April 9, 2008
Ohio Law School Rankings, 2000-2009
Law school competition in the Buckeye State is pretty fierce. Nine schools in Ohio are competing for law students, law faculty, and law librarians: Akron, Capital, Case Western, Cincinnati, Cleveland-Marshall, Dayton, Ohio Northern, OSU-Moritz and Toledo. Competition is regional and national although some public law schools cannot afford to pay law faculty and law librarians salaries that are nationally competitive.
US News Rankings. Reputation rules the day. The quality of law faculties, student bodies and, as we law librarians like to think, law libraries matters. OK, two out of the three really matter; online access to information resources is becoming the great law library leveler for all but major research law libraries (read OSU in Ohio).
Of the nine Ohio law schools, only Case Western, Cincinnati and OSU are ranked in the US News Top 100. OSU is king of the Buckeye State hill. Case Western and Cincinnati have been competing for "second best" Ohio law school for years. Case Western's 10 place decline in 2009 (from 53 to 63) is more a quirk of the US News ranking system than a reflection of the school. US News doesn't use tie-breakers in its rankings which is based on an overall score. The problem, the lower a school's overall score, the more likely it will be tied with other schools. The difference in overall scores for 52nd place and 63 place is three points this year; three schools are tied in 52nd place, 4 in 55th, 4 in 59th and 3 in 63rd place.
Nothing has "happened" at Case Western to merit such a dramatic decline. Case Western and Cincinnati will continue to compete for second place honors for years to come. But watch out Case Western! If Cincinnati can overcome alumni alienation to fund the construction of a much needed new $100 million facility from its mainstream Republican base, the "buzz" will substantially increase Cincinnati's profile. Target date, 10 years from now.
Cincinnati's student quality scores give the school its competitive edge in the rankings game and that's because US News doesn't weigh student metrics by the size of entering classes. Cincinnati's entering class is 100 less students than either OSU or Case Western. Still Cincinnati, indeed all Ohio public law schools have been operating under financial duress for years. The former (Taft) state administration's reallocation of limited financial resources to elementary and secondary education has crippled state universities. Change is in the wind but kudos to all public law schools in Ohio for surviving. Cincinnati for example, suffered through something like 14 annual permanent and/or one-time budget cuts in the last 15 years.
Here's how Case Western, Cincinnati and OSU were ranked by US News from 2000 to 2009, overall and by reputation. For student quality, ranking is based on the average of the 75th and 25th percentile LSAT scores for entering classes. Alternative metrics are provided.
Color-coding. For all ranking tables, relative places are color-coded: maroon for first, teal for second and gray for third place.
Faculty Quality. Faculty quality assessment contributes 40 percent to the US News ranking. US News survey respondents are asked to rate law schools on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). For peer assessment, surveys are sent to aw school deans, deans of academic affairs, the chair of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty members. For bench and bar assessment, legal professionals, including the hiring partners of law firms, state attorneys general, and selected federal and state judges, are surveyed. See US News Law School Ranking Methodology for more.
For the below table, I added the two scores to produce annual overall law faculty reputation scores for 2000-2009. The scale would be from 2 ("marginal") to 10 for "outstanding." Immediately following are tables for peer, and bench and bar assessments. Since the the US News survey response rate by lawyers and judges is substantially lower than the peer response rate (e.g., 26% compared to 70% this year), I believe the peer scores are more significant.
There are substantially better metrics for law faculty quality. Brian Leiter (Texas) has been providing them for about ten years now at Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings [Links to Faculty Quality Studies]. OSU appears in some of his faculty quality ranking studies. Case Western or Cincinnati do not because they fall below Leiter's Top 30-40-50 cutoffs. The above information (plus whatever puffery law school PR machines churn out) is the best that's available.
Alternative Metrics. Some argue that schools with smaller law faculties are at a disadvantage in the faculty reputation game. See the quick facts displayed in the last table for faculty size. Perhaps you agree. Not me. Leiter adjusts for faculty size by using per capita metrics. More generally, some schools are stepping-stones used by some law profs to advance their academic careers after establishing their professional reputations "in the trenches." (More likely at Case Western and Cincinnati than OSU.) Others leave for better compensation. (More likely at Cincinnati than Case Western and OSU.)
Student Quality. For Case Western, Cincinnati and OSU, the below table provides historical student quality data as measured by the average of the 75th and 25th percentile LSAT scores for entering classes reported by US News. The metric is Leiter's. See Ranking of Top 40 Law Schools by Student (Numerical) Quality 2008 (April 6, 2008)("No feasible measure of student quality is particularly ideal, but LSAT scores are the best, crude proxy we have available.") In the event of ties, the school with the larger estimated entering class, if larger by 50 or more students, is ranked higher.
Alternative Metrics. Placement of law graduates in Supreme Court and appellate clerkships, and law teaching jobs is a good proxy for how strong the high end of a law school's class is. Leiter has been measuring this for years at Top Producers of New Law Teachers, 2003-2007 (Case Western, Cincinnati and OSU do not appear) and Supreme Court Clerkship Placement, 2000 Through 2007 Terms. (Only OSU listed).
Some Quick Stats. For context, the below table displays current data reported in the 2009 US News Law School Rankings for faculty and students at Case Western, Cincinnati and OSU. Law library data is also displayed because LLB is a blog by law librarians for law librarians.
Click on any of the tables for a larger display. Please report any data errors by commenting to this post.
Endnote. I think I've beaten the 2009 US News Law School Rankings to death. No more LLB posts by me, I promise (I think). Wait, what about ranking by NCAA conferences? (Have you noticed the declining fortunes of Big Ten schools in the rankings?) [JH]
Earlier LLB posts:
- Where Are the US News Top 30 Law Schools of 1996 Now?
- US News 2009 Law School Rankings Now Online
- US News Law School Rankings: Why March Madness Started Early This Year in the Legal Academy
- Law Schools Flipping Out Over Falling US News Rankings
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Yeah Sarah that's right. They make such ugly buildings.
I guess good architects are not cost effective. :P
Posted by: Unblock Sites | Jan 11, 2009 9:20:35 AM
I'd donate money for a new law building if they would promise to not make it as ugly as all of the other new buildings on campus. (UC Law '02)
Posted by: Sarah Glassmeyer | Apr 9, 2008 11:52:03 AM