We hope you’re ready, because it’s the most “wonderful” time of the year for law schools. After months of drama complete with law school boycotts and indefinite delays, it’s finally U.S. News law school rankings release night!
Due to a double publication delay as U.S. News attempted to correct rankings errors thanks to its new-and-improved methodology, many prospective law students have already sent out seat deposits to what they hoped was the law school with the best rank, while current law students are waiting to see if the school they’ll soon graduate from will be considered more or less prestigious than when they first decided to debt-finance their futures based on their alma mater’s rank.
How did law schools fare under the new U.S. News methodology?
We’re about to find out.
Here’s the official list of the top law schools in the nation, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the year 2023. Changes in rank from this year over last year come to us courtesy of Mike Spivey of Spivey Consulting.
You may be wondering what took so long for the rankings to be published. As noted by Spivey, “The delay in release was not caused by unprecedented interest from schools, the initial statement from U.S. News, unless said interest resulted in U.S. News noticing their substantial number of data errors, which was the actual cause of the delay.” Touche!
Here is the methodology for the latest edition of the rankings, which may explain some of the wild gains and losses you’re about to see:
- Employment: 33% (up from 14%)
- First-Time Bar Passage: 18% (up from 3%)
- Ultimate Bar Passage: 7% (new)
- Peer Assessment: 12.5% (down from 25%)
- Lawyer/Judge Assessment: 12.5% (down from 15%)
- LSAT/GRE: 5% (down from 11.25%)
- UGPA: 4% (down from 8.75%)
- Acceptance Rate: 1%
- Faculty & Library Resources: 7%
That said, take a look at the prestigious T14, where there were some interesting moves:
(1) Stanford University (+1)
(1) Yale University (0)
(3) University of Chicago (0)
(4) University of Pennsylvania (Carey) (+2)
(5) Harvard University (-1)
(5) New York University (+2)
(5) Duke University (+6)
(8) Columbia University (-4)
(8) University of Virginia (0)
(10) University of California, Berkeley (-1)
(10) Northwestern University (Pritzker) (+3)
(10) University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (0)
(13) Cornell University (-1)
(14) University of California–Los Angeles (+1)
Well, well, well, what have we here? Could it be, a ranking even more ridiculous than the T14 “preview” that U.S. News released in April and then removed due to errors? Indeed, it is! Thanks to recent changes made to the U.S. News rankings methodology, there’s been quite the shake-up here — along with three ties. Stanford is tied with Yale for No. 1 (could it be because Yale started the U.S. News boycott?), while Harvard continues to sink, now down to fifth place. Duke is rising like a phoenix — what a fantastic achievement for the school. And speaking of achievements, UCLA is back in the T14. Sorry about that, Georgetown.
Now, let’s take a gander at the law schools outside of the T14. Like years past, we’re faced with yet another rankings orgy, with nothing but ties, ties, and more ties. There are five ties in this segment of the rankings alone (two ties, one three-way tie, one four-way tie, and one five-way tie), with more to follow. Here are the schools ranked 15 – 29:
(15) Georgetown University (-1)
(16) University of Southern California (Gould) (+4)
(16) University of Minnesota (+5)
(16) Vanderbilt University (+1)
(16) University of Texas–Austin (+1)
(20) University of Georgia (+9)
(20) Washington University in St. Louis (-4)
(22) University of Florida (Levin) (-1)
(22) University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (+1)
(22) Wake Forest University (+15)
(22) Ohio State University (Moritz) (+8)
(22) Brigham Young University (Clark) (+1)
(27) University of Notre Dame (-2)
(27) Boston University (-10)
(29) Boston College (+8)
(29) Fordham University (+8)
(29) Texas A&M University (+17)
The biggest winners here are Minnesota, Ohio State, Boston College, Fordham, Georgia, Wake Forest, and Texas A&M, up five, eight (for three schools), nine, 15, and 17 spots in the rankings, respectively. There’s Georgetown, at No. 15. The school only dropped one spot, but that one-spot drop that booted the school out of the T14. Will the school return next year? Who knows. Yay, U.S. News!
Now, for the rest of the law schools in the Top 49, where there are elaborate on ties. As you can see, there was A LOT of movement here:
(32) Arizona State University (O’Connor) (-2)
(32) University of Utah (Quinney) (+5)
(32) George Mason University (Scalia) (-2)
(35) University of Alabama (-10)
(35) George Washington University (-10)
(35) Emory University (-5)
(35) University of Iowa (-7)
(35) University of California–Irvine (+2)
(40) University of Kansas (+27)
(40) Washington and Lee University (-5)
(40) University of Wisconsin–Madison (+3)
(43) University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (-8)
(43) Villanova University (Widger) (+13)
(45) Pepperdine University (Caruso) (+7)
(45) Indiana University–Bloomington (Maurer) (-2)
(45) SMU (Dedman) (+13)
(45) William & Mary Law School (-15)
(49) Baylor University (+9)
(49) University of Washington (0)
The biggest winner here was Kansas, which moved up 27 places in the 2024 law school rankings, propelling the school into the Top 50. The biggest losers here were Alabama, GW, and William & Mary, with two 10- and 15-spot drops, respectively. Whatever those schools are doing, they better shape up, because some have already been shipped out of the Top 25 — with others almost out of the Top 50.
The rest of the rankings are available on the next page.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.