Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Interesting article on law schools prestige

Joel Kupfermid just posted on SSRN What Works to Increase a Law Schools’ Prestige and Their Graduates’ Passing the Bar: Better Students or Better Faculty? The abstract provides:

This study asked two questions about the relative influence of student capability (as measured by LSAT scores) and faculty expertise (as measured by citations in law journals for faculty publications) for increasing a law school’s prestige (as measured by ranking in U.S. News) and passage rates on the bar examination for their graduates.
Likewise, several shortcomings in the previous literature were addressed: (1) researchers have either investigated the relationship of student understanding of the law to prestige or examined faculty expertise to this outcome, but none explored the effects of one of these
predictors with the effects of the other removed (partial correlation), (2) researchers have correlated various student measures to bar passing rates for law schools across the country but this presents interpretative difficulties because the types of tests given for each bar examination, and the scores needed to pass, have considerable variation across
jurisdictions, and (3) several studies have assessed the influence of faculty scholarship to prestige, but no study has assessed the influence of scholarship to bar passage rates. The results of this study indicate that prestige is likely a function of the reciprocal relationship between student capability and faculty expertise. To determine which came
first, better students attracting more well-known professors or well-known professors attracting better students, is a chicken and egg problem. With respect to passing the bar, the analysis indicates faculty expertise is more influential than student capability in promoting higher passing percentages, at least in California and New York. Based on these findings, increasing the number of faculty with recognized expertise in an area of law will raise a school’s prestige at least as much as encouraging students with high LSAT scores to enroll, and will have the added benefit of increasing the percentage of graduates passing the bar. This recommendation does not apply to law schools where bar passage rates are very high or where a high percentage of professors eminent in law are already in the department.

Readers may want to check this article out.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 22, 2013 in Law Schools, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Breaking News! U. of Illinois Law School Sanctioned By ABA For Misreporting Admissions Data

Finally, the ABA is attempting to do something. They just imposed a censure on U of Illinois Law School for intentionally misreporting LSAT admissions data. A copy of the full report is available here. In addition to a public censure, the sanctions include a requirement that the law school issue a public corrective statement;  a requirement that the law school hire a compliance monitor to report to the section’s accreditation committee on its admissions process and data for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; a monetary penalty of $250,000; and termination of a section agreement that allowed the law school to conduct an early-admissions program. ABA New Journal Blog has additional information and a press release issued by the ABA is available here. 

I used the word finally because finally there is a recognition that numbers matter. The numbers matter because students rely on them. Whether we like US News and World Reports ranking or not, they are here to say and they use this data. 

Having said that, I am sorry to say that I do not think the ABA went far enough. This is a real serious violation. The ABA found that the Law School acted with intent. How many students relied to their determinent on this? What difference would this have made to financial aid awards to students. 

A much more reasonable penalty would include, in addition the above, placing the school on probation and making them reapply for full accredition in 3 years and in addition, to require that the school refund a substanial portion of the tutition to the students. Figuring out the amount would be difficult and somewhat arbitrary. I would start by figuring out how many students probably would have made a different choice of law schools. Take that number times it by the annual tuition for each of the 3 years and divide it amongest all the students. Now, that would have said a message.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

July 24, 2012 in Law Schools, Law Schools, News, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Brian Leiter's Law School Scholarly Impact Rankings- Why???

Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings-Scholarly Impact was just published. Here. Additional information and a description of other contributors can be found Here

With respect to Brian and his colleagues hard work, this ranking illustrates to me what is wrong with law schools today. How important is scholarly impact to students? How important is it to lawyers in general? The answer is that most scholarship today simply is not important at all because of its focus on legal theory. Practical scholarship is frowned upon by the full-time professorate. Amazing isn't it?

A much more relevant, measurement would be to see which schools and scholars are most cited by courts. It should not be about being cited by other professors. That is exactly what this ranking system measures and that is exactly what is wrong with law schools today. 

These rankings are also biased towards more elite law schools. This is because other professors are more likely to cite an article in Chicago Law Review than New York Law Review. You see, they all want to be published in the University of Chicago Law Review because of that schools US News ranking.  Also, if you cite a professor, he is likely to cite you back. So much for quality. 

TaxProf Blog and others often look to these rankings. Prospective law students are likely to look at these rankings. But, what do they mean? Are they any better than U.S. News and World Reports??

It is time for law professors to start recognizing that it is the students who pay their salaries. Law schools need to employ professors with practical experience to teach law students. Those professors in turn, will produce practical scholarship which can be used by courts and the practicing bar. 

