So this past week I’ve put a lot of thought into law school rankings and what they really mean. We all know Yale has always been ranked at #1. Sure, they’ve got a great student-faculty ratio, a massive library, a huge endowment. Over time this leads to the best minds going there and rankings become self-fulfilling prophecies. Given that we can’t all go to Yale for law school, I got into looking at some other law school rankings, particularly, what would the rankings look like if we based them solely on bar pass rates?
This interesting idea then led to more brain storming, and the result is something rather interesting that has turned into a little project of mine over the weekend. What if you could create your own law school ranking? Instead of relying on US News and World Report, who uses factors like how many books are in the law library to come up with its numbers, what about numbers that matter at the end of the day? I then set about making it happen.
For me there are six primary factors that are measurable and matter when it comes to picking a school, they are:
Tuition, Bar Pass Rate, Percent Employed After 9 Months, Cost of Living, Starting Salary, and Job Placement within Private Practice and Judicial Clerkships.
After finding all this information for each of the schools I’ve applied to, as well as a few schools to see how other “assumptions” hold up, I’ve got a ranking of the schools that I’ve been interested in. Of course, I have weighed each of these categories in accordance to importance, so it’s a nice little spread sheet formula.
Of course, all the chicken scratch didn’t stay in a notebook for long. Soon enough I was transferring everything into a Google spreadsheet (I’m always trying to migrate away from Micro$oft). Now I’ve got a concise spreadsheet were I can easily update schools, the below list is each school just as you’d find it. I’ve received offers and scholarships to some of the schools, so updating the corresponding tuition numbers etc. is just as easy as changing one figure in a column. The great thing about this spreadsheet is you can easily add your own school preferences and compare them. As soon as I figure out how to set up an easy way for people to download the spreadsheet, I’ll update this post so you can grab it and simply add in your own schools. You can then compare them to the list I’ve made and hopefully it’ll help impact your decision, making it easier.
Until I upload the spreadsheet file, here’s the formula. Remember, simply change the multiplication for each column and you can weigh various factors to your liking, and of course, you can always create your own different criteria.
*This spreadsheet should not be your end-all be-all when it comes to making your decision. There are of course several weaknesses to such a system. For one, it’s nearly impossible to quantify one location versus another, as well as the student life experience, personal relationships you think can be fostered, and numerous other criteria. However, it offers another perspective on schools and lets you take particular criteria and weigh them according to your own goals, and not those of US News and World Report.