Hey, look, more law school rankings!

If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more law school rankings. Fortunately, Professor Daniel Filler of Drexel has ranked all ABA-accredited law schools by their job placement rates. Some observations:

  1. The top ten is interesting because it contains nine elite law schools and . . . Kentucky! Kentucky is ranked 60th by U.S. News. It certainly deserves a lot of credit for placing 92% of its graduates in full-time, long term positions that are either “J.D. required” or “J.D. advantage.” I hear Kentucky also has a good basketball program.
  2. As Filler himself acknowledges, the numbers don’t necessarily communicate the same information about each school. Yale checks in at number 18 with an 85% placement rate. This is roughly the same placement rate as is found at schools like George Mason, Arkansas, and SMU. The difference is that a lot of the 15% of Yale graduates who are not working as lawyers are simply too busy running the world, whereas many, and probably most, of the “leftover” 15% from Mason, Arkansas, and SMU haven’t been able to find job practicing law despite their desire to. [Note: If you get into Yale Law School, you should go there.] This is not really a criticism of those three schools; 85% is an excellent placement rate no matter how you slice it.
  3. These data raise, or raise again, a question I’ve struggled with for a long time: what is the cutoff? As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think it’s a very bad idea to enroll at a law school that gives its graduates less than a 50% chance of becoming practicing attorneys. That would put the cutoff at around 187, with fifteen schools falling into the “don’t ever go there” category. What about all the schools–there are around 25–in the 50s? Should you go to a school like Western New England, 56% of the 2015 graduates of which got jobs as lawyers? If you can do so for free, or for just a few thousand dollars, then maybe you should. But I wouldn’t go into six-figure debt to get a degree from a school with a job placement rate below 60%.

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