Don't get me wrong. I believe scholarship has an important place in the academy. I myself have published 16 articles and am working on a book. But, the focus should be on practice, not theory. Unfortunately, law schools today are literally backwards. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 17, 2012 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New York Law School Wins Round One In Stunning Fraud Case Brought By Former Students

Gomez-Jimenez et al v. New York Law School, ___Misc. 3d____, 2012 NY Slip Op (N.Y. Co. March 21, 2012), is a case that every, and I mean every, law school adminstrator must read. In fact, prospective law students, as well as law professors in general, should review this decision as well. 

The case was brought by nine former law students. Interestingly, they did not challenge the quality of the education they received. Instead, they alleged that New York Law School engage in unfair and fraudlent practices, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. 

In a scholarly opinion, full of cites to articles and an exhaustive review of case law, the court in a thirty-page decision dismisses each claim one by one and grants New York Law School's motion to dismiss.

Plaintiffs' theory was that New York Law School published misleading employment statistics which plaintiffs' relied upon. In rejecting this claim, the court viewed the plaintiffs as educated consumers and pointed to the poor job market for lawyers as reflected in their papers.

Apparently, plaintiffs believe that New York Law School statistics were misleading because it included all employment whether or not someone was working in a legally related job and whether the person was working full-time, temporary or part-time. Their claim is a bit hard to determine from a bare reading of the decision. In any event, the court concluded that New York Law School did not make any misrepresentation because they did not state in their published statistics that these statistics only represented full-time employment.

Frankly, I believe that is quiet a stretch. It is entirely reasonable for a law student to assume that statistics published on a school web site refer to full-time employment. Most law students do not go to law school in order to seek part-time employment when they graduate.

The court also gives significant weight to U.S. News Law School rankings and assumes that they are accurate. The court explains that because New York Law School does not rank high, plaintiffs could have evaluated this when deciding whether or not to chose New York Law School. The court states:

"One would think that reasonable consumers, armed with publicly available information from U.S. News that plaintiffs cite, thus would avail themselves of plaintiffs' own logic as stated in their complaint when it comes to evaluating their chances of obtaining the full-time legal job of their choice within nine months post-graduation."

What!! Even assuming that U.S. News is the bible, and it surely isn't even close, the U.S. News rankings is based upon several criteria. The U.S. News is not a placement bulletin. Also, the court is assuming that higher ranked schools have better placement rates. That may be true, but courts should not be in the business of making assumptions.

The court also errs, in my view, by stating that "before 2008 there was a seeming abundance of opportunities for lawyers at all points of entry into the profession, regardless of the law school one attended. . . " The court does not cite any authority for this proposition. I have been a lawyer for quite some time and the market has been quite difficult for lawyers as well as law students for quite some time-both before and after 2008. 

The court's most significant error is that because of the changing nature of legal practice "[m]andatory retirement ages are coming down." Excuse me, but mandatory retirement has been per se unlawful under the ADEA for years. 

To be fair, the also court makes some vaild points about the Great Recession of 2008 which is when most plaintiffs were in school. The decision is also well written. Plaintiffs also had a high bar to cross given the elements of each cause of action they had to prove.

I do not express any opinion about whether or not any of these mistakes are material enough to warrant an appeal. I have been an adjunct  faculty member at New York Law School for about 7 years and I do not know any of the players involved in this case-at least I don't think so. I can honestly say that everyone I ever met at New York Law School, including faculty and students, always appeared sincere and honest. I do not believe for one minute that New York Law School would intentionally or negligent mislead any student.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

Updates

New York Law School Press Release, here

New York Law Journal Article, here (registration required)

 

March 21, 2012 in Law Schools, Law Schools, News, Law Schools, Rankings, Law Students, Lawyer Employment | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

College/Law School Rankings

Find The Best has a rating system for colleges and law schools. It is not so much of a ranking tool as it is a selection tool. The site takes public information (such as SAT score and tuition) and allows you to narrow your choice of schools in seconds. It is a handy tool and worth a look.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 10, 2012 in Colleges, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Law School Comparison Chart

Check it out. This may provide some additional information for students. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 1, 2011 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 7, 2011

US News May Begin Ranking Law Schools In The Third Tier

Reportedly, U.S. News may begin ranking law schools who fall into the third tier. Currently, U.S. News ranks the top 100 schools. Unoffically, the first 50 are tier 1, the second 50 are tier 2. Then there is an unranked third tier and an unranked 4th tier. 

