The Legal Beat
Yet Another New Law School Ranking Places NYU In Top Spot
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018
Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and before you gobble down some turkey, why not gobble down some new law school rankings? The Princeton Review recently released its annual law school ranking, covering the best 165 law schools in the country (down from 169 last year, and disregarding the fact that there are ~200 law schools with varying degrees of accreditation by the American Bar Association). Our condolences to the thirty-odd law schools that were unable to make the cut for the Princeton Review’s 2019 edition of the rankings — it must sting knowing that your institution is part of the small sliver of law schools that aren’t among the “best.”
We’ve focused on one of the 12 rankings categories that we thought people would be the most interested in: the law schools where graduates have the best career prospects. It wasn’t long ago that the Princeton Review’s loose definition of “career prospects” meant an entire class of law graduates could be putting the “bar” in “barista,” but thankfully the methodology was changed about three years ago, and these career rankings actually mean something now.
Princeton Review’s “Best Career Prospects” results are now based on highly relevant data reported by law school administrators, including median starting salaries, the percentage of students employed in jobs requiring bar passage (and not employed by the school), and the percentage of students who were able to pass the bar exam on their first try. The Princeton Review also relies on responses from student surveys.
Here are the top 10 law schools on the Princeton Review’s “Best Career Prospects” list for 2019. Things really changed for T14 schools over the course of the past year:
- New York University School of Law (no change)
- Columbia University School of Law (ranked #5 last year)
- University of Chicago Law School (no change)
- University of Virginia School of Law (ranked #6 last year)
- Harvard University Law School (ranked #3 last year)
- University of Pennsylvania Law School (ranked #4 last year)
- Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law (ranked #8 least year)
- University of Michigan Law School (ranked #9 last year)
- Stanford University School of Law (ranked #7 last year)
- UC Berkeley School of Law (no change)
What on earth happened here to create such a huge shakeup in the rankings? For the answer, let’s return to Princeton Review’s methodology. Each law school was given a “career rating,” which on top of all of the statistical data reported by law school administrators, includes the following information:
This rating measures the confidence students have in their school’s ability to lead them to fruitful employment opportunities, as well as the school’s own record of having done so. … We ask students about how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships, and clerkships; and how prepared to practice law they expect to feel after graduating.
Princeton Review continues to rely much too heavily on students’ feedback over actual data. Once again, people who felt like they’d get great jobs were more important than the people who were actually able to get great jobs. This may explain why UVA, with 88.9 percent of the class of 2017 employed in full-time, long-term jobs where bar passage was required (discounting eight school-funded positions) rose in the rankings, while Penn Law, with 90 percent of the class of 2017 employed in full-time, long-term jobs where bar passage was required (discounting 12 school-funded positions), sank. The “career rating” is still far too subjective.
Did your law school or alma mater make the cut? If it did, do you think it was ranked fairly? If it didn’t make the list for best career prospects, do you agree with that assessment? Please email us or text us (646-820-8477) with your thoughts. Thanks.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.