jay115 wrote:I don't completely disagree with you, but I don't think your logic holds. I mean, outside of unseen variations in methodology (eg. accounting for PT programs) most law schools have known about the USWNR ranking criteria since they began pumping out JDs, and law schools shift positions and tiers all the time - even within the T14.
Of course, breaking that T14 barrier is a unique shift, but if GULC isn't able to tamper down it's PT program statistics and Vandy/TX/UCLA are able to up the ante, then one of the three just might tie or break through the T14 barrier within the next five years, if not sooner.
Observationalist: I think it's important to point out that most of the rising schools (TX, Vandy, UCLA, Emory, USC...) are all located in the South or West, where population growth is expanding. So regardless of whether our respective schools (Vandy & UCLA) break the T14 barrier I think is not as important as the relative worth of our law degrees from these schools in the foreseeable future.
Interesting take. I agree they all know about the USNews game and play it as well as they can, but the three schools just outside the T14 probably allocate more of their budget on recruiting than the schools in the lower T14 to make up for the feeding aspect that comes with national reputation. This means more scholarships, more personal recruitment (like our interview program), and more outreach to regions where we don't have strong historical placement like the PNW. Given all of that, I think it's reasonable to assume that schools like UT/UCLA/Vandy are paying closer attention to the numbers than schools like Cornell and GULC which rely on reputation. Whether the greater attention later translates into improved job prospects is an important question, but at least for us we've been seeing tangible benefits from being a smaller, more geographically diverse class than virtually all of our peer programs.
I'm confused about your last paragraph though... are you saying it's more important how our reputations in our relative locales change, rather than national reps reflected in the USNews rank? If that's where your going I want to point out that Vandy's placement isn't primarily southern, so we're actually more affected by hiring changes in other regions than UCLA or UT. More than half the class find work in other regions, primarily in the midatlantic and midwest. Our NLJ250 stats last year were higher than many of the NY/DC feeder schools, and our Art III clerkship placement this year has got to be putting us in the top 6 or 7 overall as a percentage of the class. Vandy actually restricts the number of students it lets in from the south to keep us more geographically diverse and help us compete better in the shrinking job market, which I'm sure has every much to do with improving reputation scores on USNews as it does with making our law degrees more valuable down the road.
And five years from now, who knows what will happen. I just don't think this is the year to see an upset with GULC. Class of '09 stats were still strong at most schools, even though NLJ250 placement dropped virtually everywhere. The Class of 2010 data will be the first time we actually see what sort of effect ITE is having on the larger programs and those that focus primarily on a single market. On that note I guess I'd predict more of a shakeup next year, since % employed for many schools will be way off the normally uniform 95-100% among top programs.
K done rambling, turning attention to other things until the rankings come out and we can revisit how much of a shameless troll I am.