This ranking system has been criticized by many scholars and others as flawed. As imperfect as they are, schools have to live with them because students use them. 

So should U.S. News rank the third tier schools. And what about 4th tier schools. My own view is that if we are going to have such a system, then third and fourth tier schools should be ranked like everyone else. To some students it might make a difference that a school is ranked 101 and just below the second tier. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 7, 2011 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Study Claims That Grades Are More Important Than The Law School

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reported on July 30th about a study which indicated that grades were more important than the particular law school chosen by the student. As the article states:

 Go to the best law school you get into.

It’s advice that’s been passed down through the ages, from generation to generation. Law is a profession that trades, the thinking goes, on prestige. Clients like prestigious names like Wachtell and Cravath; the wealthiest firms like names like Harvard, Yale and Chicago. Get into one of those schools, and up go your chances of going to a big firm, kicking tail, making partner and grabbing that brass ring.

Or so the conventional wisdom has for decades dictated.

But is it true? In a new paper, UCLA law professor Richard Sander and Brooklyn law professorJane Yakowitz argue no. “Eliteness” of the school you attended matters much less, they found, than your GPA.

I for one still believe that a student should go to the best law school they could get into. Then get the best grades that you can. I do not know how you can separate grades from school. I think it would not be reasonable for a student to chose a lower ranked school because he or she "thinks" that he or she may get better grades at a lower ranked school.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Hat Tip: Neil J. Dudich, Esq.

August 6, 2010 in Law Schools, Law Schools, News, Law Schools, Rankings, Law Students | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Should U.S. News Use Student LSAT Scores As Part Of Its Rankings?

Law Scholars Propose To Starve U.S. News of LSAT Data is an interesting May 24, 2010 article from the National Law Journal. It is about a proposal by a group of law profs who advocate not supplying LSAT data to U.S. News so they cannot use it in their rankings. The thought is that the LSAT data is no reflective of diversity.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 3, 2010 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The U.S. News and World Report's Ranking System Effect On Law Schools

Research Documents Effect of U.S. News Ranking on Law Schools is an interesting December 9, 2009 New York Law Journal article (registration required). It documents something we all know. The U.S. News and World Reports Law School ranking system effects law schools. As the article states:

The rankings have become a routine consideration in law school decision-making, according to the report, and pressure to move up in the rankings influences the way law schools distribute their resources.

The study's conclusion that law schools have several ways of gaming the system likely will not surprise the many critics who have charged that the rankings are easily manipulated and are harmful to the educational mission of law schools. Most of the interviewed administrators said the rankings hurt law schools, but some believed they add transparency and accountability to legal education. The magazine bases its rankings on reputation, selectivity, placement success and faculty resources.

The researchers considered ways in which that pressure has changed the role of law school deans, admissions officers, career services personnel and faculty.

Administrators consistently reported they have allocated more money toward merit-based scholarships in order to attract students with high LSAT scores, a factor that accounts for half of a school's selectivity score. That leaves less money for need-based scholarships, which in turn can hurt student body diversity because applicants from lower income groups tend to have lower scorer LSAT scores, the researchers found.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 31, 2010 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2010 Princeton Review Law School Rankings

Princeton Review's 2010 Law School Rankings were released on December 2, 2009. The "winners" in each of the 11 categories are:

Best Career Prospects -- Northwestern University School of Law

Best Classroom Experience -- University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Best Environment for Minority Students -- University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law

Best Quality of Life -- University of Virginia School of Law

Most Liberal Students -- City University of New York--Queens College CUNY School of Law

Most Conservative Students -- Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School

Most Competitive Students -- Baylor University School of Law

Most Diverse Faculty -- Florida International University College of Law

Most Chosen By Older Students -- City University of New York

Best Professors -- University of Chicago Law School

Toughest To Get Into -- Yale University Law School

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 8, 2009 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2009

US News To Add Peer Assessment To PT Rankings

The ABA Journal reported that U.S. News will add  peer review rankings to part time JD programs. As the states:

For the next edition of its annual law school rankings, U.S. News & World Report will ask deans to rate other part-time JD programs and factor those ratings into those programs' rankings.

Law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments and other tenured faculty will be asked to rate 99 part-time JD programs on a 1-to-5 scale, Bob Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report wrote on his blog, Morse Code.

I suppose this is a good idea in theory. But I fail to understand how a school PT program can be significantly better or worse than a school's FT program.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 4, 2009 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Law Schools To Cut Back Their PT Programs

Clinicians Without Enough To Do reports via Brian Leiter's Law School Reports that some schools are cutting back on their part-time programs and that this was predictable. It sure was. The law schools are not dong this because of the poor economy.  Rather, they are doing this because U.S. News now figures them into the rankings. GW is a law school that was specifically mentioned.

