Because we know how much lawyers like prestige, and how little lawyers like numbers, and we know how much we like screwing with all of you, we put together this table showing the changes in the 25/75 LSAT and GPA data for the top 16 schools. Why 16? Because we wanted to include all of last year's 15 top 14 schools, and UCLA just snuck in while our back was turned. So, here's the table, with a bit of commentary below.
(Numbers in parenthesis are drops, in case y'all couldn't figure that out.)
(Click to enlarge if you couldn't figure that out either.)
First, a note about the US News ranking methodology. These are the 25/75 percentile numbers, but US News uses the median score. The 25/75 numbers could move while keeping the median the same, but there's typically a strong correlation between the two data. Same goes for GPAs, US News uses the medians there as well.
Median LSAT counts for 12.5% of a school's rank, while median GPA counts for 10%. That's a pretty sizable portion of a school's total score, which makes Stanford's move up the ladder particularly interesting. It moved up while seeing its LSATs and GPAs drop. Being at the top of your incoming class at Stanford would actually put you near the bottom or middle at Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and NYU. For Stanford to place so highly, it must be really destroying the other elite schools in other areas. Perhaps in the reputation scores it gets a bit of geographical bias? On the East Coast votes get split between Harvard and Yale, while on the West Coast Stanford cleans up? Sounds reasonable. Could also have a similar non-Ivy bias. Prestige mongers again argue of Harvard and Yale, while people with a distaste for the established intellectual elite don't feel so bad voting for Stanford.
Stanford's move follows a trend among the top schools, or rather, a lack of a trend. Changes in rank don't appear at all correlated with changes in LSATs and GPAs. Georgetown and UVA moved up while seeing their numbers drop.
Beyond comparing schools to each other, there's a bigger trend going on. The numbers are moving down. The only school to improve was Columbia, and this was pretty minor. We've calling UVA's GPA change a wash. 3 of the T14 saw LSATs drop, 5 saw GPAs drop. Where are the kids with 173 LSATs and 3.94 GPAs going?
Not to law school.
LSAT takers are on the decline. There's always going to be a 90th percentile, and a 99th percentile, but now there's fewer people in those groups. Your school has two options, reduce the class size, or relax admissions standards.
That's good news for people at the very top though. There's fewer of you now, schools will have to fight harder to get you, and that means more scholarship money. Terrible news for people at the bottom. Since there's going to be increased competition for elite students, and more money going to recruiting them, you're going to be stuck with the bill. Prepare to see your tuition jump to fund the more competitive market.