May 31, 2013

"Which Highly Ranked Law Schools Operate Most Efficiently?"

Another permutation of the U.S. News Ranking.

My school comes out at #4 on this one, so I'm inclined to be impressed. The idea of "efficiency" is "Spending per student for each point in the overall U.S. News score." That is, the thing schools are visualized as competing for is U.S. News rank, and the less money you spend to get to whatever rank you've been assigned on the master ranking — "Best Law Schools" — the better you do on this "efficiency" ranking.

Another way of looking at this is — to get back to a popular old activity among law professors — is to impugn the master ranking. Here, one would say that what you can infer from this new chart is that many schools are simply buying their way up the rankings, overshadowing some deeper, truer, more substantive qualities that are revealed if the things money can buy are stripped away.

That's how folks tend to talk around here.

18 comments:

Nonapod said...

Do they have a ranking based on the average salary in the first year after graduation?

Paddy O said...

"simply buying their way up the rankings, overshadowing some deeper, truer, more substantive qualities that are revealed if the things money can buy are stripped away."

This is exactly what I used to say back when I was single.

traditionalguy said...

So staying near the same ranking # means all is OK, or not? But an 80 ranked Law School coming in at 7 on "efficiency" is a big deal?

Perception is all important. My school went 23 to 24. But several jumped way up.

USNWR ranks at the bottom.

Ann Althouse said...

If you want to see all the elements that go into the master ranking and how each element is weighted, read this.

bagoh20 said...

"Do they have a ranking based on the average salary in the first year after graduation?"

I agree this would be the best measure of the efficiency of what is paid versus what is hoped for as a return for most students and their parents. A quality education is available from a lot of sources, but at the top you are paying for the name and it's power to get you that first job. After that, the influence of other factors muddies it up some.

It is well understood that having something like Harvard on your resume is gonna keep giving you opportunities, so a more informative measure would be maybe first 10 years income.

Still other things come from such shiny medals, like the fame and gravitas of government positions, and appointments that would almost require top tier schools for some reason.

After all that though, it's a little disappointing or encouraging, depending on who you are, that a college drop out like me makes more than any government employee anywhere in the country all the way to the top. Everybody has a chance at success. What a country!

Ann Althouse said...

U.S. News is efficient at driving traffic to its website.

This new ranking identifies a whole different set of winners, who will then enthuse about the list, etc. etc.

dwstaple said...

Spending per point on the USN scale seems like an odd metric, especially because it isn't necessarily linear over the scale. It may be that $500/student buys a point at the lower end of the scale, but near the top of the scale, it costs $1000 to get an extra point. Therefore, I think it would be more interesting to compare the efficiency scores of similarly ranked schools, rather than the ranking of similarly efficient schools (perhaps they have done this too). Did Harvard and Stanford spend vastly different amounts to achieve their rankings atop the list? To me, that would be more interesting than learning that Louisville spent less per point to achieve their ranking of 68th than Virginia did to receive a ranking of 7th. It doesn't mean that Louisville was more efficient. Perhaps Virginia was actually more efficient, but the cost-per-point of moving from 68 to 7 is greater than that of getting up to 68.

Mitchell the Bat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

There are certain jobs and fields that absolutely require a top name school for prestige requirements. If that's your goal, you have to pay whatever they ask, so the payoff side of the equation can get pretty dominant well beyond the numbers. But, if you are not looking for such a slot in the culture, then you are probably overpaying at the very top name schools.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Nobody liked my idea that everyone should pedal stationary bikes during lectures to generate electricity.

jimbino said...

Just think: if we got rid of the nonsense of Law School Certification, as Milton Friedman proposed, 5 or 6 students could hire Ann Althouse and a couple others like her for full-time private instruction in the law for the same price Wisconsin charges for a classroom full of nanny-state dolts.

The US News efficiency listing has to be treated for what it is: a listing of the least inefficient among schools known for their tremendous inefficiency. Too bad Walmart and Costco aren't running law schools!

Philip Miles said...

Law school rankings are only as valuable as their ability to recognize that my school is awesome. As this one ranks George Mason third . . . I hereby approve this as one of the best law school rankings ever!

ironrailsironweights said...

What I have read is that there are only two types of law schools: the Top 13, and all the rest. Only by graduating from a Top 13 do you have a reasonably assured chance at well-paid employment, and even that's less carved-in-stone than it used to be. Some people claim that the continued deterioration of the legal job market means that it's really only the Top 6 that count.

What is most perplexing is the often-asserted claim that employers make few if any distinctions among the non-Top 13 law schools when making hiring decisions. In other words, a degree from a highly regarded but not Top 13 law school such as UCLA or the University of Texas is not particularly more marketable than one from a bottom-tier law school such as Whittier Law School or Ave Maria School of Law.

Note: the Top 13 law schools are, in order, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, New York University, Penn, Virginia, Berkeley, Michigan, Duke, Northwestern, and Cornell. The Top 13 used to be the Top 14, but the list shrank after no. 14 Georgetown deteriorated.

Peter

bagoh20 said...

Slide # 100 : 77% of academic leaders perceive online education to be superior or the same as face to face.

From a great set of 117 slides of data about global technology trends found here.

Hat-tip to an obscure, but great blog: dinocrat.com

Tank said...

Any survey that rates my school #5 is suspect.

Maybe not.

chuck said...

Heh, it's first grade all over again. Bill is faster than me, but I can run further, or so I claim.

Tari said...

And Texas is not on here, of course. I'm sure in the (tiny) minds of people like Bill Powers, spending less to get more is so, like, tacky and all. I obviously have no love for the man who raised law school tuition to "make UT look more elite". Gag.

Bob Ellison said...

That's perverse. Kinda like ranking hookers by the ratio of calls per hour.