What a system!

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 8, 2009 in Law Schools, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Sickness Of U.S. News Ranking System

Cornell Law School Associate Dean Richard Geiger wrote an excellent article for the May 20, 2009 New York Law Journal entitled The Rankings, Deconstructed and Examined.
In this article, Dean Geiger accepts that the ranking system is here to stay and that students rely on it. However, he also notes that it is at a cost. The cost is that the rankings due not measure some important subjective features such as the competitive nature of the applicants college or his extra-curricular activities. As a result, law schools may increasing begin to put less of an emphasis on such factors. As the article states:

The rankings take no account of other admission factors. There is nothing about where degrees were earned; nothing about grading standards of schools or programs; nothing about whether applicants ever spent time outside the ?library as a student. ?There is also nothing about graduate work or community service or work experience; nothing about communication skills; nothing about leadership, resilience or passion. ?

So, if you're a law school in an academic ecosystem that has completely assimilated the rankings, how might ?you structure your admissions process and decisions to take advantage ?of the system? ?

To increase your application volume, you might spend more on recruitment and outreach efforts. You might increase your travel budget or encourage reluctant applicants to apply by waiving your application fees. ?

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 6, 2009 in Articles, Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brooklyn Law School Under Investigation

As readers of this blog all know, the U.S. News and World Reports rankings-as flawed as they are-are regarded as the bible by many. To mean anything, the data must be accurate. The National Law Journal is reporting that Brooklyn Law School is under investigation by U.S. News and World Reports responses with regard to part-time students.  As the article states:

The magazine said it would look into the matter after some rival law schools noted that Brooklyn Law wasn't listed in the part-time ranking and questioned whether the school also excluded part-time students in its responses for the overall ranking in an effort to boost its ranking. "We're still investigating the Brooklyn situation," said Bob Morse, the director of data research at the magazine.

Brooklyn, which ranked no. 61 among 184 law schools, acknowledged that it didn't include some information for part-time students partly because it disagrees with the magazine's methodology, but also because of an inadvertent error. The school maintained that including part-time information would have made little difference in some areas anyway.

Frankly, as the previous article notes, law student cheating is a serious matter. Law school cheating (if true) is just as serious.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 13, 2009 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

U.S. News Law School Rankings Officially Released

Well, its finally out. The U.S. News official rankings are out and available here. The April 22, 2009 Wall Street Law Journal Blog ran an interesting story entitled Here It Is where they previewed the rankings (which were already leaked) and explained some of the changes in methodology. As the article states:   

According to Bob Morse, the director of data research for the magazine, the staff made several changes to the methodology this year. For starters, in the main law school rankings, the staff combined admissions data for full and part time students. “In the past, we’d just used full-time,” said Morse. “But some schools we think were gaming the system. There were some part-time programs that were set up just for US News reporting purposes.”

Other changes made by Morse and his crew:

  • Traditionally, when calculating post-graduate placement rates, the staff lumped those students who weren’t looking for a job in with those students who were but were still unemployed. That was changed for this year. “We just didn’t count those who aren’t looking as part of the calculations,” says Morse.
  • The staff changed the timing of the bar-passage rate calculation. Instead of examining two half-years: or a split between the winter of one year and the summer of the following year, for this year’s survey, the magazine looked at one full calendar year — in this instance, 2007.
  • For the reputation surveys sent to lawyers and judges, the staff used a calculation aggregated over the last two years, rather than just using a one-year snapshot. “We tried to reduce any volatility caused by having a low response rate in one year or another.”

And for the rankings, the top schools are:

1. Yale, 2. Harvard, 3. Stanford, 4. Columbia, 5. NYU, 6. Berkeley, 6. (tie) Chicago, 8. Penn, 9. Michigan, 10. Duke, 10. (tie) Northwestern, 10. (tie) UVA, 13. Cornell, 14. Georgetown, 15. UCLA, 15. (tie) Texas, 17. Vanderbilt, 18. USC, 19. Wash U, 20. BU, 20. (tie) Emory, 20. (tie) Minnesota, 23. Indiana, 23. (tie) Illinois, 23. (tie) Notre Dame, 26. Boston College., 26. (tie) Iowa, 28. William & Mary, 28. (tie) George Washington, 30. Fordham, 30. (tie) Alabama, 30. (tie) UNC, 30. (tie) Washington & Lee, 35. Ohio State, 35. (tie) UC Davis, 35. (tie) Georgia, 35. (tie) Wisconsin.


