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Overview of the 2012 US News Law School Rankings

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Here it is, the moment we wait for all year, the new US New and World Ranking Festival! The new rankings are out, and just to save you some time and trouble, here are the top fifty of this year and last, along with how much each school moved. Commentary after the chart.

Gains of 5 or more are noted in green, drops of five or more are noted in red.

School

2012 Rank

Change From 2011 Rank

Yale

1

-

Stanford

2

+1

Harvard

3

-1

Columbia

4

-

Chicago

5

-

New York University

6

-

UC Berkeley

7

+2

University of Pennsylvania

7

-

University of Virginia

7

+2

Michigan

10

-3

Duke

11

-

Northwestern

12

-

Georgetown

13

+1

Cornell

14

-1

UCLA

15

+1

Texas - Austin

16

-2

Vanderbilt

16

-

Southern California

18

-

Minnesota – Twin Cities

19

+1

George Washington

20

-

University of Washington

20

+10

Notre Dame

22

+1

Washington University - St. Louis

23

-5

Emory

24

+6

Washington and Lee

24

+6

Arizona State

26

+14

Boston University

26

-4

Indiana – Bloomington

26

-3

Alabama

29

+6

Boston College

29

-2

Fordham

29

+1

UC Davis

29

-6

University of Iowa

29

-2

University of Georgia

34

+1

University of Illinois

35

-12

Wisconsin - Madison

35

-

William and Mary

35

-8

University of North Carolina

38

-8

Brigham Young

39

+2

George Mason

39

+1

Ohio State

39

-4

University of Maryland

39

+3

University of Arizona

43

-1

UC Hastings

44

-2

Boulder - Colorado

44

+3

Wake Forest

44

-5

University of Utah

47

-5

University of Florida

48

-1

American

49

+1

Pepperdine

49

+5

Florida State

51

-1

Southern Methodist

51

-1

Tulane

51

-4

Yeshiva

56

-6

As the late-night crew at ATL (and anyone else still awake) has noticed, Stanford has really shaken up the top three, moving in to second and knocking Harvard to third. We think this move solidifies Yale's top spot for a few more years, signaling that its only true rival, Harvard, has slipped a bit.

The next big headline is that we are back to a classic T-14 situation. Last year Texas ruined our lexicon by making us refer to the "T-14 (plus Texas)," but now it has dropped to 16, leaving us again with a perfectly uneven top 14 schools. Hope you enjoyed your moment in the sun.

Finally, the last huge headline is Arizona State, moving up a Deanship-securing 14 points to 26. Wowza!

 

But hey, let's not let the big headlines get all the attention, there's some other interesting moves in the top 50.

We're back to having a comfortable T-14, but we still have an uncomfortable 21 schools in the top 20. One change in the constituency though, with Washington - St. Louis taking a 5 point dive out, and University of Washington making an amazing 10 point leap up.

The top 40 schools used to consist of 41, now it's up to 42, with Maryland inching up and creating a 4-way tie at 39.

Last year's 4-way tie at 50 is now gone, and though there is a tie at 49, the top 50 are back to being a true top 50. Peace be upon the God of Prestige. FSU and Southern Methodist lost the tie-race, and are now in a 4-way tie (also with Loyola) for 51, out of the coveted T1 category.

 

The biggest drop in the top 50, 12 spots, came from Illinois, which was scandalized this year by publishing fraudulent admissions data. [Read about it here.] But, another school further down dropped more. Villanova, which also published false admissions statistics, plummeted from 84 to 101. The fraudulent data has been noted in the profiles of both schools.

 

There have been no changes in the methodology of the rankings, though US News does expect there to be a shakeup next year in how employment data (20% of a school's score) is calculated.

The ABA will start requiring more detailed jobs placement data for the 2011 graduating class that will require law schools to reveal such key stats as how many graduates had jobs that are full time or part time, short term or long term, and that actually require the J.D. degree. U.S. News plans to incorporate this more granular data into our methodology for future rankings.

[US News]

[Above the Law]


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