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Above the Law Creates Consumer Focused Law School Rankings
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As if the US News & World Report’s annual rankings of law schools wasn’t controversial enough, law blog Above the Law released their own rankings of the United States’ top 50 law schools. Above The Law’s rankings distinguish themselves from the more established list compiled by US News & World Report by considering post-graduate factors more heavily than pre-graduate factors to create what they describe as “real world” rankings.

Above the Law’s ATL Top 50 ranks schools based on the ability of a school’s graduates to get jobs at a big law firm. In the introduction to their list, Above the Law says that their rankings factor post-graduate employment rates, the type of employment that graduates can acquire, and the school’s tuition (which leads to post-grad debt) as the primary factors in their rankings. By basing their rankings on what happens to a graduate after leaving law school, Above the Law hopes that their rankings will provide a more practical ranking system for schools.

  
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“We believe that the ATL Top 50 gives prospective law students a way to analyze schools using metrics that actually matter,” says Above the Law in its introduction to the rankings.

In another nod to practicality, Above the Law’s list only ranks the top 50 American law schools. The list’s creators disputed the usefulness of extensive rankings, dismissing the rankings of law schools at 98 and 113 on the US News & World Report’s list as “not a useful piece of consumer information.”

As far as the results of their ranking, the very top of the list is similar to what anyone familiar with US News & World Report’s rankings might expect. Topping the ATL list is Yale, followed by Stanford and then Harvard. This differs from the US News & World Report rankings only in that Stanford and Harvard have switched spots, but considering that these three schools are constantly moving around within the top three places on the US News list, the difference is not striking.

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One major difference between Above the Law’s rankings and US News & World Report’s rankings is the high placement of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School, which is 22 on ATL and 48 on US News, and Brigham Young University, which was 28 on ATL and 48 on US News. In these particular instances, the difference can be attributed to tuition rates, which are low at these schools and factor more prominently into ATL’s post-grad based formula.

In her analysis of the ATL Top 50, Business Insider’s Erin Fuchs suggests that the similarities in the two lists can be attributed to the fact that law firms, Supreme Court Justices, and other top employers like to hire attorneys who have graduated from prestigious law schools, and for a long time the best way to measure the prestige of a school was through US News & World Report’s rankings.



Image Credit: Above the Law website



 

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