August 20, 2010

"Will the new Forbes Law School Rankings reduce the influence of the U.S. News rankings?"

Asks Instapundit, linking here, and what's a harried law school applicant to think? Forget Harvard! I'm aiming for Williams Law School. And if I can't get into Williams, here's hoping for Princeton Law School — good old Princeton Law School. It's always been so well thought of! *

Now, I can see that way down at the bottom of his post — the one headed "Forbes Law School Rankings" and displaying a list of 50 schools that are not law schools — TaxProf gets around to saying:
Forbes reportedly is at work on its first law school rankings, based in part on an alumni survey and salary information (immediately after graduation and five years out), which Forbes will use to produce a "return on investment."
An interesting calculation. I can already hear the lawprofs' complaints about penalizing schools that support students going into public service. Ah, but here at Wisconsin, the tuition is relatively low. Let's see how we rank, relative to our U.S. News ranking, before we snipe at Forbes. That was my first thought, and I'll bet it's the way most lawprofs think.

***

* That sent me looking for a quote I remember about how well the nonexistent Princeton Law School would rank in any survey of the reputation of law schools. Ah, here it is: a 1998 NYT article by Jan Hoffman — I love Jan Hoffman! — about the problems with the U.S. News rankings:
The deans said that law schools should not be ranked at all.... They protested the reputation questionnaires, which ask respondents their opinion of all the law schools in the country.

''If they were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear on the top 20 -- but it doesn't exist,'' said John Sexton, dean of New York University's law school.

***

ADDED: A propos of my anticipated criticism of the Forbes ranking, I feel I must reference this oft-referenced Michelle Obama speech:
And I went from college to law school to a big ol' fancy law firm where I was making more money than both of my parents combined. I thought I had arrived....

.... and I had to ask myself whether, if I died tomorrow, would I want this to be my legacy, working in a corporate firm, working for big companies? And when I asked myself the question, the resounding answer was, absolutely not. This isn't what I want to leave behind, this isn't why I went to Princeton and Harvard, this isn't why I was doing what I was doing. I thought I had more to give.

So people were quite surprised when I told them at the firm that I was going to leave this big lucrative paycheck behind and a promising career, and go on to do something more service-oriented....
Also, there's Lionel Hutz...



... he went to Princeton Law School.

16 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

I want to see how they differ.

Fred4Pres said...

I understand the confusion, since many graduates at Princeton go on to lawschool, just not at Princeton!

AllenS said...

Michelle: if I died tomorrow, would I want this to be my legacy, working in a corporate firm, working for big companies?

And then I said NO! I will work in a hospital and make some really big bucks doing... probably nothing.

MadisonMan said...

Perhaps someone should rank the rankers.

Richard Dolan said...

The snob factor, focused on what law school a lawyer attended, is surprisingly strong among law firms and especially those catering to business clients. On their websites, a lot of law firms today have a search feature allowing you to sort the firm's lawyers based on where the lawyers went to law school. The only explanation is that they think it will help in marketing their services if they have a high percentage of graduates from 'elite' schools. That usually means the five Ivy schools plus a dozen or so Ivy equivalents.

It's very odd to think that, after (say) 20 years of practice, a lawyer's law school is still a relevant datum in deciding whether to hire that attorney. In no other profession -- medicine, academia, business generally -- does the school's identity have such importance except at the beginning of a career. Law is different.

All of these surveys factor that in. Just as the Yale School of Management became a high-rated business school shortly after it opened despite being close to dysfunctional, the Princeton Law School would be instantly top-ten even if it opened by buying Seton Hall LS and just changing the name.

So much for the 'rose by any other name' stuff.

Ross said...

And so Michelle Obama left a big law firm and went to work as the Vice President for Community and External Affairs at University of Chicago Hospital going from a starting salary of $112,000 to $317,000.

Good thing she didn't care about making money.

Roger Sweeny said...

I'll bet she worked shorter hours at UC Hospital, too.

300K plus. Human hours. And the chance to look down on those people who work for profit-making institutions. It doesn't get much better than that.

Bob_R said...

But think of all the lives that were save by MO working at that hospital!

Glenn Howes said...

Sideshow Bob: You wanted to be Krusty's sidekick since you were five. What about the buffoon lessons, the four years at clown college.
Cecil Terwilliger:I'll thank you not to refer to Princeton that way.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Lionel Hutz attended Harvard, Yale, MIT, Oxford, the Sorbonne and the Louvre.

c3 said...

Professor;
I'm a law professor... and sometimes I write about law.

Are you concerned that your law posts seemed to get less traffic?

Geoff Matthews said...

I sure miss Phil Hartman. Has there been a more effective supporting actor?

Beldar said...

A ridiculous list, both in its inclusions and exclusions. I regret the permanent loss of the two minutes of my life I wasted in reading it.

John said...

When NYU Law School was fighting with the University for control of the Mueller egg noodle money, there was talk of seceding from NYU and becoming Princeton Law School. This was circa 1977. Perhaps you remember it.

somefeller said...

If the ranking isn't an absurd list like the infamous ranking list from Cooley Law School, it will be a good addition to the conversation. The decision to go to law school (and perhaps more importantly, to take out lots of debt to go to law school) should be seen as a purely economic one, and Forbes is good at such discussions.


Regarding Princeton Law School, that mistaken meme has its own Wikipedia entry. I remember seeing it come up when some conservative bloggers awhile back were talking about the dreaded legal theories of "transnational progressivism" and how they came from Princeton Law School. That lack of attention to detail tended to undermine their arguments. Incidentally, the NRO piece that came from looks like it may have been scrubbed of the embarrassing reference.

Eugene said...

Of course, I would like to see how they would differ, but it would be nice to see a competitor spring up to the U.S. News law school ranking as this has become a tired metric that has purportedly been the only, or at least the most widely used, standard of judging law schools. I would be interested to see just how different the metrics Forbes used are, and just how much of an impact those changes had on the rankings.