Law School Rankings
Examining the various law school rankings and ranking methodologies may be helpful in deciding where to apply and where to attend. The variability in the law school rankings and the diversity in methodologies can serve to illustrate the personal nature of your decision to find the best law school for you.
TLS does not endorse or recommend any particular law school rankings and would like to caution its readers about placing too much value on law school rankings. However, hopefully some of the rankings approaches below can serve as useful guides in your decision process.
This ranking contains some interesting observations picked up by America's top legal recruiter, Harrison Barnes. These are generally the top law schools for hiring and these are listed based on his personal ranking on them. You will also learn the characteristics and general stereotypes often associated with graduates coming out of these schools.
Despite many critics, the US News law school rankings remain the most well known and influential of all law school rankings. The rankings are typically released each year in March, and there is usually a lot of discussion about the rankings before and after the release in the choosing a law school forum or law school admissions forum. In addition to having general rankings of full-time ABA accredited law school programs, US News also ranks part-time programs as well as law specialties such as clinical training, dispute resolution, environmental law, health care law, intellectual property law, international law, legal writing, tax law, and trial advocacy.
The Above The Law top 50 Rankings do not consider inputs like GPA and LSAT scores, and instead they focus on employment outcomes and student costs/debt. The ATL rankings are typically released a month or two after the US News rankings, and someone typically starts a topic discussing the ATL rankings release in either the choosing a law school forum or law school admissions forum. ATL has a lot of other rankings in addition to their law school rankings.
The QS World Rankings for Law rank the law schools of the world, and it is pretty easy to use their list to compare the top US law schools. I wasn't able to find too many details about their law school rankings methodology, but their general rankings approach seems to emphasize academic reputation, employer reputation, and research citations.
Vault is more well known for their law firm rankings, but there are also Vault rankings of the best law schools which rank the top 20 schools. I wasn't able to find much information about their law school rankings methodology, but the meta description on their web pages mentioned, "Vault Law School rankings are sourced from our ongoing directed surveys ..." so I am assuming the rankings were and are survey based.
- Law School Transparency has an LST Score Reports website that compiles lots of useful data such as ABA required disclosures which can help you compare schools. According to their site, "The Score Reports are not rankings, although they do serve as an alternative to conventional law school rankings."
Many of the sites that rank law schools typically have profiles of the schools they rank. One of the signature features of TLS used to be its law school profiles, but many of the TLS profiles haven't been updated in years, and you are likely better served by reading profiles on the sites mentioned above or on other sites that have law school profiles such as the LSAC law school profiles and Wikipedia law school profiles. You can also find quite a bit of information about law schools in the TLS forums.
A final note of caution - what is the best law school is a personal choice and should not be solely determined by national law school ratings but instead by what school is the best fit for you. It is generally recommended that you visit each law school that you are seriously considering attending.