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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Law School Rankings Unkind to Michigan Law Schools

Once again, the highly controversial national law school rankings have been published by the US News & World Report. Although you have to pay to see them in full, University of Cincinnati Law Professor Paul Caron has published a segment of the rankings; peer reputation vs "overall" rankings.

Some movement was observed at the top of the rankings.  The University of Michigan Law School, for example, fell three spots from 7th to 10th.  Harvard also fell a spot.  To the USN&WR editor: really; what changed at UM and Harvard to merit the drop?  Go figure.

Proving that it never hurts to associate with a huge public university, Michigan State University's "College of Law" [formerly the unaffiliated Detroit College of Law] is now ranked #82 overall.  Not happening in the law school's "stand alone" days.  Not yet 1st tier, but improving.

MSU bested Wayne State, which now sits at #112 overall; that never would have happened in the 1980s.

While my law school alma mater, University of Detroit Mercy, did well in the NCAA men's basketball tournament seeding, in the law school rankings, er...not so much; stuck at #178 in the peer reputation category with an "overall" ranking simply noted as "tier 2" and trending downward from its whopping 169 rank back in 2009.  Guess that means, "second rate".  What's going on over there?

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not at least mention Michigan's other perennial basement dweller in these confounded rankings: the mighty, albeit somewhat narcissistic, Thomas M. Cooley Law School; ranked at #184. 

If you care enough to drill into Cooley's own website, however, you will see that they persist in publishing their own law school ranking which places them second [to Harvard] based on a variety of class-size factors.  And perhaps that is as it should be, with a whopping 3727 Juris Doctor candidates currently enrolled [yes folks, that's Three Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty Seven students; can you say, you are just a number...].  The next highest enrollment is Georgetown University, with 1982 students.

Again, we have to ask, do we really need that many lawyers out there on the street?  Really?


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Anonymous Thomas Tremaine said...

MSU Law's rank jumps are actually quite impressive, especially considering they were unranked two years ago and jumped a dozen spots over the last year. While the news of Wayne and UDM is a bit disconcerting, one has to wonder what is going on over there. Cooley... sigh.

April 10, 2012 at 9:17 AM 

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