The Princeton Review recently published its 2013 edition for The Best 168 Law Schools and the rankings are both realistic and revealing. The survey was conducted among more than 18000 students at 168 law schools, and by collecting data from school administrators. The resulting rankings which has 11 lists does not attempt to rank the law schools upon overall quality but upon specific attributes.
According to Princeton Review’s 2013 rankings, the top schools category-wise are as follows: Columbia University tops ‘Best Career Prospects,’ Stanford University offers the ‘Best Classroom Experience,’ University of Hawaii at Manoa tops the ‘Best Environment for Minority Students,’ University of Virginia offers the ‘Best Quality of Life,’ Northeastern University has the ‘Most Liberal Students,’ Ave Maria School of Law has the ‘Most Conservative Students,’ Baylor University boasts the ‘Most Competitive Students,’ the crown for the ‘Most Diverse Faculty’ goes to Southern University, while University of the District of Columbia is the ‘Most Chosen By Older Students.’ Yale University remains the ‘Toughest to Get Into,’ while Duke University has the claim to the ‘Best Professors.’
Princeton Review claims that at least four of the five ratings for its rankings are based partly or entirely upon opinions of law students given in its law student survey. The five ratings used by the Princeton Review to rank law schools include Admissions Selectivity Rating, Academic Experience Rating, Professors Interesting Rating, Professors Accessible Rating, and Career Rating. Out of the five, all but the Admissions Selectivity Rating are based on Princeton Review’s “Students Say” profiles.
However, the Princeton Review warns students to understand its ratings to decipher their usefulness. For instance, it creates its “Best Career Prospects” rankings on the ‘Career Rating’ which takes into count both the confidence of students in finding employment as also school-reported data. This is also correlated with other data including the percentage of students employed nine months after graduation, and the percentage of students who pass the bar exam on their first attempt. Even then, the publishers warn, “If a school receives a relatively low Career Rating, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the career prospects for graduates are bad; it simply means that the school scored lower relative to other schools based on the criteria outlined.”