The rankings of 184 law schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association are based on a weighted average of the 12 measures of quality described here. Data was collected in the fall 2007 and early 2008. Specialty rankings are based on nomination by legal educators at peer institutions.
Quality Assessment (weighted by .40)
Peer Assessment Score (.25)
In the fall of 2007, law school deans, deans of academic affairs, the chair of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty members were asked to rate programs on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know." A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. About 70 percent of those surveyed responded.
Assessment Score by Lawyers/Judges (.15)
In the fall of 2007, legal professionals, including the hiring partners of law firms, state attorneys general, and selected federal and state judges, were asked to rate programs on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know." A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. About 26 percent of those surveyed responded.
Selectivity (weighted by .25)
Median LSAT Scores (.125)
The median of the scores on the Law School Admission Test of the 2007 entering class of the full-time J.D. program.
Median Undergrad GPA (.10)
The median of the undergraduate grade point average of the 2007 entering class of the full-time J.D. program.
Acceptance Rate (.025)
The proportion of applicants to the full-time program who were accepted for entry into the 2007 entering class.
Placement Success (weighted by .20)
Employment Rates for Graduates
The employment rates for 2006 graduating class. Graduates who are working or pursuing graduate degrees are considered employed. Employment rates are measure at graduation (.04) and nine months after graduation (.14). For the nine-month employment rate, 25 percent of those whose status is unknown are counted as employed. For the 2006 graduating class, those graduates who are unemployed and seeking employment, unemployed and not seeking employment, and unemployed and studying for the bar are all counted as being unemployed for the purposes of the U.S. News employment rate calculations. Previously, those graduates who were unemployed and not seeking employment were not counted as being unemployed, However, changes in how law schools report their 2006 graduating class employment data to the American Bar Association meant that all three groups of unemployed were reported together and none of them could be counted separately.
Bar Passage Rate (.02)
The ratio of the school's bar passage rate of the 2006 graduating class to that jurisdiction's overall state bar passage rate for first-time test takers in summer 2006 and winter 2007. The jurisdiction listed is the state where the largest number of 2006 graduates took the state bar exam. The state's bar passage rates were supplied by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Faculty Resources (weighted by .15)
Expenditures Per Student
The average expenditures per student for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years. The average instruction, library, and supporting services (.0975) are measured, as are all other items, including financial aid (.015).
Student/Faculty Ratio (.03)
The ratio of students to faculty members for the 2007 class, using the American Bar Association definition.
Library Resources (.0075)
The total number of volumes and titles in the school's law library at the end of the 2007 fiscal year.
Data were standardized about their means, and standardized scores were weighted, totaled, and rescaled so that the top school received 100; others received their percentage of the top score. Western State University and University of La Verne in California, Florida A&M University, John Marshall Law School-Atlanta, Charleston School of Law in South Carolina, Faulkner University in Alabama, Liberty University in Virginia, and Phoenix School of Law in Arizona are not ranked because as of December 2007 they were only provisionally approved by the American Bar Association. Three law schools in Puerto Rico—Catholic University, Inter-America University, and the University of Puerto Rico—are not ranked.
To be listed, a law school must be accredited and fully approved by the American Bar Association and must draw most of its students from the United States.
The law schools not ranked in the Top 100 are listed alphabetically in two groups, the Third Tier and Fourth Tier. Law schools within each of these tiers should be considered broadly similar in quality. The Third Tier ranking begins at 105 and the Fourth Tier ranking begins at 142.
These specialty rankings are based solely on votes by legal educators who nominated up to 15 schools in each field. Legal educators chosen were a selection of those listed in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of Law Teachers 2005-2006 as currently teaching. In the case of clinical and legal writing, the nominations were made by directors or members of the clinical and legal writing programs. Those programs that received the most nominations appear.