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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

SSRN Law School Rankings and US News Law Schools Rankings

I never tire of talk of rankings--particularly rankings of law journals.  So when I saw that Dave Hoffman over at co-op is looking at the rankings of law schools' SSRN downloads, I immediately thought his data deserves some more commentary.  What is the relationship between the top fifty law schools in terms of SSRN downloads and the US News rankings?

All but four schools in Hoffman’s list of the 50 US law schools with the most SSRN downloads are in the USNews top 100. The exceptions are Hofstra, Marquette, Michigan State, and Northern Kentucky.

Of the 50 U.S. law schools with the most SSRN downloads:
   11 are in the USNews top 10 (or 8)
   22 are in the USNews top 20 (or 19)
   25 are in the USNews top 25 (or 22)
   14 have USNews ranks below 50 (including the 4 schools in Tiers 3 and 4). 

The good stuff's below the fold....

The Spearman rank-order correlation between SSRN rank and USNews rank for the 46 schools in the US News top 100 is .64.  (I excluded Hofstra, Marquette, Michigan State, and Northern Kentucky from the analysis.)

You may recall, however, that the correlation between the US News top 100 law schools and recent citations to their main law reviews is higher: .87.  So amidst all this talk about SSRN rankings, I think we should be focusing on other factors--like citations to a law school's main journal--to measure a law school's quality.

As I've said before, I am skeptical of SSRN downloads as a measure of quality.  Fellow propertyprof William S. Brewbaker suggeted that there's an inverse relationship between downloads and quality.  I tend to agree with him.  Yet, Brian Leiter is increasing my faith in lists of SSRN downloads as a measure of quality.  And so is Theodore Seto, whose study of SSRN downloads ranks the University of Alabama graduate tax law program as number six based on SSRN downloads.

But I think when we're trying to assess the quality of law schools, the quality of their law reviews is an important and under-appreciated tool.  Here's a link to my most recent paper on law school rankings and law review rankings.

And here's a table that combines Hoffman's table of SSRN downloads with each school's US News rank, so that you can see for yourself how the two measures line up.

Some related posts:
The Sullivan Scale: Ranking Law Journals Based on Submissions
Ranking Law Reviews Based on Citations
Law Review Ranking Table and Apologies to the Houston Law Review
What Academic Law Journal has the Most Subscribers?

The Relationship Between Law Review Rankings and US News Law School Rankings

Alfred L. Brophy.
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