PreLaw - Back to School 2010 - 29
Continued from page 26 of many tools. But just because U.S. News says a law school is in the top 25 does not mean it should be in their top 25.” Levine said she is surprised that students are still choosing higher ranked schools over scholarships, even in this economy. “Applicants are really excited to get scholarship offers,” she said. “But very few are considering the scholarship when they get into a higher ranked school. Students are taking the higher ranking every time. It almost comes down to an ego factor.” Levine said most applicants right out of college rely on brand names, and U.S. News helps define the value of those brands. She said she explains to her students that the rankings change each year, and a law school could change four or five places from year to year. She said she understands why a student would choose a top ten school over a third tier school that offers a scholarship. But it does not make sense to select a school ranked 14th over one that ranks 20th and offers a scholarship. Caron agrees. “The old advice to go to the highest ranked law school is far more questionable now,” he said. “Students need to factor in the financial side of things.” He said law school tuition and debt loads, combined with fewer job prospects, make this more important than ever. Levine said the U.S. News rankings have little, if any, value for students who are choosing schools in the third and fourth tier. “There really is not really much difference,” she said of schools in those tiers. “These are national reputation rankings. Students should focus on regional reputation and job prospects.” demia, even if that is a very small number of applicants. She said his rankings are not helpful for students who are applying to schools in the third and fourth tier of the U.S. News rankings. Super Lawyers published its first ranking in November 2009. The magazine bases it’s ranking on the number of graduates selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers, an annual guide to the best lawyers in the country. The numbers are significant, the editors argue, because only 5 percent of the lawyers in each state are selected to Super Lawyers lists. But Leiter and other critics say the system for selecting the Super Lawyers is suspect. Instead, Leiter recommends the The Amercian Lawyer report on where AMLAW firms hire graduates. But he said, students should understand that AMLAW is based on gross revenues for law firms, and that skews for certain markets. For example, New York law schools will fare better in that ranking than schools in Los Angeles. The Princeton Review publishes is own employment ranking, as well as ten other
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What other rankings should you look at?
There are several other sources for rankings, including preLaw magazine. Brian Leiter updates his own rankings on a regular basis. He recently ranked the top 40 law schools by student quality. In this ranking he averaged the 75th and 25th percentile LSAT score for each school. He has also ranked schools by law faculty scholarly impact, where law professors went to school, and where Supreme Court clerks went to school. Levine said his rankings are essential for any student planning to enter legal aca-
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