New Law School Rankings Emphasize Affordability

These days, there’s a lot of talk about the “value” of law schools.  But the well-known U.S. News & World Reportrankings don’t specifically include price.

That’s why, according to the ABA Journal, and the TaxProf Blog, author Malcolm Gladwell offered an alternative approach to ranking law schools in a recent critique at the New Yorker (sub. req.) — one that weighs affordability.  In The Order of Things: What College Rankings Really Tell Us, “Gladwell devised a law school ranking that puts the University of Chicago in first place and Brigham Young University in second. It is based 40 percent on value, 40 percent on LSAT scores, and 20 percent on faculty publishing.”

Gladwell criticizes U.S. News for failing to measure tuition costs as a criteria in ranking law schools.  He says, “U.S. News thinks that schools that spend lots of money on their students are nicer than those that don’t, and that this niceness ought to be factored into the equation of desirability.”  Gladwell is also skeptical of the U.S. News’ reliance on surveys to determine a school’s reputation and suggests that the surveys lead to a self-fullfilling prophecy, where a school’s reputation rises when the school rises in the rankings.

  1. Gladwell’s rankings are based on a website created by Indiana University law professor Jeffrey Stake that allows users to rank law schools based on the criteria of their choosing.  The Top 20 in Gladwell’s Law School Rankings, (counting value for the dollar at 40%, LSAT scores at 40%, and faculty publishing at 20% [using 2008 data]) were:


1. Chicago

2.  BYU

3.  Harvard

4.  Yale

5.  Texas

6.  Virginia

7.  Colorado

8.   Alabama

9.  Stanford

10. Pennsylvania

11.  Georgetown

12.  Columbia

13.  U. Washington

14.  Kansas

15.  Arizona

16.  Mississippi

17.  Minnesota

18.  William & Mary

19.  George Mason

20.  Cornell

In fall 2010, the National Jurist and preLaw Magazine also rated Brigham Young second  in their list of “Best Value” law schools.  Georgia State University holds the no. 1 spot on The National Jurist’s 2010 list of “best value” law schools.  Of course, many students who attend “best value” law schools end up working in the same geographic area as the school.





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