – they serve as guideposts that inform students where they will find what they are looking for, while simultaneously alerting employers as to where they might find great employees. Without a ranking system for part time programs, there is no method by which part time candidates can predict the behavior of other part time candidates – and so they blindly select a school based on factors that are important only to full timers. As always, when you reduce any list or ranking of programs, the ultimate value is that they inform behavior and eliminate confusion in that particular market. These new rankings certainly accomplish that goal.

Is Stanford Law Making a Move on Yale?

For years, Yale Law School has been untouchable at the top of law school rankings. Armed with a prized faculty, an esoteric grading system, and lofty GPA/LSAT percentiles, acceptance rates, and yield numbers, Yale has been squashing all contenders with relative ease.

However, signs are starting to emerge that a true challenger is on the horizon.

Stanford Law School recently announced that its proposed new grading system (introduced in March of this year) will take effect both immediately and retroactively, turning a more standard evaluation model into an “honors/pass/low-pass/fail” hierarchy. The school offers plenty of rationalization for the change in a memo to students posted here, but it doesn’t take a legal scholar to recognize where such a grading scheme comes from. (Here’s a hint: it’s from Yale.)

This development comes at the same time that The Yale Daily News wonders aloud about the possibility of Yale Law slipping due to a mass faculty exodus. The piece surmises that the New Haven location is finally catching up to Yale as spousal career options drive top professors to larger cities like Boston and New York. For a small law school that is built upon the world’s most elite legal faculty, this is a rather large blow.

Throw in the fact that Yale has added a controversial question to its application this year (which may drive away top applicants who want to use test prep and/or admissions consulting and worry about disclosing such assistance) and one could surmise that for the first time in ages, Yale is primed for a bit of a decline, however gradual.

All of which creates a perfect opportunity for Stanford to leverage its ongoing status as the “laid back” law school or the “trendy” law school (or whatever title is hot in the streets these days) and make the final push up the ladder. Whether switching to a grading system that alleniates current students in order to mirror Yale is the way to go remains to be seen, and it should be noted that there is still a wide gap between Yale and Stanford, at least as calculated by U.S. News, but it looks like that gap will start closing any minute.

(Note – Not to be outdone, Harvard has followed suit and announced its own Yale copycat, err, revamped grading model. A hat tip to Above the Law for posting the key student memos involved in both grading changes.)

[Update – Georgetown is not going to the pass/fail grading system. I guess it is now news when a law school doesn’t change the way it grades students. Strange times!]

More Rankings Controversy – Michigan Dumps the LSAT (Sort of)

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog has uncovered an interesting announcement on the Michigan Law School website regarding a new admissions policy.

The Wolverine Scholars Program allows University of Michigan undergraduates to apply to the law school without an LSAT score provided that the individual in question has a GPA of at least 3.8.

Michigan provides its rationale for the program on the website, but suffice it to say that this has “gaming the system” written all over it. It is common knowledge that the Michigan residency quotas negatively effects the school’s GPA and LSAT numbers, as out-of-state applicants consistently produce higher profiles. By eliminating the LSAT requirement for UM students, the law school is able to cherry pick applicants with high GPAs and no pesky LSAT scores to offset those glistening grades. The obvious benefit to eliminating the LSAT is that it enables the school to avoid admitting high-GPA UM applicants with low scores (that would drop the LSAT percentiles and negatively affect the rankings), but the other side of the coin is that the school can lock in extremely bright students who might have scored in the 170s and gone elsewhere.

The whole thing feels pretty cheap and almost painfully obvious. Someone get U.S. News and World on the phone and let them know they have yet another adjustment to make to the rankings.

Law School Rankings in Upheaval!

Big law school news today courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. According to a front page article about law school rankings, U.S. News is considering a methodology change to its ranking system.

The whole article is worth reading, but the main takeaway is that many law schools have made huge moves up the rankings in recent years by admitting a higher number of part-time students (thereby increasing revenues while preserving the GPA and LSAT numbers which are generated only by full time students), and that those same schools are primed to fall back down the list if and when the rankings take this trend into account.

The article doesn’t name a lot of names (aside from Toledo), but you can imagine that a number of schools have been taking advantage of this loophole to pad their stats. This seems particularly true in light of the fact that “part time” students can take nearly as many credit hours as full timers, and then just transfer over to the full time program for the 2L year. Maybe I was being too hard on the University of Chicago after all!

The flip side to all of this, of course, is that the practice of stockpiling part time students has created opportunities for candidates with lower GPA and LSAT profiles – many of whom are thriving in law school. If their scores start “counting,” then they may lose their spots, creating even more of a numbers game than ever before.