The longstanding attacks on legal scholarship all seem to assume a particular relationship between theory and practice, one that I believe is flawed. Recently, I responded to one such critique. There are others, with Justice Roberts and many other judges and practitioners claiming that legal scholarship isn’t worth their attention and isn’t useful to the practice of law.
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A reader of my post about the N.Y. Times critique of legal education writes, in regard to the value of legal scholarship:
Much has already been written about David Segal’s article in the N.Y. Times, What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering. I join the strong critiques of this piece in condemning it as a lousy piece of journalism — more of a one-sided hack job, riddled with errors. It belongs on the op-ed page of a trashy paper.
Over at WSJ Blog, Ashby Jones contacted Robert Morse to get his reaction to my post about how raters should fill out the US News law school rankings forms:
We caught up with Bob Morse, the director of data services for U.S. News, who said in his estimation, the 1-5 options generally speaking matched up with the level of knowledge held by the raters. “We’ve felt that the level of judgment isn’t granular enough to provide a wider scale.”
He also said that because the survey reports the results of the reputation question out to the tenths place, “we’re actually publishing it on a scale of 50; the results average out to be more granular.”
Every year, US News compiles its law school rankings by relying heavily on reputation ratings by law professors (mainly deans and associate deans) and practitioners and judges. They are asked to assign a score (from 1 to 5) for the roughly 200 law schools on the form. A 5 is the highest score and a 1 is the lowest. While many factors that go into the US News ranking have been criticized, the reputation ratings by and large are considered one of the best components in the ranking system. But should it be?
Let’s assume a knowledgeable dean filling out the form in good faith. How is he or she to go about filling out the form?
I recently posted data about law professor hiring statistics per institution where teaching applicants earned their JD. Some students from schools that did not have high success percentages have expressed despair that their chances are low because of the school they graduated (or will be graduating) from.
My intent in collecting and analyzing this data was to encourage more applicants to the teaching market, not discourage them.
So why are certain schools doing so disproportionately well in placing their graduates in teaching positions? Is it all based on a school’s prestige?
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Post and Orin Kerr are debating Post’s experiment of having students read unedited judicial opinions in his classes. Kerr writes that the skill of locating the relevant material in a case is a skill that is learned through all types of reading. Post counters that “a critical part of becoming a lawyer is being able to read through a long document – and not any old long document, but a very particular kind of long document, a ‘judicial opinion’ – to ‘find the relevant section.’”
As usual, a ton of blogospheric attention has been devoted to the US News law school rankings. Over at PrawfsBlawg, Geoffrey Rapp has found a way to get the numerical rankings of law schools in the Third and Fourth Tiers. At TaxProf, Paul Caron ranks the law schools by reputation score. At Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports, Brian Leiter offers suggestions for improving the rankings. At Law Librarian Blog, Joe Hodnicki tracks law school rankings from 1996-present. I, too, have posted about the US News Rankings.
I’ve got the scoop of the year! An anonymous source from US News & World Report leaked this memo to me. It is a memo written by the magazine’s “law school ranking executive” describing how the magazine arrived at this year’s official rankings.
See below for a sneak peak at this year’s rankings as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.