The top PT programs, which are ranked for the first time, are as follows:

Of the 87 accredited law schools with part-time programs, here are the top 15: 1. Georgetown, 2. George Washington, 3. Fordham, 4. American University, 5. George Mason, 6. Maryland, 7. Temple, 7. (tie) University of San Diego, 9. University of Denver, 10. Illinois Institute of Technology, 11. New York Law School, 12. Seattle U., 13. Loyola Marymount, 13. (tie) Suffolk University, 15. Georgia State.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 23, 2009 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leaked 2010 Law School Rankings. What Is The Significance Of Part-Time Rankings???

For the first time this year, U.S. News has ranked part time programs. Interestingly, they appear to only use one criteria-peer assessment. While that is probably the most accurate criteria why are PT programs judged under a different standard than FT programs. The FT ranking is available here.
One of the schools where I teach is New York Law School. It has long be considered to be in Tier 3. Now, guess what it is ranked as the 11th best PT program. Is our PT program somehow better than the day program?? Just after New York Law is Seattle. There PT program is ranked number 12 and their FT program number 77. Why the big difference?? What should students make of this??
Personally, I believe that this demonstrates how misleading the ranking system really is. To my knowledge, in most schools the same classes are taught by the same faculty. Does anyone believe that faculty teach different to FT or PT students. Guess what. We often do not even know which students are PT or FT. While I teach at night, I frequently have day students in my classes as well.
If your a law student out there-let this be buyer beware. So, if your going to law school PT, please do not pick a school solely on this ranking. Look at them, think about them but make the decision based upon whether the school meets your needs and whether your comfortable there.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

April 21, 2009 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More On Law Schools Gaming U.S. News And World Reports Rankings

The December 2008 ABA Journal has an interesting story entitled Transfers Bolster Elite Schools about law schools gaming the U.S. News and World Reports rankings. How? Through transfer students. Schools encourage students to apply after spending a year at another law school. In that way, the schools LSAT and or GPA scores will not be adversely affected.

The article refers to this as "poaching" from students from other law schools and quotes Dean David Van Zandt of Northwestern Law School as stating the the poaching charge is "probably true."

This is another reason why the U.S. News ranking system simply stinks. The problem is that everyone still utilizes it.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 18, 2008 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Law Students By The Numbers

Bill Henderson over at Empirical Legal Studies wrote an interesting Oct. 10, 2008 posting entitled The Drift Toward Pure Numbers Admissions. Professor Henderson's point is that the U.S. News and World Reports ranking system has resulted in schools placing more and more emphasis on the numbers. This is because the U.S. News and World reports uses those same numbers in it ranking methodology.

I find this to be a shame. I remember that when I applied to law schools, and to college for that matter, unusual experiences mattered. I remember going to school with several students who did not have stellar LSAT scores, but had important work experience.

Law schools always talk about the importance of diversity. Diversity does not just refer to racial diversity. Law school strictly by the numbers threatens to change law school as we know know it.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

October 29, 2008 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Front Page Wall Street Law Journal Article On Law School Rankings

In a August 26, 2008 Wall Street Law Journal front page article entitled Law School Rankings
Reviewed to Deter 'Gaming'
reporter Amir Efrati reports that U.S. News and  World Reports is considering changing its ranking system to include part time students. Currently part time students are not included and some schools apparently "game" U.S. News and World Reports rankings by admitting more of these part time students.

Tax Prof Blog covered this on August 26, 2008 and cited to a number of other law professors who covered this story as well.  Greg May over at the California Blog of Appeal also presents an interesting prospective on this.

In my view, this just demonstrates how flawed the U.S. News rankings really are. Will including part timers improve the rankings-maybe, but maybe not. The problem is that including part timers is a disadvantage to law schools which offer part time programs. This may result in some schools cutting back their part time programs.

I certainly do not believe that the rankings are accurate. If I were shopping for a school, I would look at U.S. News as well as other ranking systems such as Professor Leiter's. It would be a factor in my decision, but a small factor. I would visit the school, kick the tires and see if there was fit. I would look to see what the bar passage rate was and if students historically obtained jobs in an area of law that interested me.

In the end, whether the school ranked number 73 or number 50 does not mean much. However, if the comparision is between a school ranked number 73 and a school ranked number 3 that may mean something.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

August 27, 2008 in Law Schools, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)