Law Students

Law Schools With The Most Scholarly Impact (2021)
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In the ranking this year, there was some shaking up.

How can the scholarly impact of a law school be measured? As you guessed, it involves calculating tenured professors’ citations. As a matter of fact, U.S. News thought this was such a great idea that it turned it into a law school ranking (now abandoned). We have a new ranking for those who are truly interested in which law schools are “best” when it comes to professors’ scholarships.

Earlier this week, Professor Gregory Sisk of the University of St. Thomas released the latest version of his closely-watched, long-awaited triennial ranking of the most-cited law school faculties, and there was some noticeable movement among the top 10 law schools this time around.


Here are the top law schools in 2021 based upon scholarly impact:

  1. Yale
  2. Chicago (+1)
  3. Harvard (-1)
  4. NYU
  5. Columbia
  6. Stanford
  7. UC Berkeley (+1)
  8. Penn (+1)
  9. UVA (+7)
  10. Vanderbilt (+1)

Harvard has fallen behind Chicago, and Sisk notes that this is likely due to the recent retirement of several highly cited Harvard law professors. The rise in UVA’s scholarly impact rankings this year was striking, as Sisk describes it. Here are some additional facts about the ranking:

  • The law schools with the highest rises in the 2021 Scholarly Impact Ranking are American by 18 ordinal levels (to #46), Georgia up 15 positions (to #43), and Brooklyn up 11 positions (to #33).
  • Several law faculties achieve a Scholarly Impact Ranking in 2021 well above the law school rankings reported by U.S. News for 2022:
  • Vanderbilt (at #9) shows a significant gap with U.S. News Ranking (at #16). Among schools close to the top ten for Scholarly Impact, the University of California-Irvine (at #14) has the greatest incongruity with the 2022 U.S. News ranking at (#35).
  • In the Scholarly Impact top 25, George Washington University rises to #18 in Scholarly Impact, while lagging at #27 for U.S. News. Minnesota is also at #18 in Scholarly Impact, but at #22 in U.S. News. The University of California-Davis hits #22 in Scholarly Impact, while left well behind by U.S. News at #35. George Mason continues to be a Top 25 Scholarly Impact school at #23 while dropping in U.S. News to #41. Fordham also ranks at #23 for Scholarly Impact, but down at #35 for U.S. News.
  • The most dramatically under-valued law faculty remains the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), which continues to rank inside the top 25 (at #23) for Scholarly Impact or 2021 while being relegated by U.S. News below the top 100 (at #126)—a difference of 103 ordinal levels.

As part of the ranking, the top five most-cited law professors over the past five years are also listed. Here are the results:

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  1. Erwin Chemerinsky (Berkeley)
  2. Eric Posner (Chicago)
  3. Mark Lemley (Stanford)

Congratulations to all the law professors who contributed to this ranking. Your scholarship must surely add to the prestige of the schools you represent.



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